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Category: unusual names for girls

classic girl names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

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).

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coolunusualgirl

One of our most popular blog posts ever was on 100 wonderful names given to 25 or fewer girls each year.  (We did a boys’ version too.)

But what, we wondered recently, would happen if we narrowed the parameters even more?  If we looked only at names given to ten or fewer girls in the most recent year counted?   This still includes a mind-blowing total of nearly 10,000 names, but would we be able to find 100 great ones?

The answer, we believe, is a resounding yes, and we hope the list here proves it.

If you truly want an unusual name for your baby girl, this is the list for you.  It includes underused classics such as Maude and Rowena along with international choices such as Anwen and Timea; ancient names such as Hebe and Hero; and newly-minted names like Cairo and Blue.  And each given to only ten girls or fewer in the entire United States.

Our picks for the 100 best cool unusual girls’ names, with the number of children who received it in 2012:

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abby-7-1-13

The Nameberry 9 by  Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Are we becoming more tolerant of creative names?

My kids’ friends and classmates are a diverse lot, and their names reflect it.  There’s Seamus and Shivarama, a boy named Delaney and a girl called Jordan.  Yes, we have Matthew and Sam and Zoe.  But in their school of 300 kids, I can count the number of names that repeat on one hand.

Even though we know lots of boys with unusual names, it seems like girls have the edge.  Statistics bear it out.  In 2012, over 78% of boys received a Top 1000 name, but fewer than 67% of all girls did.

This past week seemed to be all about unusual, but perfectly wearable, names for girls.  I’m not thinking of headline-grabbing choices like North and Khaleesi.  Instead, I’m thinking of the wide universe of wearable names, choices that are a little bit different, but not staggeringly strange.

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abby--6-24-13

The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Has the world gone mad?

The latest celebrity baby name to make headlines feels like more of a punchline.  Most parents rule out names that fit a little too well with their surname, like Fox Hunter or Blue Greene. 

Even though the new mom denied the rumor earlier in her pregnancy, it appears that Kimye has doubled down on the directional names, calling their new daughter North West.

At first glance, it seems absurd. 

And yet, I’m drawn to the name North.  Nickname Nori feels very wearable in our Nora/Cora/Eleanor moment.

I’ve defended Pilot and Apple, Suri and Romeo.  This comment from Lyz Lenz at The Huffington Post sums it up perfectly: “… name diversity isn’t something to be feared, but embraced.”

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antonia

Too often, it can feel like all the classic baby names are too, well, ordinary, while all the under-the-radar names stay undiscovered for a reason.  But swimming beneath the Top 1000 baby names are many choices that are both classic and distinctive.We’ve brought 14 such treasures for girls’ to the surface for your consideration.  They encompass a range of styles and origins, from biblical to literary, buttoned-up to offbeat.  One might be right for your baby.

Manipulated image of Princess Antonia by Linnea-Rose

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