I recently conducted this exercise in men’s names. The rules: 1) One name per letter of the alphabet. 2) Each name must have ranked below the American top 1000 at last counting – 2015. 3) Most importantly, it has to be the first rare name that enters the mind.
Here’s my list of the women’s names! What would your list be?
A: Amaryllis – 69 girls. Amaryllis is a plant name (think lilies), though my primary association is poetry (Virgil).
B: Beatrix – 209 girls. Beatrix Potter, anyone?
C: Carlotta – 16 girls. Interestingly, the Italian form of Charlotte hasn’t done too well lately.
D: Daenerys – 82 girls. Khaleesi could not have made this list because it’s a popular baby name (#814). Daenerys on the other hand….
E: Elowen – 36 girls. More on the name Elowen here.
F: Flora – 173 girls. In my current Crusader Kings II campaign (PC game), I had my character (king of England) marry a genius Scottish noblewoman named Flora Mac Áeda. As a result, Flora is the top rare ‘f’ name on my mind.
G: Georgiana – 117 girls. I’ve written a more complete profile on Georgiana, which you can read here.
H: Harriet – 179 girls. I wonder if Harriet will reenter the top 1000 when Harriet Tubman replaces Jackson on the $20. That would be awesome.
I: Isadora – 169 girls. Curiously, Isadore was my answer for ‘I’ in the men’s names exercise.
J: Jezebel – 24 girls. The letter ‘J’ produces so many names, both rare and popular…yet this came up. Hmm.
K: Kateri – 45 girls. ‘K’ similarly effuses names. Anyway, I’ve always found this an interesting name because St. Kateri is the Native American to be canonized as a saint!
M: Margo – 188 girls. Margot is a more popular form (503 uses) which ranks at #592.
N: Noemia – Unknown usage. Portuguese version of Naomi.
O: Olivine – 5 girls. I wasn’t sure if this was even a name, but it turns out that olivine is a mineral (the gemstone for which is the peridot).
P: Parthenia – 10 girls. Parthenia is an old family name!
Q: Quintella – Unknown usage…currently, anyway. It used to appear in SSA birth data, and for some reason it’s stuck with me more than any other rare ‘Q’ name. Quinn would have probably made the list if it weren’t popular (#97 for girls, #354 for boys).
S: Saadia – 12 girls. The movie Saadia was produced in the 1950s, which is when the name first appeared in SSA data. I always wondered about that.
T: Terpsichore – Unknown usage. The dancing Muse.
U: Ursula – 40 girls. There aren’t that many ‘U’ names…and doesn’t everyone think of a certain evil octopus?
V: Valeriana – Unknown usage.
W: Wilhelmina – 132 girls. Feminine form of William, or rather, German Wilhelm.
X: Xanthe – 6 girls. Amazingly, I spotted a Xanthe last week!!!
Y: Yadira – 75 girls. My next ‘Y’ name would have been Yolanda. Yadira sounds Arabic, and usage-wise is considered Latin American. I don’t think many people know know much about it, though…
Z: Zenobia – 41 girls. From everything I hear, Queen Zenobia was not someone you’d want to mess with.