I suddenly had the idea of a mental exercise in which I’d make a list of the first rare name that comes to mind per letter of the alphabet. My parameters were that it has to rank below the U.S. top 1000 (currently, anyway) and it can’t strictly be a surname. It also couldn’t be a combination of names or intentionally misspelled…otherwise, I would have put down Xenophilus when I was thinking of both Xenophon and Xenophilius (and probably Theophilus too), and Eustace would have become Youstace.
I will think of some girls’ names later and post those. I usually start with girls’ names on this blog, so why not start with the boys’ names this time?
Alaric – 181 uses in 2015. One of the more popular names on this list; may soon enter the top 1000. I’ve written more about Alaric in an earlier post, which you can read here.
Bertram – 13 uses. Means “bright raven.”
Cadwalader – Probably not in any modern usage. Cadwalader is one of those rare old Welsh names you’re only likely to encounter in a name dictionary or a directory of saints.
Dionysus – Under 5 uses in 2015, if any. Dionysus is the Ancient Greek god of wine.
Eleazar – 127 boys. The first Biblical name I thought of in this set.
Florian – 17 boys. If you spell it with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘i,’ then you might just be reminded of Florean Fortescue, who ran an ice cream parlor in the Harry Potter books. Fortescue was actually the first ‘f’ name I thought of, but it’s mainly a surname.
Gerhard – unknown usage. This is the German form – French Gerard was given to 179 boys, and Spanish Gerardo is the name of 742 boys born last year.
Hadrian – 29 uses. Roman emperor time! Here’s a link to the profile I’ve written on this name.
Isadore – Interestingly, this is currently unisex. In 2015, 10 boys and 6 girls were named Isadore. Feminine form Isadora belongs to 169 baby girls born last year.
Joah – 58 boys. Another rare Biblical name.
Kel – 5 boys. ‘K’ was a hard letter to find a rare name for, and Kel was the result of my mind wandering to Kenan and Kel. I’ve never seen the show…only heard of it.
Ludovic – 7 boys. There are a lot of guys running around with the name Louis, but this is an old form (they, along with Ludwig, are all related to the same ancient name – Chlodovech). Ludovic itself seems like a hipster choice.
Meriadoc – Unknown usage, probably no modern. Meriadoc is a fun old Celtic name with ties to Tolkien!
Norris – 20 boys. I hope I haven’t just summoned Mr. Filch.
Osric – 10 boys. The name itself is Anglo-Saxon, but apparently there’s a Chinese-Canadian actor who goes by Osric! How cool is that? 😀
Peregrine – 15 boys, 8 girls. Peregrine is an adjective that means “foreign” or “wandering.”
Quirinus – Unknown usage. Most of us know this name through Harry Potter (Professor Quirinus Quirrell), but it also comes from Roman Mythology.
Rupert – 22 boys. I do recall seeing Rupert on the top 1000 for England and Wales, but for some reason it hasn’t taken off here. Why?
Sampson – 56 boys. Another version of Samson, which was given to 428 boys last year.
Torsten – 31 boys. Ooh, a Scandinavian name! Related to Norse Myth…the ‘tor’ syllable means “Thor.”
Ursus – Unknown usage. ‘U’ was an even more difficult letter than ‘K’ to find a name for.
Valerian – Unknown usage. Valeria and Valerie are both popular girls’ names…and with the influx of ancient appellations the last few years, I’m somewhat surprised we aren’t seeing any Valerian‘s. Hmm…maybe it’s too feminine-sounding?
Wiktor – Unknown usage, though I used to know one. Polish form of Victor or Viktor!
Xenophon – Unknown usage. Hardcore Greek ‘X’ name…the next masculine ‘X’ name I thought of was Persian Xerxes (14 boys). Now there’s a clash if I ever saw one.
Yorick – 6 boys. I had thought this might be rare enough not to appear in the SSA data, but it seems a certain line of Shakespeare may have preserved this name for us. 🙂
Zephaniah – 117 boys and 16 girls. There are some really awesome ‘Z’ names from the Bible, and this is one of them. Some others that come to mind are Zebulon, Zadkiel, and Zadok.
Any thoughts on these names? If you conducted this exercise, what would your alphabetical names be? They can even be popular. To the writers that read my blog, I especially recommend this kind of creative maneuver.