Welcome to our annual Social Security Baby Names post! It’s finally the time of year when we learn the legitimate, officially-compiled United States name statistics for the previous year. Potential parents, name-changers or pet owners, take note. If you want to know whether the name you love is obscure or top-of-the-charts, skyrocketing or plummeting in popularity, unisex or gender-specific, these are the stats you’ll need, and they’re all available online thanks to the Social Security Administration.
For the past several years, we’ve operated off of the same premise: there are no bad names (pretty much!), just perfectly nice names that your child may arbitrarily decide to hate once they’re 13 years old or so. For the 2013 stats, we told you why your kids would hate their most popular names of the year by 2026. In 2014 and 2015, we turned our attention to the fastest rising names which – sorry! – plenty of kids will decide to dislike for no reason at all around middle school. It felt like time to switch things up, so this year we’ll talk about why the fastest-falling names of 2016 will earn your tween’s ire at the end of the roaring 2020s. I probably don’t have to tell you, but these reasons are completely silly and made-up: all of these names are fine and any kid should wear them well.
Change in popularity: down 344 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: On the negative side, your little Neriah – melodic, easy-to-pronounce yet still uncommon Neriah – will read the Bible and learn that Neriah was a boy. On the positive side, if you chose Neriah because it’s a Biblical name… at least Neriah’s reading the Bible?
Change in popularity: down 381 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: Wishes you’d spelled it Katelynn.
Change in popularity: down 402 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: Wishes you’d spelled it Kaitlyn.
Change in popularity: Down 462 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: There are too many ways to spell Caitlyn.
Oh, plus after the Revolution Of 2021, Caitlyn Jenner is somehow the President Of The United States and she’s not doing a great job. Not the WORST job, but that won’t be saying much in 2029.
Change in popularity: Down 542 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: A Caitlin by any other spelling (and boy, are there SPELLINGS) is still a Caitlin… unless you’re a traditionalist who prefers the Irish pronunciation instead of the Americanized “kate + lin” pronunciation, which for some reason your Caitlin is. Substitute teachers are a nightmare.
Change in popularity: Down 213 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: I can’t think of a single reason Yaakov would be declining… traditional Hebrew name, lots of great namesakes, no bad pop culture references. All that makes me think that there must be some really annoying Yaakov out there whom a lot of people know. Once Bad Yaakov comes to your town, your little Yaakov will resent his name forever.
Change in popularity: Down 222 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: This one pains me, as Fred and Freddy (as nicknames for Frederick, Alfred or Wilfred) have always been favorites of mine. But if you have a 9-year-old boy you see the problem here: the rapid rise of Five Nights Of Freddy, a weird, violent video game that for some reason all of the kids I know, who don’t actually play it, know everything about. Once your Freddy sees the game and has nightmares for months, it’s all over.
Change in popularity: Down 230 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: In the Gilmore Girls fandom, there’s Team Jess and Team Dean, but there’s a smaller, waspier team: Team Tristan. Your Triston is NOT on it.
Change in popularity: Down 239 places
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: Thanks to the many spellings of Aidan, there are a few others on your Aaden’s baseball team. No big deal! Except his coach insists on setting him apart by pronouncing it AAAAAHHHH-den. You did not have that pronunciation in mind.
Change in popularity: Down 475
Why your kid will hate it in 2029: Jonael was one of the fastest RISING names just a year ago. Your astute Jonael realizes that this will date-stamp him to a particular birth year, and he’s anticipating that when he’s middle aged everyone will realize precisely how old he is. He’s an old soul, your Jonael.