Category: quirky baby names

posted by: upswingbabynames View all posts by this author

By Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

The Victorian nickname trend that’s hot in the U.K. is getting attention in the U.S.—for girls.

The Brits have embraced this genre on both sexes. Alfie and Charlie are in the U.K. top 10. Archie, Freddie, and Harvey round out their top 50.

Believe it or not, these names have potential on modern American boys.

Charlie is an example of a nickname-style name that is steadily becoming more popular in the U.S, although it has yet to capture the success it enjoys across the pond, where it ranked at #4 last year.

In the U.S. Charlie is a comeback name that was fashionable in the late 19th century when it consistently ranked in or near the top 30. Through most of the 20th century, Charlie gradually declined to its lowest rank in the 90’s when it ranked in the 400s. This past decade, Charlie has rebounded. Last year it reached #233.

Here are some other nicknames that share the same boyish charm as Charlie. Many were once popular in the U.S. and have comeback potential.

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cool names

As the authors of, literally, the book on Cool Names, you’d think we’d know everything there is to know about cool baby names.

But the definition of cool is so fluid and so subjective, it’s difficult to point to one name, or one group of names, and proclaim it as universally cool.

Yet sometimes, you know cool when you see it.  I was reading about the British actor Damian Lewis the other day — the redheaded hunk on Homeland — and noticed (of course) that the names of his children with fellow actor Helen McCrory are Manon and Gulliver.

Huh, I thought.  Now THOSE are cool names.  Undeniably quirky, but cool.

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How would you describe your favorite name style?, asked a recent Nameberry Question of the Week. Do you prefer cool names?  Classic?  Stylish?  Or what?

Which put me in mind of trying to characterize my own name style.  You might think that we at Nameberry were born knowing our personal name styles, since we’ve made a life’s work of classifying names into styles and helping other people figure out what kinds of names they love.

But like the shoemaker’s child, I’d never really defined my own name style until Linda posted this question.  I definitely like vintage names, I decided, along with names that are a bit unusual.  Cool names, but not too cool.  Classy, yet quirky.

And then the right term for it came to me: Eccentric Aristocrat.   You know, the kind of names that might belong to madcap lords and exotic baronesses (baronessi?) dashing around the countryside in yellow roadsters, drinking champagne and weekending at castles.

Yes, it’s a little bit British, but it’s also kind of Eurotrash and pretty F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton sophisticated American too.   Eccentric Aristocrat names hint at a Russian count as a grandfather, a Scottish pile as an inheritance, ancient relatives who have to be honored with highly unfashionable names – except now that you think about it, those names are actually kind of cool.

Regular readers of Nameberry will recognize the Eccentric Aristocrat in many of the names that, not coincidentally, are favorites on this site: Violet and Jasper, Flora and Felix.  Those are the kinds of names that I’d choose for my own children.  (The fact that I didn’t choose those kinds of names for my own children is another story, one that starts with my husband’s name style being more Solid Midwestern than Eccentric Aristocrat.)

A few rules on what makes a name an Eccentric Aristocrat:

1.   It must be rooted in tradition, but not traditional. So: Circe yes, Charles no.   Edward no, Edgar yes.

2.   It must have a distinct gender identification, but not a conventional one. The name Inigo is clearly male, while India plainly female.   Yet Inigo might just as well design clothes as play football, and India seems as appropriate a name for an international financier as for a supermodel.

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When out-of the-box-named Ever Carradine, actress and member of a multi-generational Hollywood dynasty, recently gave her baby daughter the equally out-of-the-box-name Chaplin, it got me wondering—could there be an extreme baby naming gene that passes from generation to generation?

In Ever’s case it seems to be true.  Although her parent’s generation bore the classic names David, Christopher, Keith and Robert, among their offspring are:

Frank Zappa’s kids’ names are the poster children for extreme starbaby naming: Moon Unit, Dweezil (actually Ian Donald Calvin Euclid on his original birth certificate when the hospital refused to register Dweezil), Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.  Are these sibs following the tradition?  Kinda–though more cool than crazy– judging from their offspring so far:

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cool unusual boy names

Click here for lots more cool unusual boys’ names.

Yesterday we brought you our picks for best cool unusual girls’ names; today we look at the best 100 cool unusual boys’ names from the master list of names given to 25 or fewer babies last year.

Our criteria: We tried to pull out names that have genuine roots, that are attractive, and that work in the modern world.  True name nerds or obsessive name searchers can go to comb through thousands of unusual boys’ names from the entire file of all the names used every year stretching back to 1880.

Here’s our list of Top 100 unusual boys’ names:

  1. AHMET
  2. AMIAS
  3. AZAIAH
  4. BALTHAZAR
  5. BARNABAS
  6. BAY
  7. BIRCH
  8. BRANCH
  9. BRECCAN
  10. BRICK
  11. CALIX
  12. CALLOWAY

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