Category: Top 100 names

Your Favorite Names from the Top 100

Many of us at Nameberry automatically dislike names that are “too popular.”

But look more closely at the most popular names and you’ll find lots of wonderful names that deserve their widespread use.  Names that have stood the test of time, that have intrinsically pleasing sounds, that are associated with heroic characters.

So let’s this once set aside our name snobbery and own up to names we love from the Top 100 most popular names.

I love the name Sophia, for instance, and would proudly give it to a daughter or wear it myself.

Other girls’ favorites in the Top 100 include Charlotte, Claire, Alexa, Scarlett, Julia, Piper, and Annabelle.

For boys, there are even more popular names that I love.  In fact, my own two sons’ names, Joseph and Owen, are both in the Top 100.   And I also adore Elijah, Caleb, Henry, Nathaniel, Isaiah, Isaac, Thomas….almost too many to mention.

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What are the best and coolest unusual girls’ names?  By best, we mean those that have deep roots, are attractive, can fit into contemporary life, yet are not on the brink of widespread discovery.  And by unusual girls’ names, we mean used for 25 or fewer baby girls last year.

Here are our picks:


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A lot of parents spend hours, days, weeks, months gazing at the Social Security list of most popular names in search of the ideal choice for their baby.  What they want is a name that’s well established but not too popular, neither too recently trendy nor shooting toward the top of the list.

And there’s one dad who thinks he’s found the perfect formula for teasing out the perfect name from the mountain of statistics on the Social Security site.  It’s simple, he says.  All you have to do is write down all the names that made the Top 100 in every year from 1880 through 1930.  Then you cross off all the names on that list that made the Top 300 in the past ten years.  Et voila, you have a list of wonderful names from which to choose.

Um, yeah.  If you have an advanced degree in mathematics from MIT.  And if you think Bertha is a wonderful name.

Actually, I only had the math acumen (not to mention the time and the patience) to check the lists for three years: 1880, 1900, and 1930.  And on the Top 100 lists from those years I indeed found a lot of great names not on the Top 300 in any recent years.

For girls, you might choose a serious name such as Helen or Clara, Cora or Flora (or Dora), Pearl or Maude.  Or you might pick a madcap, fun-loving name such as Minnie or Mamie, Mabel or Lula.  Yes, Lula!

But then there’s Beulah.  Along with a lot of other not-so-beautiful names that were the bee’s knees on those lists.  Bertha, for instance, and GertrudeEthel and EdnaGladys, Shirley, and Phyllis.

On the boys’ side, there are great names to be found on the old lists.  There’s Walter, for example, and LouisArthur, and AlbertRufus, Roy, and Ralph.

And then there’s Herbert.  And Herman.  And Elmer, Dewey, and LesterDon‘t do this to your son.

An intriguing way to look for a great name?  Maybe.  But simple and foolproof, no way.

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