What's In A Name?

The Future Of Baby Naming Is Here, And It's Genderless

BabyNames.com CEO Jennifer Moss talks about the names that defined Generation Alpha — and what may come for Generation Beta.

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The Complete Fatherly Guide To Naming Your Baby

Generation Alpha is officially coming to a close. For 14 years — from 2010 to 2024 — the generation ruled delivery rooms and classrooms across the United States, spawning a new era of baby-naming trends, from vintage-inspired names and classic names spelled uniquely, to the rise of gender-neutral and dictionary names. Now, we’re just months away from the first Generation Beta babies — and firmly on the cusp of a new era of baby naming.

But as we say goodbye to the Braxtons and the Ashleighs, and as they sail on into their tweens and teens, what baby names can we expect to define this next generation — and to dominate 2024? Fatherly spoke to Jennifer Moss, the CEO of BabyNames.com, about the trends she’s already seeing take shape this year and her predictions for what happens after 2024.

What baby naming trends do you think will dominate 2024? I know it’s a bit early, but…

Right. Although we don't have stats on that until next year, we can see, kind of, from what people are adding to their favorite name lists, what's going on currently, and what the trends are in now.

What are you seeing?

We're seeing a lot of the dictionary word names and not just the nature names like Willow, but we're also seeing “place names” becoming bigger, and what we call expectation names, which are like “Honor” and “Gorgeous.”

But also just other names like “Indigo,” and just random nouns that are becoming bigger — “Heavenly” and “Power” and things like that. And it mostly comes from the characteristics people want to instill into their child.

Generation Alpha spans 14 years — 2010 to 2024. What are some of the baby naming trends that defined this generation of babies, looking back? We think of names like Michelle and Jessica being iconic of Gen X — what names will we associate with Gen Alpha?

I think what's going to be typical for this generation is alternative spellings of popular names like Ashley being spelled A-S-H-L-Y-E-I-G-H.

And you're going to see these Braxton-Jaxton names, created from syllables that sound good to people. So the Aiden-Brayden-Cayden phase and popular names like Ashley spelled differently, because people want to be unique.

Do you think ultra-popular names like Emma will be considered typical of Gen Alpha, or are they more evergreen?

I think that's going to be evergreen. It’s going to be like Laura. There are certain names that are just classic that have always stayed in style, as long as they aren't identified with anybody hugely popular. Obviously, Taylor Swift is going to be identified with her generation. With ’80s and ’90s babies, [that name is] going to be wholly identified with Taylor Swift, but there are a lot of actresses named Emma. It's not really defined by one person, so I think it's going to be a classic name.

Do you have any thoughts about trends that you think might endure over the next few years as the first Generation Beta babies comes into the world?

Gender-neutral names are definitely becoming more trendy for both boys and girls. That's just how our culture is changing. I think it started more on the girls' side, but now it’s showing up on both sides of the charts. It’s not as much of a stigma to be feminine for boys, as it is being masculine for girls. So it's really interesting how the perception of gender is changing, and therefore gender-neutral names are becoming more popular. That will be a sign of the new babies of this generation for sure.

Do you think expectation names — like, as you say, “Honor” — will be a flash in the pan or do you think it'll continue?

I think it's going to be a flash in the pan. I think as these kids grow up and realize that maybe they don't want these names, they don't want the expectation, or it feels a little too heavy a burden on them, parents will realize that they're not fair to give to their children.

What about alternate spellings of baby names? Will that trend continue or will it die out?

We're already seeing that — the alternate spellings are dropping down on the charts and becoming less frequent. That started with the 2022 baby names Social Security list — there were less of those alternate spellings than a couple of years before.

Are there any new boy names or girl names you’re seeing hitting or leaving the charts right now that are surprising?

For the boys’ names, old-fashioned names are hitting the charts five to eight years after the trend debuted on the girls’ side. [Names like] Silas — top of the charts! — Cyrus, Walter, Dean, Amos, Harvey.

[On the] girls’ side, it’s surprising that the “alternate spelling” phase seems to have already phased out. Probably because of all the online name-shaming groups like “That name is a Tragedeigh.”

What baby-naming trends are you really excited about and what do you want to stick around that interests you?

Personally, I love nature names, so I love names like “Briar” and “Primrose.” I like names that honor our Mother Earth. I am kind of tired of the alternate spellings, like using a K instead of a C for Chloe.

I do like, starting a couple of years ago, there have been the god and goddess names like Atlas and Apollo — I think those are cool because it instills power into your child without an outright expectation, but the names have cool connotations and backstories to them.

Well, maybe then we'll see a rise in Perseus because of the new Percy Jackson TV show?

And Persephone, too. Those are all really neat.

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