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Hottest New Baby Names of 2012

happy baby

Buff Strickland

It's still early, but the top baby name trends we're seeing this year are vastly different from last year's choices, with The Hunger Games replacing Twilight as the primary cultural influence. The hottest boys' names are taking a cue from the girls', and the names selected by A-list singers are proving to be even more influential than the monikers chosen by other celebs.

Rue: Credit The Hunger Games, which has turned the spotlight on a range of exotic botanical names for girls, from the heroine's name Katniss to gentle Primrose, Posy, and Clove. But the name with the brightest future is sleek, simple, and somewhat mournful Rue.

Emmett and the -ett boys: There's a new wave of boys' names inspired by popular girls' names: Emmett, rising on the coattails of wildly popular sister names Emma and Emily, Everett following the trail blazed by Eva, and Beckett getting notice thanks to Becca. Think of -ett at the newest "it" ending for boys' names, following yesterday's -en and -er. But Emmett is the hottest of them all, partially thanks to Twilight's Emmett Cullen.

Ivy: Beyonc? and Jay-Z may have already trademarked their newborn daughter Blue Ivy's name, but that can't stop parents from choosing the name for their own babies. While we predict that Blue will inspire a new taste for color names, like Indigo and Scarlett, we see Ivy as the real winner in the equation. Ivy had already risen into the Top 300 and we see it moving much higher, along with Isla, Isabel, and Isabella.

Weston, Wesley, and West: Names that denote the Western region are on the rise for boys. Weston, chosen by The Office's Jenna Fischer for her son, is the most popular of them all.

Adele: Singing star Adele triumphed at the Grammys and she's triumphing in the baby name arena as well, with this French diminutive of Adelaide reentering the Top 1,000 for the first time in nearly half a century.

Grayson and Gray: Is Grayson the new Jason? This more sober, surname-y spin on one of the most popular boys' names of the 1970s, now the name of many a new dad, is one of the top new choices of 2012, along with shorter form Gray.

Aria: Aria is a musical new "A" name, at once familiar and exotic, and new to parents. Names beginning with the letter A have become parental favorites, and they've been shown by studies to encourage children to get high marks in school. A child named Aria seems destined to be a star.

Cyrus: Cyrus makes our hot list not by virtue of any one celebrity or cultural reference but by a range of influences propelling it up the ranks: An ancient royal name, it's got a fashionable "s" ending, is the surname of pop star Miley, and sports the cute nickname Cy. Like cousin name Silas, it's a vintage choice finding its way back into favor.

Estelle: Sweden's royal couple named their baby daughter Estelle earlier this year, but there are other reasons we see Estelle as one of the hottest new names of 2012. It's related to the popular Stella but more unusual, it carries the appealing meaning "star," and it ends in a consonant rather than a vowel sound, which we predict will be the hot new trend for girls' names following several years of trendy "a"-ending names such as Isabella, Sophia, and Olivia.

Cato: Cato might be a villain in The Hunger Games, but the cult hit turned attention on a name that fits into a couple of other fresh trends. It's an ancient Roman name that, like brothers Atticus and Cassius, is being resurrected by modern parents. It's got the stylish "o" ending. And it kind of sounds like Kate, a name in the spotlight thanks to the new future Queen of England.

Blythe: Names that mean "happiness," from Felix to Felicity to Hilary, have an obvious appeal for new parents, and Blythe is one of the freshest. Most closely identified with actress Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow's mom, the one-syllable name has never been in the Top 1,000 but could be a top middle name choice of tomorrow.

Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran are the creators of the baby name site Nameberry and the authors of 10 best-selling books about names, including Cool Names for Babies and The Baby Name Bible.