What do you think, readers? Are these names popular for a reason? Or should we be looking outside the box when choosing names?
Emma - "universal"
I'm pretty sure this name skyrocketed due to Ross and Rachel using it for their daughter on Friends. But the short, classic sound and cross-cultural possibilities have kept Emma a favorite.
Sound: Ima, Embeth, Emmeline, Amara, Amina, Imelda
Meaning: Irma, Ermelinda, Armina, Kosma, Evren
Olivia - "olive"
Another cross-cultural name, Olivia is feminine, melodic and strong. References on Law and Order and the children's book series Olivia the Great will help its popularity for awhile.
Sound: Olive, Orlanda, Oona, Livia, Octavia, Aurelia
Meaning: Zetta, Zayit, Zayitah
Sophia - "wisdom"
This sound and meaning combination is almost unmatched (except by Emma, of course). Sophia is pretty but mature and compelling all at once.
Sound: Seraphina, Suria, Sapphira, Sernia, Fiona
Meaning: Dara, Pallas, Sonia, Hye, Zosia
Isabella - "pledged to God"
The Latin variation of Elizabeth updates a classic and surfs the Twilight wave of Bella names. Its many nicknames allow for some uniqueness, but I think other names will be even more personable.
Sound: Isolde, Iseult, Arabella, Isabeau, Estella, Estrella, Esmeralda
Meaning: Eilis, Elisaveta, Elixane, Ilsa, Zizi
Ava - "life", "breath", "desired"
This simple but hauntingly beautiful name has origins from three different cultures, namesakes galore, and an ability to go with any last name. I'm definitely a fan of Ava!
Sound: Eva, Avalon, Avril, Avon, Aveline, Alma
Meaning (life): Asha, Chava, Shivani, Viva, Zenaida
Meaning (breath): Abelia, Psyche, Spirit, Urja, Ahelia
Meaning (desired): Aimée, Avila, Desirée, Kanta, Nahia, Zody
Mia - "mine"
Originally a short form of Maria or Amelia, Mia has become an option all its own - short and sweet, easily accessible, and friendly. But there are names out there with a bit more staying power.
Sound: Malia, Amalia, Samia, Euphemia, Damia, Alia
Meaning: Nerea, Liat, Lihi, Lelac, Ronli
Emily - "rival"
I'll admit it, I really do love my name. But so has every other namer for the past 20 years! I think it's time to move beyond Emily.
Sound: Amity, Emory, Emmeline, Bellamy, Millie
Meaning: Emlyn, Emiri, Nadida, Emilia, Aemilia
Abigail - "my father is joy"
Classic and cute, Abigail and Abby will be all over playgrounds for years to come. Let's see if we can't find some equally amicable and feminine alternatives.
Sound: Annabel, Abilene, Adelaide, Avigail, Amabel
Meaning: Adanna, Hephzibah, Asenath, Giliah, Hija
Madison - "son of Maud" (Maud - "battle-mighty")
One of the few names that can connect its popularity directly to a moment in time - the 1989 release of Splash. I think we ought to finally move beyond the 80's, though...
Sound: Madeleine, Maisy, Matilda, Mamie, Emerson, Malin
Meaning: Maude, Mathilde, Alessia, Louisa, Malou
Charlotte - "free man"
Now that Princess Charlotte has made her debut, I think this name might reach the number one spot. It's cute and retro - but if you're looking for something unique, I'd check out the alternatives.
Sound: Carlotta, Charlene, Cherie, Lottie, Harriet
Meaning: Amadi, Carolina, Françoise, Malaya, Lolo
Let me know your favorites in the comments!