Rare ‘B’ Names for Boys

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 12.05.58 PMHere is my list of interesting rare ‘B’ names for boys!  You can read the girls’ list here.  All these were real baby names in the U.S. last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  Remember, just because a name isn’t popular doesn’t mean nobody’s using it! 

When I say a name is ‘interesting,’ I don’t mean that it’s good or bad; merely, that it caught my eye.  I’m far more likely to endorse a name than denounce it, but there are a few names in this list that I think are rather heinous.  If you read all the way to the bottom of the list, you’ll find my commentary.

  • 150-202 usage range: Bishop, Bastian, Bear, Barry, Beck, Bilal, Brenton, Bernard, Boaz, Baker, Broderick, Benedict, Bjorn
  • 100-149: Brogan, Baron, Bowie, Banks, Bronx, Benaiah, Brighton, Brigham, Bailey, Britton
  • 50-99: Boyd, Barron, Braulio, Brant, Benito, Branch, Bane, Bram, Bradford, Basil, Baxter, Booker, Burke, Bradlee, Braven
  • 25-49: Boris, Banner, Baruch, Bauer, Bowman, Beauregard, Brenner, Boe, Bill, Buck, Brando, Bladen, Breccan, Bowden, Bashir, Braddock, Brewer, Britain, Blade, Brave, Bladimir, Buddy, Boubacar, Bakari, Becker, Bruin, Burton
  • 15-24: Bosco, Blessing, Blue, Bogdan, Banyan, Brazos, Berl, Bernie, Bray, Barack, Boy, Bao, Bravery, Buckley, Bartholomew, Barton, Bless, Bora, Brockton, Bannon, Baraka, Barrington, Bohannon, Bryn, Benuel
  • 10-14: Baden, Bader, Bentzion, Bert, Boss, Baldemar, Balian, Barnabas, Bingham, Bob, Boyce, Bran, Breyer, Brick, Buster, Baylon, Bento, Biruk, Bolton, Bond, Boomer, Bow, Battal, Behruz, Benigno, Bertrand, Birch, Blessed, Bowe, Breaker, Brigg, Balthazar, Baxley, Beaumont, Bernabe, Berry, Betzalel, Bexton, Bijan, Bretton, Brighten, Briton, Bud, Burhan
  • 5-9: Basel, Bhargav, Bhavik, Borja, Boyan, Bryshere, Bach, Bates, Bay, Benoit, Benz, Beowulf, Bhuvan, Bonham, Brazen, Breeze, Brink, Babyboy, Balin, Bankston, Barney, Barren, Basilio, Bautista, Benning, Beorn, Bolin, Bonifacio, Boyer, Bright, Baldwin, Balraj, Barnaby, Bartolo, Bashar, Bela, Benno, Bertram, Biagio, Biel, Bocephus, Brahms, Breton, Browning, Burns, Baby, Badi, Baird, Barclay, Barnes, Bart, Bb, Beasley, Bernardino, Bezaleel, Bhavesh, Blanton, Bomani, Brace, Brand, Bravo, Brockman, Brolin, Bromley, Buchanan, Buford, Burley, Burnell, Butch


  • I would like to point out the terrible irony of naming a baby “Barren.”
  • Who else saw a horror flick called The Boy last year?  6 boys were named Brahms in 2016, probably because of that movie.  In The Boy, an American woman moves to England to be the nanny/governess for a boy named Brahms, whom she discovers is actually a very creepy doll.  Another possibility is that the rise of a similar rare name, Brahm, gave Brahms a boost.*
  • Speaking of composers, Bach returned to the data in 2016.  Composers!
  • I wonder if any of the boys named Bond have James for a middle name.  Somehow, “Bond – Bond James” doesn’t sound as effective as “Bond – James Bond.”
  • As a name writer, two things I try to avoid are politics (not that kind of blog) and name-bashing.  That said; parents, stop naming your kids Bannon!  I shouldn’t even have to explain that racists are terrible namesakes.
  • Also avoid using Benito and Bashar since they’re the first names of dictators.

What do you think?  Do you have any other strong associations with some of these names?  Let me know in the comments!  

*For the record, I don’t think Brahms, Brahm, Bach, and Bond are necessarily bad baby names like the others I commented on, but they evoked strong mental images.  Brahms is probably an obscure reference, anyway.

Rare ‘B’ Names For Girls

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In the U.S., there were close to 3,000 rare ‘A’ names for girls in 2016.  ‘B’ boasts only around 600.  This time, it means I can fit all the interesting ones into just one post of reasonable length!  Still, I couldn’t get the list as short as I’d have liked.  With fewer unusual names to comb through, everything is that much more interesting!  Or, maybe ‘B’ is better because every other name doesn’t feel like a variation of Adelyn…I digress.

Here is my selection of rare ‘B’ names for girls!  They are listed from most common to least common (in 2016) according to data from the Social Security Administration.  

  • 150-250 usage range: Bellamy, Baylor, Beatrix, Blessing, Belinda, Betty, Blythe, Beverly
  • 50-149: Bernadette, Blanca, Berkeley, Betsy, Brighton, Billie, Brigitte, Berenice, Brissa, Birdie, Brandy, Bethel, Batsheva, Berlin, Bowie, Brie, Bracha, Briseida, Becca, Briseis, Beautiful, Blima, Bernice, Bronwyn
  • 25-49: Bea, Bexlee, Becky, Bayan, Britta, Bliss, Blossom, Beth, Brayla, Bradleigh, Bushra, Basya, Brenna, Bertha, Bay, Bobbie, Betsabe, Betsaida, Blimy, Brienne, Blessyn, Barbie, Basma, Bintou, Bo, Briasia, Bahar, Brianda, Bindi, Brexley, Britain
  • 15-24: Bellatrix,* Breeze, Brecklynn, Basil, Belladonna, Brazil, Beretta, Blen, Brocha, Baker, Baya, Betania, Bonita, Bruchy, Bralyn, Breindy, Briarrose, Bhavya, Bibi, Bluma, Berit, Bethania, Bless, Blue, Brinsley, Beulah, Bina, Bora, Bowen, British
  • 10-14: Bana, Bassy, Benita, Bette, Breezy, Beauty, Bettina, Blaze, Blessed, Bruna, Bemnet, Benelli, Bennie, Bergen, Betselot, Blessings, Baani, Bethlehem, Bijou, Briona, Bellina, Betul, Bronte
  • 9: Baby,** Baxley, Beata, Beautifull, Belia, Believe, Beryl, Bhavika, Bianey, Blanche, Bray, Breslin, Brita, Bronwen
  • 8: Beckley, Belem, Benedicta, Bessie, Bethsaida, Briseidy, Brissia
  • 7: Babygirl,** Bali, BehatiBelize, Bellaluna, Bettie, Beverley, Bexli, Biak, Breck, Breindel, Brice, Brindley, Bronx
  • 6: Bareera, Bawi, Bess, Bethsy, Betzabeth, Beyonce, Bijoux, Biviana, Blessy, Bravery, Breeland, Brilliance, Brindle, Briony, Brynja, Bryony, Byrdie
  • 5: Bahja, Baisley, Bakhita, Bambi, Banner, Basha, Bathsheba, Bayoleth, Bernadine, Berta, Bhakti, Bilan, Bisharo, Bithiah, Blessence, Bleu, Bralee, Braniya, Brees, Bridie, Brightly, Briyith, Burkleigh

*Bellatrix rose from 5 uses in 2015 to 24 uses in 2016.  I assume Cursed Child takes part of the credit, but even within the play, Bellatrix Lestrange had long since died, serving as a mention or genealogical footnote.  If any of you have other ideas why the name Bellatrix jumped last year, please let me know. 

**Baby and Babygirl might not be their actual names so much as birth certificate placeholders for otherwise nameless infants.  That said – if they’re listed with the other names, and SSA doesn’t go out of its way to explain their purpose, I’ll continue noting them as ‘official’ names.  (To be fair, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually is named Baby

What do you think of these names?  Any you love, hate, or feel like roasting?  Let me know in the comments!  And stay tuned for the boys’ names!   

Rare ‘A’ Names For Boys

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And finally, a list of rare ‘A’ names for boys used in 2016!  This follows up on Parts 1 and 2 of “Rare ‘A’ Names for Girls.”  Next up – ‘B’ names!

If you haven’t already read the girls’ lists or want a refresher: this post is part of a series where I select especially interesting rare names used in 2016 that begin with a particular letter and compile them into a list organized by raw usage!  The data comes from the Social Security Administration, which publishes America’s most popular baby names every year (and then some).  Enjoy!

  • 150-202 usage range: Abner, Antoine, Aarush, Alaric, Aksel, Aries, Adler, Adiel, Andreas, Aedan, Aston, Ansel, Aditya, Abdulrahman, Addison, Ander
  • 100-150: Alton, Atreyu, Aven, Ash, Avraham, Adolfo, Archie, Axle, Arham, Aubrey, Advik, Atharv, Arrow, Amias, Aurelio, Azrael, Azael, Antony, Auden, Alexavier
  • 75-99: Alister, Abdullahi, Arnold, Ambrose, Alexandre, Aspen, Aziel, Akiva, Avian, Ames, Alessio, Aris, Amin, Arvin, Azaiah, Aharon, Angus
  • 50-74: Abelardo, Alder, Ashwin, Adnan, Amadeus, Abiel, Ammon, Asaiah, Abe, Alpha, Alston, Aramis, Avett, Adonai, Abbott, Atom, Augustin, Alain, Aceson, Archibald
  • 25-49: Akhil, Alastair, Aslan, Abdias, Arius, Aurelius, Aviel, Akshay, Alphonse, Anwar, Abimael, Amaziah, Anibal, Armand, Ayrton, Arnulfo, Ayce, Able, Asael, Abir, Amadou, Ananias, Abriel, Ascher, Avyukth, Aayansh, Adil, Alexei, Ashley, Adair, Adham, Ajani, Ajax, Amadeo, Amaury, Amor, Adael, Aking, Alphonso, Aquiles, Aristotle, Ashby, Abisai, Aero, Audric, Aviv, Alias, Amaru, Azazel, Arath, Artemis, Azarias, Aldon, Alfie, Amador, Avenir, Alanzo, Alexandros
  • 15-24: Ahnaf, Aleister, Amory, Antonino, Artemio, Athanasios, Adalberto, Alasdair, Amogh, Antwone, Alp, Arun, Amore, Adams, Aengus, Arsalan, Arush, Asaph, Ashe, Atley, Auguste, Avigdor, Abijah, Aboubacar, Aleck, Anchor, Art, Asiah, Axtyn, Azim, Aeon, Afton, Alastor, Alhassan, Almir, Anias, Apollos, Argenis, Ashdon, Aws, Afnan, Aldrin, Aloysius, Anastasios, Athanasius, Avner, Azure
  • 10-14: Arsenio, Arslan, Asser, Avon, Azaria, Azul, Abenezer, Addis, Adonias, Aemon, Aizik, Akoni, Aldous, Aldrich, Alric, Amelio, Andriel, Anselmo, Ansen, Aodhan, Arlington, Aseel, Ashraf, Auggie, Aureliano, Adonijah, Altair, Alucard, Alvis, Amun, Anselm, Antonius, Arafat, Archimedes, Archivaldo, Aristides, Artez, Axiel, Akbar, Alazar, Aniket, Arbor, Archit, Arnaldo, Artyom, Augie, Avante, Axeton, Ayomikun, Acheron, Adal, Agasthya, Alvino, Andrej, Aoi, Aquila, Arcangel, Arinze, Arno, Arrington, Arson, Arwin, Ashford, Augusten
  • 9: Adlai, Adorian, Aladdin, Alban, Albeiro, Albin, Aldahir, Aldric, Alva, Alwin, Amando, Americo, Anduin, Antonios, Arlie, Arlis, Attila, Augustino, Avelino, Avis, Ayodeji, Ayotunde
  • 8: Abdulkhaliq, Abimelec, Adebayo, Adedayo, Ademola, Adewale, Adrick, Agrim, Alano, Albion, Albus, Alcides, Alma, Amante, Andrzej, Angelus, Anthem, Aristotelis, Arran, Artist, Arvid, Aulden, Avetis, Avishai, Awesome
  • 7: Abie, Abshir, Acelin, Acie, Ackley, Adefolarin, Adeyemi, Adolph, Adolphus, Aeneas, Akhilles, Alameen, Alby, Alejo, Alioune, Alisher, Amaro, Amirali, Amitai, Amius, Angelino, Antonin, Arinzechukwu, Arne, Arnie, Aroyal, Asadbek, Astor, Athens, Augusta, Autry, Avelardo, Axis, Ayo, Azrael
  • 6: Abednego, Adaiah, Adetokunbo, Adilson, Adoniyah, Adore, Aesop, Agamveer, Agostino, Ahmednur, Akhilleus, Akiem, Albino, Aleph, Alexanderjames, Alexus, Alireza, Alphonzo, Amish, Ammiel, Amour, Amyas, Anagh, Anant, Anatole, Antares, Ante,* Antron, Aqeel, Aristeo, Armstrong, Arseny, Artavious, Artemiy, Ase, Astro, Aten, Auburn, Avander, Ayinde, Ayombami, Ayotomi, Azarel
  • 5: Aabid, Abba, Abbot, Aceion, Aceton, Achyuth, Adagio, Adedoyin, Adelino, Adeoluwa, Adoniah, Agapito, Akachi, Akachukwu, Akito, Aland, Alante, Albaro, Alborz, Alduin, Aldwin, Alegend, Alexie, Alexius, Algernon, Alikhan, Amarious, Amedeo, Amichai, Amillion, Ananda, Anfernee,** Aniceto, Antonello, Aquarius, Aragorn, Arcadio, Arlando, Arly, Armor, Asahel, Ashland, Aster, Astraeus, Attilio, Atul, Aubin, Audi, Aurick, Averett, Avighna, Avinoam, Avriel, Axon, Aztlan

*I wonder how many “Up the Ante” jokes they’ll encounter

**Anfernee, a rather distinctive variant of Anthony, was briefly popular in the mid-1990s.  Nowadays, it mostly reminds people of a certain line from Mean Girls (2004).

What do you think?  Do you have any favorites?  Least-favorites?  General thoughts?  Let me know in the comments, and keep an eye out for the ‘B’ names!



With the increasing popularity of Otto in the U.S. (currently ranked #527), will some parents start choosing Odo for their baby’s name?  The two names are related (deriving from a Germanic word meaning “wealth” or “fortune,” though Odo is pronounced more like Oh-doe than Ought-o or Odd-o.  A relative’s Star Trek binge-watching planted this obscure name in my mind.  To me, Odo evokes images of handsome medieval knights and polite, stern space aliens.

Odo has never appeared in the Social Security Administration‘s extended name data.  In order for that to happen, a name has to be given to at least five same-gendered babies in a year.  Thankfully, the SSA’s “Popular Baby Names” isn’t the only database available to search for baby name histories.  You can also glance at the Social Security Death Index* for clues.  The SSDI is especially useful for researching names in the late 19th century and early 20th century, because it doesn’t seem to have minimal popularity restrictions (which are in place for the birth data to protect the privacy of presumably living citizens).  Also, sometimes if you see a “popular” 19th century name in the birth data, you’ll find a higher number of them in the death data.  No idea why *that* is, but it is another reason why the SSDI is such a valuable tool.  Finally, you can sometimes see the names of people born before 1880 in the death index; the birth index starts at 1880.

While I never found Odo in the birth data, I did find over sixty Odo‘s in the death index.  The earliest two were born in 1874 (in Wisconsin and Texas), and the last in 1946 (South Carolina).  The youngest was probably the son of another Odo who was born in 1915 in the same SC town; overall, the last Odo born before the youngest (that has died, anyway) was born in 1938.  According to the death index, no more than three Odo‘s were born each year nationally.  While there might be a handful still living, this paucity suggests the possibility that Odo never reached SSA’s minimal popularity threshold of 5 uses even accounting for incomplete/inaccurate name info before 1937.  The other possibility is that even if five Odo‘s were born in a single year after 1879, at least two weren’t recorded because they died early or worked in the wrong employment sector.

Despite Odo‘s status as an extremely rare name in 21st century America, it isn’t exactly obscure.  Nowadays, Odo mostly appears in pop culture and video games.  The book Fellowship of the Ring mentions a minor character named Odo Proudfoot, who is a cousin to Bilbo Baggins.  An Odo is also referenced in Harry Potter through song.  Star Trek’s Odo is probably better known than the examples above, though.  In Deep Space Nine, Odo is the station’s shape-shifting, Quark-hating security guard.  That Odo is a major character, and I’m honestly surprised the name didn’t breach the extended data at least once during the show’s run in the 1990s.  Odo isn’t exactly a sci-fi creation; it’s a historical name!


From left: Bishop Odo, King William, and their brother Robert

Did I mention history?  Famous early bearers include King Odo of France (also known as Eudes) and Saint Odo of Cluny.  William the Conqueror also had a maternal half-brother named Odo who was Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux.  If you’ve ever played “Crusader Kings II” as I have, you may have interacted with this character (whose surname is “de Conteville”).  In real life, he wasn’t the only Odo in England.  The 1086 Domesday Book records several individuals named Odo and even one Odolina.

What do you think of Odo?  Is it too weird or pretentious for modern usage, or is it like a book just waiting to be dusted off and read?  Would *you* use it?  Let me know in the comments! 

*If you’d like to access the SSDI and don’t have a subscription to Ancestry.com, you can do as I did and go on Family Search, which offers it for free. 


Rare Name Round-Up!

Between May and July,* I spotted tons of awesome, rare names on real people.  I’ve checked the names against publicly-available popularity data from the SSA, but some are too rare to appear which makes them even more amazing!

Seen on Facebook:

  • Zacchaeus – A rare New Testament Biblical name only appearing in the U.S. birth data since the 1970s.  Last year, only 41 boys were registered under Zacchaeus, though there are other spellings.  I don’t know how old FB Zacchaeus was; I spotted his name in passing.
  • Schakeline – presumably, a phonetic German spelling of Jacqueline.  To my knowledge, this is the only name from this entire that doesn’t belong to somebody in the United States.

I met:

  • MillardMike – older gentleman.  Kudos for the unexpected formal name!  Only 10 boys were named Millard in 2016, which was a top 1000 baby name until 1970.  One namesake is America’s 13th President, Millard Fillmore.

Millard Fillmore

  • Eihmear – teenager or young woman.  Pronounced “Ee-mer,” this is an extremely rare Irish or Scottish Gaelic name that’s usually spelled Éimhear, Eimhir, or Emer.  Now, when I asked Eihmear about her unique rendition, she told me her parents didn’t check the spelling first!  Bonus points: Emer was the name of Cúchulainn’s wife in Irish Mythology.
  • Sabina, a twenty-something.  This is certainly an unusual name, but if you know how to say Sabrina, you know how to say Sabina.  2016 usage: 106 girls.
  • Lourdes, a teenage male!  For the unfamiliar, Lourdes is typically associated as a Catholic feminine name honoring the Virgin Mary.  As a men’s name, this hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since 1990.  That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any American men named Lourdes since then (he’s the obvious evidence to the contrary); it just means there hasn’t been a year after 1990 when there were more than 5 of them born.  He may be the only guy Lourdes his age, though.  In 2016, 99 girls were named Lourdes.

Read in local newspapers and lists:

  • Concerto (teenager).  I don’t think Concerto has ever entered the SSA data for either gender!
  • Beaux – (late teens or early 20s).  Beaux caught my eye for several reasons.  First, over 2000 boys were named Beau 2016, compared to only around 120 boys who were named Beaux.  Second, ‘x’ is a distinctive letter for any name that isn’t some form of Max or Alexander.  Third, Beaux is a plural adjective in French; Beau is a masculine singular form, and Belle is the feminine singular (they mean “beautiful”). Finally, this Beaux‘s last name ended in -Beau; unless they call him “Box,” his first name rhymed with his last name!  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was from Louisiana.  Now I’m curious as to what constitutes a Cajun baby name.
  • Langston – I encountered two Langstons!  This name entered the U.S. top 1000 in 2013, but both were older than that by probably a decade at least.  So although this isn’t exactly a rare baby name, it’s rare for people of older generations.
  • Lois – (middle or high school age).  Lois is fairly popular in the U.K., but she hasn’t been in the U.S. top 1000 since 1983.  It’s rather distinctive for a young woman here!  Just 118 girls were named Lois in 2016.
  • Onassis (college age).  This actually has shown up in SSA birth data a few times.  You might be familiar with Onassis as Jacqueline Kennedy’s other married name!
  • Trevin (college age).  Trevin‘s been in the top 1000 a few times (the last year was 2009).  Only 38 boys were named Trevin in 2016, and based on the name’s fast downward trajectory I wouldn’t be surprised if parents stop using it altogether within a few years.
  • Cavan (middle or high school age).  Cavan is rare but fairly steady.  Last year, 44 boys were given this name.
  • Taimiar (unknown)


  • Tiernan (2 years old).  Only 35 American boys were named Tiernan in 2016, down from 46 in 2015 when this one was born.  5 girls were also given this Irish name in both of those years.
  • Beckwith (unknown age and gender).  Beckwith is usually a surname, and associates with some fantastic first names like Abijah, Asahel, Athelstan, and Corydon.

What do you think of these names?  Have you spotted any rare names lately that you’re dying to discuss?  Let me know in the comments! 

*I also collected my March/April name sightings in an earlier post.  Already started paying attention for August and or September! 

Rare ‘A’ Names for Girls (Part 2)

screen-shot-2017-07-10-at-2-31-08-pm.pngAs promised, here is the second half of my list of rare girls’ names starting with the letter ‘A!’  You can read Part 1 here

If you’re just tuning in, this post is part of a larger series about rare American baby names!  The latest birth data from the Social Security Administration covers baby names from 2016.  For this series, I’m focusing on interesting rare names by letter of the alphabet. 

  • 10-14 usage range: Abrish, Adalynd, Adelyna, Ahitana, Ala, Alabama, Alaiia, Alira, Alishba, Alyrica*, Anishka, Anouk, Areeba, Arfa, Arielis, Asees, Avana, Averiana, Aanshi, Aaradhana, Aaralynn, Adalei, Adiba, Adriella, Aemillia, Aivy, Aizlynn, Akshita, Alika, Alitzel, Altair, Alyla, Amalee, Amarisa, Anamta, Ananda, Anavey, Anise, Ashna, Ashvika, Audi, Avira, Abcde, Aberdeen, Abisha, Abra, Adabella, Adelind, Adna, Adonai, Adrika, Afomia, Ailsa, Ajanae, Albina, Alianys, Alivea, Almas, Alonnie, Alveena, Alyria**, Alyzabeth, Anaveah, Anavi, Aneri, Anoushka, Aphrodite, Apolonia, Aquila, Artemisia, Ashari, Ashe, Aaylah, Afia, Afifa, Aideen, Amarachukwu, Amrutha, Anastasija, Anberlin, Aniko, Annalena, Annetta, Aoi, Apple, Arabel, Asal, Athziry, Avenly, Avilene, Aviv, Ayaka, Azel, Aashritha, Adesuwa, Africa, Afsheen, Ailis, Ajooni, Akhila, Akire, Allizon, Amanat, Amrita, Anuoluwapo, Apolline, Arlington, Arrington, Avanelle, Ayliana, Azora, Azula
  • 9 uses: Aarini, Aasha, Aashka, Abaigeal, Abiah, Absalat, Adamae, Aderinsola, Adrita, Adwoa, Airlie, Akela, Akshadha, Aleshka, Allaire, Alyena, Alyn, Amabel, Amberllina, Amberlin, Americus, Amerika, Amparo, Anani, Anastazja, Annlynn, Anthea, Aoki, Areni, Arrietty, Audianna, Avabelle, Avian, Axelle, Azarie
  • 8 uses: Abeer, Abelina, Adaleyza, Adanya, Adelisa, Aerie, Afra, Afreen, Ajna, Akanksha, Akyla, Alanoud, Alette, Aljawhara, Almendra, Almina, Alpha, Amazing, Ambry, Ameyalli, Anab, Ananiah, Anori, Anushree, Arlena, Asenat, Aseneth, Atlantis, Aulora, Aurore, Avis, Azmariah, Azori
  • 7 uses: Aagna, Abhigna, Abisola, Acsa, Addlynn, Admire, Advita, Afsa, Agape, Aichatou, Aishleen, Aisosa, Ajaya, Aketzaly, Aki, Akriti, Aksha, Alberta, Aleli, Alys, Alyssum, Amadea, Amirykal, Amunet, Anjalee, Annabellee, Anqi, Anta, Antonette, Aponi, Apphia, Aqua, Arena, Argelia, Arly, Armina, Asfia, Asherah, Aslan, Atari, Athanasia, Atia, Auroara, Avangelina, Avreet, Avryl, Avryn, Azadeh, Azaylee
  • 6 uses: Aamori, Adamarie, Adar, Adau, Adayla, Adlai, Adoniah, Adonis, Aeiress, Afsana, Aggie, Ahilyn, Ai, Aizza, Akshitha, Amalthea, Amata, Amatullah, Amazin, Ambriella, Ameliamae, Amoree, Amoriana, Amunique, Aneira, Angeliki, Angle, Antara, Anureet, Anushri, Anwen, Anwyn, Apsara, Aracelia, Aritzel, Arius, Aruna, Arvella, Aseret, Aset, Asfiya, Ashrita, Astin, Atlanta, Attica, Azelle, Azhani, Azriella
  • 5 uses: Aadriti, Aafiyah, Aashirya, Aazeen, Abdia, Abhirami, Acelee, Achol, Acie, Adannaya, Addisun, Adebola, Ador, Adorable, Adrijana, Adut, Aelia, Aenea, Aero, Afeni, Ahsoka, Aidaly, Aimen, Akali, Akiko, Akiva, Akosua, Akshada, Akur, Alchemy, Alder, Alencia, Alfonsina, Alhana, Allinson, Aloe, Alohilani, Altaira, Aluel, Alvie, Amabelle, Amaranta, Amaranth, Ambika, Amilliona, Amorae, Aneeksha, Aneres, Anezka, Anfal, Anivia, Anju, Anllely, Annapurna, Anneth, Anoop, Anshu, Anthonia, Aparna, Aquinnah, Aramis, Arbella, Ardis, Arleny, Artist, Arveen, Asiana, Asmara, Assia, Asta, Asteria, Athalie, Athenea, Athulya, Aureliana, Autry, Avabella, Avaia, Avemaria, Avett, Aviary, Awi, Ayak, Ayled, Ayomiposi, Azar, Azeriah, Azzahra

*Isn’t Alyrica a medication?  My google-fu suggests it might be a telecom, too…

**Additionally, a Google search for Alyria brings up a skin-care product.  Possible name for a twin sister to Aloe, also in this list?  

What do you think?  Are there any names that you love, hate, or otherwise stick out to you?  Let me know in the comments!  Stay tuned for the boys’ list. 🙂


Rare ‘A’ Names for Girls (Part 1)

Rare 'A' Girls Names 2016

Remember how much fun my “Below the Top 1000” lists were?  I miss writing them, and I miss the conversations they produced.  So, I’ve decided to revive them for the 2016 data set, but there’s a twist!  Rather than posting lists of names by frequency, I will post the 2016 lists alphabetically.  I will continue including usage ranges, but they aren’t the focus this time.  Hopefully these alphabetical selections will help any readers who want to give their children (or characters) names beginning with the same letter!

The letter ‘A’ is extremely common for names today – and especially for girls’ names!  To create the list of rare girls’ names beginning with ‘A,’ I had to pick out the most interesting ones out of nearly 3,000 unique entries below the U.S. top 1000!  That means sifting through hundreds of transliterations and alternate spellings. 

Anyway, because there are so many fascinating rare names available for the letter ‘A’, I’m splitting this first post into two parts (this won’t be the case for most letters).  I’d like to avoid repeating too many spellings of the same rare names unless said spellings are especially interesting!

Here is “Rare ‘A’ Names for Girls (Part 1)!”  Like the 2015’s Below the Top 1000 series, this series relies on publicly available data from the Social Security Administration.* 

  • 200-260 range: Abrielle, Akira, Aimee, Aminah, Amora, America, Arleth, Arlette, Agnes, Anais, August, Adalee, Araceli, Adela
  • 150-199: Annette, Ashton, Aida, Aveline, Ariadna, Anita, Araya**, Ananya, Ashanti, Amethyst, Avalon
  • 100-149: Artemis, Akshara, Arlene, Adina, Amal, Aditi, Arwen, Arabelle, Avril, Adalind, Alba, Anjali, Amberly, Annalisa, Arizona, Avia, Azul, Avigail, Anissa, Aviva, Aoife, Asma
  • 75-99: Aura, Alanis, Aeris, Amor, Abilene, Adelia, Austen, Amaria, Avelyn, Amiracle, Ashleigh, Aven, Acacia, Annora, Afton, Aminata, Avonlea, Adah, Adlee, Abella, Avary, Ahuva, Agatha
  • 50-74: Arina, Aziyah***, Advika, Aseel, Anja, Arrow, Anayeli, Aries, Adira, Antoinette, Ayat, Ainara, Amna, Azeneth, Alizabeth, Ahana, Andromeda, Angelia, Avelina, Aja, Azari, Adria, Aulani, Avni, Acelynn, Adara, Arlo, Anabia, Adora, Amairany, Anela, Ara, Allegra, Aziza, Alaska, Aashi, Amen, Annsley
  • 25-49: Aeryn, Ailee, Anari, Azuri, Adelaida, Amyiah, Aisling, Amaryllis, Analicia, Ainhoa, Amalie, Amore, Aletheia, Aline, Amena, Arbor, Adore, Aiyla, Amity, Averly, Azucena, Auden, Ayelen, Ami, Angeles, Aniela, Atley, Azura, Adamaris, Arsema, Atalia, Ahlam, Ailish, Akari, Alida, Arisha, Avila, Anaelle, Aishani, Amoura, Akshaya, Arantxa, Auburn, Acadia, Ailin, Akeelah, Aolani, Archer, Atarah, Ayelet, Aine, Amarachi, Amour, Anh, Arisbeth, Ameliana, Allura, Alvina, Amarissa, Anuhea, Aishwarya, Aleksa, Antonina, Adelaine, Aerith, Aissatou, Anagha, Ariam, Akasha, Aster, Akemi, Alix, Alva, Alysse, Angelic, Aolanis, Abisai, Aiko, Alahia, Augusta
  • 15-24: Adalida, Amada, Anvitha, Ayumi, Afnan, Alaisha, Alexie, Alley, Alyx, Aella, Alaijah, Anara, Anijah, Auset, Adabelle, Alaine, Anshika, Arietta, Astraea, Avnoor, Azrielle, Adair, Adelise, Alaila, Albany, Almira, Amylia, Amzie, Aurelie, Avantika, Aviella, Abria, Adama, Aeliana, Aixa, Ajla, Alazne, Alexiana, Aliciana, Amare, Analeia, Anusha, Anzal, Ashleen, Astoria, Astra, Ayeza, Ayomide, Aerial, Aibhlinn, Ailed, Anahita, Anaid, Anjelica, Anjolaoluwa, Asani, Asra, Abigaelle, Adelita, Adya, Ahava, Aidana, Ainslie, Alera, Alicja, Alis, Allure, Ambrosia, Amorette, Anaaya, Apollonia, Arcadia, Areen, Arial, Arista, Arlynn, Ashira, Astella, Augustina, Avital, Adaeze, Adel, Adelheid, Aditri, Agata, Ahmiyah, Aitiana, Ajwa, Akua, Ama, Amahia, Amulya, Anaika, Anjana, Anneke, Ariabella, Asenath, Ashby, Asmi, Athaliah, Aysel, Aza, Azarah, Azelie, Abeeha, Abrar, Abri, Adaira, Adaleah, Adileny, Airyanna, Alayjah, Alexianna, Aliani, Amar, Amel, Amra, Angelisse, Annakate, Annasophia, Aqsa, Ares, Arpi, Aryssa, Ashland, Athea, Avanthika, Aviendha

*My color-coding:

  • Magenta = Usage in 2016 / at last count was overwhelmingly (>90%) female
  • Blue = Usage in 2016 was overwhelmingly (>90%) male
  • Purple = Usage is somewhere in between / unisex

**I’m thinking that at least some of the girls named Araya (and other spellings) have the middle name SunshineAraya Sunshine, get it?  Only half-joking…

***Not sure whether Aziyah is a variant of “Asia” or a Biblical name; in other words, not sure whether it’s pronounced like Asia//Aja or uh-ZYE-uh.  Maybe either, depending on the user?

What do you think?  Are there any names here that pop out at you?  Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for Part 2 of the girls’ names! 

UPDATE: Part 2!

Battles as Baby Names: American Revolution Edition

Today is July 4th!  We celebrate today as the day that we officially declared our independence from an oppressive colonizer three-thousand miles across the sea.  Today was the day we said enough is enough, taunted the Mad King with our John Hancocks (literally), and set the theme for a Nicolas Cage movie in which Sean Bean doesn’t die!


Declaration of Independence copy.

For all the power of words, we must remember that ideas only stick when we’re willing to fight for them.  The American Revolutionary War had already begun when the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed.  If we’d lost the war, would this treasured document hold any significance?  Today, we don’t just remember the words.  We remember that people died to ensure those words held meaning.

With this in mind, I decided to write a different sort of 4th of July post.  Last year, I wrote about interesting names among the Signers and American virtues.  For Independence Day 2017, I’ve looked to Revolutionary War battles for patriotic baby name inspiration!

You might be asking: are battle names even a thing?  The answer: Yes!  Gettysburg and Manila (Spanish-American War) are two examples of battles that translated to people’s names in the U.S.  Lorraine also counts as a battle name, though the name’s popularity jumped at the end of World War I (the Battle of Lorraine happened in 1914, before the U.S. entered that conflict).  Battle baby names are a rare and obscure topic in the 21st century, but 100+ years ago this was just another form of patriotic baby naming.

Here is a selection of Revolutionary War battle names and could-be names!

  • Lexington – Battles of Lexington and Concord (Massachusetts), April 19 1775.  77 girls and 46 boys were named Lexington in 2016.  Lexi and Lex are possible nicknames.
  • Ticonderoga – Capture of Fort Ticonderoga (New York), May 10 1775; Siege of Fort Ticonderoga (July 2-6 1777).  With a nickname like Connie or Derry, Ticonderoga comes across as strong as Boudicca!
  • ChelseaThe Battle of Chelsea Creek (Massachusetts), May 27-May 28 1775.  Chelsea ranks #353 out of 1000 in the U.S.; approximately 928 girls were given the name in 2016.  
  • Lindley – Battle of Lindley’s Fort (South Carolina), July 15 1776; Battle of Lindley’s Mill (North Carolina), Sep. 13 1781; 30 girls were named Lindley in 2016. 
  • Harlem – Battle of Harlem Heights (New York), Sept. 16 1776.  A unisex place, battle, and dance name, this was given to 183 boys and 93 girls in 2016.  Harlem barely missed the cut for the top 1000 boys’ list in 2015 when it peaked at 201 uses.  Its popularity among baby girls continues to increase. 
  • Trenton – Battle of Trenton (New Jersey), Dec. 26 1776; 2nd Battle of Trenton, Jan. 2 1777.  As a baby name, Trenton is falling fast.  He peaked at #178 in 2006, and now ranks at #389 (with approx. 815 boys). 

“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Emanuel Leutze (1851)

  • Princeton – Battle of Princeton (New Jersey), Jan. 3 1777.  The university predates the battle by a few decades, but the name’s only been popular since 2011!  769 boys were named Princeton in 2016, ranking him at #413.  This name is still rising, though his acceleration appears to dim. 
  • Ridgefield – Battle of Ridgefield (Connecticut), April 27 1777.   We lost this battle, but a history buff could make this work with the nickname “Ridge.”
  • Bennington – Battle of Bennington (New York), Aug. 16 1777.  “Ben” for short?
  • Brandywine – Battle of Brandywine (Pennsylvania), Sep. 11 1777.  Although this was a British victory, I’d like to suggest Brandywine as a name (I’ve always thought it sounded pretty).  “Brandi” for short?
  • Saratoga – Battles of Saratoga (New York), Sept. 19 and Oct. 7 1777.  Call her Sara for short! 
  • Beaufort – Battle of Beaufort (South Carolina), Feb. 3 1779.  Funnily enough, the last time Beaufort made an appearance in the SSA birth data was 1976.  Beau makes for a strong nickname, but Biff might be problematic.
  • Paulus – Battle of Paulus Hook (New Jersey), Aug. 19 1779.  According to Behind the Name, Paulus is the Latin form of PaulPaul has always been the more common version by far; Paulus has only ever appeared three or four times in the SSA birth data.  The last time was 1987.
  • Camden – Battle of Camden (South Carolina), Aug. 16 1780.  Camden ranks #124 in the U.S., down from a peak of #99 in 2013.  Approximately 156 girls were named Camden in 2016 in addition to the 3,300-some boys who were, but don’t call it unisex just yet!  Hardly 5% of all Camden‘s born last year were girls.
  • King – Battle of Kings Mountain (South Carolina), Oct. 7 1780.  King ranks #152 in the U.S.  I have to say, this makes for the most ironically patriotic name on this list.  We won that battle, though!
  • Augusta – Siege of Augusta (Georgia), May 22 – June 6 1781.  25 girls and 7 boys were named Augusta in 2016. 
  • York – Siege of Yorktown (Virginia), Sep. 28 – Oct. 19 1781.  12 boys were named York in 2016.

I also gave some thought to Bunker and Cowpens, but I think they’re bad ideas for baby names.  Bunker Hill was an important battle, but the name Bunker makes me think of Archie Bunker (bigoted TV character from the 1970s) and Enver Hoxha (the Albanian dictator who littered his tiny country with thousands of bunkers).  As for Cowpens…moo?

Do you like the idea of battle names, or do you prefer a different kind of patriotic baby naming (i.e., virtues)?  If you like the battle names, which would you use?  Are there any you think I should add to this list?  Let me know in the comments!

Most importantly, happy birthday America!

What is Your Name in a Different Year?

How about a fun little exercise?  Find out the popularity rank of your first name and middle name(s) in the year you were born. Then, take those numbers and find out what your name could have been in other years.  Maybe you’ll stumble upon a new favorite baby name!

You can do this by entering your name on the front page of the Social Security Administration’s Popular Baby Names page under the section “Popularity of a Name,” or just look for your birth year’s name stats under “Popular Names By Birth Year.”  I recommend choosing the option for Top 1000 popularity (the default is 20; just click on that and scroll down).  If you choose the “Popular Names by Birth Year” option, simply ctrl+f the lists to find your names.  Once you have the rank # for your names in that year, look at the lists for other years and see what names have those ranks then!

The year I was born, my first name ranked #9 and my middle name ranked #369 in the U.S.  Remember, that’s #369 in first names, since the SSA doesn’t publish data on middles.  Taking girls’ names ranked #9 and girls’ names ranked #369, here are all the combinations from 1985-2016:

  • 2016: Emily Kira.  Emily ranked #9 in 2016, and Kira #369. 
  • 2015: Charlotte Sage
  • 2014: Madison Sloane
  • 2013: Madison Kelly
  • 2012: Madison Tiffany
  • 2011: Mia Journey
  • 2010: Chloe Bethany
  • 2009: Chloe Londyn
  • 2008: Elizabeth Tatum
  • 2007: Hannah Kiley
  • 2006: Sophia Iris
  • 2005: Ava Violet
  • 2004: Samantha Christine
  • 2003: Elizabeth Jayda
  • 2002: Samantha Hailee
  • 2001: Elizabeth Jaqueline
  • 2000: Elizabeth Julissa
  • 1999: Jessica Addison
  • 1998: Madison Martha
  • 1997: Elizabeth Cassie
  • 1996: Rachel Kailey
  • 1995: Amanda Melody
  • 1994: Elizabeth Jane
  • 1993: Elizabeth Jane
  • 1992: Elizabeth Maya
  • 1991: Elizabeth Kaila
  • 1990: Elizabeth Alana
  • 1989: Lauren Jazmin
  • 1988: Nicole Traci
  • 1987: Heather Ruby
  • 1986: Heather Elena
  • 1985: Elizabeth Tanisha

I actually completed this exercise going all the way back to 1880, which is as far back as the SSA’s birth data extends (though it honestly isn’t very accurate before 1937-1940; I did this for fun!).  Here are some of my favorite combos from earlier years:

  • 1959: Deborah Leigh
  • 1946: Judith Ginger
  • 1938: Margaret Lottie
  • 1934: Helen Virgie
  • 1918: Elizabeth Roxie
  • 1916: Frances Maudie – adorable!
  • 1914: Frances Ramona
  • 1908: Alice Philomena
  • 1904: Mildred Vada
  • 1903: Ethel Rae
  • 1887: Florence George

Shirley Margarita (1931) was an interesting combo.  It sounds like a cocktail!

Next, I did the boys’ names.  Here are all the combinations from 1985-2016:

  • 2016: Elijah Solomon
  • 2015: Michael Aden
  • 2014: James Atticus
  • 2013: Jayden Cohen
  • 2012: Alexander Knox
  • 2011: Aiden Braydon – Ouch.  This reminds me of Marcy Darcy from the show “Married With Children,” and also of someone else I recently met whose first name was the same as her married name!
  • 2010: Aiden Braylen – Not much better than Aiden Braydon, but at least only the first half of the names rhyme! 
  • 2009: Noah Colt
  • 2008: Christopher Keaton
  • 2007: Matthew Nickolas
  • 2006: Anthony Hugo
  • 2005: Joseph Walker
  • 2004: Joseph Carl
  • 2003: Christopher Charlie
  • 2002: Nicholas Rodney
  • 2001: Daniel Roger
  • 2000: Daniel Zackery
  • 1999: Daniel Malachi
  • 1998: Andrew Guillermo
  • 1997: Austin Grayson
  • 1996: Austin Steve
  • 1995: Daniel Marquise
  • 1994: Daniel Leonard
  • 1993: Jacob Eugene
  • 1992: James Alvin
  • 1991: Joseph Graham
  • 1990: Justin Elliot
  • 1989: James Jarred
  • 1988: James Elias
  • 1987: Justin Tyrell
  • 1986: Robert Jamar
  • 1985: John Rickey

Favorite combinations from earlier years:

  • 1984: Robert Noel
  • 1982: Robert Graham
  • 1977: Matthew Levi
  • 1973: William Blake
  • 1956: Thomas Rufus
  • 1955: Mark Alfonso
  • 1953: Charles Aubrey
  • 1933: Joseph Wiley
  • 1931: Joseph Randolph
  • 1904: Edward Arlie
  • 1898: Edward Jennings
  • 1895: Henry Archibald – swoon!
  • 1894: Henry Dallas
  • 1885: Robert Granville
  • 1880: Henry Loren

Obligatory snarky comment: the men’s combination for 1954, Gary Royce, sounds like the start to a serial killer’s name.  Just add a surname?

What do you think?  Some of the first-middle name combinations this exercise generated sound like people’s real first and middle names.  And I’d love to hear any interesting combinations that completing this exercise gives you!

These Names are Gems

These names are gems – literally!  Gem-names enjoy mostly feminine usage, but they’re increasingly unisex or even masculine.  Let’s take a look at how popular these baby names were in 2016, according to Social Security Administration data!


  • Amber – Current rank: #374 and falling.  Amber‘s current stint in the top 1000 started after the publication of Forever Amber.  From what I understand, that book is the World War II generation’s 50 Shades of Gray.
  • Amethyst – 159 girls in 2016, up from 125 in 2015. 
  • Coral – 199 girls, down from 201.
  • Diamond – 226 girls, down from 262; 33 boys, down from 35.
  • Emerald – 219 girls, up from 194; 13 boys, up from 6.  A couple weeks ago, I watched the original Twin Peaks and got a kick out of the names from the fictional soap opera within.  “Invitation to Love” has twin characters named Emerald and Jade.
  • Garnet – 15 girls, up from 7; 6 boys (reentry).  A couple years ago I was reading something in the paper about a local family, and one of their young sons was named GarnetGarnet was a mildly popular girls’ name in the early 20th century, though it’s almost always enjoyed use amidst both genders.
  • Heliodor / Heliodore – Golden beryl.  Although Heliodore is unrecorded in the SSA data, Heliodoro is.
  • Jacinth – Not currently in use, but there are male and female Jacinths.
  • Jade – #117, up from #126.  Even though Madison and Ashley were supposedly way more popular than Jade when I was growing up, I feel like Jade was more popular locally.  I knew several. 
  • Jasper – #209 and still rising.  Jasper‘s never been out of the top 1000, though the Twilight series gave him a boost. 
  • Obsidian – As far as I can tell, Obsidian has only charted once in the SSA stats (5 boys were given the name in 2013).  I’m really surprised it isn’t a more popular baby name…it sounds so cool!
  • Onyx – Increasingly popular unisex gem name!  Onyx was given to 172 boys and 56 girls in 2016, up from 118 boys and 38 girls in 2015.  I personally wonder if we’re going to see this in the top 1000 in 2017 or 2018; for a boys’ name to rank, it currently needs at least 202 boys to rank.  Onyx isn’t far off that mark!
  • Opal – 256 girls, up from 231.  Do you think this will return to the top 1000 in 2017?  The current usage threshold for girls’ names is in the 260-270 range.
  • Pearl – #567, up from #627.  Pearl was relatively popular for both genders at the advent of the 20th century, but especially for girls.  There was a male writer called Zane Grey (1872-1939) whose first name was Pearl.
  • Ruby – #71, and the most popular gem name.  Ruby hasn’t been this popular since World War II!
  • Sapphire – 165, up from 147.

    Logan Sapphire

    The name Sapphire is more popular in 2016 than 2015, but still rare.

  • Topaz – 6 girls (reentry).  Topaz is the name of the stepmom in I Capture the Castle, so there’s some literary prestige here!
  • Turquoise – Not currently in use; most of the women named Turquoise were born in the late 70s or in the 80s.  

Names with gem meanings or associations:

  • Beryl – 9 girls (stable).  Beryl is a mineral: emeralds, aquamarine, and heliodor are all considered beryls.  As far as namesakes go, I think of the early aviatrix Beryl Markham, who wrote West with the Night
  • Crystal – #572, down from #554.  Crystal hit the U.S. top 10 in 1982, but it’s been downwards ever since.
  • Esmeralda – #377, down from #370; Spanish for “emerald.”  Esmeralda spiked in the two years after Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame came out.
  • Gem – 14 girls, up from 8.
  • Giada – 178 girls, down from 203.  Italian for “Jade”
  • Gemma – #247 and rising.  Italian name meaning “gem.”  Growing up, I actually knew a Gemma.  She was born a good while before her name ever cracked the top 1000.
  • Jewel – #924, down from #886.
  • Margaret – #139 and rising.  A classic English name deriving from a Greek name that means “pearl.”  I can’t tell you how happy I am that Margaret is making a comeback!
  • Sapphira – 50 girls, up from 45.  Greek name, Biblical character.

Gems that aren’t already names but probably should be:


Not your stereotypical gems, except for Ruby and Amethyst

  • Agate – I could see this as a nickname for Agatha.
  • AquamarineAqua is a spunky nickname, though it may lead to spontaneous a capella renditions of “Barbie Girl.”  For more subdued nicknames, try Marie or Marina.
  • Chrysocolla – might be a little unwieldy without a nickname.  “Chris?”
  • Lapis – from Lapis Lazuli
  • PeridotPerry or Dot for short?  Dottie?
  • Quartz – I’m surprised that I can’t find this in the SSA stats.  Quartz would work especially well as a boys’ name. 
  • Tourmaline
  • Zircon / Zirconia – I’m not sure how I’d feel if I were named after a synthetic gem stone, but Zirconia sounds kind of pretty and Zircon sounds cool. 

One last note – If you like the idea of a timely, seasonal name, look to the birthstones!  Most of these work better for girls, but there are plenty of gem-names that can go either way. 

  1. JanuaryGarnet
  2. February – Amethyst
  3. March – Aquamarine / Bloodstone.  Jasper also used to be a March stone.
  4. AprilDiamond
  5. MayEmerald
  6. JunePearl / Moonstone / Alexandrite
  7. JulyRuby
  8. August – Peridot / Spinel
  9. SeptemberSapphire
  10. OctoberOpal / Tourmaline
  11. NovemberTopaz / Citrine
  12. DecemberTurquoise / Zircon / Tanzanite

What is your favorite gem name?