Category: Unusual Baby Names

By Abby Sandel

Let’s say you love old-fashioned girl names with a tailored quality. You’re all about names that topped the charts a century ago, but feel fresh and modern today.

Top Ten Charlotte fits this description. The same is true of fast-rising Evelyn and Eleanor.

The only problem, of course, is that you might already know a few Violets and Graces. Or you worry that your Lillian will be lost in a crowd of girls with similar names.

What’s the solution? Look for the next wave of new old girl names, of course!

To make this list, I focused on names that previously charted in the US Top 100. So Winifred and Millicent and Sybil failed the test. Any name ending in an ‘a’ was ruled out, too. Good-bye to Lucinda, Luella, and Viola!

Plenty of possibilities remained. They’re feminine, but not too elaborate. Vintage describes them well, and yet parents aren’t using them in big numbers. None of the choices on this list appear in the current US Top 1000, either – at least not as of 2015, the most current data available from the US Social Security Administration.

If you’re crushed that your favorite old-fashioned girls’ name is on everybody else’s list, too, these names might be for you.

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An Anglophile’s Guide to Baby Names

british baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Baby names are in general a lot more adventurous in the US than they are in the UK, with American parents using word names and place names and surname-names and gender-ambiguous names in far greater numbers than their British counterparts.

But British parents tend to be broader-minded when it comes to using vintage names with more history than gloss. Some of the names that might be considered dowdy and old-fashioned by Americans – Constance and Hubert, for example – are chic in London.

A recent review of birth announcements produced this list of names favored by contemporary parents in Britain. If you love vintage baby names that are also distinctive, you may find your perfect name here.

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By Pamela Redmond Satran

Looking for a classic boys’ name that’s also unusual?

Way beyond the Williams and Henrys you hear every day are dozens of boys’ names that achieve this golden combination.  These names have deep roots and have been used for centuries, yet are given to only a handful of boys each year.

These classic boys’ names include choices from ancient cultures and the Bible, names sailing out of style (So long, Sherman) along with those heading in: Welcome, Grey, Linus, and Finnian!

Here, more than 100 classic boys’ names you’ll find hiding below the U.S. Top 1000, ordered from those given to the most babies in 2012 (Gordon, at 194) to the least (Mercury, at just five):

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state baby names

By Joe Satran and Abby Sandel

States have official songs and sandwiches. So how about quirky favorite baby names?

It turns out that certain names, rare in the US, are over-represented in certain states. Our intrepid researcher looked at every name given to at least 100 babies in 2015. Then he calculated the percentage of babies with that name born in every state. When ranked, the results revealed the rare names most concentrated in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some of these are easily explained. A hundred baby boys were named Brigham in 2015, 23 of them in Utah. Less than 1 percent of all Americans live in Utah, so that’s 23 times higher than you might expect. But, of course, Brigham Young was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Utah, so it’s not a surprise.

Yiddish names Shimon and Faigy are the quirky favorites in New York, where there’s the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews, while Spanish names Santana and Estevan are favored in New Mexico and Hawaiian names Kalea and Keanu are popular in, boom!, Hawaii.

And it does make sense that nature names Wren and Wilder are the Quirky Favorites of rural Vermont, while nouveau names Oakleigh and Bridger are well-liked in Red State Montana, consistent with our analysis that found Red Staters prefer gender-neutral invented names while Blue State baby names are more likely to pick names that are ethnic and traditional.

Other stands-outs are harder to explain. Why is Ophelia so prominent in Alaska? Or Brecken in Iowa? If you have the secret to why these names are the favorites in your state, please share with the class!

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Quirky Favorite Baby Names by State

quirky favorite names

Which quirky favorite baby names does YOUR state love above all others? We crunched the numbers and came up with these top names in each state — not the most popular in terms of sheer numbers, but the unusual, distinctive baby names that get an outsized amount of love in each place.

Insiders know the reasons behind many of the picks. Bexley, the girls’ quirky favorite name in Ohio, comes from the name of an upscale suburb, for example, while Wisconsin’s favorite boys’ name Jordy honors Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson. Woodsy Vermonters favor nature names Wren and Wilder, while Spanish names Santana and Estevan rule in New Mexico.

Click through to find out the Quirky Favorite Names in your state — and all the rest.

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