Unpopular Names: Which ugly ducklings grow up to be swans?

Unpopular Names: Which ugly ducklings grow up to be swans?

by Pamela Redmond Satran

One of the biggest baby name stories this week is The Week’s look at the least popular baby names in the U.S. from 1880 through 1932.

While such monikers as Handy, Spurgeon, Icy, and Toy, culled from the bottom of the Top 1000, are indeed laugh-inducing, it may be even more remarkable to consider the baby names that were equally unpopular back then that went on to win widespread favor.

Names that were given to only five babies at the end of the 19th century, right down there with Spurgeon and Icy, include such future hotties as:

[column1]1880 Natalie1881 Madeleine1882 Iris1883 Juliette1884 Arabella1885 Rosemary1886 Susannah1887 Maryann1888 Karen1889 Miley1890 Willow1891 Stephanie1892 Beatrix1893 Lake1894 Erin1895 Penelope1896 Courtney1897 Maisie1898 Holly1899 Ariel[/column1][column2]HudsonLincolnGriffinBlakeTylerSebastianReedBradyGregoryKyleWestonWyattTobiasHaydenTuckerColinJonahCaseyDaneJason[/column2]

All this while choices like Gladys and Bertha, Clarence and Earl pranced around at the head of the popularity lists.

But you don’t have to go so far back to find such baffling gaps in baby name taste. In 1972, tens of thousands of babies were named Heather and Tammy, Scott and Chad, instead of Adair and Coco, Sienna and Liv, Atticus and Finnian, which all languished at the bottom of the list given to only five babies each.

Of course, these names that sound cool 50 years later were joined down in the baby name dumps by such choices as Cachet, Candle, Classie, and Marijuana for girls; Friend, Kaiser, Lemon, Master, and Mister for boys.

And what about today? Names given to just five girls, the lowest number counted, in 2012 include the following 20 choices:


Names at the bottom of the boys’ list in 2012 include:


So which will be the Sebastians and which the Spurgeons of the future? That’s a decision our grandchildren will make.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.