The Hottest Baby Names for 2016

From unisex names to classic comebacks, our resident expert predicts the popular baby name trends we’re likely to see this year.

It’s that time of year again, when we pull out our baby name crystal ball and try to see what’s coming up that’s fresh, fun, and wildly popular for next year (beyond the Noahs and Emmas, of course). Here’s what I’m predicting you’ll see trending in baby names in 2016.

Star Wars Names

Daisy Ridley at Star Wars premiere Steve Zak Photography/Getty Images

For Star Wars fans, Christmas is coming early this year—and in my house, there’s a countdown to The Force Awakens, rather than Santa’s arrival. In the lead up to the big movie, last year saw Anakin (the future Darth Vader) making one of the biggest leaps in popularity. And the new movie already has two names that seem ripe for usage by Star Wars superfans—the already popular Finn, and newcomer Rey (played by Daisy Ridley, at left).

Classic Comebacks

Baby names are constantly recycled, and old-school picks like Clyde and Harvey are becoming increasingly popular. Four I expect to see make big rises in popularity this year: Willa, Royal, Esme, and Winston.

Cool Words

Amy Pohler SAG Awards Shutterstock

Word names have seen a renaissance in recent years, as florals, colors, and seasons are red hot for celebs and common folks. (See: Lily, Violet, Autumn, and Grey.) Some new ones that I think will be trending: Joy (a popular pick in the 1960s, and primed for a comeback thanks to Disney’s Inside Out, in which Amy Pohler plays the spunky character), Winter (the season du jour, which could be used for guys or girls), Clementine (a lovely old-fashioned name I’ve been championing for a few years now), and the spunky floral Poppy.

Unisex Baby Names

There’s always been a lot of crossover between the boys’ and girls’ lists—and in fact, many names that seem like girls-only picks now were once in the boys’ column (think Meredith and Ashley). Four names that work for both sexes: Sailor/Saylor (a buzzy name with celebrities this year), Sawyer, Cameron, Remy, and James (super popular always for boys, but now making inroads for girls, too).

Game of Thrones Names

Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones Helga Esteb/Shutterstock

Arya was always the breakout star from the popular show and TV series, but last year the royal title Khaleesi hit the top 1000 and was one of the big risers on the baby name list. Snow (as in is-he-alive-or-is-he-dead Jon Snow), and the more common spelling of Margery are surprise risers in popularity, but my money’s on Tyrion and Sansa (played by Sophie Turner, at left) as two other wearable names from the series.

Tell us:

What do you think will trend this year? And will any of my suggestions be on your short list?

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.