Category: Classic Baby Names
Think you have to pick between names that are classics, with deep roots and centuries of use, and names that are unusual?
You don’t, as these classic girls’ names, all ranked below the U.S. Top 1000, attest.
Some were popular in recent years and are now sinking from view — Pamela, Jean — while others are rising stars we predict will soon appear on the official Top 1000: Imogen is a prime example, along with Mabel, the Margos, and Clementine.
That still leaves dozens of classic girls’ names that are neither coming into style nor sailing out but simply holding steady below the radar.
A note on how we chose the names: We did not include variant spellings of more popular classic names such as Emilee, and for the most part excluded short forms unless they have been traditionally used on their own. Our definition of classic embraces ancient names such as Phaedra and Keturah along with more recent widely-used girls’ names such as Maureen.
If you’re in search of a classic girls’ name that’s both traditional and unusual, consider these 100+ picks, ordered from those given to the highest number of baby girls in the U.S. in 2012 (Aurelia, at 250) to the least (Petal, used for just 5).
But here’s a strategy that might work – pick a name that qualifies as a twist on a classic. It works for Swedish royals, Olympic gold medalists, and Hollywood types, too.
Need proof? Try the Zato Novo baby name visualizer. Elizabeth consistently turns the map various shades of blue, showing a long and steady history of use. But try Elsa or Bess or Elizaveta, and suddenly, she’s far more rare.
All too often, the names that strike us as outlandish are on their way to the top of the popularity charts. Remember when Top 100 picks like Harper and Trinity were surprising? Now names like Haven, Skyla, and Aspen are on the rise, slowly transitioning from “what an unusual name” to “oh, my cousin/co-worker/neighbor’s sister named her baby that.”
Twists on classics elicit a very different response. They usually can’t be dismissed as trendy or fleeting. Of course, some – like Nora, Eliza, or Kaitlyn – can become very popular. But many of them occupy a middle ground – pleasing names that show their history, while still standing out on the playground.
All pioneer names didn’t evoke subsistence, desolate winters, or dull prairie life–some of their baby names were as adventurous as the frontier folk themselves. Here are some stunning examples that are straight from the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s historical and largely-autobiographical Little House books.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls (1867-1957) is the spirited protagonist who wrote a set of classic tales about her life at the request of her romantically-named daughter (and only surviving child) Rose Wilder Lane. Her first full manuscript was written under the working title Pioneer Girl and was rejected; this evolved into the nine-book series beginning with Little House in the Big Woods on through The First Four Years. Her lore didn’t stop there, though. West From Home is a series of Laura’s letters to her husband during a visit to the 1915 World’s Fair. On The Way Home and The Road Back are diaries of her major trips; the latter three volumes were published posthumously.