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What's hot in baby names
At the end of every year we analyze baby names through the lens of popular culture to find out which trends are inspiring new parents. The data's in: 2019 was the year of Keanu Reeves, Star Wars, "Bachelor Nation," nicknames, and throwbacks from the '90s.
The year of Keanu
The beloved actor Keanu Reeves was everywhere this year with new movies, a headline-grabbing girlfriend, viral gifs, and nonstop media coverage as "the nicest guy" in Hollywood. All that love boosted the name Keanu (meaning "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian) by 24 percent.
Keanu appeared in four movies and made high-profile cameos in trailers for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and the Cyberpunk 2077 video game. The name of his character in Toy Story 4, Duke, went up in popularity, and so did the name of his character from the upcoming SpongeBob movie, Sage. Plus, his costars Halle Berry in John Wick 3 and Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe both saw upticks in their first names among girls. Could it be the Keanu effect?
On top of that, multiple sequels of classic Keanu movies were announced this year, including The Matrix 4 and Bill & Ted 3. Even though Neo isn't trending yet, both Theodore and Ted are on the rise. A truly breathtaking year.
Star Wars: New names strike back
Star Wars has captured the imaginations of new parents since the '70s, but the force is increasingly with the franchise's new characters. As the Star Wars universe continues to expand with spinoffs such as The Mandalorian, names from the new anthology films and TV series are gaining traction. Kiera and Kira (as in Qi'ra) from Solo are both up. Cassian from Rogue One jumped 10 percent, and Rex from The Clone Wars went up 11 percent. From Star Wars Rebels, Hera increased 12 percent and Ezra soared 24 percent. Even the names Pedro and Pascal are both up for boys, a nod to the actor who plays the title character in The Mandalorian.
Meanwhile, characters from the Skywalker saga – Luke and Anakin – have fallen in popularity. The names of the actors starring in the original films, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, are also down. Leia, who shot up 30 percent, is the exception.
With The Rise of Skywalker bringing the main series to a close, we'll be keeping our eye on names Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo.
The Bachelor baby boom
No less than seven couples affiliated with the TV phenomenon The Bachelor became parents this year, and "Bachelor Nation" baby names are trending.
Born to Bachelor in Paradise alums Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert, Brooks went up 18 percent on our popular baby names list. Ruth, chosen by Bekah Martinez and boyfriend Grayston Leonard, saw a 10 percent increase. Whitney Bischoff and husband Ricky Angel named their son Hayes, which had an uptick. The same goes for Cruz, picked by The Bachelorette alums Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried for their baby boy Zander's middle name. And the couple from last year's season 22, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Lauren Burnham, welcomed daughter Alessi, a unique name we'll be watching in 2020.
Holly Durst and Blake Julian were joined by baby Poppy, and Carly Waddell and Evan Bass recently welcomed little Charlie Wolfe. Even though we haven't seen an uptick in Poppy and Charlie yet, the latest Bachelor newborn marks the third celebrity baby boy named "Charlie Wolf," a moniker also chosen by Zooey Deschanel and Lauren Conrad.
'90s names: Oops, she did it again
Nostalgia is a potent ingredient in baby name love. Childhood favorites never leave our hearts. It doesn't hurt that we're seeing a resurgence in '90s TV shows, from Friends to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, along with '90s fashion trends such as scrunchies, Birkenstocks, and oversize T-shirts (thank you, VSCO girls). On top of that, babies born in the '90s are in the thick of having babies of their own.
A renewed interest in this decade is fueling a boost in names that were popular 25 years ago. Brittany shot up 33 percent for baby girls. Nicole, Amber, Amanda, Lauren, Jessica, Stephanie, and Rachel all went up. Among boys, we saw more babies named Jonathan, Christopher, Nicholas, and Austin.
Nicknames as first names
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shocked the world by naming their firstborn son Archie, traditionally a nickname. And as the royals go, so go the rest of us. Nicknames as baby names are now an official thing.
For baby girls, Cassie is up a whopping 43 percent, Toni is up 36 percent, Nell is up 24 percent, and Tori is up 19 percent. Other nicknames that saw a boost include Winnie, Tilly, Eliza, Gwen, Tessa, Frankie, Sam, and Edie.
Among baby boys, Izzy is up 36 percent, Ricky is up 25 percent, and Leo and Randy are both up 21 percent. There are many others close behind them, including Mickey, Kit, Ted, Frank, Theo, Joe, Ronnie, Frankie, and Rudy.