100 Fantastic Underused Names
By Esmeralda Rocha
We’ve run a few blogs recently on unusual names – from intrepid inventions to rare nature names. The names covered in this blog are rare, too, but with a difference: they’re names that you’ve definitely heard of and, to be honest, are probably surprised were so low down in the charts (each was given to fewer than 170 children in the US in 2017; most went to fewer than 50).
Parents are often looking for names that are “wearable”, “traditional” or familiar but not overused – if you count yourself among this group, this may be the most useful list of the year!
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on August 2nd, 2018 at 10:49 pm
Kieran’s popularity is listed as #510 in 2017??
on August 3rd, 2018 at 2:51 am
@alchemicallypurplefairy I’m thinking they might’ve meant Kiernan, not Kieran?
on August 3rd, 2018 at 7:15 am
@alchemicallypurplefairy and @kgf.plie Good eyes! You’re right that Kieran is Number 510 currently, with 566 boys receiving the name. Kiernan is much lower, being given to 54 boys in 2017, though it’s not the name intended here. The name meant to be on this list is Kieren with a final E, which was given to 17 boys in 2017. Hope that helps!
on August 3rd, 2018 at 7:40 am
Wow, so many gorgeous names on this list. A quick question, because I always wonder this when I see the SSA’s numbers… but do they include American citizens born abroad? And if someone has a baby in 2017, but does not file the paperwork until 2018, which year are they counted towards? Because some of these names, like Emilian and Manon, I can see being much more popular among the expat crowd than among Americans in the US.
on August 3rd, 2018 at 8:47 am
What a great list! I really like:
on August 3rd, 2018 at 10:19 am
I usually view Nameberry on my phone. It’s cutting off all the boy names. Any chance for a formatting change?
on August 3rd, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Helena was #516 last year so it was given to way more than 33 kids. Thought maybe it was meant to be Helen but that was #418.
on August 3rd, 2018 at 3:10 pm
Girls’ names I like:
on August 3rd, 2018 at 10:31 pm
My favorites are Percy and Lucinda!
on August 5th, 2018 at 12:02 pm
@tfzolghadr Good question, but I BELIEVE these are only the names of babies born in the US, given that they are further divided by state. I agree on them theoretically being more popular among expats but the number of American expats having babies has to be relatively small and the number naming them Blanche and Llewellyn much smaller still.
on August 5th, 2018 at 2:26 pm
@pam Thanks! I’ve always wondered that… True, but it would be interesting to know (impossible perhaps) how many American (or dual citizen) babies total are born with these names vs. in the US. I mean, with very English names on the list like Edmund and Rupert, even if only 5 expats in the UK chose these names, that would be statistically significant. Or Manon among expats in French-speaking countries… Some of the names like Llewelyn and Blanche probably wouldn’t be as popular among the expat crowd.
on August 5th, 2018 at 3:07 pm
I love Seren, Siobhan and Saskia for girls and Percy, Kit and Kieran for boys! I really like Mariposa, Valentine and Cosimo but I don’t think I would ever use them.
on August 5th, 2018 at 11:06 pm
I just checked Helena on the SSA website and it says it was given to 600 girls last year! It’s rank is 555.
on August 6th, 2018 at 10:02 am
Love so many of these! One of our twin girls born in February of this year is Rosamund. Her sister was very nearly Helena.
on August 6th, 2018 at 9:07 pm
For those of you of the ‘must use RAREST POSSIBLE name’ crowd, I’ll note that some of these names have multiple spellings, and thus are not quite as underused as listed here:
Lawrence is already a top 1000 name (#496) and it’s pronounced the same way as Laurence.
Aisling + Aislinn (231) + Aislin (46) = 304, equivalent to the names ranked #885-#886 on the SSA list. If you pronounce it ‘Ashleen’, add Ashleen (18) to that; ‘Ashling’ add Ashling (6), and if you pronounce it ‘Ashlin’… then you can add Ashlyn (659, #471) + Ashlynn (614, #506) Ashlin (21) + Ashlynne (21) + Ashlen (11) + Ashlinn (8) + Ashland (7) (okay, that might be stretching it, but a lot of people will pronounce that as Ashlyn) + Ashlan (5), for a total of 1650 babies, equivalent to being ranked #186–I would argue Aisling, at least pronounced Ashlin, is not underused at all.
Suzannah + Susanna (156) + Susannah (80) + Suzanna (63) = 313, equivalent to the names ranked #865-868 on the SSA list
Glen + Glenn (140 babies) = 240, equivalent to the names ranked #889-892 on the SSA list
Edmund + Edmond (62 babies) = 224, equivalent to the names ranked #927-931 on the SSA list
Gretel + Grettel (88) + Grethel (11) + Grettell (7) = 147
And of course, others–Diane + Dianne, Wilbur and Wilber (and Wilbert and Wilberth in some accents), Sheryl + Cheryl + Sherrell, Maude + Maud, Mirabel + Mirabelle, Juanita + Wanita, Cary + Carey (and Kerry in some accents)…not that this is going to make an appreciable difference in rarity for most of them, but it is worth noting, I think.
Plus, if you include nicknames, there’s even more vanishing special-ness. Take Edmund again. Not too bad, even at the bottom of the charts, right? That’s still pretty unusual. But he’s probably going to wind up being ‘Eddie’ (maybe Ned, if you’re feeling posh), and add that to: Edward (2309) + Eduardo (1221) + Edwin (1027) + Edgar (938) + Edison (493) + Eddie (453) + Eddy (113) + Edson (88) + Edric (48) + Edgardo (46) + Edrick (37) + Edvin (32) + Eduard (28) + Ediel (23) + Eddison (21) + Edris (20) + Edinson (18) + Edel (18) + Edmundo (13) + Eduar (13) + Edy (13) + Edgard (12) + Edwardo (12) + Edwyn (12) + Edrian (9) + Edilberto (8) + Ed (7) + Eddiel (7) + Edis (7) + Edras (7) + Edder (6) + Edrik (6) + Edrin (6) + Edsel (6) + Eduin (6) + Edzel (6) + Edil (5) + Edrees (5) + Edvard (5) + Edwar (5), and, well…even if you wanna argue way fewer little boys are going by nicknames these days, you can’t argue there’s a LOT of potential little Eddies. (And using Teddy won’t help, since Theo- names are also huge, although perhaps with slightly fewer spelling variations).
I suspect Leopold would be the worst of these, since the demographic of people who name their sons Leopold is likely to hugely overlap with people who name their sons Leo (unlike Ed- names, which are way more widely distributed), and there’s a Leo- name in the top 100. I also see this with Lucinda/Lucienne (Lucy), Millicent (Millie–which as a full name is rapidly shooting up, and is already top 100 in Utah), Benedict (Ben), Wilbur (Will), Theodora if you call her Teddy, and Jacinta (Jackie–Jacqueline is more than holding its own if you add in its many, many variant spellings, and Jackson is the most popular name for boys with spelling combined).
on September 7th, 2018 at 9:41 am
I believe Helena is a misspelling. Helene is the most underused variation of the Helen names. It doesn’t even break the top 1000 in the UK.
on September 8th, 2018 at 6:17 am
Thank you for including the lovely Phyllis! I would love to see her make a comeback, along with Blanche.
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