Let’s look at the comebacks in the US charts this year. These aren’t names that have returned to the Top 100, or even the Top 1000. I’m talking about names that disappeared completely from the official name data – because they were used for less than 5 boys or girls each year – and reappeared in 2017.
Some of them have been away for a long time. Esper, which was given to 6 girls in 2017, was last recorded for girls in 1912 and for boys in 1926. Addiemae (or Addie–Mae – the data doesn’t record punctuation) hasn’t been seen since 1915, while Rayo and Union last appeared in 1923.
Many of the returners are variant spellings of popular names. They’re not common enough to make it into the charts every year, but odds are that occasionally enough parents will name their kid Ferne, Izabele or Keagyn to put it in the rankings.
There are also some literary and legendary names that parents use occasionally, but never enough to keep them in the charts. 2017 saw the return of Desdemona (last recorded in 1994), Rapunzel (1959) and Godiva (1958).
Below are ten of the best names back in the charts after a gap of 10 years or more. They may be flashes in the pan, gone again next year – but many of them deserve to stick around a bit longer.
5 girls in 2017. Last recorded: 2003
This compound name has only made it into the charts a few times over the years. Some parents may hyphenate it as Anna–Rosa, but as one word it’s a pretty name along the lines of Annalise and Annabella. Other compound names back in 2017 include Evabelle, Onnalee and Louellen.
5 girls in 2017. Last recorded: 1979
This saintly name is in the Top 50 in its native Italy, but has never been widely used in the US. While it’s splendid in full, it’s also a way to get the nickname Etta. Other Italian names back in the charts are Agostina, Ettore and Ferdinando.
6 boys in 2017. Last recorded: 2004
If names like Frank and Harold aren’t fusty enough for you, no-nonsense Burt might do the trick. Although never as popular as Bert, it was used fairly steadily until the 1970s. Hymie and Ellwood are other old-timey names that made a reappearance in 2017.
5 girls in 2017. Last recorded (for girls): 2003
You can get to Cass via girls’ names like Cassidy, Cassandra and Jocasta. But if you don’t love any of those, why not use Cass on its own? It’s used more for boys, but it works just fine for girls too. Laid-back nicknames that have returned to the boys’ list include Deke, Rip and Seph.
5 boys in 2017. Last recorded: 1927
Wells was one of the fastest-climbing names in 2017, entering the Top 1000 for the first time. Dawes is similar in style, and could be a way to honor a David – that’s where the surname comes from. Hodges was another re-entry to the charts, as were the surname names Broughton, Thomason, and literary Atwood.
5 boys in 2017. Last recorded: 1990
Greek pantheon names like Atlas, Orion and Apollo are soaring, and Delos has a more subtle connection to mythology – it’s the island where Apollo is said to have been born. It may have appeared on parents’ radar as the sinister corporation in Westworld. Meanwhile, other place names back in the charts are Tulsa for girls and Yukon for boys.
5 boys in 2017. Last recorded: 2001
Royal-themed names continued to rise in 2017, and with the meaning ‘son of the king’, Fitzroy fits the bill. It’s also a way to get the nickname Fitz, which as a name in its own right has quadrupled in popularity in the last 5 years. Other titled names back in the charts were Admiral and Marquess for boys, and Bishop for girls. (Bishop also entered the boys’ Top 1000.)
5 boys in 2017. Last recorded: 2006
With roots in Swahili, Sorbian and Japanese, Kito works all over the world. Or you could see it as an edgy variation on Kit. It’s been used occasionally since the 1970s, though it’s had a quiet patch for the last 10 years. Other international names back in the charts include Edvard, Iwan and Gregoire for boys, and Ophelie, Oxana and Rumana for girls.
5 girls in 2017. Last recorded: 1924
6 girls in 2017. Last recorded: 1993
This herb name charted for both girls and boys in the 1970s, perhaps thanks to flower power or a character in A Wizard of Earthsea. It’s rarely been used since, but it would make an alternative to Sage for either gender. Other word names that returned in 2017: Eureka, Sundance and Quest for girls; Island, Liberty and Wick for boys.
Do you think any of these names are back for good?