Category: offbeat names
I relish the days when, in the service of nameberry, I allow myself to click through to the birth announcements in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. The upper-crusty British baby name trends and eccentric (to the American ear) name combinations, oblivious to any conventional notions of “flow,” are my idea of top-flight entertainment.
For my latest survey, I set myself the task of listing only those offbeat names that reflect the English sensibility but are rarely heard heard in the United States – or indeed anywhere else in the world. (They may be rarely heard in Britain too — there are lots more Thomases than Teklas — yet they’re in keeping with upper-class British style.)
What I didn’t suspect was how many of them there were. Choices that originally seemed natural for the list – Henrietta and Imogen, for instance – had to be offloaded to make way for more extraordinary names.
What remains is a selection of quirky British baby names (not all of them actual English choices), many of which are utterly (utterly, dahling!) charming and could bear far more use in the larger world.
Unusual baby names are becoming more and more, well, common these days. A mere one percent of babies are named Emma or Jacob, the most popular names, and only about ten percent are given one of the Top Ten names. Compare that to a hundred years ago, when FIVE percent of babies were given the most popular names John or Mary, and 30 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls received one of the Top Ten Names. For the first time, less than half of all babies get one of the Top 50 names.
And it’s not only American parents who are choosing unusual baby names. Chinese parents, seeking individuality in a country with 1.3 billion people sharing only 129 surnames, are turning to unconventional combinations of letters, numbers and symbols for their children’s names. One couple wanted to name their baby 1A while others use the @ symbol, pronounced “aita” and meaning “love him” in Chinese.
Many European countries restrict the pool of possible names, though many parents are testing the centuries-old boundaries. But Belgium, with no such laws, over half of children receive such unique names as Testimony, Cherub, and Edelweiss.
If you’re considering giving your baby an unusual name, your biggest question may be: How will an unusual name affect my child for better and worse throughout his or her life?