If you’re expecting a new bundle of joy to arrive Earth-side in 2022, you’re probably already dreaming of the perfect name to choose. It’s a tough decision for parents and can get even more challenging with each subsequent baby. (Honestly, naming my youngest was so hard.) So what do you do when you need some inspiration? Take to the internet, of course. There’s a whole world of information about popular baby names to explore right at your fingertips. What a time to be alive. Baby names trending in 2022 so far include those inspired by nature, outer space, and the Royal family. Below, learn more about what the most popular trending names of 2022 mean, and why baby names even trend to begin with.
Why do baby names trend?
“We attach certain meanings, attributes, and qualities of personalities to names. We might have expectations for how the person will behave, what they will do for work, what their values are, etc. And assumptions are made — right or wrong — about names,” Deborah J. Cohan, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina - Beaufort and the author of Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving, and Redemption, tells Romper.
From pop culture to current events, the reason that certain baby names trend over others is complex. “We are influenced by so much, by a variety of social institutions that socialize us to become who we are, including our families, media, religion, etc. People might be moved by a song, a movie, a television show, or a place and want to select a name that calls up those good memories and associations every time.”
Though popular names tend to trend, the pull to choose a unique or meaningful name can be strong. “Naming is a form of self-expression for parents to be, and it's a way of declaring a special identity for the child and for the parents,” explains Cohan. This means that names can have a variety of roots for reasons that are important to parents, like drawing meaning from a special place, picking a vintage name that has cycled back around into the baby name pool, or wanting an androgynous name that works regardless of gender.
2022 baby name trends
“It's really hard to predict what naming trends will have the most staying power,” says Cohan. “I tend to think that babies born in a pandemic and soon after are likely to be given names that counter the despair and radiate optimism, playfulness, and joy, as well as strength, resilience, and even a bit of a king of the hill quality.”
When predicting what the most popular baby names of 2022 would be at the start of the year, data compiled by the team at the baby and pregnancy site The Bump revealed six major trends that they expected to see. As predicted, unisex names, nature-inspired names, interstellar names, names to inspire confidence, vintage names, and uplifting names have topped the charts so far in 2022.
“If there is anything the past two years of pandemic life have shown us, it is that people are craving an escape from the tumult and stress — and to do that, many are finding a sense of serenity in the open air. For this reason, The Bump anticipates that the biggest baby name trend of 2022 will be names inspired by the outdoors,” Nehal Aggarwal, Associate Editor of The Bump, tells Romper. “We see this mega trend playing out in the surge in popularity of nature- and celestial-themed baby names — themes that are also popping up in nursery design and baby items."
Recent changes to baby name trends
When you compare the most recent data on popular baby names from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to data compiled by baby naming websites like The Bump, Baby Center, and Nameberry, there are notable differences. The SSA’s most recent list includes names registered to babies born in 2021, whereas baby naming sites populate their lists based on search history from users and self-reports.
Based on a comparison from the top 10 baby names for boys and girls from the SSA in 2021 and the current 2022 list from Baby Center, you can see several notable changes to naming trends:
- Emma is still a top contender. This name just won’t quit. Ranked 2nd in 2021 by the SSA, it’s currently also 2nd on Baby Center. (Though, surprisingly, it wasn’t a top-searched baby name on Google in 2021.)
- Mateo is currently ranked 7th by Baby Center, but was the 15th most-popular boy name in 2021, according to the SSA.
- Liam and Noah continue to battle for the top boy name in 2022. Noah is the most-searched boy name on Baby Center, while Liam was the top choice for boys born in 2021, per the SSA.
- Luna is still going strong. Currently, trending as the 7th most-popular girl name on Baby Center, the name was ranked 11th by the SSA in 2021, up from 14th in 2020.
- Gold is now a trending boy name. It ranks 4th on Baby Center’s list, but since record-keeping began in 1900, Gold has never graced the top 1000 names for either gender, according to the SSA. Perhaps this newly-trending elemental name is a riff off of the boy name Cash?
Names for baby boys have seen a bigger shake-up in 2022 than girl names. Comparing the real-time Baby Center list to the SSA’s 2021 naming data, Mateo, Levi, Asher, Ethan, and Gold have usurped boy names William, Benjamin, Henry, James, and Theodore, removing them from the top 10. For girls, only the number 10 spot from the SSA’s list, Harper, wasn’t included in Baby Center’s top 10. Included instead is Luna, ranked 11th in 2021, per the SSA.
It will be interesting to see how the final lists compare when the SSA’s data for babies named in 2022 is released.
Trending baby names so far in 2022
Inspired by current trends, here are a few baby names that are trending so far in 2022:
Between an increase in popularity for nature-inspired names and the birth of royal baby Lilibet (Lili for short) in 2021, this floral name has gained traction in 2022. Though it currently ranks 24th on Baby Center and 31st on The Bump, the name saw a 4-spot jump from 35th most-popular in 2020 to 31st in 2021 in the SSA rankings.
In 2021, Elijah held strong in the number 4 spot on the SSA’s list. It’s currently the 4th most-searched boy name on The Bump, and 5th most-searched on Baby Center. The Hebrew name is both classic and biblical, which fits right in with the 2022 baby naming trends with vintage, uplifting, and confident vibes.
The 10th most-popular name on Nameberry and 14th on Baby Center currently, this interstellar name is rooted in Greek mythology and means “dawn,” but it’s also the name of the princess in Sleeping Beauty. It has a similar vibe to the ever-popular Arya, and with space and nature names trending upward, we could see more Auroras soon.
With vintage and uplifting names trending, the Sex and the City reboot on HBO Max, and of course, the name’s royal connection, it makes sense that the baby name Charlotte is more popular than ever in 2022. It was the 3rd most-popular baby girl name in 2021, up from the 4th spot in 2020 according to the SSA. The name is also the 3rd most-searched name on The Bump so far this year. (Plus, Charlie is such an adorable, gender-neutral nickname.)
Though we predicted earlier this year that the similar-sounding name Luca would be on the rise — the Italian name was the top-searched boy name on Google in 2021 and the titular character of a 2021 Disney/Pixar film — Lucas has taken back over so far in 2022. Comparatively, Lucas sits 8th on the SSA’s 2021 list as well as The Bump’s 2022 list, while Luca ranks 42nd on both.
The current most-searched girl name on Nameberry, Maeve has seen a drastic jump on the SSA’s list in recent years, up a full 210 spots in just 3 years from 2018 to 2021. To put that in perspective, the top 2 girl names, Olivia and Emma, haven’t budged at all in the same time frame. Could Maeve be the next popular alternative to recent chart-toppers like Mia, Mila, and Maya? Only time will tell.
Mateo is a boy name of Spanish origin that’s seen a big rise in popularity over the past few years. Rising from 20th most-popular in the U.S. in 2020 to 15th in 2021, per the SSA, the name is currently the 7th most-searched boy name on Baby Center. Meaning “gift from God,” it’s an uplifting name that’s right on trend for this year.
Another trendy galactic moniker for girls in 2022 is Luna. The 2nd most-searched baby name on Namberry so far this year, Luna jumped from 14th most-popular on the SSA’s list in 2020 to 11th in 2021. Could 2022 be the year the Luna finally breaks the top 10?
As names with royal connections like Charlotte and Lily are on the rise with baby girls, the top-trending choice for boys on Namberry takes a more literal approach. Interestingly, the name Royal has been on the SSA’s list a handful of times over the years. In 2021, there were 876 boys born with the name, ranking 370th, up from 405th in 2021. The highest ranking achieved by Royal in the U.S. was back in 1906, when it was ranked 339th most-popular.
The baby name Gianna jumped from 79th most-popular in 2019 to 13th in 2020 and held the same ranking in 2021, per the SSA. It is possible the name achieved this ranking as a tribute to the late Gianna Bryant after her tragic death alongside dad Kobe Bryant in 2020, but as the name is currently 13th on The Bump and 15th on Baby Center, it appears more popular than ever in 2022.
Baby names that start with “L” are having a moment in 2022. Alongside Liam, Lily, Luna, and Lucas, Levi is a top-trending choice for boys. Currently ranked 8th on Baby Center’s most-searched names, the biblical name also jumped from 18th most-popular in 2020 to 12th in 2021 on the SSA’s list, so it’s definitely on the rise.
The baby name Evelyn has appeared in the top 10 names for girls born in the U.S. 5 times since 2017, per the SSA. Currently 9th on The Bump and 10th on Baby Center, the classic name has a vintage feel and hopeful vibes (meaning “living”) so it fits right in with popular 2022 baby-naming trends and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
It would be a misstep not to include a note about the obvious outlier in trending baby names so far for 2022 — Gold. It’s currently the 4th most-searched name for boys by Baby Center and saw a 22% rise in searches on Namberry in the last week of July 2022.
Though Gold has never appeared in the top 1000 most-popular names for boys since record-keeping began in 1900, the name Goldie for girls graced the list many times from 1900 to 1958. Absent since then, Goldie popped back up in 2021, with 305 baby girls born bearing the moniker, ranking 883rd. Is this an early indication of the metallic name making its presence known in the baby-naming universe? So far in 2022, the evidence is strong.
Which of these baby names trending in 2022 so far will take the top spots and cement their place in history when the year is through? Only time will tell.
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