Over the past few years, we’ve seen baby names like Luna, Milo and Hazel rise in popularity. But which names can we expect more parents to choose for their babies in the near future?
As we approach a new year, we asked baby name experts to share the names they believe will become more popular in 2022. Read on for their predictions and explanations for the appeal.
“Dove checks every box,” said Abby Sandel, creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain. “It shares that great V sound heard in favorites like Olivia and Oliver, Evelyn and Everett, Ava and River. But it’s richly meaningful, too, since doves symbolize peace.”
Sandel noted that the name has gotten a boost from pop culture, including former Disney Channel star Dove Cameron and celebrity babies like Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s daughter Daisy Dove.
“Parents can’t get enough of the nickname Finn,” said baby name consultant Taylor Humphrey. “As a standalone, Finn has reached as high as No. 166 on the list of popular baby names. While Finnegan, Finian, Griffin, and Phineas all allow for the nickname Finn, my money is on Finley to increase in popularity because it feels fun, fresh, beachy, and has a modern, gender-neutral flair.”
Humphrey said parents who gravitate toward Finley also may enjoy Isla, Oona, Fiona, Waverly, or Maeve for girls, or Rowan, River, Killian, Brooks, or Callum for boys.
“Gender-neutral names are becoming even more trendy in 2022,” said BabyNames.com founder Jennifer Moss.
One of Moss’ top choices in that category on BabyNames.com is Quinn ― an Irish surname currently the 85th-most popular name for girls and 440th for boys in the U.S. Notable Quinns in pop culture include Quinn Fabray on “Glee” and Quinn Perkins on “Scandal.”
Humphrey believes the success of the Netflix show “Bridgerton” will impact baby naming trends.
“Being the name of the main love interest in the first season of ‘Bridgerton,’ I see Daphne becoming associated with the archetype of the confident, charming, and poised young maiden,” Humphrey explained. “Daphne is highly versatile, and could pair nicely with a range of other names.”
The Greek goddess’s name is “sturdy and mature without compromising femininity,” Humphrey pointed out, and it has “the ethereal gravitas that so many parents are searching for.”
Sherri Suzanne, a baby name consultant and the founder of My Name for Life, suggested Ada as a name that could climb the charts and have real staying power.
“Ada has many qualities of gorgeous but well-used Ava,” Suzanne noted. “Show me a name that looks like a popular name but with a ‘twist,’ and I’ll show you a name with potential for growth.”
“Truly unisex names are here to stay, and Remy is one of the best,” Sandel said. “Nearly unheard of in the U.S. before the 2000s, this traditional French name is following choices like Riley and Rowan into the mainstream. It’s brief, complete, and feels fresh and new while still offering plenty of backstory. That’s a winning formula.”
Sometimes spelled Remi, the name had a big pop culture moment with the protagonist of the 2007 Pixar film “Ratatouille,” as well as characters in “House of Cards,” “New Girl,” “The Da Vinci Code” and more.
Sandel noted that Wells has the S-ending factor of popular names like Miles, as well as the surname-as-first-name vibes of Brookes.
“It’s less expected than William, but still feels almost traditional,” Sandel said. “But this name really succeeds because it suggests wellness and well-being. That makes this a buttoned-up choice equally at home in a library or on a yoga retreat. It’s a preppy pick that nods to the natural world, too.”
If you like the ending of Wells, you might also be interested in Rivers, a name that Pamela Redmond Satran, a co-founder of the popular baby names website Nameberry, predicts will become more popular in 2022.
“Rivers combines three major trends: nature names, gender-neutral names, and names ending in S,” Satran said.
The plural form of the more popular name River, Rivers is perhaps most famously the name of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. Tony Romo’s second son is also named Rivers.
Humphrey suggested the name Franklin for parents looking to honor a beloved Frank or Francis because it has a cuteness appeal mixed with a sense of maturity and stature.
“With a range of nicknames like Frank, or the more gender-neutral Frankie, Fran, or Lin, Franklin offers a posh and polite hipster vibe that makes it ripe for revival,” Humphrey explained. “In terms of sibling sets, parents who like Franklin might also consider Vera, Beatrice, Ruth, Marlowe, Cordelia, Florence, or Rosemary for girls, and Arthur, Byron, Oscar, Atticus, Theodore, Baxter, or Warner for boys.”
“Eloise is a great option for anyone who had considered names like Eleanor, Emily, Evelyn, or Amelia, but stayed away because of their standing in the top names list,” Humphrey said.
She noted that parents often choose names associated with memorable characters in books, TV or film.
“In addition to being a ‘Bridgerton’ name, it also conjures the image of ‘Eloise at the Plaza,’ a feisty and self-assured 6-year-old penthouse-dwelling Manhattanite,” Humphrey said. “Doesn’t get much more aspirational than that!”
Continuing with the theme of aspirational names, Satran said she believes the name Knowledge will become more popular in 2022.
“It’s a new word name with an intellectual meaning,” she said. Although Knowledge hasn’t yet cracked the Top 1,000 ranking, it might get there soon. In 2020, 202 baby boys were named Knowledge (as well as 13 girls).
“Maverick ranks in the current boys’ Top 100, and will probably rise even higher once the long-awaited ′Top Gun’ sequel debuts in 2022,” Sandel said. “But the name isn’t about the movie; instead, it appeals to parents hoping their sons will be independent and bold.”
Sandel predicted that names that evoke purpose and modern virtues will have a moment in 2022.
“Likewise, names like Legacy, Ace, Promise, and Tru are meant to inspire,” Sandel said. “They’re the 21st-century equivalents of an earlier generation’s Ernest and Grace.”
“All the darkly magical names from ‘Lucifer’ are getting more popular, including Lucifer itself,” Satran said. She described Mazikeen as “the Khaleesi of 2022.”
Sandel also predicted Mazikeen would see a rise in 2022 as a less conventional pop culture-inspired choice.
“Anakin and Kylo from ‘Star Wars’ and Arya and Khaleesi from ‘Game of Thrones’ paved the way,” she said. “Now it seems logical to name your daughter Mazikeen after a character on ‘Lucifer.′ In 2022, look for ‘Wheel of Time’-inspired choices like Perrin and Moiraine, as well as names from the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, and the reboot of ”‘Willow.’”
“Some non-English names are a reflection of changing demographics but also of changing tastes,” Suzanne said. “Parents are very responsive now if I mention European versions of classic names like Anders and Marceline as a way to be ‘different’ without being too nontraditional.”
More parents might consider the name Anders, or the similar Ander, as a fresh but classic-feeling option.
“It has a formula that is comfortable for parents ― familiar syllables but unusual enough to feel original,” Suzanne said. “Anders and Ander are forms of Andrew, helped along by Anderson and by similar-sounding Alexander, Zander.”
Humphrey believes Malachi and the alternate spelling Malakai will see increases in popularity next year, with the latter possibly overtaking the former due to the Kai nickname potential.
“Malachi and Malakai’s appeal doesn’t just stop with the modern, multicultural, beachy nickname of Kai or Chi,” Humphrey said. “It also satisfies a trend towards exotic-sounding biblical names like Isaiah, Josiah, Ezekiel, Elias and Micah.”
“Aurora is rising on our charts for girls,” Moss said. “We’re seeing a lot of ‘power’ names ― names of ancient gods and goddesses like Persephone, Apollo, Athena, and Atlas.”
Aurora is notably the Roman goddess of the dawn and ranked at No. 36 on the list of most popular names for girls in the U.S. in 2020 (up from 40 in 2019 and 44 in 2018).
Ross said the rise of “power” names “is because as a society we’ve felt powerless to all that’s happening in the world in the past couple of years, we want to infuse strength and power into the next generation.”
While far from the Top 10, the name Riggs did enter the Top 1,000 list of names for boys in the U.S. for the first time in 2020, suggesting some potential for upward mobility.
“The current iteration of the surname trend for boys is one-syllable names in the style of Hayes, Brooks, Briggs, Jones and Wells,” Suzanne said.
Moss noted that one of the rising names for boys on BabyNames.com is Theodore. Humphrey also highlighted the name, pointing to its versatility with nicknames.
“Names play a hugely important role in our lives, but so do nicknames. You’ll see names like Theodore, which offers many fun nicknames like Theo, Teddy, Ted, Ed, and Eddie,” Moss said.
“Increasingly, my clients are approaching the baby naming process from the direction of ‘nickname first,’” she added. “For example, a parent might love the sound of Kai, but they want a more substantial first name, so we’ll discuss choosing names like Kaiser, Alakai, Kaiden, Kairo, or Kaison.”
“A feminized, Italian version of Frances, this name is rich, sumptuous, and timeless, like a renaissance tapestry hanging in a Venetian Palazzo,” Humphrey said. “This name is unique but conventional, which means that while not many little girls will be given this name, it’s still a name we all commonly recognize and know how to spell, placing it in the sweet spot for parents who want something bold but not weird.”
If you’re interested in different names along the same line for a sibling or to use instead of Francesca, Humphrey suggested place names like Florence, Geneva, Verona, or Vienna for a girl, or Lucca/Luca, Milan, Paris, Rome ― or alternatives Roman or Romeo ― for a boy.