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Memorable Names for Girls: Khaleesi, Sunday, Pemma, and Minnie Blossom

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Take a few minutes and try to list all the girls you know named Sophia – or Sophie or Sofia.  How about Isabella?  Zoe, Ava, Madison?

Now list the names that are one of one.

I only know a single girl called Ida, and just one named Arcadia.  My son built sand castles with a little Maxine on a long-ago beach vacation, and I’ve never forgotten her name.  Cordelia and Monica, Zinnia and Murielle, Helen and Claudia – they all stand out, associated with just a single child.

Sure, I’m all about names.  But when it comes to common choices, I’m amazed at how often I confuse Melissa for Michelle, Heather for Jennifer, Jack or Zach for Max.

The one-of-one names I never forget

We talk about unusual names as burdensome, but there’s likely some benefit to being the only one.  Yes, your name might be misheard or even mangled – my daughter Clio is often called Chloe – but it can also be memorable.  Just like Cher requires no surname, a little Clio or Murielle or Maxine never needs to add her last initial to a worksheet.

That’s not to say that Ava and Mia are forgettable.  And should Ava or Mia find her name too plain for a career in music or performance art, well, she can always became Gaga or Pink or X.

But there’s something appealing about being the only Sutton or Bernadette, and this week’s baby name news was filled with memorable girls’ names.  No need to go as far as Frank Zappa, of course – Moon Unit is unforgettable in a different way – but these are definitely stand-out choices that stick in your memory.

Minnie – British pop singer turned television personality Rachel Stevens has welcomed baby #2.  In keeping with a very English trend, Rachel and husband Alex Bourne named their new daughter Minnie.  It’s a nickname-name that will be right at home on the playground with kids called Alfie, Archie, Millie, and Maisie – all of which would be surprising choices in the US.  Big sister is Amelie.

Blossom – It is Minnie’s middle that really caught my eye.  Once the outlandish name of a 90s sitcom character, Blossom has flourished in the middle spot.  Jamie and Jools Oliver named their third daughter Petal Blossom Rainbow in 2009.  If you’re all about flower power, but want something less expected than Rose, Blossom makes for a daring choice.

Betsy Belle – While we’re talking about nickname names and appealing middles, may I recommend both Betsy and Belle?  This alliterative combination appeared in an Apartment Therapy round-up.  Despite the popularity of Isabella, Belle remains rare.  And Betsy hasn’t even cracked the US Top 1000 in recent years, suggesting that a newborn Betsy in 2014 would be memorable, indeed.

Pemma Mae – Actor David Krumholtz and wife Vanessa managed to choose an almost unique name for their firstborn, daughter Pemma Mae.  Pemma has never been given to more than four children in any year, though a handful do appear in US Census records.  And yet, Pemma sounds almost ordinary in our Emma-Gemma, Ella-Stella age.  With P names like Penelope and Phoebe finding favor, perhaps Pemma will have a few fans, too.

Lucia Paz – Speaking of gorgeous names starting with P, how about Paz?  That’s the middle name chosen by Claire Diaz-Ortiz, social innovation manager at Twitter.  Diaz-Ortiz live tweeted her entire labor and delivery, from her home in Buenos Aires – what else would you do if Twitter was your day job?  Paz is the Spanish word for peace, but this is no daring noun name.  Instead, one of the Virgin Mary’s many titles is Our Lady of Peace, making Paz – or maybe Maria Paz – a traditional choice.  Despite the deep roots, Lucia Paz feels nicely on trend and appealingly modern, too.

SapphirePaz might not be a daring noun name, but Sapphire most certainly earns the title.  Girls have been called Pearl and Opal and Ruby for generations.  But Sapphire, along with Emerald and Diamond and a few other precious gems, can feel too extravagant.  And yet with color and gemstone names so stylish, how can you argue with Sapphire?  Sophia, Seraphina, Saffron …  it’s an unforgettable name that works well.

Khaleesi – You’ve almost certainly heard that Game of Thrones is back for Season Four, bringing with it a slew of headlines about how parents are turning to the nobility of Westeros for baby name inspiration.  Khaleesi is a title invented by creator George R.R. Martin for the fearless princess-in-exile, Daenerys.  It’s definitely appealing to some parents, and I’d argue that the character is enduring.  But will the name be too tied to the decade?

Jovie – Speaking of fictional characters, here’s another one – Jovie, as in Zooey Deschanel’s character in Elf.  Jovie appeared in a birth announcement round-up at Waltzing More than Matilda.  She’s proof that movies do boost names.  Elf debuted over Christmas 2003.  Before that date, Jovie had rarely been used as a given name in the US – though Jovi, as in Bon, was not unknown.  As Elf transitioned from seasonal hit to holiday classic, Jovie caught on, with well over 150 girls receiving the name annually in recent years.  It’s a happy, friendly, and yes, memorable, name.

Sunday Molly – We knew Mike Myers would never choose a conventional name for baby #2 – not after welcoming firstborn son Spike.  Sunday stands out, but maybe not as far as she might have a few years ago.  Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are parents to a little Sunday, and from January Jones to Avril Lavinge to Wednesday Addams to Tuesday Weld, borrowing from the calendar feels more and more mainstream.  And yet, Sunday remains an intriguing choice – as meaningful as Paz, as memorable as Pemma.

Do you appreciate memorable names?  Do you wish your own name were more – or maybe less – unforgettable?  Are your favorite names likely to attract notice?

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