Baby Kylo: 'Star Wars' Names Raced Up the Charts in 2016

Star Wars The Force Awakens poster
(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

While the top of the charts is still dominated by baby Sofias, Emmas, Liams and Aidens, names inspired by the popular science-fiction series have made double-digit gains. Rey, Finn, Jedi and even old-school "Star Wars" names like Lando (a scoundrel-turned-leader in the films) and Leia raced up the charts in 2016, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  [Little Liam: The Top 10 Baby Names of 2016]

And some parents seem to have gone to the dark side. One of the fastest-rising names? Kylo, after the dark warrior Kylo Ren from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Over the span of a year, Kylo went from the 3,269th most popular name to the 901st most popular name. SPOILER ALERT: Ren kills his father in the movie.

"What dad wants to name his son after a son who kills his dad?" said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg, who analyzed the latest data on "It doesn't seem like the most auspicious choice."

Style over substance

But it turns out that celebrity-inspired names don't typically have much to do with the virtue of its most famous bearer, at least not in recent years. The parents of all the baby Kylos out there are probably not hoping to be killed off by their progeny.

The names "are really about the sound and the style," Wattenberg said.

For instance, boy monikers that are short and smooth, such as Leo, Arlo and Kai, have been rising in popularity. So Kylo, which is essentially a mash-up of the popular names Kai and Milo, may have the perfect ring for would-be parents, patricidal connotations be damned.

It's not totally unheard of to name a child after an evil character. Villains have also inspired a handful of baby names in the past, provided the names had a stylish ring: names like Lex (after Lex Luthor, the villain in the "Superman" movies), Auric (the villain in the James Bond film "Goldfinger") and Bellatrix (the evil Voldemort loyalist in the "Harry Potter" series), Wattenberg has found.

(Other villains in popular science-fiction or fantasy series, like the truly horrible Prince Joffrey in "Game of Thrones," have not inspired a similar baby-naming trend. But in Joffrey's case, that's probably not because of Joffrey's moral repugnance, but because the name sounds too much like Jeffrey, which is a "dad" name, Wattenberg said.)

Celebrity copycats

Other celebrity names to rise in popularity this year include "Conor," a variant spelling of the name that is likely inspired by mixed-martial artist Conor McGregor; "Adonis," after the son of boxer Apollo Creed in the movie "Creed;" and "Zayn," after singer and heartthrob Zayn Malik, Wattenberg found.

For girls, the name "Kehlani" rose dramatically, after the singer of the same name. Adaline, inspired by the film "The Age of Adaline"; and the variant spelling "Adeline"; and "Royalty," the name of singer Chris Brown's new daughter; also became much more popular this year, Wattenberg found.

Most of these names were not aspirational. However, legendary celebrities who died did inspire a crop of baby Princes, Wilders and Bowies in 2016, Wattenberg said. Even the one-word moniker "MuhammadAli" rose in popularity last year, she said.

One crop of celebrity names that has been shunned in recent years: political names.

"Naming after politicians is a modern taboo," Wattenberg said.

However, the family members of politicians, such as the first lady or the president's children, are fair game. So the names "Melania" and "Barron" rose in popularity this year, while the name "Donald" fell, she said.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Tia Ghose
Live Science Assistant Managing Editor

Tia is the assistant managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science, a sister site. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.