Category: unusual baby names

unusual family names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

My grandfather’s middle name was Owen, which was pretty unusual when I was growing up. I never thought back then that I’d name a son Owen, much less that Owen would become a Top 50 boys’ name!

What’s the most unusual name in your family? Can you imagine it ever coming back into style? Or maybe it’s so rare it was never in style in the first place.

We’d love to hear its origins, if you know them: How it was chosen, how the bearer felt about it, and whether Great-Uncle Oral inspired any namesakes.

We’d also love to know whether you’d consider using it as a name for a baby? A middle name? Do you love your unusual family name? Hate it? Why or why not?

For a wider look at unusual vintage baby names, check out our lists of lost names of 1916 for boys and for girls.

Get one of these awesome personalized family trees, unusual names and all, from the Etsy shop karuskicolours.

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Spring has officially arrived this week, a season traditionally associated with rebirth, when gardens begin to burst into bloom after a long, sometimes seemingly endless, grey winter. Many of the flowers shown here have wonderfully evocative names, especially apropos for a springtime babe.  We’re focusing on the more unusual spring flower names, moving beyond Lily and Daisy to Orchid and Anemone.

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state baby names

By Joe Satran and Abby Sandel

States have official songs and sandwiches. So how about quirky favorite baby names?

It turns out that certain names, rare in the US, are over-represented in certain states. Our intrepid researcher looked at every name given to at least 100 babies in 2015. Then he calculated the percentage of babies with that name born in every state. When ranked, the results revealed the rare names most concentrated in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some of these are easily explained. A hundred baby boys were named Brigham in 2015, 23 of them in Utah. Less than 1 percent of all Americans live in Utah, so that’s 23 times higher than you might expect. But, of course, Brigham Young was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Utah, so it’s not a surprise.

Yiddish names Shimon and Faigy are the quirky favorites in New York, where there’s the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews, while Spanish names Santana and Estevan are favored in New Mexico and Hawaiian names Kalea and Keanu are popular in, boom!, Hawaii.

And it does make sense that nature names Wren and Wilder are the Quirky Favorites of rural Vermont, while nouveau names Oakleigh and Bridger are well-liked in Red State Montana, consistent with our analysis that found Red Staters prefer gender-neutral invented names while Blue State baby names are more likely to pick names that are ethnic and traditional.

Other stands-outs are harder to explain. Why is Ophelia so prominent in Alaska? Or Brecken in Iowa? If you have the secret to why these names are the favorites in your state, please share with the class!

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Not Your Mother’s Baby Names

1950s baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

If your Mom (and Dad) are baffled by your baby name ideas, there’s a reason for that. Baby names that were all the way at the bottom of the extended list in 1957 — a year that saw the birth of many now grandparent-aged people — have become stylish, even popular. So when your parents say they’ve never heard that name you love, you may need to take that literally.

Every generation needs to reinvent baby names. Today’s expectant parents aren’t interested in using the names popular when they were born — Jessie and Jason, Melissa and Michael — and they’re really not interested in using names favored for their parent’s generation in the 1950s or 1960s. So Debra, Karen, Richard, and Gary, names well-represented among grandparents, are out for today’s babies.

But names that were unpopular in the Baby Boom era are a different story. In fact, the bottom of the 1957 popularity list is full of names that sound fresh, elegant, fascinating, beautiful today.

There are patterns in evidence. Names without a clear gender identification were often relegated to the bottom of the barrel back then, as were ethnic names, surname-names, word names, place names, and ancient names. All these groups are of course well-accepted now.

If your parents are eager to talk about baby names but you want to avoid a tussle over the name, share this list with them. All these names were given to only five babies in 1957 but are used for hundreds and in some cases thousands of babies now. What do you think, Mom and Dad?

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Crazy Celebrity Names: But are they really?

By Meredith Testa, namenculture

Celebrities are notorious for giving their children outrageous baby names. Lists of so-called crazy celebrity baby names pop up often, and with examples like North West (shown) and Blue Ivy topping them, it’s easy to see why they spread like wildfire. But I’m not convinced that celebrities are any crazier than the rest of us in their naming choices. One man’s crazy is another man’s cute, and there are lots of reasons celebrity names may seem stranger than they actually are:

Celebrities are just as likely to choose “normal” names as the rest of us- Plenty of them choose popular or traditional names. The Beckhams’ youngest is called Harper (a Top 10 name) and Brad and Angelina have a Vivienne. For every Frank Zappa (father of Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva), there’s a Dennis Quaid (father of Jack, Thomas, and Zoe).

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