Get Your Latest Baby Name News!

October 25, 2017 Clare Green

By Clare Bristow

This week’s news includes biblical rarities, celebrities’ unisex choices, classic names with meaning, and French names galore.

Neglected names from the Bible

It’s no secret that biblical names with an Old Testament (or Torah) feel are big right now. The top 100 is full of them, especially on the boys’ side. Noah, Levi, Ezra, Josiah…the list goes on.

It can feel like an arms race to find a biblical name that’s wearable, distinctive and not too popular. Spoiler alert: you probably won’t find many wearable names in this article, but you might enjoy it all the same. It’s a lament for admirable characters whose names get neglected because they don’t sound great to modern English speakers’ ears – like poor Puah and Hoglah.

So what’s in the sweet spot between Noah and Puah? Here’s a list of unusual biblical baby names that feel usable, but aren’t going to make the top 10 any time soon.

Unisex starbaby names: Revel and Remy

Here’s an underused name with a completely different style: Revel. Friendlier than Rebel, livelier than Reverie, and less popular than River, Revel was given to just 12 boys and 9 girls in 2016. Now that actor Matthew Morrison has called his son Revel James Makai, we might see more interest in it.

Remy is much more popular but also fairly unisex. Like Rory, it started life as a boys’ name, but it’s now widely used for girls too: it’s in the top 500 for boys and the top 800 for girls in the US. The singer Billy Joel has just used it for his daughter, Remy Anne, who was born earlier this week.

Classic names with meaning

Speaking of Anne-names, here’s a reminder of one of the reasons to love classic names: they’re full of endless layers of meaning.

In this interview on the French name site Jolis Prénoms, a mother explains how she chose her daughter’s name, Anna. It honors Russian literature and culture, an Italian grandmother, and St Anne, the patron of Brittany, where her daughter has heritage. That’s a lot of meaning packed into four letters. Her brothers’ names, Hector and Constant, likewise have lots of historical and literary significance for their family.

Even with names that have become popular more recently, there’s always new significance to be discovered. For this woman called Heather, it took 17 years and a trip to Scotland to find meaning in her name.

French names: what’s in store for 2018

Going back to French names, the naming yearbook L’Officiel des prénoms has just been released. If you’re looking for inspiration from parents in France, the names that are predicted to top the lists are Louise, Emma and Jade for girls, and Gabriel, Raphaël and Jules for boys.

Borrowing names from another language can have pronunciation pitfalls, though. There’s been some discussion in a parenting forum this week about the name Anaïs. The dilemma: if you think your friend is pronouncing their child’s name incorrectly, should you tell them?

It’s a tricky one, because the “correct” pronunciation can change as a name is adopted by different parents in different societies. Try telling someone called Caitlin that she’s saying her name wrong because in Irish it’s “Catleen”, and see what reaction you get.

Halloween names

Finally, we can’t let this week pass without mentioning Halloween! There are so many possible ways to get a Halloween-inspired name that whether you’re into ghosts, witches, vampires, creepy dolls, horror movies, or just the whole holiday, there’s something for you.

I’m always curious about how much names really are influenced by holidays. It’s one thing to browse lists and daydream, but do you know anyone who’s had a Halloween baby and given them a related name? Do share!

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles


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