“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?