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

October 24, 2013 Pamela Redmond

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:


1880 Natalie
1881 Madeleine
1882 Iris
1883 Juliette
1884 Arabella
1885 Rosemary
1886 Susannah
1887 Maryann
1888 Karen
1889 Miley
1890 Willow
1891 Stephanie
1892 Beatrix
1893 Lake
1894 Erin
1895 Penelope
1896 Courtney
1897 Maisie
1898 Holly
1899 Ariel

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:


Anthea
Atlanta
Bette
Cherith
Comfort
Disney
Frederica
Garland
Goodness
Heartlynn

Jersei
Lunette
Money
Murray
Nessiah
Perpetua
Petal
Rosary
Rye
Thai

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


Bart
Egbert
Elite
Fitzpatrick
Iggy
Jerusalem
Lotus
Lucifer
Messer
Million

Moss
Munro
Newt
Osric
Pacer
Poe
Romance
Sabbath
Sabre
Zytaevius

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. 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 of the same name.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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