Look out, -eigh names! There’s a new “ee” sound in town, and it’s gaining on you. The hottest new name suffix for American girls is -ii, as in Aubrii and Harmonii.
Historically, the -ii ending has ranged in popularity from scarce to non-existent. The first -ii name to ever appear in the U.S. statistics was Vickii in 1948, when a Vicki boom was in full swing. The suffix popped up just occasionally in the decades that followed, always as part of a nickname with a popular -i ending like Patti/Pattii, and always in small enough numbers that typos might have accounted for the majority of the instances. Notably, in 1963, at the all-time peak of American girls ending in the letter i (think Lori, Terri, Tami), zero girls ending in -ii registered in the national baby name stats.
Now take a look at what’s happened in the past 20 years.
That’s a 37-fold increase. It’s bucking the tide of “ee”-sounding suffixes overall (-y, -ie, -eigh, etc.) which are at a historical low point.
Looking at the individual names, the new ii’s look different from the age of Vickii & Pattii. They span style categories, and the ii’s can now replace any ee-sounding ending. Some examples from the most recent year’s stats:
Word names: Journii, Harmonii, Honestii, Legacii
Traditionally female names: Naomii, Zoii, Melanii, Leilanii
Traditionally male/unisex names: Remii, Kennedii, Averii, Makenzii
And more: Zurii (from the Swahili for “beautiful”), Demii (a short form of the Greek name Demetria), Kawaii (“cute” in Japanese culture)
The trend is still small, but it’s revealing nonetheless. In reaching for this new suffix, parents seem to be deliberately casting off familiarity. Beyond its newness in names, ii-pronounced-ee is virtually unknown in English vocabulary. (The only common usage is in the borrowed state name Hawaii.)
The effect of the double ii’s can be stark, and a little startling. Other letter combos have been selected for impact or surprise value, like the recent “xx” trend or the ae that’s popular in fantasy character names. But ii goes a step further, taking us beyond tradition, beyond names, beyond even words into a world of pure image and concept. Whether you love it or loathe it, the essence of the style is unmistakably new.