Popular Baby Names: Tops of the un-pops

May 14, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

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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