Adorable names are roaring back into style—for girls only.
For generations, American baby names have been anything but cutesy. The quest for novelty has opened up a world of new name styles, from the antique to the otherworldly. But pinch-your-cheeks adorable has been a non-starter…until now. Cute names are making a comeback.
The surest sign is the return of diminutive names ending in -ie. Cozy nicknames like Millie, Annie and Nellie used to be American mainstays, given to one out of every twelve girls in the latter part of the 1800s. The style declined throughout the 20th Century, so that by 2002 not a single -ie name ranked among the top 100 names for US girls.
The arrow is now pointing up for girls’ -ie nicknames of every description. Names that recently hit 50-year popularity highs include:
- Familiar standards like Annie, Josie, Lizzie and Rosie
- Quaint throwbacks like Hattie, Tillie, Winnie and Dottie
- Boyish Jazz-Age names like Georgie, Frankie, Bennie and Teddie
- Cheery word-based diminutives like Goldie, Birdie, Sunnie and Dovie
- Nouveau-retro diminutives like Jaxie, Zazie, Ezrie and Eevie
And even those are just the start of the cuteness wave. Floral names are blooming everywhere:
- Cheery, elfin flower names like Tulip, Poppy, Lilac and Clover
- Fanciful, picturesque flower names like Chrysanthemum, Azalea, Orchid and Amaryllis
- Floral terms like Blossom, Posy, Flower and Bloom
Everywhere you look, you’ll find cute girls’ names reaching new peaks. Honey and Lovely; Sunny and Rainbow; Cozy and Charm. But only for girls. Boys’ names remain a no-cuteness zone.
If this gender divide seems natural or even inevitable, a look across the Atlantic proves otherwise. In England today, 11 of the current top 50 boys’ names are diminutives like Albie, Teddy and Alfie. Male diminutives used to be routine here as well. In the first decade of the 20th Century, Willie was more popular than any boy’s name is today. But the new American cuteness wave is overwhelmingly female.
The cute girls’ names are about more than just “girliness.” Tillie and Winnie are charming antiques. Orchid and Clover are part of a growing wave of new nature names. And Charlie and Stevie play with gender boundaries. The one-sidedness of the trend, though, creates a gulf. Pair it with the one-sided trend toward power and aggression in boys’ names and you have stylistic gender gap poised to grow wider.