The millennials are taking over. Seriously. In 2015 more than 1.3 million women in this age category gave birth, according to the Pew Research Center. And what comes with all of these births? Baby names!
Gone are the days of Jimmy, Johnny, Katie and Heather. Sorry plain Jane names. New parents who were born between 1981 and 1997 are picking monikers that are mighty – well, mighty strange. At least, to some (maybe not to other women who are a millennial too).
For women thinking, “Yeah, sure there are a few oddball baby names out there. But, it’s not like millennials as a whole are picking more off-the-wall names than other generations,” they might not be right. Hey, we’re not saying these women are wrong. It’s just that there’s new research (yes, actual research) that says modern millennial moms might be naming their kiddos differently than we’ve seen in the past.
Between the years 2004 and 2015 parents in the U.S. were less likely to go with common names, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Okay, so not every parent who had a child between 2004 and 2015 was a millennial. But it does seem like plenty of them were (at least when we take Pew’s stats into account).
Are millennials really ruining baby names? Um, maybe they’re more changing them than totally destroying them. Maybe they just want their kids to be super-special or maybe they’re tired of hearing the same old names over and over again. Anyway we look at it, they’re making morphs of monikers and creating names that may seem not so of-the-norm.
Ah, good ol’ Atticus. We came to know this name during English Lit class in high school, while reading To Kill A Mockingbird. As the main character of Harper Lee’s mega-loved novel, Atticus Finch stands out as one of the iconic literary figures of all time. Maybe millennials are all about this name because it reminds them of their own youth (or at least what they read when they were slightly younger).
Even though the name is still fairly far down the list of popular baby names, it’s on the rise – especially with the millennial generation. Over the past decade the name has been creeping up top baby names lists.
This Latin (as in the language that the Romans spoke) name translates to “from Attica.” Whether modern moms and dads like the Latin roots, are into literary figures, the fact that “Atticus” is majorly different from more traditional names such as Tom and Ann or just think the name sounds cool, Atticus is definitely become a millennial favorite.
It might sound like a completely made up name. But, millennials aren’t making it up, they’re just overusing it – way overusing it. Declan is actually an old school Irish name. While the precise meaning isn't entirely agreed upon, it’s thought that it translates to “man of prayer.”
Along with being a popular name with the millennials, Declan is also a saint. St. Declan of Ardmore was born in the 5th century. He was an evangelist, before Saint Patrick arrived on the scene. He was the bishop of Ardmore, and apparently had many miracles under his belt. Miracles attributed to St. Declan include stopping a plague – through prayers and fasting.
Declan isn’t exactly the first Irish name that’s become popular with parents in the U.S. There are plenty of Aidans, Connors and Seans. It’s just one of the less common names that moms and dads have picked in the past.
In 2016 Olivia was number three on the top 100 baby names list. Even though it’s super-popular, it might not always be the version that millennials choose. What? That’s right. The shortened-ish version of Olivia, Olive, is a way that they’re changing up the name.
Olive itself isn’t nearly as popular as Olivia. Ranking well past 250 on the popular baby names list, Olive is a nature name (um, or the name of your favorite part of a salad). Even though Olive isn’t anywhere near the top 10, some fairly famous celebs have chosen it for their own kiddos.
Actress Isla Fisher and her husband Sacha Baron Cohen named their daughter Olive. Drew Barrymore also went with the name as well.
Of course, Olive isn’t exactly a new “cool” name. Like Hazel and Ethel, Olive is an old time-y name that your great-grandma might have chosen. But, now that the millennial generation has taken over this name from way-back, it’s considered more creative than classic.
Really? This is a name? Yep. This what happens when you’re too cool to choose Elizabeth. Okay, so if you google “Elizabreth” you’ll most likely get, “Did you mean Elizabeth?” But, that doesn’t mean millennials aren’t coopting this name for their own “cool” uses.
It’s much more common (and much more normal) cousin Elizabeth was number 37 on the top 100 baby names list for 2016. Maybe saying that Elizabreth ruins Elizabeth is strong. But, unless you want your baby to spend the rest of her life with everyone thinking the person who entered her name on her birth certificate made a typo, it might be a no for this one.
Some of the less common names that millennials tend to choose are a bit out-there. This one is more than a bit – it’s way out-there. At least those Elizabreths out there can nickname it and opt for Eliza, Liz or Lizzy. Then again, they could go for Breth!
Ah yeah, go ahead and say it with a faux French accent. Who cares that you’re not French, have never been to France, have absolutely no ancestors that are from France, don’t speak French (other than baguette and croissant) and have no plans of ever learning the language. Henri is the French form of Henry – which may not be as super-cool of a name.
Henry has been a popular name for centuries. It has German origins, meaning “estate ruler.” Hmm. Fancy. Who doesn’t want their little prince to someday be an estate ruler? Unless that’s in the totally evil king ruler sense (we’d rather think of it as a thoughtful, intelligent head of a home). From Henry the Eighth to Henry David Thoreau, you’ll find this name spattered across history.
Then the millennials got ahold of it. Why go with boring ol’ Henry when you could spice up the spelling and give it an awesome accent?
10 North, East, West, South
Sorry Kim and Kanye, but your not so of-the-norm name pick may not stand the test of time. Okay, we’ll give these directional names props for originality. And, you can shorten some of them to some pretty cute little names (Nori for North is sort of adorable).
Far be it from many millennials to not go with what a celeb does. So, the reality star chooses North as a name. Maybe that means that everyone else in the age group needs to follow along.
While these directional names aren’t hitting the top of any popular baby name lists, they’re just the sort of non-name names that millennials seem to adore. They’re easy to pronounce (there’s no chance of the pre-k teacher getting “South” wrong), fairly short and have spellings that are pretentiously odd. But, they probably won’t ever gain the mainstream popularity that Emma, Ethan and Olivia will.
So, you like the name Olivia. And you’re not all about changing it up and going with Olive. But, you can’t stomach the thought of going with the same old, same old that everyone else does. After all, it is number three on the most popular list. And, who wants to do what everyone else is?
Okay, we totally applaud the statements that millennials seem so proud of making. Standing out in a crowd is rad at any age. But, sometimes the quest to be different ends up in ruining a name that is already perfectly fine on its own.
When you want to name your daughter Olivia, but have to be a standout, you go with Aliviyah. What? Slow down and say it to yourself. That’s right, even though it doesn’t begin with the letter “O” it’s still basically the same name. Of course, Aliviyah has that special spelling.
No, it’s not a foreign name. And no, it’s not some super old school biblical pick. Are you still not sure what you’re looking at? Write the name down, starting at the right side. Spell it backwards and see what happens. Yep, you get “Heaven.”
Heaven isn’t exactly the most popular name in the U.S. But, it’s not anything that’s new either. Plenty of moms and dads have chosen the name, hoping that their little ones would be just as serene as the name implies.
Then millennials got ahold of it. Heaven isn’t exactly interesting. Sweet? Yes. A name that makes you think? Um, not really. So, why not just spell it backwards? It has the same meaning, but is much more of a statement. Right? Sometimes simply spelling a name in an ultra-pretentious way isn’t exactly enough for every parent. When that happens, millennials turn it around – and that’s literally.
As if Carter wasn’t a cool name, the millennials felt the need to change it around and give it a new first letter. Carter (the more typical way of spelling the name) hit number 15 on the top 100 list of popular baby names in 2016. The name seems to be growing in popularity – but, maybe its standard form.
Originally from England, Carter is considered an occupational name. Why is it an occupational moniker? It means “transporter of goods by cater.” That makes sense, right?
The not-so-new name gets a breath of fresh air (kind of) with its new millennial spelling. Replacing the “C” with a “K” takes it from kind of cute, to a total standout. And, if the “K” spelling of Carter isn’t enough of a change for you, this name is a pick for both genders. That means millennials can switch things up and name their baby girls Karter.
Bee cottage. Yep, that’s what Beckett means. It’s a bee cottage. And, who knew that there was such a thing as a bee cottage? That’s not exactly something that many of us think about – ever. It has Irish and English origins, and hasn’t made its way to the top 100 of popular baby names just yet. But, that doesn’t mean millennial moms and dads aren’t choosing it.
The name sounds literary, or at the very least like someone who is fairly intelligent. Maybe it makes you think of the Irish play write Samuel Beckett -- and maybe that’s why the millennials like it. It’s got just the right amount of pretention, coupled with an almost homespun sound to it.
Plenty of celebs have gone for this one. Melissa Etheridge picked it was back in the late 1990s. Conan O’Brien, Stella McCartney and Natalie Maines have also chosen this fav of millennials.
It’s money! Okay, so this pick isn’t all about the green stuff. This one-syllable name still means wealth, but that’s probably not why the younger generation is into it. It’s kind of masculine-sounding, without being – well, boring. Maybe that’s why the millennials love it so much.
Why Cash? Music-lovers who are all about “the man in black” (and also happen to be millennials) might want to go for this one. Instead of opting for the icon’s first name, choosing the last name is a bit more unexpected. After all, Johnny isn’t out-there, different or even above the norm. But, Cash is. Well, it’s not exactly on the Rainbow name level.
Sadly, Cash is expected to drop 60 places in the popular baby names list to number 310 in 2017. Hey, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that it’s totally out. Modern moms and dads are still picking it for their newborns!
Come on. You know millennials just aren’t having Jack’s. So, why not have a Jax? Jack was so “generation X” (or maybe it’s more of a baby boomer name). In any case, it’s not the most modern-sounding option. That said, Jackson is a prime pick. In 2016 it was the most popular baby name choice.
If Jackson is so very popular, why wouldn’t the millennials just go with it? Well, they do. Obviously. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be the top of the top when it comes to baby names. But, it’s also not nearly as jazzy as Jax. Not only is Jax short and sweet, but it’s got that kind of off spelling that millennials seem to look for.
And bonus, it’s also the name of a fictional character from Mortal Combat. And who doesn’t want to name their child after a video game character anyway? (Sarcasm totally implied.)
Just like Jackson is number one for boys’ names, Sophia tops the list for girls’ names. But, on it’s own it’s not exactly anything that is spectacularly different. Of course, millennials like different. So, Sophia might not fit the bill. After all, Jax is the newer, cooler version of Jackson. With that in mind, we completely expected that Sophia would have its own hipper option.
That’s where Soph comes in. Instead of just using it as a nickname for Sophia, it’s become a name on its own. We’re not saying that Soph is going to edge into the top 10 (or even the top 100) of popular baby names anytime soon.
Even though Soph isn’t the same as it’s longer version (duh), it can still carry on the meaning. With Greek origins, Sophia means “wisdom.” You want the best for your kiddo. Obviously, that includes major intelligence. What better way to start your baby off than with a name that means wisdom?
Using places as names isn’t exactly breaking news. No one is reinventing the wheel here. From Brooklyn to Paris, plenty of baby names have come from cities (and other geographical areas). That said, it seems like some of the names that now-millennials have (like Paris) are done and gone.
The next generation of parents doesn’t necessarily want to pull from the same name pool that they’re moms and dads did. So, new cities are popping into the picture.
London is a newer “city” name that this age group is quickly making popular. Not only are millennials choosing London, but they’re also going for not-so-typical spellings. Londyn is a newer way of spelling London that takes this name to a new level. The “y” (not “o”) spelling also makes the baby name a bit more gender neutral.
Millennial moms and dads can now choose London/Londyn for their little boys and girls. If they’re really being daring, parents-to-be might want to consider Londin, Londan, or even Lundon and Lundyn. Why not, right?
It was number six on 2016’s top 100 most popular baby names list. And it was number six for a reason – because plenty of parents found this name sweetly adorable. Isabella is far from out of the norm. It’s popularity isn’t new. You probably knew more than one Isabella when you were a child. Right?
It’s a variation on Elizabeth, with Spanish and Italian origins. Used for centuries, it’s been a name that’s fit for queens and used in literature by the likes of William Shakespeare.
So, what have the millennials done to this pick? Well, you have the constant shortenings of the name. There’s Bella, Izzy, Bell and Isa. If going with a nickname isn’t different enough, millennials can also do the whole totally different spelling thing. Isobela and Izabela are variations of the name that keep the sound the same, but make it slightly less pedestrian.
Sources: PewResearch, BabyCenter, Nameberry, Onlinelibrary.Wile