Em Baby Names Still Surprise!

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.

Unusual ‘Em’ Baby Names

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!

Girl Names

Boy Names

What are your favorite surprising Em baby names for boys and girls?

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.