Under-the-Radar Baby Names

May 28, 2015 Josh

By Josh Murray

Since the Social Security Administration released their 2014 name list at the beginning of May. Nameberry has seen a number of great posts regarding names that have risen in popularity and those which have fallen further by the wayside. But instead of looking at new names on the rise, I thought I would take the opportunity to focus on the names that aren’t currently being used at all. The SSA only reports names that have been given to at least five boys or girls in a specific year, and each of the choices below did not make the cut. If you really want to set trends and turn heads, consider some of these possibilities, which four or fewer children received in 2014:


CraneWith bird names catching on (Wren charted in the top 1000 for girls in 2014 for the first time), Crane offers a good choice for the boys. If Crane is a family name, this would be a great choice. And even if there are no familial ties, Crane has the short, modern appeal many twenty-first century parents are looking for. The name also has literary connections to author Stephen Crane and poet Hart Crane.

Hartwell Speaking of Hart Crane, Hartwell is an uncommon surname that would offer a longer, more formal option. If Hart isn’t your favorite nickname, Wells would be another modern choice.

Oakhurst– Sticking with the theme of surnames, Oakhurst is a little weighty and clunky, but it also has a preppy feel that could be appealing to some parents. It also provides an alternate route to the nickname Oak/Oaks/Oakes if you’re not a fan of Oakley.

Orwell– This surname name has a clear literary connection to George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984. With other O-names gaining in popularity (Otis, Oliver, Owen, Oscar), Orwell wouldn’t be much of a stretch. Plus, like Hartwell, it comes with built-in nickname Wells.

VeroWhen Wes Anderson’s 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel appeared in theaters, I was captivated by the main protagonist’s name: Zero. Unfortunately, the meaning of this word-name would easily lend itself to bullying and teasing. Vero, on the other hand, makes a nice alternative. With the rising interest in o-ending boys’ names (Milo, Hugo, Arlo, Otto) and the cool factor of the letter V, it’s almost surprising that it hasn’t caught on yet.

WeaverYet another surname name, Weaver perhaps has the most current potential. Occupational names have received heightened attention lately, especially two-syllable names ending in -er. Alongside names like Hunter, Sawyer, Parker, Porter, and Ryder, Weaver fits right in.


CordieSome big news coming with the release of the 2014 stats was that Cordelia finally returned to the Top 1000 after a 63-year hiatus. The most common nicknames for this vintage gem are Cora and Delia, but Cordie would be a cute alternative. And on its own, it has been rarely used. It last appeared in the Social Security stats in 1993, when five girls received the name.

Ixora–A genus of flower, this Latin word has definite potential as a little girl’s name. As it is, the name could easily fit in the middle spot. As a first, Ixora lends itself to cute nicknames Ixy and Xora/Zora. Indie band Copeland released a new album titled Ixora in October 2014.

Medley:–Musical terms such as Harmony, Melody, Aria, and Cadence have gained traction as names over the years, so Medley seems like an obvious next step. A medley is a piece of music that combines several songs into one, providing a great meaning for your family’s new addition.

Tetra– A type of freshwater fish found in Africa, Central America, and South America, tetra is also a common prefix meaning “four.” This would be an interesting choice for a fourth child. Tetra is also a heroine in the video game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Thisbe As recently as 2013, there were seven little girls named Thisbe. In 2014, however, it fell back off the map. This name comes from the early Greek mythological story Pyramus and Thisbe, which appeared in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Shakespeare also referenced the story multiple times, using it as the basis for Romeo and Juliet and as the play-within-a-play in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With other mythological appellations like Penelope, Daphne, and Phoebe charting in the US, Thisbe would fit right in.

Veranda– This may seem like an odd pick, being that it’s a name for a large porch. Nonetheless, it can also be seen as a combination of Veronica and Miranda. Maybe some adventurous parents out there will give it a chance?

What do you think about these potential names? What other obscure words or names could be legitimate possibilities for newborns in 2015?

Josh Murray is a PhD candidate in English and a college instructor of writing and literature. In whatever free time he can find, he researches names and naming trends. He and his wife currently have one son.

About the author


Josh Murray has a PhD in English and is a college instructor of writing and literature. In whatever free time he can find, he researches names and naming trends. He and his wife have a son and a daughter. You can find his (infrequently updated) naming microblog on Twitter: @readyNameFIRE.

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