Are you expecting a new little tax deduction in 2021? If so, one of the top items on your to-do list, right after soaking your aching feet and buying more ice cream, is probably going to be deciding on a name for your belly’s current occupant. (If you’re carrying twins, have you considered Ben and Jerry?)
The problem with coming up with a good baby name is that, while you might not want to go with the exact same name everybody else in your cohort is choosing, since nobody wants their kiddo to go through school being known as Jaden number six, you’ll probably also want to avoid a name that’s, shall we say, past its prime, like Karen, Kony, or Aethelred. In order to make an informed decision, you should familiarize yourself with what names are hot, as well as the ones that are not. In order to help you out here, we present the following list of names that are bound to be well-represented in the kindergarten classrooms of 2026.
While some trends, such as giving your kiddo a COVID-themed name, are limited to a fairly short time period (at least, we sincerely hope that they are), other trends have serious legs. One of these, according to Nameberry, is girls’s names that start and end with the letter “A.” Among the prettiest of such “double A” names is Aaliyah, a fast-rising name that came in at number eight on BabyCenter‘s list of top names for 2020, and hit number two on a list complied by The Bump. BabyCenter says the name Aaliyah is of Arabic origin, and comes from the word for “exalted.” Sure sounds like a winner!
Yet another popular “A” name is Aurora, number three on The Bump‘s list and number two on Nameberry’s. Nameberry says Aurora comes for the Latin word for dawn. It is the name not only of the Roman goddess of the sunrise, but also of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and of the meteorological phenomenon Aurora Borealis (a.k.a. the northern lights).
There’s one instance in which you might want to avoid calling your baby Aurora, and that’s if you’re planning a move to the Denver area. It just so happens to be the name of one of that city’s largest adjacent suburban areas (via Mapquest). While Babycenter says place names are still trendy, they mean ones like glamorous international destinations (Cairo, Milan), or even major U.S. cities (Boston, Dallas, Memphis). Colorado ‘burbs still don’t make the cut.
This name had quite the boost in popularity during the year 2020, for obvious reasons — BabyCenter says it grew 104 percent from 2019 to 2020, but we don’t foresee the name slipping anytime soon. Post-inaugural festivities were enhanced with all manner of Kamala Harris-inspired merch, and even foods, including ice cream and commemorative cocktails. So what does this name mean, besides the most powerful woman and person of color currently holding office in the United States, and our first-ever female VP? It comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus, and is also another name for the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi.
One of the newer entries on the top boy name lists is Kai, number six on Nameberry and number four on The Bump. Are people really naming their babies after Cobra Kai? Ummm … maybe. Will they feel silly ten years down the road? Well, not as silly as if they’d named their kids, say, X Æ A-12. As to what the name Kai actually means, Nameberry reveals that it’s got numerous origin stories. It’s the name of the boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (basis for the movie Frozen), but is also a Hawaiian word for “sea,” a Japanese word for “forgiveness,” a Navajo word for “willow tree,” and a Maori word for “food.” Oh, and it can be used for girls as well as boys — Donald Trump, Jr. has a daughter by this name.
Biblical names are enduringly popular, and Elijah is one that keeps hanging in there. It came in at number five on the Social Security Administration’s list of the top ten boy names of 2019 (they don’t yet have all of the data compiled for 2020, and 2021, of course, is still underway), and also ranked fifth on Babycenter‘s 2020 list. Nameberry says Elijah comes from the Hebrew for “Yahweh is God,” and says it’s a rising star among Bible-derived boy names. So much so that it could soon rival Noah for the top spot — and it doesn’t come with the latter name’s baggage of having your kid grow up to be a potential pet hoarder.
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