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Are all the good names taken?!

June 14, 2016 Abby Sandel

After ruling out any name already used for a close family member, their list is down to … zero! Time to dig deep for some appealing names that are traditional but not taken – and not too popular, either.

Brittany writes:

Don‘t mind me, going crazy over here trying to find a name for my soon-arriving first boy! We’ve been trying desperately to come up with a name that isn’t one of the MANY taken names in my family. There are over 50 names for our cousins, uncles, nephews, and brothers. Argh!

We have a daughter named Eden Clara, and her name wasn’t easy … but it wasn’t this hard! We decided on Eden because we are religious, and because it is both beautiful and not very common.

Avoiding popular names is extremely important for me. My husband’s name was in the Top 50 when he was born, and is still in the Top 200. I not only have a common name, but an extremely trendy-for-the-time name. It doesn’t help that our last name is also fairly common.

All of the boys’ names I like are either popular, taken by someone in my family, or both.

We’ve considered William, but it’s so common. Maybe if we paired it with a solid middle?

We love Adam, Andrew, James, Jonah, and Noah, but they’re all taken. The same is true of Monroe, Miles, and Cody.

The only names on our list are Lincoln and Forrest, and both are met with shrugs and “I guess that’s not too bad.”

We don’t want to pick a name that is just not terrible. I know there’s the perfect name out there somewhere!

The Name Sage replies:

It’s tough when you’re determined not to duplicate names in a big family, isn’t it?

And yet, there are thousands and thousands of names in our database – and we add more all the time! There are definitely some more options to consider.

Before we get to new names, let’s talk about popularity for a minute. There are names that allow us to guess the person’s age. Brittany and Ashley are children of the 1990s, as surely as Larry and Joyce are now grandparents’ names.

Other names are consistently popular over generations. It’s impossible to guess if Elizabeth is seven or seventy-three. The same is true for James and Katherine and William. While William might share his name with other boys his age, and will certainly share his name with colleagues or acquaintances over time, it’s not anything like naming your child Miley or Jayden.

It sounds like William would be the name, if only the charts showed it at Number 72 or Number 104. But part of William’s strength is all that history – from the Conqueror to Shakespeare to Billy Idol. It’s a versatile name, and one that can’t be dated.

If I can’t talk you into a handsome combination like William Forrest, there are definitely more names to consider.

Thatcher – With surnames like Monroe and Lincoln on your list, Thatcher might be one to consider. It’s similar to the very popular Carter and Hunter, but just barely makes the current Top 1000 in the US. It would be easy to say and spell, but almost never shared.

Bennett – It looks like the traditional Benjamin isn’t taken by any of your family members. But it’s a Top Ten name, so how about Bennett instead? Again, it’s a surname like Thatcher. Bennett currently ranks in the mid-100s, though, so it’s definitely more familiar. Beckett and Emmett are two more options.

Heath Heath hasn’t been in the US Top 500 for over twenty years. It’s a great fits-in/stands-out kind of name.

Jasper Eden is a Biblical name, but it’s a nature name, too. Jasper checks the same boxes. It’s traditionally associated with the Three Wise Men (though it doesn’t actually appear in the Bible) and jasper is a type of quartz. It reminds me of James and Jonah from your taken names list.

Gideon – Or maybe Gideon? Gideon is an Old Testament hero’s name. It’s a little longer than the other names on your list. And yet, Gideon is nicely uncommon, ranking Number 328, but everyone recognizes the name.

Silas – At Number 129 in the US, Silas is a New Testament choice that’s grown in popularity in recent years. If Miles is out, Silas feels like a natural replacement. One other note – it actually means forest, from the Latin silva – wood. If Forrest is not quite right, maybe Silas is perfect.

Judah Jonah reminds me of Judah, another Old Testament name. It’s the given name of Judah Ben-Hur, from the novel and the movie. (The wildly successful 1959 film has been remade and will be released later this summer.) At Number 235, it’s familiar, but not too common, though short form Jude is even more popular.

Theodore – When we talked about William, I mentioned that it’s an evergreen name. Other names can be considered classics, but have come in and out fashion over the years. Theodore – once reserved for talking chipmunks – fits in this category. It can’t be called trendy, but newly returned to the US Top 100 at Number 99, it’s definitely attracting attention from modern parents. Presidential and literary, with a great meaning (gift of God), it’s easy to see why parents have embraced the name.

I do think that William Forrest (or maybe William Silas or William Judah) would be a great name for Eden’s brother. But if avoiding the Top Ten matters more, then I think Silas or Theodore might be great choices. One is Biblical, the other more traditional. But both have ties to faith and a classic feel, without being too popular – or taken by your extended family!

Readers, what names would you suggest to Brittany for Eden Clara’s new brother?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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