Rare Names: The 21-25 Range (Girls)

Since my list posts seem to be so popular, I will continue raiding the 2014 data for unusual names until the SSA releases the 2015 info.  I was going to write a post on the unusual names in the 21-30 range, but apparently there were so many I’ve had to split them into two separate entries.  Remember, these are actual first names used in the U.S. two years ago.

The 21-25 range is where we start to see a lot of older names that used to be very popular, like Cornelia and Ethel.  Indeed, many of these names will appear familiar to you as you read them.  There are fewer “discomforting” names among this set than in lower ranges, but they’re there.  Perhaps the prime example here would be the appearance of the name “Aryan.” 

25: Adelaida, Alvina, Amelya, Amory, Anberlin, Anoushka, Camber, Cornelia, DiemElektra, Elowen, Eulalia, Havanna, Hayat, Hayzel, Jezebel, Jody, Joya, Kansas, Mairead, Mamie, Marcie, Minna, Nautica, Orly, Rosina, Shai, Tennyson, Thelma, Windsor, Zelie

24: Aaleah, Aberdeen, Adaeze, Angelin, Antonina, Arwyn, Ashna, Aurea, Betsaida, Brayden, Brittish, Cashmere, Deirdre, Eevee, Ellowyn, Elowyn, Gwenivere, Harleyquinn, Imelda, Inga, Kabella, Lelia, Lita, Monzerrat, Nandini, Orion, Parisa, Renezmae, Riva, Saffron, Shanley, Tavia, Truth, Verena, Yamilex

23: Adabella, Aleksa, Amilliana, Anastasiya, Aryan, Aster, Avital, Barbie, Blessin, Catharine, Ciel, Dionne, Dolly, Eleonora, Elspeth, Evolette, Ezmae, Getsemani, Giabella, Gweneth, Hafsah, Irena, Janina, Joanie, Kemper, Kia, Kimbella, Klaudia, Lakshmi, Lee, Lovina, Lyrical, Maelle, Maybelle, Rosabelle, Rosaria, Shauna, Shealyn, Sophy, Tahirah, Tennessee, Tigerlily, Ursula, Yashika, Ysabel

22: Adel, Alishba, Anouk, Armonie, Azara, Beyonce, Candelaria, Caprice, Catori, Cerys, Chisom, Clarabelle, Dorcas, Dulcemaria, Gioia, Gwendolen, Harnoor, Heavenleigh, Jazzmyn, Jewelz, Kashmir, Kharma, Leidy, Leta, Mable, Marsha, Mattea, Melaina, Mithra, Mumtaz, Nevada, Nicolina, Nixon, Odyssey, Oliviana, Peggy, Promyse, Quincey, Richelle, Ruchy, Rut, Sheryl, Talulah, Torah, Vega, Verona, Wanda, Zoelle

21: Alexianna, Analucia, Arizbeth, Assata, Ayelet, Barrett, Breeze, Callahan, Chasidy, Copeland, Cosima, Devine, Emelina, Esmerelda, Ethel, Fae, Faustina, Germany, Goddess, Gypsy, Isabeau, Isolde, Jazzelle, Justus, Kaylianna, Laramie, Legaci, Matilde, Mccartney, Mele, Merry, Nicoletta, Persia, Prim, Ravenna, Shelley, Stormi, Teal, Tricia, Tuesday, Wrigley, Wylie, Yetzali, Zephyr, Zita, Zlata


  • 23 girls name Aryan…Yikes!  Some of these might be attributed to the current popularity of Arya, but I can’t help but be reminded of those parents who lost custody of their kids because everyone discovered the baby son was named “Adolf Hitler”…his sister was named something like “Aryan Nation.”  If you’re interested in reading more about names that have caused custody-losses, check out this older article that I wrote here.
  • Anberlin – Isn’t that a band?
  • Diem – These are all first names here, not middle names.  My inner Latin student is twitching because Diem is accusative case, not nominative.  In more lay terms, this means that Diem (which means “day”) is a direct object.  As in: “something verbs the day.”  If it were nominative (Dies instead of Diem), this would be the subject, i.e. “day verbs something.”  I’m going to call this Schrödinger’s Name, because in an existential sentence the person is subject and direct object at the same time. 
  • Elowen, Ellowyn, and ElowynElowen is a very modern Cornish name.  I’m surprised to see so many spellings of such a rare name with about equal usage, but I will say that Elowen has been creeping up for a few years now.  It’s a trendy name, however rare. 
  • Arwyn – Americans really like their “-wyn” endings.   If Tolkien based Arwen on feminine Welsh names when he created it, then these parents just found its masculine form.
  • Harleyquinn – Holy Batman!
  • Tennyson – I’ve been seeing this a lot lately, actually.  Unisex.
  • Shai – I realize this is probably a variation of Shea or Shay, but it looks more like a transliteration of the Arabic word for “tea.” 
  • Kimbella – “Bella” names are really popular right now, but Kim fell out of fashion a while ago.  Makes me wonder about Kardashian influence…
  • Tigerlily – One of the most unusual flower names I’ve seen.  Surprising how much more popular it is right now than Petunia or Lilac
  • Chisom – Is there a reason why everyone’s using a phonetic spelling of Chisholm instead of Chisholm?  Pop culture, maybe?
  • Odyssey – No idea why this is used as much as it is.  Journey is popular though; maybe the parents were bored with that and searched a thesaurus?
  • Isabeau and Isolde – Medieval throwbacks.  Awesome! 
  • Matilde – I like this name, but it constantly reminds me of that Guy de Maupassant story we had to read in high school about a misplaced necklace.
  • Shelley – Frankenstein!  That is all.
  • Wrigley – Found the baseball fans.
  • Mccartney – These are probably McCartneys, but the data doesn’t show if letters beyond the first were capitalized. 
  • My favorites: Adelaida, Alvina, Anoushka, Cornelia, Elektra, Elowen, Eulalia, Minna, Antonina, Imelda, Adabella, Avital, Catharine, Dionne, Eleonora, Elspeth, Lee, Maelle, Maybelle, Rosabelle, Tahirah, Candelaria, Cerys, Clarabelle, Dorcas, Gwendolen, Melaina, Vega, Cosima, Emelina, Ethel, Faustina, Isabeau, Isolde, Matilde

Predictions: The Top 10 Baby Names of 2015

Within the next two weeks, the Social Security Administration will release the 2015 list of the most popular American baby names.  Earlier this week, I wrote about my top 1000 prediction for the name Achilles.  Now I will publish my predictions on a more general and important set: the top 10.

Here are what I predict will be the top 10 names for boys and girls from 2015, with the projected change in rank from 2014 (in parentheses).  Check back around Mother’s Day (May 8) or so and we’ll see how I did! 


  1. Noah (0)
  2. Liam (0)
  3. Mason (0)
  4. William (+1)
  5. Alexander (+3)
  6. Ethan (0)
  7. Jacob (-3)
  8. James (+1)
  9. Michael (-2)
  10. Logan (new, +3)


  1. Olivia (+1)
  2. Emma (-1)
  3. Isabella (+1)
  4. Ava (+1)
  5. Sophia (-2)
  6. Mia (0)
  7. Emily (0)
  8. Abigail (0)
  9. Harper (new, +2)
  10. Charlotte (0)

#1 names: Noah and Olivia

Entering the top 10: Logan and Harper

Leaving the top 10: Daniel and Madison

Chances are there will be a wildcard; there’s almost always one, and those you can’t predict.  However, based on the fastest rising and falling names between 2013 and 2014, I think this list will hit pretty close to the mark. 


Name Predictions: Achilles


Achilles drags Hector after slaying him

May is quickly approaching, and so is my college graduation.  Despite that milestone, I’m even more excited for something else – within the next two or three weeks, the Social Security Administration will release the data for the most popular American baby names of 2015.  Most people will likely be looking to the top 10 names or even just the #1 names for boys and girls, but I especially look forward to seeing the entire top 1000 and extended lists!

I will post my predictions for the top 10 later, but as of now I am officially kicking off speculation season by writing about a name that’s not yet in the top 1000, but may soon enter.

In the past year alone, I’ve been surprised by how many times I’ve encountered the name Achilles in real life.  Another blog I follow, For Real Baby Names, publishes lists of names used on actual babies; if you type “Achilles” in the search function several instances will appear.  The variant “Achillies” also appears a couple of times.  I’ve been reading that blog for years and yet only recently have there been so many instances of this one name.  Indeed, the extended SSA data indicates some rise in the usage of Achilles over the past few years.  Mainly this is because of the massively popular 2004 movie Troy, which is Hollywood’s take on Homer’s Iliad or more broadly, the Trojan War.  Before that movie, Achilles was a very rare name.  It wasn’t unused, but oftentimes there would be fewer than 10 American boys named Achilles born in a given year.  The French form Achille was always about as rare, but unlike Achilles, Achille has not enjoyed extra usage after Troy.

The latest data we (currently) have is from 2014.  In that year, there were 169 baby boys in the U.S. given the name Achilles.  In 2013, there were 142.  In 2012 there were 147, but that was up from 123 in 2011.  Note that in 2003, there were only 6, as opposed to 32 when the movie came out in 2004.  So even if in one year there was a slight dip, usage is generally trending upwards.  While it is possible that Achilles may drop in the 2015 data, it’s rather unlikely.  I will explain why.

One of the current naming trends is the growing popularity of names from Greco-Roman mythology and history.  Deity names like Luna and Aurora are wildly popular right now, and at least one of them may enter the top 100 in the 2015 data.  Human characters aren’t left out either; Penelope entered the top 100 in 2013 and is skyrocketing.  Ariadne entered the top 1000 in 2014.  Among the other ancients, Apollo, Atlas, and Ares are all up there too. Alexander is perennially popular, and currently a top-10 name.  Maximus, first popularized in a modern context by the movie Gladiator, is in the top 200 and rising fast.  Titus is also getting up there, ranking at #285 in the last count.  Achilles would be right at home with all of these.

Why then, are these names becoming so popular?  In many cases, I can’t really say.  Penelope supposedly received a boost from a Kardashian (unfortunately), and Maximus is definitely a result of Gladiator, but the others?  Luna’s popularity might have partially to do with Luna Lovegood, but Harry Potter doesn’t usually have very strong effects on American naming, so I’m unsure about that one.  I’ve heard that some old Roman and Late Latin names are receiving boosts from Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S., which could explain the reclaimed popularity of names like Valeria and Valentina.

For names like Ares, Apollo, and Achilles, though, there’s separate and major factor.  In August of 2015, Nameberry published a piece on a large trend towards violent baby names.  Besides all the weaponry and bad-behavior appellations, there was a section about “historical warriors.”  Although Achilles wasn’t listed there, Hector was (though as myth characters, not sure how much they count as historical, unless you consider their greater context within ancient military history…Alexander the Great, I’m looking at you).  There was also a part about war- and destruction-bearing gods, mentioning Apollo.  The thing is: if all this talk about the popularity and trendiness of violent names is true, then Achilles is almost certain to end up a top 1000 name at some point.  I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Iliad, but it begins with an invocation to recall Achilles’ extreme, deadly rage.  As a baby name, he’ll fit in with the rest.

Will Achilles enter the top 1000 for 2015?  It’s certainly possible.  The boys’ name that ranked #1000 in 2014 only had 205 uses.  Assuming a steady rise, and assuming there are even fewer names represented in the SSA data as with the last few years, then yes!  Expect Achilles somewhere in the rankings.  He may even pull an Ariadne where usage suddenly jumps; on that note, watch out for Persephone!  If Achilles is not in the top 1000 for 2015, I anticipate he’ll be in the 2016 data. 

What do you think? 


Rare Names in the 11-20 Range (Boys)

Today I go over some of those rare boys’ names used between 11 and 20 times in the U.S. in 2014.  As I did with the girls’ names, I provide commentary, but many of the names aren’t so humorous this time.  Rather, they’re head-scratching or unfortunately reminiscent of the darker memories of history and religion.  Exhibit A: Nero.  Still, there are plenty of good names in here, and the occasional odd-ball.  Some of these are fandom names; I have to say, it’s pretty awesome to know there are little Theodens running around. 

And yes, in case it isn’t clear: these are actual names used in the U.S., from the last year for which we have data.  I don’t make them up.  

20: Aengus, Calloway, Christoph, Dream, Errol, Galileo, Haakon, Han, Ioannis, Jafar, Jupiter, Juvenal, Mister, Nachman, Rainier, Rufus, Sasha, Seneca, Silvestre, Stanford, Stark, Strider

19: Abenezer, Aleksey, Ananias, Andrea, Athanasios, Cassian, Evangelos, Gustav, Hamish, Hawthorne, Maynard, Ogden, Ragnar, Ripken, Styles, Winslow, Zlatan

18: Alucard, Attila, Buster, Castor, Cato, Dagoberto, Findlay, Gehrig, Harsh, Heinrich, Kyrillos, Leonid, Maximos, Miroslav, Nero, Prentice, Rand, Rollin, Supreme, Tennessee, Theoden

17: Abijah, Afton, Aleph, Amory, Caspar, Eladio, Exodus, Fabien, Friedrich, Gunther, Hale, Hannibal, Honest, Juventino, Mattia, Melchizedek, Napoleon, Oleg, Orville, Pharoah, Phinehas, Pike, Poseidon, Praise, Prentiss, Reno, Rexford, Rommel, Rourke, Tadhg, Texas, Townsend, Woodson, Yehudah

16: Auguste, Avram, Brandy, Castle, Creedence, Desi, Dewey, Dijon, Eero, Espn, Evaristo, Fenton, Florian, Francois, Garth, Gaston, Hero, Izzy, Lestat, Lynn, Mandela, Miracle, Mirko, Oisin, Omega, Pacey, Parris, Percival, Redmond, Renly, Rupert, Shooter, Sneijder, Taiga, Talmage, Theodoros, Thunder, Torben, Yohannes

15: Alp, Amilcar, Anastasios, Caelum, Elihu, Feynman, Freedom, Grover, Hercules, Hyde, Juno, Parrish, Philemon, Schuyler, Serge, Shadrach, Thurston, Welles, Yaroslav, Yochanan, Zabdiel, Zaccai

14: Aldous, Altair, Angelus, Anselmo, Arsalan, Baden, Berkeley, Cosmo, Elbert, Emmerich, Herschel, Isidore, Kona, Lafayette, Redford, Reuel, Sixto, Spenser, Stanislav, Taft, Ulrich, Wellington, Wolfe

13: Abishai, Balthazar, Barnabas, Caliber, Camillo, Catcher, Coltrane, Courage, Edris, Faolan, Gatsby, Godfrey, Gregor, Henrique, Jabin, Rocket, Taurus, Ubaldo, Ulric, Washington, Webster, Whittaker, Xerxes

12: Adams, Albin, Calvert, Cartel (?!), Christophe, Darcy, Drako, Emerald, Fergus, Garland, Giles, Makarios, Mattheus, Nephi, Padraic, Phil, Philopateer, Sanford Sumner, Thailand, Wilkes

11: Aeneas, Aldrich, Aloysius, Alvis, Avishai, Baldemar, Balin, Barack, Bastien, Bonham, Calixto, Coal, Cyprian, Django, Elric, Epic, Fitzpatrick, Franz, Godson, Gotti, Griffith, Gunter, Ioan, Ivar, Jubal, Judas, Kingdom, Leonides, Lorne, Lucifer, Majestic, Million, Milos, Nachum, Neville, Osborn, Petros, Porfirio, Priest, Promise, Rafferty, Reynolds, Righteous, Rogue, Sergei, Thornton, Winfield, Yancy, Zebulun


  • Abenezer – I’m surprised how many of these there are compared to Ebenezer, which is considered the correct spelling and registered 44 uses in 2014.  My thoughts are that perhaps parents liked the name but didn’t want the Scrooge association.
  • Espn, male equivalent to Abcde.  Yes, there are children named after ESPN. 
  • Alucard – Dracula backwards.  I highly doubt this is a case like Nevaeh; rather, I assume the parents are anime fans. 
  • Gatsby – If you’re looking for an F. Scott Fitzgerald character name that isn’t so obvious, I suggest Amory, which is also on the list. 
  • Mister – That’s gotta be confusing on forms…
  • Rommel – I have to wonder about parents who name their kids after Nazi generals.  Not good.
  • Hannibal – On the subject of generals, not so bad but still a cannibal.
  • Dijon – “Excuse me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”
  • Kona – Don’t get me wrong…I’m addicted to my coffee, but I don’t like it *that* much.  Impressive level of brand-naming though!
  • Cartel – That someone would think this is a name disturbs me. 
  • Catcher – Does he have a brother or sister named Rye?
  • Lucifer – It’s way too early to tell, but I wonder if the TV show is going to boost usage within the next few years…
  • Priest – if you remember, this was Cyanide’s twin brother. 
  • Righteous – I have a hard time determining whether the parents of these boys are ultra-religious or California surfers.
  • Ananias – I know this is a Biblical name, but it sounds rather like the German word for “pineapple.”
  • Thunder – Just name him Thor already.  Marvel names are a thing; you may have seen that Stark registered 20 uses.  
  • Names I actually really like, i.e. my favorites: Percival, Rupert, Athanasios, Gustav, Hamish, Ragnar, Melchizedek, Amory, Florian, Alucard, Rufus, Errol, Friedrich, Phinehas, Yochanan, Anastasios, Shadrach, Aldous, Altair, Herschel, Isidore, Emmerich, Balthazar, Barnabas, Godfrey, Darcy, Django, Theoden, Balin, Aeneas, Aldrich, Aloysius, Cyprian, Reuel

Rare Names in the 11-20 Range, Plus Commentary (Girls)

A lot of people seemed to enjoy my posts about ultra-rare names in the 5-10 range of uses.  So, how about the names in the 11-20 range?  These are only slightly more popular, and are still so rare or eccentric that you might consider them more for character names than people.  And remember, these were actual names from the U.S. data set for 2014.

20: Aixa, Athalia, Atlas, Bahar, Elisabetta, Hero, Lucina, Matea, Scottie, Solveig, Thora, Vashti

19: Adelheid, Azure, Carmina, Celestine, Christabella, Favour, Gertrude, Infinity, Ioanna, Isidora, Katharina, Mathilde, Maybelline, Miroslava, Oksana, Saskia, Sparkle, Stacia, Tamsin, Unity, Zeta

18: Altair, Belladonna, Camry, Cecile, Charmaine, Cleopatra, Eleonore, Enza, Freja, Gaelle, Galaxy, Gracia, Ione, Lilo, Malory, Margeaux, Montgomery, Sagan, Trudy, Vincenza, Wilma, Zenovia, Zephaniah

17: Adabelle, Augustina, Calypso, Cayenne, Clarisse, Despina, Honora, Kassia, Kestrel, Osiris, Patsy, Rhythm, Sonnet, Svetlana, Trinidad

16: Basil, Bethania, Caoimhe, Dominica, Ellanora, Konstantina, Nadezhda, Safari, Sibyl, Sigrid, Tasha

15: Aibhlinn, Aissata, Alys, Amazing, Aphrodite, Ares (?!), Asenath, Bina, Davida, Edythe, Elinore, Enid, Enola, Giulietta, Grier, Harriett, Julienne, Katherina, Kindle, Maude, Moana, Modesty, Myrna, Reverie, Roseline, Sable, Talula, Vella, Velvet, Whisper

14: Adama, Adelita, Aeliana, Agata, Allure, Ameliana, Apollonia, Aradhana, Astoria, Aurelie, Ayaan, Beryl, Carlisle, Clea, Clementina, Eliane, Epiphany, Flavia, Hebe, Kitty, Klea, Lucrezia, Lunabelle, Meg, Nerissa, Nettie, Nyx, Padme, Pemberley, Rowena, Roxi, Zillah

13: Adelind, Adriane, Amarilis, Astra, Athaliah, Azula, Catriona, Celestia, Cherie, Claudette, Corabelle, Electra, Elsbeth, Ernestina, Jerusha, Lorenza, Lunabella, Maelys, Nuala, Rubina, Sinead, Thessaly, Velma, Winnifred

12: Arabel, Arcadia, Athanasia, Aureliana, Cassiopeia, Ebba, Eponine, Eudora, Giordana, Io, Jessamine, Jocabed, Kaiulani, Leda, Letizia, Liat, Lura, Lyssa, Mahealani, Nereida, Sansa, Xaviera, Yoyo

11: Abcde (!!!), Alabama, Americus, Bessie, Bethsaida, Bettina, Beulah, Bruna, Caoilainn, Christabelle, Eibhlin, Hannelore, Jochebed, Posy, Providence, Purity, Rosalba, Sian


  • Abcde – yes, that’s first five letters of the Latin alphabet.  I think it’s supposed to be  pronounced “Ab-si-dee” – which actually sounds kind of pretty, but still, why does this name even exist?  Thankfully, usage seems to be declining.  For further reading on Abcde, check out this article by Nancy Man.  For extra amusement, read the (sometimes trollish) comments. 
  • Hero – I’m sure some of these are named for the word, but keep in mind this is also a real girls’ name from Greek Mythology and Shakespeare.  For some reason, though, I keep thinking of sandwiches. 
  • Belladonna – Beautiful name, unfortunately poison.  But hey, nobody intervenes until it’s Cyanide!  This name makes me think of Bellatrix Lestrange…not sure which is more dangerous.     
  • Ares was immediately after Aphrodite in the list.  Wait – why is Ares on the girls’ list?! 
  • Pemberley – Last I checked, there hasn’t been a new Pride and Prejudice in TV or cinema.  So, why did the name of Darcy’s *house* only show up in 2013, and why is it rising?
  • Padme – Surprised I haven’t seen Amidala.  Have encountered Marajade within the data, though.  
  • I would expect Gertrude to experience much higher usage, considering how trendy old-fashioned names are right now.  Ditto regarding Enola and Rowena.  Maybe we’ll see higher usage when the 2015 data arrives in a couple weeks.
  • Epiphany – Jokes aside, I’m not sure whether I prefer this or Epiphania.
  • Apollonia – “Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday…”
  • Basil – considering that Basil is traditionally masculine, and is pretty rare now as a male name, I can only assume that female Basils are so named because it’s a plant, ergo, nature name. 
  • Yoyo – I have a hard time believing that 12 girls would be named after Yo-Yo Ma in a single year, but you never know. 
  • Infinity – I wonder if the parents are fans of Toy Story. 
  • Zephaniah – a good example of the fairly common practice of bestowing masculine Bible names on girls because Mariah made similar-sounding names “feminine” to people.  Note, Mariah is actually a variation on Maria
  • Sagan – I’d bet they’re all named after Carl Sagan. 
  • Camry – Born in the family Toyota?  You might think I’m joking, but a few years ago a family gave their daughter the middle name Camryn for that reason. 
  • Alabama – “Oh Susannah!”
  • Kindle – Fire or books?  Maybe both…?
  • Zeta – Eta, Theta…
  • Velvet – does anyone even wear that stuff anymore? 
  • Whisper – the new Cherish!
  • Osiris – seeing this and Ares on the girls’ list really annoys me.  I don’t recall either deity having female personifications…why name a daughter after a Greek god of war when there’s a Greek goddess of war (Athena)?  People should put more thought into naming their children than just how a name sounds or looks.  
  • Atlas – similarly with Osiris and Ares, except Atlas wasn’t a god.  Fun fact, Atlas is a top 1000 boys’ name now!  Which probably explains why Atlas showed up on the girls’ list; if a name becomes popular for one sex, it will be bestowed on the other.
  • My personal favorites: Providence, Cassiopeia, Lucina, Scottie, Edythe, Gertrude, Belladonna (I admit, total guilty pleasure), Modesty, Athanasia, Kaiulani, Enola, Flavia, Hebe, Aureliana, Eudora, Jessamine, Cleopatra, Adelheid, Sigrid, Caoimhe, Honora, Electra, Zillah, Adabelle, Bethsaida, Apollonia

What do you think of these? 

It’s Earth Day! Nature Names.


Happy Earth Day!  Here’s a rudimentary list of word names representing items in nature.  Most of these, if not all of these, have been used as actual names.  Some are even currently top 1000 names!

Flowers: Azalea, Rose, Lily, Chrysanthemum, Jasmine, Daisy, Gardenia, Lavender, Lilac, Peony, Poppy, Marigold, Hyacinth, Petunia, Primrose, Violet, Viola, Lantana, Mimosa, Crocus, Zinnia, Tansy, Heather, Iris


Geographic features: River, Ocean, Hill, Lake, Valley, Forest, Meadow

Trees: Juniper, Oak, Sequoia, Maple, Willow

Fruits, Berries and Plants: Ivy, Olive, Holly, Apple, Plum

Animals: Bear, Drake, Kitty, Fox, Bee, Bunny

Gems, Minerals, etc.: Jade, Garnet, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Beryl, Amethyst, Diamond, Pearl, Opal, Galena

Air and Space: Cloud, Moon, Star, Sky

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Boys)

Yesterday I singled out some of the many girls’ names that were used between 5 and 10 times in 2014.  Today, the boys’ names!  Although females’ names as a whole are more unique, I personally found more names I liked within the males’ names in this range.  Again, you may be shocked, and you may only use these for characters.  They would be fantastic to see on actual people, though. 

10: Adlai, Aldric, Ambrosio, Archimedes, Ashe, Aureliano, Barnaby, Bartholomew, Colm, Constantin, Devereaux, Horatio, Inigo, Issachar, Ivo, Kipling, Kratos, Maurizio, Midas, Parke, Philopater, Prosper, Psalm, Ramesses, Romulo, Socrates, Spiro, Thorne, Thorsten, Woody, Yitzhak, Zeal

9: Adagio, Alcides, Anubis, Aodhan, Apollos, Aristides, Calogero, Chaos, Dionysios, Dom, Edgard, Eldridge, Finnbar, Isadore, Macarius, Norbert, Owain, Ruairi, Tesla, Yves

8: Acheron, Adonias, Alban, Albion, Alfie, Algernon, Anselm, Chiron, Colman, Doyle, Dudley, Gustaf, Hamlet, Jago, Meshach, Nicanor, Oberon, Prometheus, Riordan, Samwise, Sherlock, Sigmund, Stanislaw, Taliesin, Whitfield, Zaccheus, Zebedee, Zeph

7: Alastor, Artemus, Asahel, Baptiste, Bertram, Bran, Chamberlain, Deucalion, Eleazer, Elishua, Eustace, Grantham, Ingram, Ivor, Justinian, Livingston, Llewellyn, Ludwig, Naaman, Pius, Triumph, Tudor

6: Absalom, Acamas, Ademar, Benedikt, Bertrand, Carroll, Cicero, Constantinos, Desiderio, Dionysus, Drago, Ezekiah, Fitzwilliam, Gershom, Granville, Grisham, Hades, Hawthorn, Iago, Kenaniah, Naphtali, Ollivander, Osborne, Osric, Ossian, Peregrine, Phinneas, Severiano, Sylvanus, Temujin, Thackery, Thales, Torstein, Willoughby, Zed

5: Abednego, Alvar, Aristotelis, Athanasius, Bayard, Bela, Blessed, BonifacioCayetano, Cosimo, Cosmas, Decimus, Denys, Destined, Donal, Edsel, Emmeric, Frasier, Gerhard, Hannes, Harald, Harvest, Heathcliff, Hermann, Hirsch, Icarus, Jerzy, Ludovic, Manfred, Marcellino, Melquisedec, Remus, Rolf, Sascha, Severus, Seymour, Spartacus, Spyridon, Tarquin, Umberto, Valdemar, Valiant, Waldemar, Waldo, Wolfram

So, what do you think of these names?  A few of these are my all-time favorites, like Horatio, Severus, and Absalom.   Biblical, Ancient Mediterranean, surnames, literature…these kind of lists show there is an infinite range of names one can use!

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Girls)

“Unique” names are less unique than ever.  The top American names now constitute a much smaller percentage of babies born in a year than they did a century ago.  In the last 10 years alone, the percentage of children whose names are in the American top 1000 has dropped from about 75% to 73%, meaning that children are increasingly likely to have an uncommon name.  Considering that the Social Security Administration produces an extended list beyond the top 1000, I wonder what the percentage is of children whose names are common enough to make that compilation.

In order to be shown on the extended list, a name has to be used at least 5 times in a year for that given gender.  Being used 5 times does not make a name popular or even common, since the bottom names of the top 1000 tend to register a couple hundred uses in a year.  Below the top 1000, one finds all the rare or semi-rare names that are in use.  Some of these names are even trendy, and might hit the top 1000 in short order.

Today I’ve mined the American data for some of my favorite girls’ names with 10 or fewer uses in 2014.  Some of you will think: “Wait, people actually use these?”  Some of you will hardly be able to contain your excitement, some will be dumbfounded.  For many, it will be all of the above.

10: Amadea, Artemisia, Djuna, Hedy, Hephzibah, Lilac, Linnaea, Lior, Lucilla, Macaria, Markia, Pooja, Raphaela, Socorro, Tansy, Tilda, Venezia

9: Agape, Ambrosia, Anthea, Apphia, Astraea, Avis, Bellatrix, Cressida, Donatella, Rosamund, Sibylla, Tulip, Tulsi, Zoraida

8: Adamina, Amabella, Asmara, Binah, Blessed, Circe, Constantina, Coretta, Edeline, Eugenie, Ginevra, Giuseppina, Nefertari, Prosperity, Radiance, Sincerity, Tryphena, Veronique

7: Arista, Bathsheba, Christiane, Clarabella, Dulcinea, Elisheba, Fionnuala, Hyacinth, Oceane, Parthenia, Peregrine, Rejoice, Sophronia, Trillium, Yehudit

6: Agnieszka, Alejandrina, Anwen, Benedicta, Blanche, Bronwen, Calixta, Caoilinn, Damiana, Eleftheria, Euphemia, Gardenia, Gwendoline, Heloise, Hildegard, Hypatia, Joyful, Niobe, Perpetua, Tullia, Vesta

5: Alfreda, Amabel, Amandine, Corabella, Hagar, Helia, Ignacia, Morticia, Naamah, Nefertiti, Nerys, Petunia, Prisca, Rahab, Sebastiana, Theophilia, Xanthe, Zoja

As you can tell, there’s quite a mix with this set.  Mythological, Biblical, Flowers, Virtues…there are so many kinds of names here.  Now, since these names are ultra-rare, don’t expect them to suddenly enter the top 1000 in the next year or even decade.  But maybe they’ll become characters in the stories you write.  Maybe, seeing them in use will give you the courage to use one of these lovelies or an equally unique appellation on your child! 

What do you think of these names? 

Source:  https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/limits.html

Unisex Names

Unisex naming has been one of the greatest trends in American naming in the past 50 years, if not the past century.  Mainly this has entailed traditionally masculine names or surnames (often both) gender-bending; that is, becoming widespread among females.  Other times, a name that’s masculine in one language becomes feminine in English, as can be seen with the Italian Andrea and Michele.  Still other times, a name will become extremely popular for one gender which will cause some parents to use it on the other.

Each generation seems to have its unisex name or set of unisex names.  The first really big one – as far as I can tell – seems to be Shirley, the darling of the early 20th century.  Her usage among women probably stems initially from an eponymous Brontë novel written in the 1840s.  Surely, though, her popularity was boosted by Shirley Temple; while not terribly apparent in the ranking graphs alone, the raw numbers suggest that she jumped around 20,000 uses from 1934 to 1935 alone just among women who lived long enough to apply for Social Security.  To put that in perspective, the current most popular girls’ name in America, Emma, was used only about 20,000 times in 2014 among almost all births.

Of course, Shirley wasn’t the trendiest unisex name forever.  Carol was at its most popular in the 1940s.  Chris, which is consistently popular as a boys’ name, was briefly popular for girls around 1960.  Stacy and Tracy were big in the early 1970s.  And in the 1980s and 1990s, Ashley was queen.  Nowadays, the big ones are Madison and Harper

A good question to ask is whether a name is truly gender-neutral/unisex or if it simply skews strongly.  Many commonly “unisex” names skew strongly feminine once they begin to gender-bend.  There aren’t that many names that have an equal or almost equal association among both men and women.  Off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of are Willie, Morgan, and CharlieWillie was once in the top 100 for both men and women, but that was a century ago.  Morgan is interesting because despite only recently gaining popularity among women, there’s an ancient association with Morgan le Fay.  Charlie is very masculine in connotation but lately, usage-wise, it’s on equal footing for girls and boys, both being ranked around #220; I suspect this has to do with Charlotte‘s very high popularity.

I will write far more about unisex names in the future.  Though I don’t personally consider them my favorites, they take up a huge proportion of the baby name market and deserve my consideration.  What are your thoughts about them? 





Rose: More than a Flower

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”  – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.


Rose is possibly the most famous, traditional, and popular floral name in the English language, if not everywhere.  She has been in the American top 1000 every year since 1880, and despite a small dip in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century she is now rebounding.  Her most recent ranking (2014) is #196, but expect her to climb even higher in 2015!  In other countries, her comparative popularity is even more popular.  The charts for England and Wales, France, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and Belgium all include her among their top 100.   In many places, she is returning to popularity after seemingly long absences. 

But Rose isn’t just a flower.  Rose is actually a very old Germanic name!   In Medieval English and Norman French, the name was often rendered Rohese.  Other spellings included Royse and Rohesia (Latinized version).  No variation of this name had anything to do with the flower.  The original Germanic form of the name is Hrodohaidis, which has roots meaning something like “fame” and “-ness.”  So, Rose might actually be a great name for a celebrity.  

Then there’s Rosa, which is usually considered a variation of Rose.  It might actually be derived from only the first root in Hrodohaidis, which would make it a different name than Rose (though still related).  Of course, like its cousin, Rosa is probably used mainly in reference to the flower.  According to Behind the Name, both Rose and Rosa only really entered a modern English context in the 19th century, which is when many other flower names became common.  Indeed, Rose isn’t the only flower name with other origins.  Iris, for example, was a Greek messenger goddess.  Zinnia and Linnea are named after famous scientists.  Flower names come from somewhere.

What do you think of Rose and other such names? 

Source: http://www.behindthename.com