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abby-7-2c

This week, for her Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel picks the newsiest names on the boys’ side of the gender divide.

Midway through compiling this week’s list, I realized just how many great boys’ names are out there.

This is a subject of some debate.  Creativity in naming a son was long frowned on, and parents tended to fall back on the most familiar choices.  In 1900, more than 6% of all newborns were named John, while just 5.25% answered to Mary.  #2 name, William, was given to almost 5.3% of boys, but the #2 girl name, Helen, represented just under 2% of new births.  The names change, but the pattern holds.  In 1965, 4.3% of boys were Michael, and 3.3% of girls answered to Lisa.  Generally speaking, more boys receive the most popular names.

Reasons are plentiful, and even the most daring namer of daughters may very well veer towards the classics for a son, leading to sibsets like James, Henry, and Persephone.  But could this be the generation to challenge that pattern?

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comic strip characters---oola

Since comics first appeared over a century ago, their creators have been as inventive with character names as they have with innovative graphics and storylines, finding exotic names for their femmes fatale, comical names for humorous characters, perky names for pigtailed adolescents and noble names for high-flying heroes. Here are a dozen of the most interesting.

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Underrated Names

Underrated

There are some names that, even now, after writing so much about the subject, I hear and think, “Wow, that’s a great name.  I wonder why people don’t use that one more often?”

Sometimes, the answer is that a name was just too popular too recently for parents to appreciate its intrinsic wonderfulness: the lush Biblical Deborah is one that might fit in this category, though I didn’t include it in my ten examples.

Other times, a name carries an unappealing association for enough people to keep it from becoming popular.  And there are a dozen other reasons why a perfectly wonderful name just might not make it big – which can be good news for the parent in search of a name that’s both topnotch and undiscovered.

Here, ten names we think are underrated right now:

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