Category: rare names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Over the years, there have been hundreds of names that have rocketed onto the Top 1000 for one year, then just as suddenly disappeared, fading like shooting stars. We’ve made a thorough search through these names, seeing what gems we might find hidden among the oddball Metros, Councils and Dolls, the Jeps and Bunks and Schleys, which might merit a second appearance.
Two things to bear in mind: a lot of these names made their solo appearances soon after the Social Security list was launched, and so it’s possible that they might have enjoyed some previous popularity and were trending downward at that point. And also, many of them ranked in the eight and nine hundreds, and so probably accounted for just ten or less newborns with those names.
It’s also interesting to scope out if there’s some historical reason for these singular appearances. Wendell Wilkie, for example, was the 1940 Republican presidential nominee against FDR, accounting for the appearance of Wilkie that year, Tai Babilonia was the world figure skating champion when her name popped up in 1980, and Sable was the name of a character on the high-rated TV soap, The Colby‘s in 1986, when she was a one hit wonder.
If you grew up in the 1980’s you probably have fond memories of some of the fantasy adventure movies from that decade. For many, these movies were an early introduction to a different style of naming. Sometimes they were a slight twist on an old familiar name, other times they seemed completely magical and fantastical. But the great thing now is that those names are an instant reminder of those beloved films. Here are 20 of the top picks:
Atreyu (The Neverending Story) – Pronounced ah-TRAY-yoo, he was the warrior boy of the story. It is thought that the name has both Indian/Hindu origins – where it means ‘warrior’ – and German origins in the name Atreju, which means ‘son of all’. Both are quite apt for this character, who was raised by a village when his parents died. The name is still rare, but has seen some use since the early 1990’s.
Aquila (Ladyhawke) – Aquila is traditionally a male Latin name meaning ‘eagle,’ but is more often used as a girls name in America. Pronounced either ah-KEE-la or ah-KWIL-la, it was the name of the land in Ladyhawke.
Auryn (The Neverending Story) – The Auryn was the name of the amulet Atreyu wore to protect and guide him in his quest. It was also on the cover of the book Bastian was reading ‘The Neverending Story‘ from. This name could go to either gender, as it sounding similar to both girls’ name Lauren and boys’ name Oren, and has only recently started appearing on the US charts for both.
Recently we looked at girls’ names that we were surprised were below the Top 1000, but that were given to at least 100 babies last year.
Today we survey the tier below that: fashionable yet unusual girls’ names used for fewer than 100 babies….but at least 50. That may seem to be cutting things kind of narrowly, and the truth is we intended to look at the pool below 100 but more than 25. However, there were just too many names in the 50-100 group alone to go further, so we’ll consider the 25-50 slice another time.
And don’t worry, the boys in this group are coming up in the next few days.
For the parent in search of a wonderful name that is extremely unusual, there are lots of amazing choices in this group. The first list includes very fashionable names that we’re astonished aren’t more popular. Of course, a name like Seraphina, chosen by Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, is bound to be used far more widely next year. And Florence is much more popular in the UK than in this US count.
The number reflects how many babies received the name in 2009, according to the SSA figures, reproduced in nameberry’s master list ofgirls’ names.
Lots of parents-to-be are searching for “unique baby names,” but when you Google that term, the site that pops up first is babyhold.com, a serviceable but far from unique baby name destination. Another site that promises to deliver unique baby names offers such ridiculous choices as Gimm and Sinley for a boy and Hemi Skye for a girl.
A better source for names that are distinctive and unusual as opposed to truly one-of-a-kind — what most parents are really looking for when they search for unique baby names — might be an old-fangled one like E.G. Withycombe’s 1945 Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. This classic guide contains some names with deep historic roots that are rarely used today. Some of the most intriguing choices:
ALETHEA — Greek name that means “truth” was fashionable in the 17th century.