Popular Names: Hidden Gems on the List

Popular Baby Names

When we parse the annual Social Security list, we usually focus on the top names–what’s the new Number One, which names have made it into the Top 25, even the Top 100. But there are many names on the Popularity List that actually aren’t all that popular– certainly not commonly enough used  to deter parents who are looking for a distinctive name.

In the lower depths of the list, there are a number of neglected names that were given to fewer than 350 babies across the country last year, real hidden gems sprinkled among the more unusually configured Cloes, Alyvias and Jovanys.  These are appealing names that are recognizable to all, with real history and meaning, but which would still stand out in a crowd (or in a pre-school).

Among them are:


DIXIE — One of the most engaging of the saucy showgirl nickname names, with an added dash of Southern spice.

GIADA — An undiscovered Italian jewel (it translates as Jade) brought into the spotlight by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.

JUNE — Springtime month name starting to come back into bloom.

JUSTINE –An elegant name with deep Latin roots and a righteous meaning.

LIBBY –The lost Elizabeth nickname, sounding so much fresher than Liz and Beth–not to mention Betsy and Betty.

LILIA — A charming, rhythmic, more exotic spin on the well-used Lily.

LIVIA –Not a chopped-off version of Olivia but an ancient Roman favorite used on its own.

MARIN — A shimmering water name, distinctive and sophisticated.

MATILDA — Sweet and feminine vintage classic, with a choice of appealing nicknames–Mattie, Tilda, Tillie; hasn’t caught on despite highly visible image of Matilda Ledger.

OLIVE — Quieter alternative to trendy Olivia; young heroine of Little Miss Sunshine, and pick of cool couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen.

SLOANE — Sleek executive name chosen by comedian Rob Corddry.

TAMARA –With both Russian and Hebrew roots, has a dramatic, creative image.

TESS — Has a lot more substance, strength and style than most single-syllable names; a good middle name choice too.

THALIA –One of the Three Graces, and the Muse of Comedy, in Greek mythology; does at the moment tend to be associated with single-named singer.


AUGUSTUS –Old Roman name sounding less and less fusty, especially when softened by nicknames Augie or Gus.

CASSIUS –A Shakespearean name with the patina of antiquity, plus a choice of two cool nicknames–Cass or Cash.

CONRAD –A solid, serious name with literary cred.

CULLEN — Winning Irish surname name–but in danger of increased popularity via being the surname of Edward in the popular Twilight franchise.

DARWIN –Perfect for the son of scientists, but also appealing to any parent looking for a name with a stylish sound and historic significance.

FLETCHER –An occupational (arrow-maker) name with an abundance of quirky charm.

JENSEN — An attractive, rarely heard Scandinavian surname name, attached to both a spiffy car and a current TV teen idol, Jensen Ackles–there were only 192 baby Jensens born last year.

KILLIAN — Dynamic Irish saint’s name; only possible drawback is tie to the trendy brew.

LUCIAN — Adds a gloss of Continental elan to Luke and Lucas.

MAXIMO –Lively Latin route to nickname Max, meaning ‘the greatest’–sole caveat is a link to a video game.

REUBEN –A neglected Biblical boy, resonant and rich, belonging to the founder of one of the tribes of Israel.

REX — One of the few trendy x-ending boys’ names with a real–even regal–meaning.

SEAMUS — This Irish form of James has way more substance and spunk than the dated Sean.

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24 Responses to “Popular Names: Hidden Gems on the List”

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lesley Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 12:59 am

I’ve loved Lilia ever since I heard it on gymnast Lilia Podkopayeva during the 1996 Olympics. Now I worry that its almost too common with all of the Lilies, Lilians, and Lilianas around. Lucian is another favorite.

MePregnant Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 1:30 am


This entry was posted on Friday, May 29th, 2009 at 12:42 am and is filed under Uncategorized, ancient names, baby name popularity, boys’ names, girls’ names, name ideas, nicknames, overlooked names, undiscovered names . ……

Jenny Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 9:04 am

I love the name Seamus.. it’s on my short list for a future son.

Amanda Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 9:33 am

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone about June!

Kristen Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 9:43 am

I love the name Jensen and it’s my daughters name (born Aug. 2007). Of course then I only found out about Jensen Eckles. Thought it was unique and we sometimes call her Jen.

Amanda Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 11:01 am

Well, don’t I feel cool. My two picks for girls are on here…

Teri Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I like Jensen better for a girl too. Sloane however sounds a bit too harsh for a girl. How do you pronounce Giada?

linda Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 12:20 pm


Kay Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I thought Giada was pronounced more like Jyah-da.

rachelmarie Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Well, I love:
June (sad to see it on the list though), Lilia, Marin (spelled Maren, and hate to see it jumped up a few spots!), Conrad, and Fletcher.

I really hate Rex, Dixie (dix…), Libby, and Cullen (stupid Twilight books will make this name more popular).

Oh yeah, Giada is gorgeous, too.
I also think it’s interesting to see the newbies to the list.
Isla, Aaden, Chace, Allisson, Alisson, Dayami, Beckham, Matilda, etc.

Erin Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

See, my Italian husband would say Giada is really “Jah-dah” and Giovanni is “Jo-vah-nee.” Which explains why he wouldn’t let me give our kids Italian names — it makes him crazy to hear Americans pronounce them “wrong.”

LyndsayJenness Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Giada on the Food Network pronounces it Jah-dah, but I do think Gee-ah-da is a much prettier sound.

ricamaca Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I think the Jah-dah or Gee-ah-da pronunciations can also depend on what part of Italy you’re talking about. I’m Italian and I pronounce it Gee-ah-da. My dad is from a small town in Italy and it has its own different dialect so we pronounce things “wrong” but its “right” to us 🙂

jennyforjennifer Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Livia & Lucian… perfection 🙂

Rosamund Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Love Tess and June! Seriously considering using them 🙂

Sam Says:

May 30th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Matilda and Thalia are my favourites from the list for girls.

I love Fletcher for a boy, also.

Devon Says:

May 30th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Fletcher to me sounds too much like feltcher and I would not want my boys to have THAT association.

Killian is on our list, however we’d spell it with a ‘C,’ as is Cillian. I’m not digging many of the names on the girls list, however I think Marin is a really beautiful name.

SophieGray Says:

June 1st, 2009 at 2:20 am

I absolutely love Lilia, Matilda (DD) and Olive from the girls, and Cassius Cillian (no K), Reuben and Seamus for the boys!

icejaguar Says:

June 1st, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Anyone else think Darwin might make a great girls name? (or girl’s middle name?) I also like Justine, Matilda, and Tamara

Sebastiane Says:

June 8th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I love the name Livia. Giada, Justine, June, Lilia & Olive are also sweet. All the male names are all so handsome.

POPULAR NAMES: Hidden Gems on the List – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry | The Pregnant News Says:

July 5th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

[…] See the original post: POPULAR NAMES: Hidden Gems on the List – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry […]

eddy Says:

March 17th, 2010 at 2:47 am

i love kingsley so much as a name

Dana Says:

November 10th, 2010 at 8:43 pm

No! don’t expose my special secret baby name!!

Rachel Marie Says:

February 3rd, 2011 at 4:44 pm

We are pregnant with a girl and I think I will use Olive Seraphina. I LOVE the way it sounds. This is our 5th baby we have Lauren, Brennen, Lilyen, Boston and I love the way Olive just seems to fit right in.

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