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The Hottest New Baby Names Of 2011 (So Far)

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Lately I’ve been obsessed with baby names. I can’t help it. I’m done having kids but when I see a pregnant woman, I’m not tempted to ask, “Is this your first?” or “Are you finding out the sex?” – two questions that are actually really annoying. Instead, I am dying to know what they’re planning to name their little bundle (though I don’t dare ask that, either. Maybe it’s because it’s been ingrained in my head that it’s bad luck to name your baby before she’s born – it’s a Jewish thing).

All this to say that I’ve been all over “The Hottest Baby Names of 2011” list released today by baby-name website Nameberry. Company founders Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz have authored 10 bestselling books, including The Baby Name Bible and Cool Names for Babies, and suffice to say they’ve mastered the art (and science) of baby names. Which is why their latest list – based on an analysis of more than 23 million page views at Nameberry – is filled with a slew of options derived from royalty, literature, the Bible – and beyond.

When it comes to boys’ names, Asher is number one on the list for the first time ever (replacing Henry). “Asher is a once-obscure biblical name that is so easy to like and fits in with so many contemporary name trends,” Redmond Satran tells me. “It relates to the mega-popular Ashley, starts with the hottest first initial A, and is a two-syllable surname-y name, the most popular category for boys.” (See? I told you there’s an art to this!) Redmond Satran also points out that boys’ names that break masculine conventions by not being a traditional Robert-David first name and having a softer sound like Asher’s sh (like Joshua) are very hot right now.

Other popular boys’ names that made the list include Everett (inspired by female counterparts Eva and Evelyn), Arlo (as in Guthrie), Flynn (the name of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr‘s latest addition) and Archer (think Henry JamesPortrait Of A Lady). “Literary names in general such as Harper and Holden may hold some deep meaning for parents and give kids something admirable outside themselves to relate to, the way having a saints’ name or a rich relative’s name once did,” says Redmond Satran.

The hottest new girls’ name on the list? Wait for it… Pippa. That’s right, Kate Middleton‘s saucy little sis has sparked a national trend. While the more formal Philippa is number one on Nameberry’s list, Pippa ranks 35 on the site’s most-searched list so far this year after not appearing at all among the top 200 most popular girls’ names of 2010. Kate is up, too, but not nearly as much as Pippa. (Don’t worry, Kate – you got the prince.)

Meanwhile, unusual Hebrew names are popping up among the celebrity set, such as Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied‘s little guy, Aleph (based on the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Isla Fisher and Sasha Baron Cohen chose Elula for their second daughter – a name derived from the Hebrew calendar. As Redmond Satran explains: “Elula has the hot double-l sound. While Portman didn’t divulge Aleph’s name for a while, I don’t think it has the potential of Elula. While both are Hebrew, Aleph just has a more awkward sound.  Still, I bet we’ll hear a few!”

Other names that made the Nameberry list: Hadley, Mila, vintage girls’ names beginning with Ad- (Ada, Adele, Adeline, Adelaide) and, last but not least, Luna.

(Photo: Comstock Images)