Every year baby name enthusiasts and interested parents eagerly await the release of the Social Security Administration’s popular baby names list, which provides data on the top 1000 baby names for boys and girls. In addition to the most used names, the agency also provides statistics on names that did not rank in the top 1000 for the year.
I decided to check out the names that flew below the radar this past year to discover naming possibilities for parents seeking a unique name that is not too far out there. I began my analysis with the girls’ names. A foray into the name data can be comical at times and involves wading through misspelled names (Deisy, Serinity), made-up monikers (Lakelyn, Naveah), and “kreatif-lee” spelled baby names (Avarie, Kynnedi), in addition to luxury goods (Chanel, Lexus, anyone?). Beyond these types of choices, many names in the lower rankings are brimming with possibility.
Instead of the ubiquitous London or Paris, how about charming Brighton, exotic Capri, peaceful Geneva, cultured Holland or fair Vienna for a name with European flair? For those looking for a stateside choice, Austin or Raleigh provides a fresh pick for a girl in lieu of Brooklyn or Savannah.
Surname name Brinkley, statuesque Giselle, powerful Iman and resilient Petra would befit a future catwalker.
Star-powered baby names
For baby names with star power, Blythe, Calista, Drew, Liza, Marlo, Nicolette, and Selma are strong contenders. Greer, a personal favorite, lends an aura of old Hollywood glamour. For the more musically inclined, consider Billie, Etta, Florence or Emmylou for some Southern attitude.
From our friends across the pond, think the lovely Georgina, in the spotlight Pippa or blue-blooded Poppy for British flavor. Magdalena (with nickname Maggie) or Ines make sophisticated Spanish picks. For the Francophiles, consider Cosette or Mirabelle. Other exotic sounding choices include Adina, Dalia, Evangelina, Rana, Tallulah and the Biblical Yael.
Accomplished Agatha, feminist Louisa and talented Zora would work well for the literati.
Beyond the top 1000 names live some hidden gems buried for years. Bonnie, Clementine and Susannah each come with their own theme song and would suit an amiable child. Agnes and Millicent lend themselves to endearing nicknames (Aggie and Millie, respectively), or go straight to a “nickname name” like Frankie, Lindy, Nellie or Winnie. Adelle, Coral and Cordelia are striking choices.
If you eschew girly names in favor of ones at home in either camp, some promising options include Afton, Arden and Palmer. Names more popular on the boys’ side lend themselves to unique sounding girls’ names; think Bryce, Ellis or Spencer.
Water- and nautical-inspired names
French for “sailor” and Latin for “of the sea,” Marin is a classic sounding watery name, or cut to the chase and name your baby girl Sailor. Other peaceful choices include Bay, Lake (both good middle name options) and Harbor.
Artsy and creative names
For those hoping to raise the next Broadway star or Georgia O’Keeffe, the names hovering below the top 1000 provide plenty of inspiration to indulge your creative side. Indigo, Monet, Odette and Zinnia are painters in the making, while Britton, December, Hollis, Jules and Lark are full of creative flair.
If you desire a name that is not wildly popular but want to avoid a crazy name, these names are for you: Darcy, Justine, Laine/Lane and Maura make for perfectly respectable and “normal” sounding baby names who will grow up into responsible adults. For a name with a little more oomph, try Gretchen, Jessa/Jesse, Maribel or Vivianne.
Whatever your taste, there are plenty of baby name gems awaiting discovery beyond the Top 1000 most popular picks.