By Kara Blakley
At the end of 2015, Nameberry predicted that TH would be the digraph of 2016, and indeed the past year saw a lot more of names like Theo and Thea. Nameberry suggested that we would also hear more of Theodore, Thatcher, Thiago, Thaddeus, Thayer, Matthias, and Seth, which are all on the rise or poised to be. In this list, I’d like to expand the list of possibilities. One of my personal interests is finding unusual names that feel modern: identifying a trending sound and then finding uncommon names within that group is one way to do it. For that reason, I’m avoiding the most enduring names like Anthony, Matthew, and Nathaniel. First up are the boys.
Balthazar – With its zippy Z, ancient roots, and literary pedigree, it’s surprising that Balthazar hasn’t taken off. Nickname Baz makes the name more accessible. Bartholomew is a similarly under-the-radar name rich in history and meaning.
Ellsworth – The late Ellsworth Kelly is strongly tied to this name, but it was also the surname of a character on “Deadwood,” giving the name an Old West vibe. Emmett seems to be riding the wave of Em-names that Emily and Emma created; Ellsworth could similarly follow on the heels of Ella and company.
Grantham – Downtown Abbey has been one of the most influential shows this decade for names, with Edith, Cora, and Ivy, for example, all getting a boost. One of the main characters, Robert Crawley, wears the title Earl of Grantham. A variation of Graham and with a history as a surname, Grantham is one of those names that is unique but sounds like he fits right into 2017. Grant is a possible nickname. The same could be said of presidential Rutherford, another interesting option that boasts trending Ford as a potential nickname.
Griffith – Griffin is starting to feel dated to the noughties (the first decade of this century) but Griffith remains quietly undiscovered. Welsh names in the US feel less used than other imports—say, Irish or French—but they aren’t completely unknown, either. Actor Andy is a worthwhile namesake. Arthurian Gareth is another unique choice that feels wearable today.
Heath – Actor Ledger (born Heathcliff) introduced a new generation to this lovely name, and indeed, it seemed to be on the upswing in the US before his untimely death. Despite the tragedy, Heath still sounds like a name that could go places in the future.
Japheth – Unexpected? Definitely. But a generation ago, Noah, Abel, and Ezekiel were all among Old Testament names considered too outlandish to use. Now, they are modern staples. I expect parents to start mining the Old Testament for the next round of revivals; Japheth could be a good place to start.
Luther – The names on this list skew towards the long and elaborate, but Luther is no less intriguing a choice. The father of the iconic Martin Luther King, Jr. changed both of their names from Michael to honor the German reformer Martin Luther. The eponymous Idris Elba drama brings new life to the name. With Lu-names like Luna and Lula catching on, Luther could be next.
Roth – Take Ruth, Seth, and Ross and combine. The result is Roth, a relatively common surname that is totally obscure as a first. With the first few batches of surnames completely exhausted—think Jackson, Carter, Hudson, et al—it may be time to start looking for fresher options. Roth doesn’t seem ‘out there,’ but he will be the only one in his class.
Thackeray – Literary names have been one of the biggest trends of the decade, but Thackeray remains unused. Besides its connection to the author, it is also a good alternative to the more-popular Thatcher.
Thane – Zane has become super popular, Dane and Kane are rising, and Wayne is dated—so what about Thane? With the familiar -ane ending and trending TH beginning, Thane is a great fit-in / stand-out choice.
Thor – Mythological names were already gaining in popularity, but movies like Thor and The Avengers have given Thor a lot of exposure: it’s even #391 on Nameberry. Variations Thorin (a Hobbit name) and Thorian pack the same punch without the superhero baggage.
Thornton – The playwright Thornton Wilder’s last name is uber trendy right now, but will his first name catch on? Nickname or short form Thorne is an underused nature name, and Hawthorne (as in Nathaniel) is yet another unique literary name that sounds ready for modern wear.
Stay tuned for the equally intriguing girls’ version coming soon!