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The Top Rising Baby Names of the Year Have a Surprising Look

May 10, 2024 laurawattenberg No Comments

The Top Rising Baby Names of the Year Have a Surprising Look

May 10, 2024 LauraWattenberg No Comments
Images of MMA fighter Alitzel Mariscan and science fiction character Cassian Andor
Alitzel Mariscal; Cassian Andor

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I wrote about how science fiction and fantasy authors create otherworldly names for their characters. They need to aim close enough to familiar patterns for their people to sound like people, but far enough from the norm to suggest another world. That leads to a lot of creative spelling and unconventional letters.

Unusual vowel combos are popular, especially ae. Letter substitutions can also help shake up a name’s look, like swapping an expected y for an i or vice versa. For consonants, a hard sound like K can lead off the name, but later sounds tend to stay smooth—except for the letters z and x, which are always welcome. Name endings can be used as pointers to gender identity: more vowel endings for female characters, more consonants for male. Keep these principles in mind as you look at America’s fastest rising names of 2023.


Let me be clear, I am NOT suggesting that these names don’t sound like earthlings. These are popular, fashionable names for real-life babies. Rather, I’m saying that human naming trends increasingly point us in directions that were once otherworldly. “Unconventional yet not unrecognizable” is the new normal.

A closer look at some of America’s hottest baby names:


1. Kaeli: The name Kaylee, in every spelling parents could dream up, was one of the defining hits of the early 21st century. One of the children of that time was Kaeli Mae, now a popular “aesthetic influencer” who creates videos promoting all-neutral color schemes. Her version of Kaeli has a distinctive enough spelling to draw attention back to the name.

2. Lainey: Country singer Lainey Wilson was named country’s Entertainer of the Year in 2023. She was also featured on the tv series Yellowstone, a proven kingmaker in the realm of Western-style baby names.

3. Alitzel: This Mexican name is a lyrical elaboration on the popular Itzel. Alitzel Mariscal is a Mexican mixed martial arts fighter.


1. Izael: This name is the hottest of a fast-rising group of Latino names built off the biblical-style ending “ael.” Adael just missed the popularity cutoff for this list, Ezael rose by 250%, and even Ralphael registered in the US name stats. The fashionable z spelling helped boost Izael, as did the infant son of an influencer who goes by “La Comadre Lulu.”

2. Cassian: If you need more proof of the otherworldly style theory, Cassian Andor is the protagonist of the Star Wars-universe series Andor and a separate Cassian is featured in the popular fantasy series A Court of Thorns and Roses.

3. Chozen: Rapper NLE Choppa and internet personality Marissa Da’Nae welcomed a son named ChoZen in August. The new father described it as a spiritual name, meaning, in his words, “picked by God, God’s favorite and also zenful energy.” Previously, the name had been best known via the character Chozen Toguchi of the tv series Cobra Kai.


Namerology founder and "Baby Name Wizard" author Laura Wattenberg is a globally recognized name expert, known for her scientific approach to understanding name trends and culture.

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