Popular Baby Names: Tops of the un-pops

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks beyond the Top 1000 most popular baby names list to find some still undiscovered goodies.

Wasn’t yesterday a little bit like a birthday/Fourth of July/belated Mother’s Day celebration all rolled into one?  I’ll admit it: I hung up on my own mother to watch The Today Show announcement.

Most of us – whether we’re due next month or many years away from starting a family – immediately search a few key names.  If you were hoping to keep your favorite all to yourself, there might have been disappointing news on May 14.  Adele and Olive both rose.  So did Willow and Beatrice, Declan and Archer, Nico and EnzoPenelope was up, and Ezra, too.  Berries tend to be ahead of the curve, but the wider world does eventually catch on.

But fear not – there is a silver lining.  Search for stylish, appealing appellations that remain unranked and outside of the spotlight, and there are plenty to choose from.

I spent yesterday looking for what isn’t on the much-awaited list.


AdairYou could give this surname to the boys, but she’s similar to Claire and Blair, making her a possibility for a daughter.  She’s also a distinctive way to reach mega-nickname Addie.

Carys – A Welsh name meaning love, she’s never found favor in the US, despite her similarity to Kara and Paris – and her status as the daughter of high-profile Hollywood pair Michael Douglas and Catherine ZetaJones.

Clementine – With the classic Caroline in the Top 100, darling Clementine is an obvious substitute.

Edie – Does Edie count when Eden is in the Top 200 for girls?  Yes, because Eden is rarely shortened, and Edie is in the key of sassy picks like Sadie and Hattie.

Isabeau – Modern ends-in-o appellations for girls like Harlow are on the rise.  Isabeau takes the trend in a different direction.  She’s a medieval variant of Isabella and Elizabeth, seldom heard in recent centuries.

Mariel Mary is evergreen, and Mariel shares the –el/-elle ending that we’ve all been wild for in recent years.  If Briella can be the fastest rising name in the US, why not consider Mariel?

Pippa – Did your jaw drop when you realized Pippa didn’t chart?  After the royal wedding and the hullabaloo over the future queen’s lovely sis, I fully expected Pippa to make her American debut.  British favorite Poppy is still almost unheard of in the US, and Polly remains unranked – despite her cousin Molly’s Top 100 status.

Reverie – If Destiny and Serenity  can rank in the US Top 100, this dreamy noun name should be wearable for a daughter born in 2012 – especially since she shares those great ev- sounds with great Genevieve and Evangeline and Everly.

Rosalind Rose is the killer middle name of the moment, but plenty of Rose names remain obscure.   The lovely Rosalind was Romeo’s first love, before he met Juliet.  Plus there’s easy short form Lindy.  A similar choice is Rosamond or Rosamund, a rarity that shortens to Rosie or Romy.

Wren – We’re wild about nature names, but this trim little syllable has yet to chart in the girls’ Top 1000.


Calder – He’s as artistic as Jackson, with the same great sound as Archer and Asher.  The difference?  Calder is far less common.

Cassian – An authentic saint’s name with the jaunty short form Cash built in.

Dashiell – If Cassian is saintly then Dashiell is literary – but shares a similarly zippy nickname Dash.

Grey One of the few color names that works well for a son, but he might get mixed up with the quite popular Grayson and Greyson.

Hale Hale has it all – the long a of Aiden, Jayden, and Mason; the H from Henry, the brisk sound of Cole or MaxEven his meaning is positive – he’s an archaic term for healthy.

Huxley – The American love affair with the letter x continues, but Huxley remains unranked.  With Max, Jax, Axel, and rafts of variations charting, Huxley seems just a little different.

Linden – A nature name with a similar style to Rowan, as well as Top 100 favorites Logan and Landon.

Rufus – If Pippa surprised me for the girls, I was shocked to see hipster baby Rufus missing from the boys’ side.  Angus and Fergus are also not represented.

Thayer Taylor is slipping quickly, but how about this similar sounding surname?  Another one to consider: Thatcher.

Wallace – Looking for a classic alternative to WilliamWally might give you pause, but dashing Wallace requires no shortening.

Walton – Along the same lines, how about Walton?  He retains the wholesome glow of long-running television series, plus he’s the middle name of Indiana Jones.  He’s also a way to honor a grandpa Walter.

Those are a few of my top choices that remain out of the spotlight.  Do you dare share your unranked favorites?


We have a winner! Congrats to BlankPages, who gets the fabulous Sarah & Abraham personalized print, for correctly predicting all 10 top girls’ name, with the first 5 in perfect order, and was one of the few to foresee the rapid rise of Mason.

Runners-up are Esrever88, Breannajai, notsoclevername and Preg-meg. Well done, Berries…and thanks to all who participated!

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35 Responses to “Popular Baby Names: Tops of the un-pops”

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nate_evie Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 12:25 am

I know 3 young Dashiell/Dash’s and 2 0-3 year old Cash’s…just to warn that local clusters may thwart efforts to avoid the trendy. I also know young ones named Clementine, Carys, Edie, Linden (female), and Wren (short for Lauren).

Alexandra.Iseult Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 1:30 am

I love Reverie, and I’d definitely use it as a middle name. Not that what I’m saying really matters here, I just thought I’d give some feedback.

Abby Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 3:20 am

@nate_evie – That’s a very good point. It’s also worth noting that friends and family tend to have similar taste in names …

@Alexandra.Iseult – I like the idea of Reverie in the middle, but I think she works as a first name, too.

isabel_r Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 5:59 am

Don’t suggest Hale please! That’s my grandma’s maiden name and I’m dying to use it!

sophiekihm Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 7:13 am

I am so excited, my favorite girls names (Nell, Tait, and Pimm) didn’t rank in the top 1000. Only 32 girls were named Nell this year, and less than 5 were named Tait or Pimm.

grackym Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 7:19 am

I’m disappointed that Archer has become so popular, like isabel_r, it’s my mothers maiden name and I thought I had a prospective uncommon name to use!
I love the sound of Edie (maybe short for Edith!) and Thatcher, how cute!

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:06 am

Adair is gorgeous. I think I just found a new middle name choice.

Abby Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:07 am

@sophiekihm – Love Nell, Tait, and Pimm – so spare and yet lovely, too.

Chantillylace Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:10 am

Pippa was one of the first names I checked, and my jaw DID drop when it said it didn’t rank. I am still surprised!

I think maybe… just maybe… Piper’s 30-something jump may have something to do with Pippa. The sounds are similar, but Piper is more geared toward American tastes.

Sarah.Jane Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:12 am

I checked out all of my favorites to see if they charted. Agatha, Imogen, Pippa, Philippa, Percy and Percival did not chart.
Esme has dropped 10 spots!
I am shocked that Imogen didn’t chart!

notsoclevername Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:13 am

Yeah, I was a little upset to see Juniper make it on to the top 1000. But the name is still pretty uncommon since at 968 that means a mere 262 girls were given this name. It will probably rise through the ranks though. At the same time, it’s nice to see some great names gaining the popularity and attention they deserve. Juniper wasn’t even on the top of my list and I’ve still got plenty of rare and unique choices.

TinaBina Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:39 am

I like Reverie a lot but wouldn’t use it. Saying it out loud in English when I speak French is well… disapointing haha. However Reve, which means “dream” in French (spelled with an accent on the first e that I can’t get on this computer) is a middle name contender for me.

We are just TTC now and I have been researching names for the last couple of months and always have a hard time finding a name that I love which isn’t too popular or in risk of becoming too popular but still acceptable without being weird.

TinaBina Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:41 am

I also predict Edie becoming very popular in the US. It is very popular in the UK and the trend always seems to follow a few years later.

Another funny note. All the names that I loved when I was a kid and thought were so unique are the top 100 names now… thats how I know my generation is of the child baring age haha.

Michell Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 9:13 am

I love Mariel, but I can’t help but think of Toni Colette in “Muriel’s Wedding.” I giggle at the thought. Did Callum make the list? That’s one of my favorites for boys, love the nn Cal.

Michell Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 9:16 am

Just checked the list again and Callum was on it–there goes any final notion I had of having unique favs.

Elisabeth Rae Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 9:21 am

Sarah.Jane, Imogen is one of my favorites, and I’m shocked as well that it didn’t chart! I know two baby Imogens born this year in my neck of the woods.

Whit32 Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oh, I love Wren! It is in my top three girl’s names. The boy’s name that I’m surprised isn’t there is Phineas. I thought it might make it to the top 1000 with Finn names being so popular. Part of me kinda wishes it did. I’m not quite brave enough to use it yet, but if it was a bit more popular, maybe it would be ok. 🙂

iheartnames Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 11:13 am

Love Adair & Carys! I’ve had a love affair with the fabulous Adair for years! That name has followed me everywhere. (A great story, but too long to tell!) If my son had been a daughter this past November, Adair would have been her name & I’m talking FIRST NAME. I’ve met two wonderful ladies that have this name.

notcinnamon Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 11:15 am

Calder was the runner-up to the name we gave our son in 1996. Adair was the runner-up to the name we gave our daughter in 1998. I hope both of those names continue in obscurity. While I would like to meet one, I don’t want to meet dozens : )

lorencs3 Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 11:20 am

Louisa, Luisa, and Louise don’t rank! I’m surprised, especially considering that Eloise continues to climb rapidly, and Luis is #88 and Louis #332 for boys.

LameName Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 11:55 am

Our now five-month-old son is named Calder. My husband suggested it because the Calder Trophy is the NHL Rookie of the Year award and we’re big hockey fans. We thought it went along with the whole last name as first name trend, but it’s not as common as Jackson or Logan. So it’s different but not weird. A few people have asked us if it’s Calder as in Alexander Calder, so we also like the artistic connotation. Calder fits our little guy perfectly.

leonielee Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Don’t suggest Rosalind!! I don’t want it breaking into the top 1000 before I get to use it!

kristenj15 Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I like Huxley but can’t get over the mean: inhospitable place!

AprilW Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I have a 5 year old named Hale. 🙂 Best name ever. I’m still looking for a girls name i’m as in love with. Right now we’re planning on Zoe, unless I come up with the love-of-my-life name before the big day. 🙂

Lo Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I was just talking to my husband last night about Mariel as a middle name for our next daughter.

Poppy528 Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I’ve long loved the name Adair. But say it with an Oklahoma accent, and it’s quite unpalatable. It doesn’t help that there’s an Adair, OK (and we plan to move back to OK in a decade or so).

Beatrix and Baxter still do not rank! There is hope for me yet! However, Beatrix is a little girl on the new HBO show Girls, so I hope the exposure doesn’t cause a popularity bump. Hooray for Imogen, Poppy, and Harriet (Hattie squeeked in along with Willa) too.

Abby Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

@Michell – Callum was one of the first names I checked!

XxaShLeIgHxX Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Rosaline was Romeo’s lover, not Rosalind.

edenlyla13 Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I love all of these names!

vanessa Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Love your picks! I think Romeo’s first love was Rosaline, not Rosalind, though. Both are lovely, I think. 🙂

MeganElaine Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I love Wren, Rosalind and Carys. They’re all on my list and I’m so glad they’re not ranking yet.

skizzo Says:

May 16th, 2012 at 11:12 am

Wren I see more as masculine – it’s also the name of a male character on Pretty Little Liars.

Oakley is my favorite name for boys outside the top1000, and it almost made it.

legaleagle Says:

May 16th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

My daughter’s first name is Adair (born in 2008). Funny I also loved Adele at the time (before the singer was on my radar) but I thought Adair was more modern sounding. Her nickname is Addie. I hope Adair doesn’t become popular but I don’t think it will! Great list – I’m also a big fan of Clementine and Wren for girls.

tfzolghadr Says:

July 12th, 2013 at 5:31 am

Adair still seems boyish to me… Cassian and Linden are really wonderful names!

LunaCross Says:

May 18th, 2014 at 11:19 am

@Vanessa-I am pretty sure it was Juliet.

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