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Baby Names, 2011: The 14 Hottest Trends

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Our friends at nameberry.com project that the baby names of 2011 will reflect the new, lighter feel in the air and signal a more optimistic outlook for our offspring. With the economy improving and no Presidential election looming, they predict a respite from the heavier names of the past few years.

baby
Here, nameberry's outlook for the top 14 trends for baby names in 2011:

BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: Two-for-one names
Nameberry predicts the merging of two major recent trends: very proper proper names -- think Louise and Arthur; Beatrix and Abraham -- mixed with lighter-than-air, even silly nicknames (Lulu, Bee, Bunny and Bram). From the parents' perspective, they're getting two very different names for the price of one, which can be an advantage to children as they grow up. (They can be Lulu at the club; Louise on the Harvard app.) Nameberry sees parents reaching further to come up with two names that are linked in highly creative and not-always-obvious ways. A few examples: Cub from Caleb, Ace from Alistair, Fanny from Stephanie and Plum from Victoria (which is a type of English plum).

NEWEST TREND: Focusing on nicknames
Parents are showing a taste for choosing a nickname first, then finding a formal name for the birth certificate. They're starting with Josie or Zee -- the name the child will be known as among friends and family -- and searching from there for the formal name, be it Josephine, Zachary or Zebedee.

MOST ALARMING NAME-GENRE SWITCH: Dog names for babies
Is it because more and more people are viewing their pets as child equivalents? We're seeing more dog names for babies (Buster, Buddy) and baby names for dogs (Chloe, Zoe). Marley, the eponymous dog in the "Marley & Me" book and film, seems to be trailing off as a baby name, though.

LIGHTEST NEW BEGINNING: "Ha"
As in, "ha ha ha" -- for both girls and boys: Hayden, Harry, Hazel, Harrison, Harper, Hadley, Hank, Haven, Hal, Hart, Harriet, Hattie, Hale, Harley, Hartley, Harlow. (No Harlots reported as yet.)

HEAVIEST NEW ENDING: The Latin "-us" for boys, replacing -en and -er
Atticus (with its modern literary cred) is a current fave. Other cutting-edge countrymen: Aurelius, Augustus, Cassius, Maximus and Amadeus, not to mention other stylish "S"-ending boys' names, such as Rufus, Amos and Miles.

TIMELIEST TREND: Calendar-inspired names
This is a new spin on ancient African day names, encompassing everything from month names (January and May) to holiday and seasonal names (Winter and Easter) to day and even time-of-day names (Sunday and Midnight).

MOST UNLIKELY COMEBACK NAME: Stanley
Stanley is a new entry to the British Top 100. Other geezer names up for reconsideration: Ernest, Harvey, Arthur, Walter, Warren.

NEWEST GENDER-BENDING TREND: Androgynous names
These names will be used even-handedly for both sexes: Paxton, Peyton, Sawyer, Sasha. What's most notable is that parents are no longer backing off from using a name for boys once it becomes popular for girls.

FRESHEST FLOWER NAME: Azalea
As Lily, Rose and Daisy start to lose their bloom, more exotic blossom names -- Dahlia, Poppy, Lotus, Lilac, Acacia, Marigold, Camellia -- will take their place.

CONSONANT OF THE FUTURE: "R"
Not as in old-school Robert, Richard and Rhoda, but as in such rich and robust newcomers as Rufus (there it is again), Rupert, Ray, Rosamund, Raphael, Roman, Romy, Romilly, Remy, Rory, Reed, Rhys, Rowan, Ronan, Reeve, Ripley, Roscoe, Reuben and Ruby.

"IT" VOWEL: "O"
We've been O lovers for decades now, but the vowel has really come into its own with the ascendance of twin names Oliver and Olivia to the top of the British popularity list. O is supremely stylish as both a name beginning and ending, including such choices as Oscar, Owen, Orson, Otto, Orlando and Milo for boys and Olive, Olympia, Octavia and Ophelia (yes, really) for girls.

SPACIEST TREND: Names inspired by heavenly objects and creatures
These include planet names like Mars and Jupiter; star names such as Orion; angel names from Seraphina to Gabriel and names that reference the heavenly realm, such as Stella and Luna. Nevaeh, heaven spelled backwards, may have inspired the trend, but we see that name trailing off.

MOST IMPROBABLE TV-CHARACTER INSPIRATION: Dexter
'Nuff said.

NAME TREND THAT HAS JUMPED THE SHARK: "Twilight" names
Names from this franchise have been red-hot ever since the Stephenie Meyer books and movies appeared, but parents are beginning to say, "Hey, I don't want people to think I named my kid after a vampire." So Bella, Edward, Cullen, Emmett, Jasper, Esme and Felix may be approaching a downturn.


next: The Childless Bitch on Holiday Shopping
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