Nine names per week over 51 weeks equals 459 names. They’re classic, they’re quirky, and sometimes they’re downright strange. But when I sat down to review a year’s worth of Nameberry posts, I realized that most of them are actually pretty wearable.
Very few of them repeat – something that surprised me, as it so often seems that a name is suddenly everywhere all at once. Some garnered lots of positive comments while others went completely unnoticed.
My favorite comment? “No, don’t mention THAT name. It’s the top of our list!” As I scrolled through the posts, there were more than a few groans of disappointment.
The best names, though, aren’t necessarily the ones that will be racing up the popularity charts. I’m most attracted to the ones that seem novel – unlikely to catch on, but probably part of a bigger change in how we think about names.
It was tough to narrow them down, but the nine most intriguing names from a year’s worth of Nameberry 9s are:
Dev – Actress Daya Vaidya and husband Don Wallace welcomed twin sons this summer: Jai Blue and Dev Eshaan. Dev fits in with a host of novel short names for boys. Jax, Dax, Cade, Cash, Kai, Lev, Zev, Dev. He’s modern and unexpected, but easy to spell and pronounce. His twin’s name narrowly missed this list, if only because it could rhyme with sky or way. At just three letters, Dev packs a lot of style.
Sutton – Not everyone loves a surname name, but from Taylor to Madison to Mason, they’re certainly mainstream. Sutton made one of the December lists, thanks to all of her small screen appearances. The more I hear her, the more I find myself thinking that Sutton could be on the uptick.
Mary – How can ordinary Mary make a list of most intriguing names? It isn’t so much the classic appellation, but her fall from use that surprises. Generations of women received the storied, elegant name, but suddenly she’s fading as quickly as Miley. Meanwhile, Elizabeth remains in the Top 20.
Beau – He’s a handsome Southern gentleman with a hint of cowboy, too. Beau seems to be one that I can’t stop talking about, and he’s catching on in the English-speaking world, too. Despite his masculine meaning – Belle is the feminine equivalent – Beau has been spotted on girls, too, sometimes respelled Bo.
Arrow – Call it the most unexpected word name of 2012, boosted by a Hunger Games/Avengers-fueled interest in archery. Arrow sounds like a modern virtue name, more daring than Archer or Artemis, as fresh as Harlow or Marlowe. It isn’t headed for the US Top 100 any time soon, but a handful of girls and boys are answering to Arrow.
Scout – Harper is hot. Atticus is cool. If we’re sourcing names from To Kill a Mockingbird, will more parents go the Bruce Willis–Demi Moore route and name a daughter Scout? It also has potential as a boys’ name. Scout made the list back in April, and continues to surface as a possibility on some parents’ shortlists.
Jenico – I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the first six names on this list, but spotting Jenico on a birth announcement? That would be a shock. He’s a medieval spin on Ignatius, one that hasn’t been heard in ages. But Jenico could be great – with built-in nicknames Nico and Nick, he can stand out or fit in.
Sylvie – Jason Bateman made headlines when he and wife Amanda named their second daughter Maple. But it was Maple’s middle that caught my eye. Sylvie feels like a cross between Sophie and all of those lovely, vibrant v names of which we’re so fond.
Isabelline – Isabella is a great name, but she’s everywhere. The elaborate Isabelline is a color name, a shade close to parchment. It’s usually used to describe horses or birds. I love finding Isabelle, Isabel, and especially Isobel in the middle spot. Discovering a little Ava Isabelline or Maya Isabelline? I’d swoon.
What were your favorite names of the year? Are there any that weren’t on your radar at all in 2011, but seem to be everywhere in 2012?