Thinking Outside the Popularity Box

August 13, 2015 Callmecalliope

By Jackie at Namesplash

Have you ever been frustrated to find that a name you’ve loved for years is actually more popular than you thought?

When I was ten or so, I remember thinking the names Piper and Cooper were adorable and unique. While my personal tastes have changed quite bit in the last fifteen years, I still tend to steer clear of names I deem “too popular.” Both of my “unique” choices are now in the SSA Top 100, and I can only watch helplessly as many of the baby names I’ve loved for years trend tragically upwards.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s that big a deal to use a popular name, especially now that a smaller proportion of kids actually have names that rank in the Top 100. But I also know that seeing thousands of other parents using a name is off-putting to many of us. Many of the most chic names today share similar sounds such as “den,” “ell,” or “ev.” Here I’ve compiled a list of names that share attractive sounds with some of the trendiest monikers, but haven’t reached the Top 500 (yet).

Two-syllable names ending in –er are extremely popular…there are seven such names in the boys’ Top 100. If Harper, Piper, Carter, and Hunter are too common for you, consider Denver, Calder, Wilder, or Vesper.

It’s clear that this generation of namers loves surname-y sounding names like Mason, Hudson, and Carson, with seven –son names appearing in the boys’ top 100. Less commonly used but equally adorable are: Edison, Pearson, Wilson, Tennyson, and Judson.

If you love the –den trend and were once all about Aiden, then Auden, Arden, Alden, Bohdan, or Riordan might appeal to you.

From Lily to Lila to Layla, pretty and feminine L names have been popular for quite a while now. Liliosa, Lilou, and Lilibeth are some of my favorite outside-the-box alternatives.

Eight –elle/-ella names appear in the top 100 for girls, but there are tons of untapped options to choose from. Some great ones include Antonella, Ardella, Fiorella, Israella, Maelle/Maella, Kyrielle, and Della/Adela.

Admirers of the beautiful -belle/-bella names, such as Annabelle and Isabella, might consider Mirabelle/Mirabella, Bellamy, Bellatrix, Amabel, or Maybelle.

If you’ve always been mad for Maddie, consider Matea and Madigan as alternatives to Madeline and Madison. If you’re willing to give up Maddie as a nickname, consider Marceline or Maybelline instead of Madeline.

If you love Ad– names like Addison or Adeline, consider Adair, Adeliza, or Adaliz for your little Addie.

From Evelyn to Ava to Violet, V names are extremely stylish. Geneva, Evanthia, Aviva, and Teva are elegant alternatives. Perhaps even Beverly could make a comeback?

Love Penelope but hate the Kardashian connection and skyrocketing popularity? Consider Calliope, Ariadne, or Xanthe instead.

Leo made the top 100 this year. Other cute –o names include Arlo, Eliseo, Jericho, Enzo, and the Hawaiian Kaleo.

Identifying precisely which sounds in your favorite names make them appealing to you is a great way to search for a new, less common choice! Do you think any of your favorites could be replaced by a similar sounding name?


About the author


Jackie is a lifelong name nerd and a busy student working to earn a doctorate in biomedical science. In her minimal spare time, she loves to cuddle with her pets, cook, and name things. Check out Jackie’s blog, Namesplash.

View all of Callmecalliope's articles


5 Responses to “Thinking Outside the Popularity Box”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.