80 Great New Sweet Spot Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Ever since we started exploring and writing about baby names, Pam and I have been intrigued by the concept of sweet-spot names, those that fall in that perfect position of not being epidemically popular—so common that their distinctive images to be diluted—yet not extreme enough to raise eyebrows or cause any confusion.
Of course, the individual names in this category morph over time, and some of those that were once considered to be in the sweet spot would now be found on what we then called our So Far In They’re Out list. For example, on the Fitting In, Standing Out list in our first book, we find such current Top 25 appellations as Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Mia, Abigail and Chloe, and among the uncommon boy choices Noah, Oliver, Lucas, Henry and Sebastian.
So where are we now? What names do we think fall into that golden triangle of not-overused names that still have meaning and history and appeal but will never be seen as over the top? Many that fit that description can be found in the lower half of the popularity list, between Numbers 500 and 1000. Here are our sweet spot choices of today—40 for girls and 40 for boys. You’ll find some underused classics, a few international imports, and a couple of hero names.
We’d love to hear if you agree or not—are there some you think primed to climb out of that sweet spot?– and what names you would add.
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on November 6th, 2018 at 1:25 am
For the most part, I agree with the names on the list but there are some I would definitely remove.
Mercy – I think some people may still relate this to someone being very devout, so I wouldn’t consider it very “in”. I think the popularity stems from religious Americans giving this name to their daughters rather than it becoming “common”
Elsa – for many people this reminds them of Frozen, so I don’t believe this would make the “sweet spot”. While there aren’t many new babies with this name, it’s commonly heard in the media, in stores etc
Zelda – unless you’re familiar with the game, I don’t think this would be familiar.
Octavia – this name seems very “out there” for the average community,
Alaric – even more so than Octavia, I don’t see how this can not be considered “over the top” etc. For most diverse communities (where people are either not white or English isn’t their first language), this would be extremely unfamiliar and over the top.
Personally, I don’t see the last three names listed becoming the new “Emma, Sophia, Noah” etc.
on November 6th, 2018 at 3:35 am
Matilda and Maisie are already very popular in the UK and if anything have passed their peak in popularity. Same goes for Harry which is in the UK top 5. Interesting to hear these are sub 500 names in the USA and wander what percentage of those on the list are sub 500 in England and Wales?
on November 6th, 2018 at 8:13 am
I love these kinds of lists! I agree with most of them. These are some I would add or remove, though:
Remove: Elsa (too Frozen, still), Emmeline (too similar to megahits Emma and Emily), Mae (I see it everywhere, now), Maisie (same, plus trendified spellings galore!), Flynn (too similar to megahit Finn, I see it and Flynn everywhere), Grey (seems like everyone is using this now…for middle or first).
Add: Delia, Cordelia, Susanna(h). I know these aren’t even in the top 1000, but they should be! And with Delia being one letter away from Celia, I feel it’s fitting for sure!
I love seeing Lucian on this list. It’s one that DH and I love, and sometimes I worry about if it’s too out there and if it clashes with our son Theodore “Theo.” I know it is a classic, though!!
on November 6th, 2018 at 8:15 am
Also, I actually prefer Louise to Louisa and I’d add that to the list.
on November 6th, 2018 at 8:36 am
Oooh – I love these! Sweet-spot names are my fave! I love names that most people have heard of, but that people are not using.
Colette, Coraline & Helena are faves. Alaric & Jacoby – swoon
The only one I don’t care for is Rory on a girl. I don’t think it belongs on the list – and isn’t it quite popular because of the character Rory Gilmore?
on November 6th, 2018 at 10:22 am
I agree a lot of these could fit the “sweet spot,” but Alma, Ingrid, and Mercy feel too old lady-ish to me. I know some vintage names are coming back in style, but for some reason I don’t see an Alma wearing as well as, say, an Edith. Celine just makes me think “Dion,” and isn’t Aldo close to a dog food brand name?
A few that I particularly like are Coraline, Thalia, Quincy, and Wilder!
on November 6th, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Matilda soooo common in the uk!
Thatcher has unpleasant (for some) connections to in the Uk (Margaret Thatcher) so yeah
on November 6th, 2018 at 5:58 pm
Id love to see a sweet spot names post for UK names!! As stated above, Matilda, Maisie, Harry, Esme, Poppy and Lewis are so popular here. In my opinion theyre too popular to be in a “sweet spot” category which is categorised by those names not too popular but not odd.
on November 6th, 2018 at 7:22 pm
I’ve definitely encountered kids with nearly all the names on this list, through work or otherwise, and a fair amount of these are quite popular in particular pockets where I work (kids’ extracurricular classes). It could certainly just be the demographics (several areas are upper-middle class, younger parents, big on mason jars etc).
Of the girls, the only names I haven’t encountered in person are: Azalea, Coraline, Holland (I adore this name!), Opal, Vienna, Sutton, Mercy, and Zelda.
And the boys (a little longer, as I work more with girls): Alaric, Aldo, Alonzo, Briggs, Duke, Ford (not a name anyone would choose in my Canadian city), Jacoby, Lionel, Orlando, Quincy, Rex, and Thatcher.
Celia, Sasha, Emmeline, Anya, Esme, Matilda, Rory, Mae, and Sylvie are particularly popular here, I’d say probably in the ages 5-10 right now.
But I do have to say I was so thrilled to meet kids named Ingrid, Greta, Simone, Astrid, Octavia, Magnus, Soren, Lucian, Raphael, and Lewis. There’s just something about these names on little people that makes them so refreshing.
I don’t know what I’d add/remove to this list but other names that I’ve encountered that remind me of these are Ruth, Valentina, Alice, Jillian, Ada, Gemma, Ruby, Sloane, Imogen, and Adeline.
on November 7th, 2018 at 3:12 am
Zelda ended up being our sweet spot. We love it so far and have been having fun with the nickname Griselda. She’s only 5 months old now, but she already fits her name. I also love almost all of the other sweet spot names.
on November 7th, 2018 at 11:51 am
So many great names on this list that I would totally consider, a lot of current favorites of mine as well. Esme and Celia are top picks for a girl. I also love Greta, Opal, Pearl, Simone and Zelda.
The boys names that I like from this list seem to have a bit more flair (Aldo, Amos, Callum, Lionel, Magnus and Raphael) but are all familar enough.
on November 8th, 2018 at 12:36 pm
I love sweet spot names! Most of these, especially Alma, Astrid, Esme, Helena, Rosa, Zelda, and Louisa.
Sadly, I’m not sure if people would use Virginia due to teasing potential. I think it’s a beautiful name and I wish they would!
I would consider adding Ramona, Cecilia, Phoebe, and Ada.
on November 9th, 2018 at 7:34 am
Mathila and Clarissa are on my girls name list, however those boy names are waaaayyyy too far out. They’re too odd, too much. The only one I could fathom putting on a little boy who will have to grow up and be a member of the real world are Samson and Thatcher both are pretty masculine.
on November 14th, 2018 at 12:22 am
I really like the name Alaric.
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