30 Great Names You’re Not Using!

30 Great Names You’re Not Using!

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Let’s say your name is Jen or Mike and you grew up not so happily sharing your name with all the countless other Jennifers and Michaels in your world. So why would it be surprising for you to want to save your child from sharing a similar fate– maybe going so far as to avoid any name that appears in the Top 1000, even if it’s at Number 990.

Well, then this is the blog for you. I’ve found a surprising number of great names that were given to only ten (10!) babies across the whole of United States in 2016, so the chances of yours having to share one of these is infinitesimal.


Cressida—A dainty, delicate Shakespearean/Hunger Games choice that is #533 on Nameberry

DharmaA spiritual, karmic Sanskrit name with Beat literary ties to Jack Kerouac, a good sister name to Bodhi

Fionnula—Slightly streamlined spelling of the Irish Fionnuala, retaining the delightful nickname Nuala/Nula.

FlanneryWe’ve always thought this would make a warm and wonderful name tribute to writer (Mary) Flannery O’Connor

HeloiseWith Eloise zooming up the charts (US #209, 50 on NB), thanks to Harry Potter and Lost, how about considering the more venerable French Heloise, borne by one of the most beautiful and learned women of the Middle Ages?

JerushaA neglected biblical name with a Slavicesque accent; bearer Jerusha Hess is a screenwriter/producer known for Napoleon Dynamite and Austenland

JuneauThis Juno sound-alike has the asset of being a snowy Alaskan capital city name as well.

KamalaA pretty Hindi name meaning ‘a garden’, now associated with rising California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.

LetiziaLetitia’s exotic Continental cousin, more known in her native Italy (where it’s #67) than it is here.

OceaneLovely seafaring name that’s in the Top 100 in France

PosyA Josephine nickname that can definitely stand on its own, Posy is a sweet, nostalgic generic flower name that was heard in The Hunger Games.

TaviA unisex Hebrew nickname name associated with young fashion blogger/actress Tavi Gevinson

VivaAn Andy Warhol superstar name brimming with life and energy


Arno—A stylish o-ending name a la Arlo, and also the river flowing through Tuscany.

AugustenA German Augustine alternative, made known via memoirist Augusten Burroughs (born Christopher), author of the bestselling Running with Scissors.

BalthazarThe intriguing name of one of the Three Wise Men of the Orient also has lots of Shakespearean and other literary cred, was used by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor for his son, and is definitely ready for wider use.

DestryA freewheeling Western surname name from the cowboy classic Destry Rides Again. Film buff Steven Spielberg named his daughter Destry in 1996.

DoyleA friendly Irish surname name heard on Gilmore Girls, Doyle ranked as high as the Top 200s in the 1930s, but had completely disappeared by 1980.

DrydenA handsome poet name that would fit right in with all the trendy en-ending boy names.

FarrellAnother very usable Irish last-name-first name that has unfortunately faded from view. Musician Pharrell Williams’s parents gave it a new twist.

FitzpatrickFitz makes a great nickname, and this is one cool way to get there, especially to honor a Patrick namesake, particularly apt since Fitz means ‘son of’.

HainesPreppy surnames ending in ‘s’, such as Brooks, are on trend, and Haines certainly fits into that category.

KeenA really sharp word name that could almost pass for an Irish classic. Mark Ruffalo made this interesting choice for his son back in 2001.

MaxfieldOne of the least visible of the Max-names and more wearable than some. A notable bearer was the distinguished illustrator Maxfield Parrish, and actor Eric Mabius used it for his son.

MossThis soft and evocative green nature name has never received its due. Classic Broadway playwright Moss Hart was born Robert; prominent current surname bearers include model Kate and actress Elisabeth.

NedWith midcentury nicknames like Ted and Hal making a comeback, I’d like to put in a word for Ed’s nostalgic Nancy Drew-ish cousin Ned. Game of Throne’s heroic character Ned Stark might just prove to be the catalyst. Ned was on the US list until the early 1970s, once as high as #237.

QuintWe’ve called it Clint with a glint; this Quinton/Quintin short form, related to the number five, has been heard on its own in cowboy flicks, while the fisherman known by his last name Quint is a major character in Jaws.

RaffertyAfter Jude Law and Sadie Frost chose this jaunty Irish surname for their son in 1999– and now that Rafferty Law is himself a mini-me heartthrob–his name has taken off in the UK, where it is #289, and on Nameberry at 343, and yet there were only ten actual baby Raffertys born in the US in 2016. How can this be?

RemoThere’s Remy and Romy and even Reno, but only a miniscule number of baby Remos. An Italian form of Remus, it recalls the lovely Mediterranean coastal town of San Remo, host of the popular Sanremo Music Festival. Remo reached #40 in Switzerland in 1989.

ZebedeeThe Greek form of Zebadiah, father of the apostles James and John, Zebedee has remarkable energy and zip for a biblical name. In the UK it’s associated with an old children’s TV character. Fabulous nickname Zeb is a definite plus.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.