Em Baby Names Still Surprise!
It all started with Emily, this current passion for names beginning with Em. When Emily became the #1 girl name in 1996, ending the 25-year reign of Jennifer, Jessica and Ashley, it officially inaugurated the Era of Em.
Emily was a perfect name for the 90s – strong, feminine, vintage but not Victorian valentine. A classic, it has been a constant presence on the US popularity charts since baby name data was first recorded in the late 19th century, and the lowest it ever dipped was to #273 in 1962.
But when Emily became epidemic – with close to three million of them born in the ten-year period between 1996 and 2006 (not counting the multitude of variant spellings) – parents began to picture their potential Emily as one of four in her class, and started seeking a substitute.
Enter Emma. Already staging an impressive comeback from outside the Top 100 in 1992 to inside the Top 20 in 2000, Emma received a further big boost in 2002 when the writers of Friends chose it for the most eagerly awaited fictional baby of the decade.
Now five years in the #1 spot, Emma is joined by five other Em names – Emily, Emilia, Emery, Emerson and Emersyn – in the Top 150 baby names for girls, as well as Emmett (another pop culture hit, this time from Twilight) in the Top 150 for boys.
If you love the warm, friendly Em sound but not the popularity of the most obvious candidates, don’t despair! There’s still a wealth of uncommon alternatives to consider – ranging from underused traditional names like Emmeline and Emmanuel, to undiscovered international gems like Emiko and Emirhan.
Some of these intriguing Em names have a long history of use in their places of origin, but remain little known elsewhere. Emer (also spelled Eimear, meaning “swift”) is a name from Irish legend, wife of the warrior hero Cúchulainn, which has proved consistently popular in Ireland. And fellow mythological name Embla “elm”, the first woman in Norse legend, is in Iceland’s Top 10 and rising fast in Sweden.
On the boys’ side, Emre “friend” is one of the most popular Turkish male names, a Top 10 choice there from 1990 to 2004, and just outside the Top 50 today. And the West African name Emeka “great deeds” is commonly used both on its own and as a short form of another popular Igbo name, Chukwuemeka “God has done something great”.
Here is a selection of interesting and unusual Em baby names which can still surprise!
What are your favorite surprising Em baby names for boys and girls? Tell us below!
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on April 28th, 2010 at 8:17 am
There is also the Ethiopian name Emebet 🙂
on April 28th, 2010 at 10:15 am
Emiliana and Emilienne are beautiful, too.
on April 28th, 2010 at 11:53 am
To me, Emery will always be the last name of my mother in law– NOT someone I would ever want to associate with a baby.
on April 28th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
I think I am the only one, but I do not see the appeal of “Em-” names. I am especially not a fan of Emma. I have never heard Embry before, I think it has a nice sound, probably because I like the Bree/Brynn type names.
on April 28th, 2010 at 1:49 pm
I don’t like the way “Em” names seem to be primarily associated with girl’s names nowadays. I love Emory and Emerson as boy’s names but can’t fathom them as great names for girls. Emmeline may be my favorite up and coming “Em” name for girls although I find Emmanuelle awfully sweet too.
on April 28th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
What about Ember? I’ve heard it before and I think it’s very pretty. People say it reminds them of the little burning ashes. But that’s what I love about it!
on April 28th, 2010 at 3:57 pm
Clementine always makes me think of Em names. I suppose because of Em/Clem. I actually prefer Clementine to most of the names listed and it still has potential for the Emmy/Emmie nn
on April 28th, 2010 at 6:16 pm
I like Emerence/Emerentiana too, after one of the earliest saints.
Kirstan’s Mommy Said
on April 28th, 2010 at 8:03 pm
I am a teacher and one of student’s name was : Jade Emerald- thought is was unique & ultra feminine. My husband & I are picking names for our next baby girl & Emry is at the top of our list.
on April 28th, 2010 at 11:23 pm
i had a college friend named emmerly and another friend named her daughter after her.
on April 30th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
I love the name Emlyn.
It’s one of the oldest recorded names in history, but it has that great modern/classy quality. And isn’t biblical. As a non-christian, I hate the thought of long existing names having such biblical meanings, and this one doesn’t at all.
on May 24th, 2010 at 5:06 pm
I think using an Em name, pretty much no matter what name it is, is going to date your child.
on May 6th, 2013 at 2:38 pm
I LOVE Em names! I just wish they weren’t so popular.
on June 10th, 2013 at 11:15 pm
I’m love Emrys but I can’t seem to picture it on a boy. Do you think I could get away with using it for a girl?
on March 9th, 2016 at 1:18 pm
We just had a daughter 2 1/2 weeks ago who we named Ember 🙂
on August 6th, 2020 at 12:00 pm
The visual novel game “Cinderella Phenomenon” has a character named Emelaigne, which I think is a pretty substitute for Emily.
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