Category: unique names for girls
Think you have to pick between names that are classics, with deep roots and centuries of use, and names that are unusual?
You don’t, as these classic girls’ names, all ranked below the U.S. Top 1000, attest.
Some were popular in recent years and are now sinking from view — Pamela, Jean — while others are rising stars we predict will soon appear on the official Top 1000: Imogen is a prime example, along with Mabel, the Margos, and Clementine.
That still leaves dozens of classic girls’ names that are neither coming into style nor sailing out but simply holding steady below the radar.
A note on how we chose the names: We did not include variant spellings of more popular classic names such as Emilee, and for the most part excluded short forms unless they have been traditionally used on their own. Our definition of classic embraces ancient names such as Phaedra and Keturah along with more recent widely-used girls’ names such as Maureen.
If you’re in search of a classic girls’ name that’s both traditional and unusual, consider these 100+ picks, ordered from those given to the highest number of baby girls in the U.S. in 2012 (Aurelia, at 250) to the least (Petal, used for just 5).
The same phenomenon applies to some names from pop culture, though these can change over time. Juliet has definitely transcended its Shakespearean associations, though is Romeo still rooted to the tragic stage? What about Clementine, which for decades would inspire a chorus of “Oh My Darlin’” but now may have escaped that fate?
Our question of the week is:
Which names are still tied to one person, character, association?
The mythical secret vault of truly unique baby names is real, but only the US government holds the key.
To protect privacy, the Social Security Administration doesn’t release names given to only one child, drawing the line at five or more. So the names given to five babies are the most unique we’re able to learn about. Most of those on that rarefied level are tortured spellings of more familiar names: Mikeila and Scarlotte, Masun and Stanlee. And there are truly terrible names at the depths of the extended list too, as detailed in our recent blog.
But then there are those nearly unique baby names that are eminently usable, ripe for the picking for the parent who truly wants a distinctive choice. These are not for everybody, but we found over 50 excellent choices that were used for just five children each in 2012. Among them are names that are among our all-time favorites, such as Petal and Tiernan for girls, O’Brien and Poe for boys.
Our favorite nearly-unique (given to just five children) baby names:
Some weeks I’m astonished by the range of names we can choose for girls.
We love our children regardless of gender, but when it comes to talking baby names, many of us seem to be on Team Pink. The statistics bear this out: almost 79% of boys born in the US in 2011 received a Top 1000 name, while the same is true for just 67% of girls.
2012 social media babies Like and Facebook were both girls, and rumored baby Hashtag is also supposed to be a she. Meanwhile, former #1 name Mary has plummeted to #112, while her male counterpart, John, remains a relatively common #27.
Sometimes we feel we’ve heard every name in the book…..until someone introduces us to a new one.
Actually, that happened just now, when our friend the wonderful photographer Fran Liscio, who took the picture of me and Linda on the home page, just wrote to say she’d heard an unusual name in a 1941 movie called Smiling Through — Moonyean. Had we ever heard of the name Moonyean?, she wondered.
Nope, we told her: She’d stumped the masters.
Which made us think it might be fun to challenge YOU to stump the masters, i.e. tell me and Linda and the rest of the Nameberry community about an unusual name you’ve heard that you think we may not have come across.
All names already in the Nameberry database are off limits, naturally. When you suggest a new name, all documentation — movie character lists, newspaper stories, non-U.S. baby name sites — are helpful. Plus tell us as much as you know about the origin, meaning, and background of the name.