Popular baby names for 2023 inspired by football, Netflix and celebrities

From Lionel Messi and Jack Grealish to Wednesday Addams, some of last year's most prominent pop culture and sporting figures are behind this year's baby name trends

Some of this year's trending baby names also feature specific combinations of letters and syllables. Unsplash / Jonathan Borba
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He became the man of the moment when he led his team to victory in the 2022 World Cup, and now Lionel Messi is inspiring a whole new generation away from the pitch.

The civil registry office for the province of Santa Fe in Argentina reported a 700 per cent spike in babies being named Lionel or Lionela, following Messi’s impressive performance throughout the tournament, in which also won the Golden Ball award for best player.

The office’s data shows that there was an average of six monthly registrations for the names until September, but for October and November, when the World Cup kicked off, the average went up to 32.

And by the end of December, when Argentina beat France in one of the tensest World Cup finals ever witnessed, that figure had shot up to 49 — an increase of 716 per cent.

While the interest in naming babies after the football star has been given a boost by his latest achievements, he has always been a source of inspiration in the area, particularly in his home city of Rosario. In fact, in 2014, the city banned parents from naming their children “Messi”, with officials stating that using the footballer's surname as a first name would cause problems for census workers.

The city of Santa Fe in Argentina has had a 700 per cent spike in babies being named Lionel or Lionela after the 2022 Fifa World Cup. AP Photo

In the UK, labelling company My Nametags expects football stars to have a similar impact on baby names. The name Jude, after young England star Jude Bellingham, had a huge spike in Google searches during the opening days of the tournament, and is predicted to rise in the charts as a result. The name Jack, inspired by Manchester City star Jack Grealish, is also set to rise in popularity.

And it's not only boys’ names that England’s national teams are influencing. Following the Lionesses’ victory at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro, female football stars are all predicted to make just as much impact over the coming year. Searches for the name Alessia spiked the day Alessia Russo scored an impressive backheel goal against Sweden.

“Sporting personalities make excellent role models, so it’s no surprise that parents continue to be inspired by their generation’s biggest heroes when it comes to naming their children,” said Lars B Andersen, managing director at My Nametags.

“2022 was a huge year for football fans, we can definitely expect the men’s World Cup and Women’s Euros teams to have a significant impact on the name charts over the next year, especially with the Women’s World Cup taking place this summer.”

Footballers aren’t the only famous figures and factors influencing baby names this year; here’s a look at other names that have become popular in recent months.

The Netflix effect

Popular shows from the past few months have resulted in a spike in searches around names of fictional characters, several of which are expected to creep up the charts around the world.

The Netflix show Wednesday, which became the streaming service's second-most watched English language show ever, led to a considerable increase in the number of Google searches for the girls’ name Wednesday, My Nametags found.

While the boys’ names Arthur and Tommy have proved popular since the debut of Peaky Blinders in 2013, following the explosive final season in 2022, the monikers of the show’s main characters are predicted to climb even further up the name charts.

Elsewhere, season four of Stranger Things led to an all-out ‘80s revival, even causing Kate Bush’s track Running Up That Hill to top the charts and the mullet to come back into fashion — and names are set to be no different.

Baby name website nameberry.com predicts a comeback in names such Billy, Hank and Dustin.

Netflix's Addams Family spin-off Wednesday has led to a surge in searches for the girl's name. Photo: Netflix

Gilded glamour

Nameberry also predicts shimmering, shining, gilded names to be one of the top trends of 2023. “Parents are actively seeking names that feel bright, luxurious and optimistic,” the website says. “Golden names include those that directly reference the precious metal — such as cool retro nickname Goldie, new to the top 1,000 last year.”

Expect to see names inspired by sun deities, such as Apollo and Helios, names meaning gold or light such as Aurelia and Lux, and regal names such as Atarah and Sovereign.

Say I

While names ending in “a” and “o” remain popular, a new pattern is emerging and it follows a very specific formula: four letters, two syllables, and ends in “I”.

“This name shape hasn’t been mainstream cool since the midcentury era of Lori, Teri and Geri,” Nameberry says, “but it’s about to come back with a bang.”

This style of name has been given a huge boost by celebrity pop culture — think Bibi, Gigi, Rani, Rumi, Nori and Lili.

The latest example to leap up the Nameberry charts is Leni, the moniker British fitness star Joe Wicks, aka the Body Coach, gave his newborn daughter.

The X-factor

X has become the letter of the moment in Nameberry’s charts, being used at the beginning, middle or end of names by parents looking for something a little extra.

Whether it’s more traditional names such as Felix or Maxine, pop culture-inspired monikers such as Bellatrix and Hendrix, or fresh takes on more modern names such as Beaux, Calix, Huxley and Onyx, expect to be seeing a lot more names with the X-factor this year.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 6:29 AM