Which boy names are quickly climbing in popularity? I scoured through the boys’ list to find which names jumped up the ranks at high speed this year.
Some of these are predictable (such as alternate spellings of popular names, and our fascination with the letter “X”), some indicate fast-rising trends, and others are unique and lovely names that more and more parents are beginning to recognize.
Most of these names are still in the #200 – #800 range — not quite superstar status — and many entered the Top 1,000 list for the first time in 2011. But all of them increased their rank by 100 to 400 spots in only a year’s time, so they just might be topping the charts eventually:
The name “Brantley” rose a whopping 419 places from where it ranked in 2010. And it follows quite a few trends that I saw for boy’s names in 2011: It’s a surname, it has a musical/pop-culture reference (country star Brantley Gilbert), and it’s a “B” name.
Other “B” names that spiked in popularity this year: Brenton, Braylen/Braylin, Bruce, Breysen, Bensen, Benton, Brecken and Barrett. Bentley is also continuing a rise to the top.
Jackson is one of the most popular boy’s names of the moments (ranking at #23, and continuing to rise), so it’s no surprise that these alternative spellings are becoming more popular.
“X” names also saw a jump in popularity in 2011, with names like Rex, Dexter, Dax, Nixon, and Lennox all climbing up the Top 1,000 chart.
3. Raylan (and other R names)
Raylan, Rylen, and Royce all became significantly more popular in 2011, jumping 150 to 300 spots toward the top.
Name of Football Hall of Famer Drew Brees’ son, this name entered the Top 1,000 for the first time in 2011 — and at around 300 spots higher than it ranked in 2010.
Iker was one of the fastest rising names of 2011, most likely because of Iker Casillas, the Spanish soccer goalie.
You may think Bing Crosby, but my mind immediately goes to Dax Shepard’s character on Parenthood. Regardless, Crosby entered the Top 1,000 for the first time in 2011, jumping at least 250 spots from where it was in 2010.
(Coincidentally, the name Dax also scooted up the popularity chart.)
Biblical name Silas (and Hunter Parrish’s character on Weeds) is one of the hottest names for boys, sitting high at #39 in 2011. So it’s not surprising that Sylas rose over 200 spots in 2011.
This name is almost in the Top 500 after jumping around 200 spots from where it was the previous year. Definitely a name on the rise.
9. Lennon (and other music-inspired names)
Lennon debuted on the Top 1000 list in 2008 and has been steadily climbing ever since — although it had a big boost between 2010 and 2011 (increasing 173 places). Still, Lennon only ranks in the mid-700s.
But Lennon fits in with the other music-idol names that had a significant increase in 2011: Jagger, Hendrix, and Elvis (the latter two were newcomers to the Top 1,000 list in 2011).
While Max ranked in the Top 100 most popular names for boys, it’s the Spanish version Maximiliano that shot up the charts from the mid-400s to #289. In fact, Maximiliano was twice as popular as Maximilian in 2011.
Chaim, which means “life” in Hebrew, made a significant comeback into the mid-700s.
12. Hayes (and other surnames)
Hayes (originally an English surname) made headlines when Kevin Costner recently chose this name for his son. And it’s one of the many surnames on the rise: Lennox, Sullivan, and Edison all increased over 100 spots in 2011.
13. Kayson (and other K names)
When it comes to names gaining popularity, the (invented) “K” names are giving the “Br-” names a stiff competition.
Kayson, Kamden, Kason, Kraysen, Karson, Kohen, Kyan, and Karter are all majorly on the rise.
Rory (name to Broadway sensation Rory O’Malley) had a major popularity boost in 2011, and it’s still much more popular for a boy than a girl (although the girl version entered the Top 1,000 in 2011, so it’s on the rise as well).
Other gender-neutral names that gained popularity in 2011: Harper and Eden.
This distinguished name climbed almost 150 places in 2011, although it’s lingering in the mid-700s. It hasn’t been a popular choice here in the U.S., despite the historical reference of Winston Churchill, the literary reference of Winston Smith (of George Orwell’s 1984), and the Winnie-the-Pooh association. Is it ready for a revival?
16. Amos (and other A names)
Amos entered the Top 1,000 in 2011, and it’s yet another biblical name on the rise.
Other “A” names that gained popularity in 2011: Atticus, Abram, Abel, Adonis, Arian, and Arlo.
Harvey still ranks in the low 800s (in the Top 1,000), but it was a newcomer to the list. And considering it’s having a big revival over in England (ranking in the Top 50!), it might not be long before Harvey makes a comeback here as well.
The name Odin (best known as a mythological God) is steadily rising up the charts. Nameberry suggests that this might be an alternative to Aiden.
Speaking of Aiden, we have two name variations climbing up the ranks: Zaiden and Raiden. While Zaiden is simply a modern invention similar to the Caden/Jaden/Brayden trend, the name Raiden is actually the name of the Japanese god of thunder.
The Shakespearean name Cassius is one of the many newcomers to 2011’s Top 1,000 list.
Other newcomers (besides the ones previously mentioned) include:
More boy names that saw a notable increase in 2011 (besides those mentioned above):
- Amare (African for “handsome”)
- Arabic names like Abdullah and Samir
- Matias (as well as Matteo/Mateo)
As far as the Top 20, Mason (now #2) and Liam (now #15) saw the biggest increases.