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Top Girl's Names of 2010 (So Far): Seraphina?

Sierra gave her baby a cool name. I feel so lame and trend-ruled.

We’re crazy for baby names. The marketing genius behind Nameberry.com knows it, and she knows that any time she can release some new scoop on who’s naming who what, the parenting world will pounce. We believe names matter, and we’re right:  as Sierra wrote earlier this year, girly names doom a boy to teasing and poor-sounding names decrease your odds of success.

As Time magazine put it, we want to be unique, but not too unique. Or maybe we do want to be too unique, and what we’re searching for is a name that no one’s used yet, scouring the top baby name lists for monikers like Purple or Whipcord. But name your child Snapfree and someone will surely follow: there’s something about baby names that follows an indefinable zeitgeist. Which is why I’m so intrigued by number two on Nameberry’s list of the most searched girls’ names of 2010 so far: Seraphina.

Because six years ago, when my daughter Lily was born (waaayyy before Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were even a couple) that was “my” name. And I can’t remember why. Obviously I didn’t name Lily Seraphina. My husband, uncontrolled by pregnancy hormones, stepped in, and our oldest girl became Lily Katherine. Lily crawled up into the top 25 names shortly thereafter, but still hovers below the top ten, saving my Lily from the fate I hated as a kid, that of having the same name as at least two other girls in every class. But how is it that I, pushing a stroller with Sam in it all over New England, had on my list a rising name of the next decade?

Time magazine tried to answer that question last month. Isabella isn’t popular because of the Twilight books, but, as Madeline reported, had been steadily rising for more than a decade, reaching top ten lists in two states before cresting nationwide. Other popular names have similar backstories, seeming to rise up because of a pop culture use, but really predating their sudden celebrity with a steady increase. What Time couldn’t put a finger on, and no one really has, is why the herd mentality guides our name selections. Babble’s fantastic baby naming section has a poll up right now about who influences your name choice–but it turns out that our era and our neighbors probably matter more than any of the checkable options in the box.

So what are the “relatively style-conscious” visitors to the Nameberry site considering naming their girls this year? Here are the top twenty, from Nameberry founder Pamela Redmond Satran, along with the direction they’re trending in:

1. CHARLOTTE =

2. SERAPHINA =

3. OLIVIA =

4. VIOLET up

5. ELIZABETH down

6. ISLA down

7. SOPHIA down

8. LAURA up

9. CAROLINE up

10. AVA =

11. ALICE down

12. IMOGEN up

13. LUCY down

14. AMELIA up

15. SCARLETT down

16. MAISIE down

17. GRACE down

18. CLAIRE down

19. LILY down

20. STELLA down

I don’t know about you, but half of those were on my girl name lists both times around. I am feeling depressingly ruled by my times.

Sierra, on the other hand, is probably feeling quite smug.

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