Wow, what an invitation! I have so many favorites....I really could make up short lists in several 'styles'. I'll just list a few in no particular order.
Tabitha--I love the rhythm. I love that it has a sort of formal sound, yet has the playful 'Tabi' beginning. I love that I've never known a Tabitha, yet it's familiar. I'm at a total loss as to why it isn't used more.
Tess--Fell in love with Tess of the D'Urbervilles when I was 14. Was sure that I would give my daughter this name. Then I married a man with lots of sibilants in his last name. I love the simplicity and the romance.
Phoebe--my top Greek name. Again, it's formal and playful at the same time. I love "Feebs" as a pet name.
Eleanor-- best of the classics. It's lyrical and has dignity and history. Plus, you can get to Nell, Ellie, Nora.....
Linnea--I am not generally a fan of super-girly names. But this one is graceful and soft without being froufrou. It's not in the Top 1000, yet is totally accessible.
Sabrina--there's just something so bright about this name that I can't imagine a Sabrina who wouldn't fully embrace life. Soft beginning and end, but that "bree" middle gives it life.
Susannah--She's a prairie girl. She's Biblical. Shakespeare liked it enough to use it on a real daughter! I understand that Sue and Susan are a bit dated, but who cares? The full name is wonderful....soft, yet substantial. Not in the Top 1000? Amazing.
Eowyn--my guilty pleasure. I wish lots of intrepid LOTR fans would start using it so it would become a bit more mainstream. It starts somewhat regally, like Eleanor, but then finishes with a soft, feminine sound.
Greer--one off my one-syllable list. Unusual, yet easy. Sounds terribly sophisticated to me.
Peter--has it all. Crisp, bright sound. It's strong, yet cuddly. Has a long history, yet sounds modern. Instantly familiar, yet not encountered in the U.S. all that often. And think of the associations: Peter Pan, Penvensie and Rabbit. Peter the Great. St. Peter.
Leo--love the simplicity and the quirkiness of the 'o' ending.
Sullivan and Tolliver--love these surnames.....they just seem.....jaunty. And warm and friendly. And Sully and Tolly are great nns.
Kai--Again, bright and cheerful. I also like the slight exotic feel of the name.
Gideon--a favorite Biblical name. I like the rhythm of this one. I like that it has the hard consonants sounds but doesn't sound harsh.
Calvin and Gordon--grandpa names that need to be revived. They sound like strong, all-boy names without high testosterone. I suppose Calvin appeals because of Calvin and Hobbes......Gordon just seems so friendly and open.
Tristan and Tarquin.....I'm a sucker for anything medieval. I like the crisp two-syllable sounds of these two.
Luca.....is just so darned cool. It sidesteps the Lucifer overtones of Lucian and Lucius, as well as the cowboy sound of Lucas/Luke. Sounds totally modern while keeping the ancient credibility.
Wyatt.....nothing wrong with cowboys, and this name has swagger and refinement at the same time. Also love the slightly quirky Wy beginning.
I love this prompt so much I bookmarked it to answer when I had time. And now I do. :D
Sylvie -- Oh, I love Sylvie. She's familiar but not overused, a truly international name. Silvery and ethereal, sweet and elegant, Sylvie was the first girls' name I really fell in love with. Sylvie has been in my Top 5 for as long as I've had a Top 5, and if I have a daughter Sylvie will be the name to beat.
Jane -- Jane is perfect. Historical, literary, simple and utterly gorgeous. If I could rename myself, I would choose Jane.
Marigold -- A glowing choice for a summer child. Marigold shines, sparkles, scintillates; Marigold is flamboyant, ostentatious, artistic. I love Marigold with the down-to-earth nickname Maggie.
Eloise -- Like Sylvie, a perennial favorite (though Eloise's star is rising much faster than Sylvie's). Lotar and Louis are family names, and I absolutely love the connection to the children's book character. Eloise also comes with the spunky short-form Louie.
Juniper -- Ah, Juniper! A botanical name that's mellow and sassy, with a fabulous sound and that oh-so-important (to me) connection to children's literature. Like Eloise, Juniper is sadly getting popular fast, so I'm clearly not the only one who appreciates her charms!
Matilda -- Fusty and feisty! 'Matilda' is one of my favorite books, and now that I have a good friend called Tilly I have even more affection for this name.
Iris -- To me, Iris and Jane seem are the perfect pair. Both subtle, elegant, worldly names, gorgeous in their simplicity. Iris is a goddess and a flower. I also love the association with the rainbow: as a queer person, this symbol is very significant.
Marlowe -- I go back and forth on which gender this name is best used on. Right now I'm feeling Marlowe for a boy and Marlo for a girl. Regardless of whether I use it on a son or a daughter, Marlowe's one I can absolutely see putting on the birth certificate. Marlowe combines everything I love in a name: it begins with an M, ends with an o-, and has a great deal of literary and personal significance.
Roscoe -- Vintage and modern at once, a rockstar name with a cool, bouncy sound. I can't understand why Rosoe isn't more popular, though I'll certainly be happy if it stays rare! Roscoe is one of those names that makes me look forward to having kids. I would love to have a little Roscoe (and a medium-sized Roscoe, and a big Roscoe -- I think this is a name that will age beautifully).
Atlas -- Hefty with mythological significance but light on the tongue, Atlas strikes the perfect balance. I love the crisp sound and connotation of superhuman strength. Even the association with books and maps appeals to me!
Simon -- Simon is jaunty and versatile, a scholar and a traveler. Simon is distinctive and underused, but still a name anyone could make their own. Like Roscoe, I can really see this one growing as my son does.
Wallace -- When I imagine a little boy named Wallace, I think of a kid with flyaway hair and big glasses like his mom's. Wallace is dashing and scholarly, and I love the connection to William Wallace, the Scottish freedom fighter. Plus the comic book character from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pretty badass.
My two top names crushes haven't been on my list for very long, but I feel very strongly about them both.
Eira - Welsh for snow. I love nature names and this name is absolutely a breath of fresh air for me! It has the crisp, bright feeling of a sunny winter day to me, and makes me think of all my favorite winter memories. I think it's absolutely stunning and would love to use it in the middle spot of a future babe if my SO agrees!
Gale - As in a gale of wind. Nature-y and strong. Despite Gail/Gayle/Abigail all being feminine, Gale is purely masculine to me. I think I would probably use him in the middle spot as well, but I'm just so smitten with this strong and earthy name!
Wren- It is so pretty and the bird is so sweet and small. It has a beautiful call but can also stay silent. The sounds of this name are so soft and flowing although not a tongue-twister like other names. I also LOVE the association with wings and flying because I hope someday I will be able to have a pair of wings [far future]. It gives me hope for freedom and escapism and this is why I LOVE the name Wren. Just say it a few times and stretch your little birdy arms out as wings and you will see my pleasure.
Samson- I do not have a very good case for this but it sounds good, solid and strong. It has the bonus of the nickname Sam but stands apart from other names. It has biblical associations and gives the child the option of blending in or being a real individual.
Julia-I just LOVE the imagery I get with this name. It is lovely multicoloured, liquidy type ribbons with a large amount of turquoise. This name has many benefits like Samson as it can blend in, stand out but sounds strong. Classical. Ancient roots. Saintly connections. Simplicity but strong. Plus the nn Jules which is awesome.
Samson- it's my absolute favorite. I just love it. It sounds great on a little toddler and a grown man and I just think its so handsome. Don't think I can ever use it since it doesn't go well with my daughters name but I have and will love it forever.
Milo- it's so playful and cute and I can really see it on a little tan brown eyed boy.
Indiana- obviously I love it because I named my daughter this. I know it doesn't get a lot of love on here. But It's beautiful and strong and has endless nickname possibilities. (Indie, Anna, Diana, di etc)
Leila- so pretty and feminine and just rolls off the tongue
I don't know if this helps any, but I think Indiana and Samson are pretty perfect together!
For girls I like
Ziva, Sorcha (I do not pronounce it properly, I say Sorsha) and Chaya for all the same reason. They are slightly exotic without being too far out there.
My other name is Marie. My grandmother asked why no one named a child after her and I said Myrtle? She said she always went by her middle Marie. Over the years since she passed I find I am liking the name more and more.
For boys my top runner for the last few years has been Elijah, I like the NN's for it Eli or Lige and I how it sounds. Nice solid manly name
Next would be Luther. An old fashioned name (to me, who is old LOL) Again Manly and strong. I also like the nn Lou for my DH Louie.
Jemima - my daughter's name. It's biblical, from the book of Job. I had 7 long years between sticky pregnancies, so it felt like I had been put through what Job had at times, with my multiple miscarriages. It's also soft, gentle, and has history for me via a late friend of the family. Her great-... uncle was Daniel Boone. One of Daniel's daughters was named Jemima. She and two friends were kidnapped, and their rescue became the inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.
Natalie - Mimey's middle name - fun, sparkly, spunky, classic.
Jessica - again, fun, sparkly, spunky - my older daughter's first name.
Alexandra - defender of mankind - and a classic to offset the fun first name. It has history to it, as well, which was important. I love Russian history, so my dh was not surprised to see Nicholas, Alexander and Alexandra on my list :)
For boys: Ezra, Jonah, Judah, Joshua - I love biblical names, and these end in a soft sound, which is not the case with most boys names.
I also like Theodore, Nicholas, Alexander, Oliver and Timothy - all are strong, classic and have history to them.
I'm just going to put a few random ones from the list...
Indiana - Well, 4815162342, said it all about the strength of the name and the nickname potential, but for me, I just love the imagery that comes up. Indiana just seems like that strong elegant lady everyone likes and tries to imitate, but she also has that secret desire for adventure.
Cassia - This name just sounds so pretty to me, either pronunciation. It has almost a Secret Garden-like feel to it. Also, it's not super weird, since essentially, it looks like Cassi(e) with an 'a' at the end.
Adair - I find this name very feminine and filled with a wild spirit. I can easily see her with Scout Finch's personality. It's just so energy-filled and a touch of seriousness at the same time.
Genevieve - She's my Confirmation saint and has quite a nice story. I just love the nickname Evie, and Genevieve is such a graceful way to get it.
Georgina - This name is just super fun and sunny to me. I think Georgina pairs perfectly with a little girl in a sundress and hat. I think Georgina is also very refreshing from the slightly more clunkier Georgia and Georgiana.
Benjamin/Benedict - I just adore the nickname Ben, and both names have totally different vibes. Benjamin is more relaxed and a sporty boy, while Benedict is the polite and proper doctor or lawyer.
Nathaniel - I've always loved this name, and I like the nickname possibilities. For me, I like Nathan the best. I just see a Nathaniel as a very traditional and old school man who treats everyone with respect, while Nathan is the athletic one who still manages impressive grades.
Jack - I think just about every personality could fit this name. But for me, I associate Jack the most with Leonardo Dicaprio's Jack from Titanic.
Dominic - This name just has a quirky feel to it, yet maintains a somewhat classic status. I think Dom is super cute and love the fact that the name ends with a 'c', which is unusual.
Maeve: It's short and sweet but with more oomph than say Sue. Beautiful but not frilly. I was born in May so it has that connection to me. You do have the choice of the cute nn of May or Maisie but Maeve doesn't need it. I love that it is Irish since my heritage is mostly Irish and my last name is very Irish as is my SO's. I love the meaning, “the cause of great joy” or “she who intoxicates.” I like mythical connection the name has. It is said by some that she was a goddess before men made her a mere mortal. It is said to be in her favor brings good fortune. Queen Maeve was strong, fierce, and beautiful.
Juliana: It's elegant and graceful. It's cute when little but stylish when older. It has some great nicknames that would fit a wide range of personalities: Julie, Jules, Ana, Anna, Annie, Liana, Lia, and Uli. For me it is a way to honor three different relatives that all have an "Anne" name associated with them. It has connection to two family members that are born in July. It's a well known name but not too popular.
Other Favorites: Emmeline, Violet, Cleo, Eve, and Anya/Aine.
Lucas/Lucian/Lucan: Oh, how I have long loved Lucas. It has the masculine nickname Luke. I am a huge science fiction fan and I feel that it is well connected to that. You have Luke from Star Wars and Lucian of Samosata, sometimes considered the father of science fiction. Lucian reminds me of werewolves because of the Underworld movies. Loving the meaning of light, as a boy with this name would surely light up my life. Lucan I would use if I really wanted the Irish connection. If I ever get a chance to name a boy I would have a hard time deciding which of these three to use but I'm pretty sure it would be the versatile Lucas.
Flynn: Another Irish name here, love it! I really like that this is an easygoing and straight forward name like Luke. Weirdly enough I also like it's meaning, "son of a red-haired one". Now my SO is not a red-head, but he has the freckles that they usually have. My dog's name is Rufus which means red-head so that connection is also kinda cute. I really like that it isn't very popular. I can see this on a child and then on a man. I feel this name could work well for an artist (which we are)/designer, a business man, an athlete, or whatever.
James: Already taken by a family member but this name to me is the best classic name out there. It is a name of kings and commoners, of presidents and actors. I picture a rugged James Dean and swoon, I also love Dean (haha).
Other favorites: Jude/Judas, Ian, Isaac, Wyatt, Dean, Leo, and Henry.