Baby names inspired by nature are hotter than ever

toddler in dandelion field
© Milosz_G

Watch out Sophia and Jackson, Maple and Fern are moving on up.

OK, so it's unlikely that Sophia, Olivia, and Emma are going anywhere soon; the same can be said for Jackson, Liam, and Noah. These top three girl and boy names for 2018 have been leading the pack for years and should not feel threatened. But according to Baby Center's baby name numbers for the year, there are clearly some trends that caught this treehugger's eye: Namely, nature names.

Names inspired by the natural world are nothing new. Rose was amongst the top 20 girls' names in the United States for the first few decades of the 20th century. Historically there have been plenty of girls named Iris and Lily, and no shortage of boys named Forrest and Woody. But we seem to be breaking out of the traditional plant and tree names and getting even more, uhm, creative. Consider the following upticks, according to the Baby Center list for 2018, which comes out of data from more than 742,000 parents who shared their names with the site. (The Social Security Administration also keeps a list of popular baby names, which looks more or less the same.)

Some of the nature-inspired names trending upward are not all that unusual. Hazel was in spot number 345 in 2008, now it's number 41 – in the same timespan, Violet went from 182 to 44, while Willow has gone from 407 to 93.

But then ... well, it's like it's the 1960s all over again, but sometimes with a decidedly millennial twist. (I'm looking at you, Kale.)

FOR GIRLS
Aurora (up 17 percent)
Clementine (up 15 percent)
Dawn (up 16 percent),
Kale (up 35 percent)
Kiwi (up 40 percent)
Magnolia (up 21 percent)
Maple (up 32 percent)
Rainbow (up 26 percent)
Rosemary (up 20 percent)
Saffron (up 31 percent)

FOR BOYS
Sage (up 15 percent )
Ocean (up 31 percent)
Fern (up 55 percent)
Sky (up 38 percent)

Other boy names that have been slinking up the list: Ash, Jay, Orion, and River (and likely many more, but those were some that I looked up).

I honestly love this trend. Language is important, and names are important – and the more we get flowers and trees and natural realms in day-to-day conversations, the better, I say. I think that it also speaks to the current zeitgeist, in which more and more people are embracing the natural world; and so deeply that they are actually seeking names for their children from it. That really says a lot.

Oh, and two other names of note that were indirectly inspired by nature: Stormi jumped 63 percent after Kylie Jenner gave her daughter the tempestuous moniker. And then there's Bunny, which has climbed 30 percent thanks to the online multiplayer game Fortnite, according to Baby Center. And yeah, maybe a baby name inspired by virtual adults wearing bunny onesies isn't exactly the same thing as being inspired by, you know, a real rabbit in a meadow ... well, welcome to the modern world. Hopefully there will be enough Kales to counter the Bunnys.

Baby names inspired by nature are hotter than ever
Watch out Sophia and Jackson, Maple and Fern are moving on up.

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