Unique Baby Names: Do you dare?

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Reading the latest birth announcement from England‘s Telegraph newspaper, I can’t help thinking that a lot of the names, while wonderful, might give many sensible parents pause. When it comes to unique baby names, there may be such as thing as too unique.

Wilfred may be cool, after all, but it’s also undeniably nerdy – by choosing this name, am I condemning my child to playground marginalization?  Is Zephyr too wacky, Ophelia too tragic?

The question isn’t really, Do you dare to give these names to your children, but should you dare?

As many Britberries have pointed out, the names usually found in the Telegraph represent not widespread British naming trends but eccentric aristocratic tastes, so perhaps most of us aren’t debating the merits of Digby and Venetia in any case.

Before we focus on our question, a few trendlets to note: Several girls named Jessica.  Middle names Tom, Sue, and Adventure.  And in a reversal of American style, boys’ names generally more daring than girls’.

Back to the issue at hand: What do you think of these adventurous, intriguing, but perhaps too-challenging names taken from recent Telegraph birth announcements?  Would they work in the U.S….or anywhere else, for that matter?

Deliciously daring or just plain dangerous?

girls

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58 Responses to “Unique Baby Names: Do you dare?”

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halle Says:

December 30th, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I like:
Iona
Ophelia
Clemente
Constantine
Remo

Clemente and Constantine are actually two of my favorite boys names:)

rosierose Says:

December 30th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I think most of them would be OK, but it is all about context. Some of these names really only work if you have loads of money. Then the perception from the outside world shifts from “weird” or even “uneducated” to “eccentric”. I could see Venetia, Ptolemy, Reginald, Remo, Sidney, Wilfred, etc. all getting skewered in many circles in the US.

The perception within Britain is different too. A lot of these names wouldn’t fly outside posh villages or certain parts of London. They’d be quickly stamped pretentious and/or Tory. I wouldn’t want to be in a teenager in a comprehensive named Titania or Otto!

mmljar1 Says:

December 30th, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Coming from Australia this list was interesting. Some of these names wouldn’t rate a mention here as unusual names. Anastasia and Hamish for example are quite mainstream. I know people named Otto, Rueben, Anastasia, Hamish, Harvey and Benedict and I live in a small rural community – not posh at all. Ptolemy and Wilfred though would probably raise eyebrows!

Giinkies Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:19 am

I find
Anastasia
Nancy
Petra (maybe oldish but I am familiar with the name due to Petra Nemcova)
& Sidney
to all be quite normal names.

florie33 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:26 am

These names made me smile! I have several of these names in my family tree. Most came to the US in the 1800’s from England, Ireland and Germany. Agatha, Alberta, Biddy, Elsbeth, Petra, Clemente, Edgar, Herbert, and Sidney just to name a few. I also know several people in our Church service community named Anastasia, Constance, Nancy, Bertie, Harvey, Hector and Otto. There are also a few children in our congregation with these, Coco, Benedict and Ruben. I think most of them are very usable in the US. I really like most!

Amylina23 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:48 am

I don’t see an issue with the majority of these names, to be honest. Some of them might seem slightly odd in certain circles, but I wouldn’t be afraid or opposed to using most of them,

My favourites are: Biddy
Elsbeth
Nancy
Ophelia
Petra

Bertie
Clemente
Digby
Hector
Montgomery
Wilfred

sarahmezz Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:00 am

Ooh, so many glorious names! I don’t think there’s a single name here I’d deem unusable, although I would steer clear of some myself.

Names I’d actually consider using: Agatha, Anastasia, Constance, Iona, Nancy, Ophelia, Sybilla, Titania, Venetia, Zinnia, Edgar, Hamish, Harvey, Lysander, Montague, Montgomery, Sidney, Wilfred.

Names I wouldn’t use myself: Alberta, Betsan, Biddy, Coco, Elsbeth (although I’d use Elspeth), Petra, Archibald, Benedict, Bertie, Clemente, Constantine, Digby, Hector, Herbert, Otto, Ptolemy, Reginald, Remo, Reuben, Zephyr.

mill1020 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:07 am

I know a Wilfred who goes by Billy, and as much as I love William I think it is kind of a neat alternative. Petra is a guilty pleasure of mine, too.

Dantea Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 2:36 am

I named my daughter Persephone Elysia Willow so obviously I’m good with unusual names. I live in a city with about say 120,000 people and I live in a poor to lower middle class neighborhood and I haven’t had any problems with her name. Only a few people over 60 have had problems pronouncing it and everyone thinks it’s gorgeous. I say all that because of the question of whether an unusual name like that really only works on the rich.

I would consider using or have considered using these names from this list:

Anastasia — on the middle list
Elsbeth
Sybilla
Titania
Constantine — is on the middle list
Hector
Lysander — and considered Lysandra
Ptolemy
Ruben
Zephyr — using Zephyrine in the middle

These are the ones I don’t think are very usable in the first name spot:

Biddy
Coco
Archibald
Benedict
Montague
Ptolemy

These I don’t even consider unusual:

Alberta
Constance
Nancy
Zinnia
Edgar
Harvey
Hector
Otto
Ruben
Sidney
Wilfred

Fourthseason Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 4:35 am

I think many of these names are viable in the U.S. I’m from Hampton,NE of about 400 people. I went to school with a boy named Chea, a girl named Paige, and another girl named Anastasia and her mother was Artemisia. My next door neighbors were Doris, Cleta, Alfred, Mabel and Larue. My Aunt is named Elsie, Great Aunts/Uncles are: Viola, Nina, Alice, Laritta, Donna, Mert, Deland, knute, Forde. Grandparents are Joyce, Alfred, Carol and Virginia. So, if a small no-name town can have some eclectic names and it be considered normal, I’m sure the rest of the world could except the names listed up above.

butterflykisses Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 4:47 am

Love this list!! there are so many bold but usable names here! my favorites are

Anastasia (very much a yummy guilty pleasure, swoon)
Coco (though I prefer this as nn)
Constance (a guilty pleasure of mine, but no usable nns imo)
Elsbeth
Iona (never heard of this name and I am intrigued
Ophelia (this one is on my sisters list! yay!)
Sybilla (cute, but I would personally use Sybelle)
Titania ( want to like this name, but I just cant, the nns would be horrible)
Zinnia

the boys were not really my style but some favs were

Benedict
Harvey
Montgomery
Otto
Remo

OliviaSarah Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 5:45 am

Biddy is really the only one that got me – how wonderful! It’s slightly Charles Dickens for my taste, but it’s the solid literary reference that makes it work. The only reason I would categorise it as daring is because ‘biddy’ is a negative term in the UK to describe an old woman.

Honestly the rest don’t really come across as particularly ‘daring’ to me. Montague, Ptolemy and Titania are pretentious to the extreme, but the rest seems quite trendy. I know lots of children with quite a lot of these names who are certainly not born to eccentric aristocrats!

Agatha, Elspeth, Iona, Nancy (the name of the Prime Minister’s daughter), Ophelia are particularly trendy, and Archibald (Archie is top 10), Bertie, Digby, Hamish, Harvey, Sidony, Wilfred, Otto and Ruben wouldn’t be out of place in any nursery (preschool in the US?)

norbury Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 5:47 am

Great list of very usable names but undeniably upper middle class.

charlieandperry1 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 7:27 am

I really wouldn’t consider most of these weird and I certainly wouldn’t assign a class or political party (!) to most (I’m getting a bit tired of all the English class-related name articles tbh.) Titania, Venetia and Ptolemy seem ridiculous in my eyes, but I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the rest if they joined me and the other peasants in the lowly, working-class children’s group I volunteer with.

loislane1222 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 8:56 am

Anastasia is beautiful. I think it became slightly more mainstream in the U.S. thanks to Anastasia “Nastia” Liukin, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics.

I actually know a little girl named Elspetj. Her older siblings are Amabel and Augusr. I live Ina humble, Midwestern town, and I fell in love with all three names as a result of these siblings. Each child fit the name perfectly.

I also very much like Agatha from the girls’ list. The other names I am not particularly fond of — particularly Nancy.

Most of the boys’ names are too out there for my own preferences. I do love Otto, but my husband made an awful face when I brought it up once. I’m also quite fond of Harvey and even have a sweet spot for Edgar, but I wouldn’t have the guts to use either.

Thanks for the fun list!

loislane1222 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 8:59 am

I apologize for my typos above! The sibling set I was referring to was: Amabel (girl), August (boy), and Elspeth (the beautiful, blond little sister!)

Kisa Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 9:06 am

I don’t see what’s so “daring” with over half these names, but I watch a ton of British television, and so names like “Hamish” isn’t surprising or strange to me.

R_J Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 9:22 am

I tried to pretend as if I had never become a name nerd, and these (most) are pretty darn daring all right–for all kinds of different reasons. I had a name similar to Edgar on my list at one point, and I just couldn’t picture a baby, toddler, or teenage “Edgar”. I know we are adults most of our lives, but twenty of those years shouldn’t be discounted so easily.

(I know, I know, I’m sure someone out there knows the cutest little boy named Edgar, and I would still prefer it to something like McBrailyin, but I still wouldn’t use it!)

mermuse Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 9:28 am

This is wonderful! So many good names actually being used in the world! Makes me think that Anastasia or Lysander could be possible for my little one someday! 🙂 I think this is a GOOD thing. It’s boring if we’re all named Tom and Kate (Sorry!)

shealahtoba Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 10:28 am

Titania is certainly daring.

Saracita00 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 10:44 am

I can’t quite follow how it’s eccentric and you need a lot of money to name your daughter Venetia, but yet it’s cool to name your daughter Rory. Every name nerd knows the everlasting debate over gender-crossing names, but in spite of the controversy, Nameberry generally approves of boy-names-on-girls. Somehow, it isn’t pretentious at all to appropriate a guy name for your daughter, but at the same time we’re expected to follow some kind of structure of social status dictating whether we have enough money to pull off names. What? Why is one set of rules fair game for disregard, while another set of rules tells us what’s appropriate? Here’s a question: if a parent wanted to name their *daughter* Digby — would they need to have as much money as the parents of a male Digby?

Furthermore, if one is going to promote acceptance of social status in the first place, where does it end? Can a poor, inner-city single mom name her daughter Ann — or are the “Destined for Harvard” names reserved for the children of ivy-league graduates?

It seems that a lot of this really just comes down to personal preference — your personal preference. Certainly, the anecdotal commentary is what makes Nameberry entertaining, but as such a prominent leader in baby naming, what values are you really communicating…and is it what you really intend? I’m not trying to be nasty and confrontational here: I honestly don’t understand the logic.

Really, after this introduction, I expected to find some really crazy appellations in the list. I didn’t find any of them shocking…regardless of social status. Some, like Edgar and Alberta, would be stylistically old-fashioned here in the U.S., but what of it? The only name I think would really even be a problem is Titania, because it’s so obviously tease-able — and Biddy, though that negative term is not very well known here. But a Petra or a Reginald could play along just fine with an Ella and Jaxon.

katey6 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 10:46 am

I love Petra and Zephyr! Don’t think either of them are too bazaar.

AnotherJessicaAnn Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 10:48 am

I have a little cousin named Wilfred (he’s about 6, named after his great-grandfather) who goes by Wil. I know of a little girl named Petra who I believe is about 10. And I went to college with a Montgomery (aged ~27 now). So I think some of these names are usable for any generation!

AggieLou Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:04 am

My name is Agatha, and I love it! I live in New England, USA…and I’ve never met another Aggie in my life. I still get a lot of comments on it!

A lot of these are pretty daring if you’re not accustomed to them. A non-name-nerd in the US would definitely be a little shocked to meet a little Hamish on the playground…I (as a name-nerd) would be ECSTATIC…while those in the UK wouldn’t even blink.

Also, speaking to the PP – I don’t think that anyone was saying that you HAVE to have money to pull these names off. They’re simply pointing out that that’s the general trend. Just because they’re stating what IS, doesn’t mean that they agree or think that one should be rich to call their daughter Venetia.

Kisa Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:08 am

Maybe because my nephew is friends with a Titania, and I know a Iona, an Anastasia, and a Constance. I think Ophelia is beautiful, and had a Cybele (similar to Sybilla) on my list for girl names — that I don’t think a lot of these names are daring.. Coco and Biddy are names I would consider for a pet, so I wouldn’t like to use those names.

I also had Benedict on my list for boy names (because of Benedict Cumberbatch) but threw it out because of the inevitable common nickname of Ben. I quite like most of the names on the boys list here as well, except for Digby (which is my generic name for a dog), Zephr (which sounds like hepher), and a few others.

katieree331 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:09 am

Like many other berries, I don’t see the problem with most of these names. I would consider many of them, Ophelia being in my top 2 for girls right now. I live in New Jersey, we are very diverse and multicultural here and I don’t see any of these names being looked at as that strange. I’m a teacher and I’ve actually heard many of these names in the classroom!

laurenruthie Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:18 am

Are you kidding me? These are classic, timesless, have a strong origin, and underused, but they’re definitely not made up or weird. I’d consider these classics. I’m born and raised in the U.S. From Utah. I know quite a few children under 10 with these names already. I’m 33, so my friends are all young moms.
Here in the U.S. We’re giving our kids names like Sailor and McKayleigh and Nevaeh, yet Reginald Elspeth and Reuben are daring? In my very strongly held opinion: these names are not daring. They’re honorable and classic.

jame1881 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:27 am

Living in the US, I would only recommend Anastasia, Constance, Elsbeth, Iona, Ophelia, Titania, Venetia, Zinnia, Archibald, Benedict, Constantine, Edgar, Lysander, Otto, Ptolemy, Reginald, Sidney, and Zephyr. Names like Hamish are all well and good in the British Isles, but here in the US, it’s more like, “He’s not a ham, just ham-ish.” And while a lot of these names are dated, the only ones truly “bad” IMO are Betsan (well, unless it has an substantial origin I’m unaware of, which, judging by the rest of these names, it probably does), Biddy, Coco (especially Coco), Bertie (though I understand nn names for boys are a thing in England), and Digby.

chi1127 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Most of these don’t seem the least bit adventurous to me, but I am American. I know people with some of these names both young and old.

shieldsc Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Agatha, Anastasia, and Ophelia are all on my long list (though I would probably only use Ophelia in the middle — Bridget Ophelia was a front runner girl name for this baby, but it’s a boy!).

For boys, I like Montgomery, but would hesitate to use it because of the Simpson’s! 🙂

lawsonhaley Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I would use so many of these!

Agatha

Anastasia

Constance (another favourite)

Elsbeth

Nancy

Ophelia

Titania (an absolute favourite of mine!)

Zinnia

Benedict

Harvey

I fail to see how Nancy, Agatha, Anastasia and Harvey are daring though, Anastasia and Nancy especially. Nancy’s been in the US top 1000 every year since 1880, ranking at 651 last year, it’s lowest point ever. Harvey has been in the top 1000 for years too, it dropped off for a short time but came back in 2011.

peach25 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I predict Agatha, Constance and Nancy will be popular and fashionable in another 40 years, given the 100 year rule, but they’re hardly unique or challenging. Ophelia, Venetia and Anastasia are classic Brit lit. Ditto Benedict, Archibald, Lysander. Sidney more popular for girls these days, and I recently met a little girl named Montgomery, which isn’t that different from McKenzie or Montana.
I would be surprised to meet a Biddy, unless a family nn. CoCo and Remo/Reno popular for pets!

indiefendi Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I hate all the girl names on this list except maybe Petra because I think of the supermodel Petra Nemcova. Agatha is one of the most hideous names I’ve ever heard. It sounds like gagging!

Of the boy’s list I only like Benedict, Edgar, and Harvey. I would probably only use Benedict for a child of mine.

I have a unique name myself and people always tell me it’s pretty but I think I still have to grow into it more (I’m only 18 haha).

indiefendi Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Oh I like Clemente too!

possiblypascale Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I really like…
Agatha
Betsan
Iona
Ophelia
Petra
Sybilla(spelled Sybella)
Clemente
Constantine
Digby
Lysander
Montgomery
Remo
Sidney
Zephyr
Pretty much all of them 🙂

KateMP91 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 2:06 pm

None of the girl names are popping out at me, but many of the boys names are awesome!!

Digby- LOVE THIS. It may get added to a list of mine!!
Ptolemy- One of my friends just named their dog Ptolemy!
Harvey- I am such a huge fan of this name. It is so handsome.
Otto- I have always like this. There is just something about it that has kept it off my lists.

Even Remo is kinda cool!

iwillpraise Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Alberta — nn Albie — is my FAVORITE guilty pleasure! I wouldn’t be able to it for real tho; I just keep thinking how I’d feel if it were my name.

I can’t stand Coco, but I love Ruben/Rubin/Reuben.
Montague nn Monte is adorable, tho here in the US, everyone would think you were inspired by TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress’! Again, as an American, Harvey only reminds me of Harvey Dent…Batman’s nemisis, aka Two Face.

I think Zinnia is about the most usable for me. It kind of , I like Azalea — nn Zaley/Zalie — and Amethest tho, too!)

rosierose Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 3:26 pm

In saying that Venetia, Ptolemy, Reginald, etc. only work if you are affluent in my earlier comment, I wasn’t saying AT ALL that I agree with this or think society should be this way. I’m remarking upon the reality of how names are perceived by the wider, non-name nerd world, in which context is king, whether you like it or not. To ignore this is to do your kid a disfavor.

Just as a side note, I’d love to see a blog post that discusses how fluid spelling has been in the history of naming, at least in the English-speaking world, as a counterweight to posts like this that seem to glorify upper class naming habits. People on Nameberry and other “classier” name blogs/forums love to denigrate unusual spellings for names, ignoring the fact that until relatively recently in Europe and the US (the 19th century to present), spellings were very fluid and non-standard. Katherine, Catherine, Kathryn is an accepted vestige from this period, as are Sarah/Sara and the myriad Isabelle forms (Isobel, Isabella, Isabel, etc.) But many other names used to be spelled every which way as well. Have a look back at census lists and deed lists from anytime pre-1900s to see this in action. Alison, for example, was somewhat common from women in the middle ages in England (it’s a diminutive of Alice) and was recorded many different ways during the medieval period: Alison, Alicen, Alyson, Alisoun, Allison, Elison, Alisone, etc. “Kreativ” spelling has been around forever.

I guess it triggers some upset for me when I see people insisting that Titania is a completely acceptable and wonderful name that will cause no problems for a child living her entire life outside certain elite British circles (just look at its first syllable– Titania is a beautiful name, but it would be a very challenging in most places), but likely the same people dump on names like Hailey and Caitlyn. My own personal preference is for standard spellings and non-recently invented names, but I don’t judge people who pick non-standard spellings or made up names, and the hypocrisy of the debate on this site (Titania is wonderful! Aubree is an abomination! Rakisha should be illegal! <– not everyone, but this is a major vibe here) is a little annoying to me sometimes and turns me off coming here. I think there's a lack of willingness for people to examine their own class and/or racial prejudices around naming. I always advise standard spellings for ease of daily life, but try not to put people down for choosing other avenues.

Okay, off soap box. 🙂

emeraldiris Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Alberta would definitely NOT work in Canada.

Agatha, Anastasia, and Petra are all lovely. I love Sybil more than Sybilla.
For the boys I like Benedict and Hamish (love Sherlock) and Reginald is quirky favourite too. I don’t think Otto would do well in English-speaking countries (auto/otto), and I prefer modern Archer over Archibald (get rid of the bald-ness).
Really, a lot of these names could work with the right nicknames. But why choose a quirky, strange name if you’re only going to find it on the birth certificate?

niteowl13 Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Nothing wrong with these names. They seem a tad old fashioned, but that is what is in. Everything old is new again!
The only one that shocked me was Biddy. As in old biddy? How awful!
I know a Wilfred and an Alberta from my home town. (in Canada)
It is nice to see someone use Sidney on a boy.

OllyStrawberry Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Harvey isn’t a daring name in the UK. It’s popular. In fact, it’s not even a name that’s reserved for the rich elite posting birth announcements in The Telegraph. It’s far more likely to be found on the playground of a relatively ‘poorer’ area. It can be considered by some as ‘common.’

AuroraPond Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Maybe it’s where I grew up but I see nothing wrong with these names. How is naming a daughter Constance any more pretentious than Isabella or Sophia? How is Auden so much more acceptable or less eyebrow raising than Edgar or Benedict?
I grew up with kids with so many different styles of names and no one cared.
Girls named Jordan, Eleanor, Evelyn, Sarah, and Georgia. Boys named Jake, Wesley, Preston, Byron, and Zeke. No one really cared.

ssterikoff Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Constantine and Anastasia were both on my list when I was expecting. We know a 3yo named Sybilla, and it seems to be wearable.

katybug Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I know a 4-yr old Hector, and it’s quite charming in him! Harvey and Ruben would be on my list for a son. I love Agatha and Petra, and find many of the girls’ names quite wearable, like Anastasia, for example. With Annie, Anna, Stacy or even Sasha as nicknames, it’s every bit as versatile as Penelope, a Nameberry darling.

Danielleskye Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I’m from Australia and I know a Coco, Iona, and Petra. As an early 20s living in Melbourne I have come across many unconventional names, and it seems that people don’t blink an eyelid. I think the multicultralism is a large part of it, and being surrounded by it out minds are open to different names.

AggieLou Says:

December 31st, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I’m surprised to see so many Agatha supporters on here! It usually gets a lot of negativity on NB (which surprises me, considering many other NB favorites!)

It’s nice….and very refreshing!

(Except for the ‘most hideous name ever….sounds like your gagging’ comment. Not nice! I live with it every day, and I like it quite a bit thank you! 🙂

-Aggie-

chagger Says:

January 1st, 2014 at 8:40 am

Without a doubt, I’d name a son Harvey. Love the name, and would have used it for our son had my boyfriend been on board. As for the girl names, I like Zinnia, and don’t find it too daring of a name to use.

tori101 Says:

January 1st, 2014 at 4:48 pm

From a Brit’s prospective most of these names are very ‘upper class’ and those who put birth announcements in the telegraph are stereotypically upper class Tory voting eccentrics. However a lot of these names aren’t as daring as people are proclaiming…
Anastasia – We do have a Eastern European and Russian community in the UK (Polish is the second language of England & Wales) so I don’t find Anastasia daring at all as this name is used in Polish and Russian communities, communities that as a Brit your used too. This also goes for Tatiana

Other names that just don’t feel daring are Petra, Constance (went to school with one), Iona, Elsbeth, and Nancy.

My favourites are Anastasia, Tatiana, Elsbeth, Ophelia, Petra, and Iona.

Concerning the boys I don’t find Archibald daring (we’ve used Archie for decades why not use the original?), Ruben, Constantine, Harvey (I know over 10 Harvey’s this name is so popular in the UK amongst all classes whoever wrote this article obviously doesn’t know a lot about British naming trends this is boring here), and Hamish.

My favourites are Constantine, Digby, Lysander, Otto, and Remo.

: )

tori101 Says:

January 1st, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Don’t mean to offend but seriously Harvey is in the top 50 popular boys names for 2013….

TillyTally Says:

January 2nd, 2014 at 6:47 am

I agree that Harvey isn’t at even vaguely ‘upper class’ over here – many people who consider themselves middle class would really turn their noses up at it. I’m not saying that I agree with them for a moment but it’s not at all eccentric in the UK… it’s seen as pretty ‘common’. I’ve taught in two state (government-run) schools in very poor areas and in a very expensive public (fee-paying) school in a highly affluent area and have encountered nearly all of these names several times. Perhaps because of this they all seem pretty wearable to me with the exception of Titania, Biddy (does that mean ‘little old woman’ in the States as well?!) and Ptolemy.

On another note, I’d argue with the idea that The Telegraph announcements are entirely full of the birth proclamations from the ‘upper class’. Increasingly that paper’s being shunned by affluent, educated readers as it descends in terms of quality of editorial and nature of views expressed towards a very different readership… You’d probably need to look at announcements from The Times and The Guardian to get a better idea of what more creative Brits are up to with their children’s names!

PetraPlum Says:

January 2nd, 2014 at 11:13 am

This made me laugh – my name is Petra, my eldest daughter is Iona, and my brother is Benedict! I am British, living in a small town in Kentucky, and generally people are complimentary about my name and my children’s names. And there are some locals here using wonderful, less-used, classic names for their children, a recent baby name from a friend – Sylvie.

Waverly123 Says:

January 2nd, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I know a girl named Bridget with the nn Biddy. I think it’s really cute and suits her well! However, Biddy is definitely a nn, not a name IMO.
Petra reminds me of the girl from Ender’s Game (book and movie). The only girls names I wouldn’t use are: Betsan, Elsbeth and Venetia.
For boys, I don’t like Herbert, Montague (like Romeo Montague), Ptolemy, Contantine, and Lysander (isn’t this a family name in Game of Thrones?).

Erinm Says:

January 3rd, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Hamish is more ‘yawn’ than daring here in Australia. We have all sorts of names here. thrown in with the seemingly endless Williams, Lucys, Isabellas, Avas and Jacks there are Calypsos (my cousin), Topazs (sister’s friend), Gwineveres and Ottos (friends); ocean, reef, island (mother’s students I kid you not) and I even heard a Chardonnay once in the 1990s when I was young! Theyre still the exception and I can’t say I’m a fan! This list isn’t that shocking though. We even have a football star called Digby. I don’t mind that one.

senoritashan Says:

January 4th, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I’ve actually thought of using Lysander, but I like Oberon more, and I think they are in the same play! I also have thought of Coco as a possible nickname for Cordelia whom I would want to call Cora, but I like to have tons of nicknames!

rdxbgirl Says:

January 5th, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I love the name Harvey

cj85 Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

@jame1881

Betsan is a Welsh name.

tal Says:

August 13th, 2014 at 12:57 am

I love the name Anastasia!

The_Supernatural_Hufflepuff Says:

September 25th, 2014 at 5:33 am

I actually really like Agatha and Edgar. The other names were okay but not really my style

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