Not Your Mama’s Baby Name!

July 19, 2017 Clare Green

By Clare Bristow

The names in the news this week probably aren’t ones you heard growing up. Some of them have exploded in popularity in the last decade or two. Others are still undiscovered, but would fit right into nurseries and playgrounds today.

Let’s take a look at some new names your parents wouldn’t have considered using.

Beaumont is only given to a handful of boys each year (10 in 2016), but this preppy surname with a cool Bo– sound feels like it should be more popular. Comedians Jordan Peele and Chelsea Peretti gave it to their son earlier this month. His middle name, Gino, strikes a perfect balance, adding fun and energy to serious Beaumont.

Ryker is the name of Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer’s new baby boy – and like Peele and Peretti, his parents picked a middle name that balances it out, the classic Alexander. Ryker was barely known until the end of the twentieth century, but its similarity to names like Ryan and Tyler has helped it to soar into the top 150. If you’re worried about popularity, you might prefer Rouser (like this historical lawyer) or Ranger (on this list of names parents wish they had the guts to call their children).

Valentine feels like it’s appearing everywhere recently, yet it’s still rare. First Sophie predicted it for Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt’s baby, if it’s a boy. Then it appeared as a middle name in the latest round of babyberry announcements. Now writer Dawn O’Porter and actor Chris O’Dowd have welcomed a son called Valentine.

It’s a bold choice, part-romantic and part-tough (it shares a root with Valor and Valiant), but if it feels like too much for a first name, it would make a great unexpected middle. It’s never been hugely popular – even at its peak in the 1910s and 1920s it was never given to more than 200 children a year – but with international variants Valentin and Valentino already in the top 1000, maybe we’ll see it rise soon. If Valentine is your style, you might also like Augustine, Peregrine and Constantine.

Nova is the new daughter of Paul Weller, lead singer in 1970s punk rock band The Jam. This starry name, currently #136 in the US, has really exploded: it was given to ten times more girls in 2016 than in 2010. Nova works in lots of languages, it’s in the top 40 in the Netherlands and Sweden, and it’s starting to rise in the UK too. Nova Weller shares her name with a track on her father’s latest album.

Aura is another short, simple name that works around the world. This mystical word name might appeal if you’re looking for an alternative to popular Au- girls’ names like Aubrey and Aurora, or want to honor a Laura. Aura was given to 99 girls last year, more than ever before. The Brazilian-Portuguese dancer Blaya Rodrigues has just used it for her daughter – at least on the birth certificate. For everyday use, she plans to call her girl Lau (a diminutive of Laura), which isn’t on the list of permitted names in Portugal.

What do Liv, Aya, Magnus and Aksel have in common? All of them were rare until twenty or thirty years ago, but are now given to hundreds of American babies. And they’re all top 50 names in Denmark. On the Danish charts you’ll also find names that are barely known Stateside – like Saga and Valdemar – as well as more familiar ones. The top names in Denmark last year? Sofia and Noah.

Rumi and Sir are almost certainly names you didn’t hear when you were growing up. Time will tell if they will catch on with parents today, or if they remain as uncommon as their big sister’s first name, Blue (used for 16 girls and 23 boys in 2016). Yes, Beyoncé has confirmed her twins’ names, and her mother has confirmed their genders. Am I the only one who’s slightly disappointed the Carters didn’t use any of the hoax names from the Jimmy Kimmel Show?

With all these innovative names flying around, you might be wondering how having an unusual name might affect a child. Here’s one answer from the writer behind Tatler’s list of the poshest baby names. She argues that having a silly name is character-building: “calling your child Wigbert will likely make them interesting, even if they do end up in prison.” Believe it or not, Wigbert has never charted in the US, so if you’re looking for a name that’s not just unusual but unique, that’s always an option…

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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