Nico, which means "victorious people" climbed a whopping 95 places in 2011. And although this modern-sounding alternative to Nick is definitely catching parents' attention, it's not yet ubiquitous at #496. Popular across Europe, Nico's a cool nickname-name with staying power. It also works for a girl, evoking the Warhol-era Velvet Underground singer Neko Case.
At #162 in 2011 (#1 in Sweden!), and long popular among Latino families, Oscar has now attained vintage-cool status in hipster parent circles. From Oscar Wilde to Oscar the Grouch, a bevy of culturally relevant Oscars give this fun name substance. Alternative spellings include Osker and Oskar, plus Ozzie is a cute, campy nickname.
Now that proud 1980s Nintendo nerds are all grown up, Zelda—name of German origin meaning "blessed," but more closely associated with the video game Legend of Zelda—is prime cool parent fodder. A unique alternative to the more mainstream Zoey, Zelda also has literary roots, as per F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife.
Rising nearly 500 spaces in just three years, Sloane—at #511—is now squarely in the top 1,000 girls names. The name of Ferris Bueller's sexy, super-cool girlfriend in iconic movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off —a film universally loved among today's generation of trendy moms and dads—Sloane is also a place name: the fashionable Sloane Square in London is known for its young, aloof female population.
Of Persian origin, Caspar ("meaning treasurer") has a long history. With cute nickname option Cas, Caspar is a standout alternative to the suddenly-everywhere Jasper here in the States. Young Caspars (or Caspers, Kaspars, and Kaspers) today will still find themselves reminded frequently by older generations of the cartoon ghost, but modern parents appreciate, rather than denounce, the retro-cool reference.
Popular in the 1970s thanks to actress Marlo Thomas (whose given name was Margaret), Marlo was also a nickname for Marlene during the same era. Today, it stands up just fine as an invented hipster moniker. Chosen for her daughter by the sassy and sarcastic mom-blogger Dooce, it can also be spelled Marlow or Marlowe. At once bold and pretty, the name sports a classic Hollywood feel.
A fun and daring nature name with a lot more edge than Sunny or Misty, Stormy can also be spelled with an "I"—Stormi (although it will definitely lose it's cool cred). Parents who feel drawn to Stormy but are wary of asking for trouble may prefer to complement the name with something soft and gentle, creating a unique double-name. Look to flower and color names for promising pairings.
Abigail Breslin's character in Little Miss Sunshine secured the name Olive as super-adorbz. It's a surprising and charming alternative to Olivia, which is everywhere (it was #4 in 2011). With triple-hip status as a nature, color, and tree name, Olive's symbolically peaceful associations make it suitably little-girl sweet. Speaking of, Hollywood's sweetheart, Drew Barrymore, bestowed this moniker on her little beauty.
At #361 in 2011, Milo climbed 61 spaces from the previous year. Its O-sound ending gives the name a playful feel, and it's been a popular celeb-parent pick; Ricki Lake, Alyssa Milano, and Liv Tyler all chose it for their sons. As an ancient Greek, Medieval, and German name, Milo—which means "mild," "peaceful," and "calm"—may be bordering on trendy, but it's bound to stick around.
A hip Hollywood-mom fave, Stella has been chosen by Tori Spelling, Molly Shannon, Jennifer Grey, and others; it ranks at #73 across the rest of the country, as well. A literary name via Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella is feminine and bright, and—perhaps obviously—means "star." Stella sounds like top-fifteen names Ella (#12) and Isabella (#2), but its image is a bit more fly.
Popular in the late 1800s, Roscoe—with its versatility and O-sound ending—is perfectly poised for a hipster revival. Parents who love Oscar and Leo but don't love their recent popularity will appreciate this vintage name's modern feel, and can count themselves extra cool for being ahead of the trend.
A name that's also popular in England, Belgium, and Nigera, it's no wonder Lola's favor is so widespread: its brevity and repeated L sound make it as cute as can be, but its emphasized, O-sound first syllable give it character and style. Girly, but not too soft to grow up with, Lola is Lolita's hip-yet-wholesome cousin. Hint: Pull out all the cool name stops by paring it with a single-syllable word or bird name.
At #113, this formerly-unusual Old Testament name is on a steady cool-again climb; it's risen over 60 places since 2009. Despite its growing popularity, Asher retains its unique quality. Meaning "happy," and easily shortened into subtle nickname Ash, Asher is a soft-yet-strong choice for boys. Parents looking to out-cool your contemporaries, take note: Asher also makes for a lovely girl name.