Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Barely Used Boy Names: Idris, Wiley & Boaz [Part Six]

Welcome to Part Six of our Barely Used Boy Names series!! This list has some interesting and unsual options for you.

Idris (138 births - #1286)  Idris possibly means "interpreter" in Arabic and it is the name of an ancient prophet in the Qur'an, typically equated with the biblical Enoch. Idris is also a Welsh name meaning "ardent lord". This name ranked at #280 in England and Wales recently, as well as #447 in France. It gained usage in the US for males in 1971 and has slowly been gaining births per year but it has yet to reach the Top 1000.

Sheldon (137 births - #1294) There are several locations in England called Sheldon. It generally means "valley with steep sides" and was both a place name and a surname before it was ever a given name. In the US, Sheldon has been given to boys on record since 1881. It has also been used infrequently for girls from 1931 to 2002. For boys, it gained entry to the Top 1000 in the early 1900s, earning as many births per year as 608 in 1992. It dipped back down below the Top 1000 again in 2009, 2011 and has stayed below since 2013. Could it rise again?

Lucius (136 births - #1299) Lucius comes from the Latin lux meaning "light" and was a Roman praenomen. The name belonged to several important Romans and three popes. It wasn't regularly used by Christians until after the Renaissance. Here in the US, people have given their son the name since records began in 1880. It even ranked in the Top 1000 until 1960. It's dipped down to double-digit births per year but is back on the rise again. Could it rejoin the Top 1000?

Pierson (134 births - #1310) Pierson seems to be related to Piers which is a medieval form of Peter taken from the Old French Pierre. Pierson (along with Pearson and Peirson) were typically used as surnames. As a given name, Pierson is rare. It first popped up in the US with a handful of births in 1912 but it didn't catch on until it finally gained regular yearly usage in the 1980s. It remains nowhere near the Top 1000 but its climbing!

Atreyu  (133 births - #1314) Atreyu is a literary name created by German author Michael Ende and originally spelled Atréju.  It was the name of the hero in his 1979 fantasy novel "Die unendliche Geschichte" which is "The Neverending Story" in English.  It's said to mean "son of all" in the book's fictional language since the orphaned character was raised by a village. In the US, the name popped up in the mid-1980s but despite gaining usage over the years, it has never been in the Top 1000. Will it ever get there or is the name too unusual?

Jarvis (133 births - #1318)  Jarvis comes from a surname that was taken from the male French name Gervais, which came from the German Gervasius partially meaning "spear". If you look for the Marvel comic book meaning, you'll find that Tony Stark's AI computer J.A.R.V.I.S stands for "Just A Rather Very Intelligent System". The name Jarvis has been in use in the US since 1882 and even ranked in the Top 1000 between the 1950s and 2006. It's declined in popularity now, but could it make a comeback?

Wiley (133 births - #1321) Wiley comes from a surname derived from am Old English place name meaning "temple clearing". It can also be used in reference to the word "wily" and given originally as a nickname to a person who was, well, wily. This name has actually been given to boys since 1880 in the US, ranking within the Top 1000 until 1974. Could it come back on the charts again soon? It's also been given to a handful of girls in recent years.

Boaz (132 births - #1325) Boaz is a Biblical Hebrew name meaning "swiftness".  It was never a popular one, though. Boaz first popped up on the US charts in 1965 but it's never been near the Top 1000. In 2015, it received the most births it has ever had in a single year. Will it catch on soon?

Forest (132 births - #1326)  Forest is the less-popular spelling of Forrest. Both names come from an English surname that refers to an actual forest. Both of the spellings have been in use in the US since 1880. Forest ranked in and out of the Top 1000 through the 1960s and 1980s, and it ranked again in the early 1990s, but since then it's declined. However, its starting to trend upward again. Would you use Forest or Forrest?

Francesco (131 births - #1338) Francesco is the Italian form of the Late Latin Franciscus which means "Frenchman." While Francisco has always been well-used, the spelling Francesco is rarely used. It only gained usage in 1906, but it managed to rank in the Top 1000 from 1967-200, save a few years. Now it has fallen off the charts. Is Francisco just a superior spelling?

What do you think of this list? Would you use any of these names?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Unusual But Real Names from Colonial America

Ah yes, the Puritans. They were around when America was just gaining an origin story. People tend to have Colonial America on their mind around Thanksgiving time. They like to discuss the Puritans and the Pilgrims, so why not take another look at some of the interesting names they used to use.

The Art of Naming has covered Colonial Names several times. Not only the virtuous names like Hope, Grace and Faith, but also the more uncommon choices like Charity, Prudence, Prosper and Resolved. We also looked at names drawn from the bible like Lydia and Levi since these were common then and now.

Today, we're going to look at a list of names that most people would agree are unusual and rather unpractical for use today.  There's no need to explain these since they're quite straight forward, but yes, these were actually given to people as names back in the day.  Are there any that strike you as a guilty pleasure?

If-Christ-had-not-died-for- thee-thou-hadst-been-damned
Jesus-Christ-came- into-the-world- to-save

What a list! Thoughts?

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Taken from our article about names ending with the letters "-hy", we found the name Dorothy.

Dorothy is a form of Dorothea which comes from the Late Greek name Δωροθεος (Dorotheos) meaning "gift of God".  Dorotheos is pulled from the Greek words δωρον (doron) meaning "gift" and θεος (theos) meaning "god".

Interestingly, the names Theodora and Theodore (and their variants) also come from theos and doron, but their direct Greek origin name (Theodoros) is a little different: Θεοδωρος. However, all of these names do share a meaning.

Perhaps the most well-known Dorothy comes from literature and film. In 1900, an author by the name of L. Frank Baum published a little fantasy novel called "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" featuring a young girl named Dorothy as the main character. Portrayed by actress Judy Garland in the 1939 film, Dorothy has become a classic and iconic character in pop culture.

You don't meet all that many "young Dorothys" these days. However, that could be changing in the next decade or two since this name is starting to trend upward. That would make this name a vintage choice that would fit in with the 100 year rule.

Dorothy was huge in the 1920s. She climbed the charts quickly back then, joining the Top 100 in 1890, the Top 10 in 1904 and ranking at #2 from 1920-1927. Just as quickly, though, she left the Top 10 by 1940 and the Top 100 by 1962. She didn't rank within the Top 1000 for most of the 2000s, but the tide is turning in her favor now. She's back on the charts at #714 as of 2015 with 395 births.

Since it has almost been 100 years since her first heyday, do you think Dorothy will regain popularity as a "fresh-sounding" name again through the 2020s-2030s?

Use it now and you'll be ahead of the trend! If this is a name you're considering for a daughter, here are some ideas for middle names and sibling names:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Abigail, Beverly, Ellen, Marjorie, Nancy, Ruth, Sylvia, Violet
Brothers: Arnold, Franklin, Henry, Howard, Leonard, Russell, Warren

Middle Name Ideas:
Dorothy Arlene
Dorothy Christine
Dorothy Hazel
Dorothy Mavis
Dorothy Valentina

As a Middle Name:
Amelia Dorothy
Faye Dorothy
Miriam Dorothy
Susannah Dorothy
Tessa Dorothy

I kept the styles similar to Dorothy, but there are plenty of more modern names that could also work. What would you pair with Dorothy?  Do you know anyone with this name? If so, how old are they?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Names Ending with the Letters "-hy"

This series takes a closer look at a very limited set of names. If you're searching for a particular sound or spelling at the end of the name, this series may be for you. We've already considered names ending with -ay, -by, -cy, -dy, -ey, -fy, and -gy. All of these posts can be found here.  

The only names that I could find ending with "-iy" are Andriy, Arkadiy, Arseniy, Bryliy, Dmitriy and Yuriy. I didn't find them common enough or appealing enough to earn their own post. We'll skip ahead to "-hy" names since there's a few more options available.





Would you ever use one of these? Which is your favorite?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Barely Used Girl Names: Harriet, Guinevere & Persephone [Part Five]

If you're reading this, you've made it to part five in this series featuring barely-used girl names. We are well below the #1300s now, which makes these names rather uncommonly used in the US.

Harriet (179 births - #1314) Harriet is the feminine form of Harry, and a sister name to Henriette. These all come from Henry which, of course, comes from the German Heimirich and Heinrich meaning "home ruler". Harriet has been in use in the US since 1880 on record. It was in the Top 1000 until 1971. While it declined for a while, it is inching back up the chart.

Clover (178 births - #1319) This quirky name comes from the wild flower. It is derived from the Old English clafre. While unusual, this name dates back to 1897 in the US for women. It has never been close to ranking in the Top 1000, but it is inching upward now. Would you consider it?

Roxanne (178 births - #1324) Roxanne is the French and English form of the Greek Ρωξανη (Roxane) which was taken from the Persian or Bactrian name روشنک (Roshanak) meaning "bright" or "dawn". Roxanne first popped up at 1906 and was most popular in 1954. It left the Top 1000 in 2001, except for 2013. Could it gain more popularity?

Linnea (177 births - #1330) This comes from the name of a flower known as the twinflower. It is a Swedish name that honors Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. He named the flower after himself. The name first landed on the charts in the US in 1894. It was popular enough to enter the Top 1000 from 1942-1955, but it hasn't had a top spot since then.

Guinevere (176 births - #1336) Guinevere comes from the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar. It comes from the elements gwen meaning "fair, white" and sebara meaning "magical being". The Cornish form of this name is Jennifer. Guinevere first charted in 1912 but it has never been in the Top 1000. It is more popular now than it has ever been.

Luella (176 births - #1337) Luella is a varient of Louella which is just a combination of Lou and Ella. Lou comes from Louis, a form of Ludovicus and Ludwig ultimately meaning "famous battle". Ella comes from the Germanic Alia and alja meaning "other".  Luella has been around since 1880 but left the Top 1000 in the 1950s. It is back on the rise now, though.

Persephone (175 births - #1350) The only thing that may be keeping this name down is its potential meaning. It comes from the Greek pertho meaning "to destroy" and phone meaning "murder". A very dark name for the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. The name popped up in the US in 1962. In the past decade, Persephone has started gaining some attention and is slowly inching toward the Top 1000.

Flora (173 births - #1362) Flora comes from the Latin flos meaning "flower" and was the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring. Flora is rather vintage. It was most popular in 1920. While it hasn't quite caught on again now, it is starting to slowly gain attention.

Octavia (173 births - #1364) This name is the feminine form of Octavius meaning "eighth". In ancient Rome, she was the sister of emperor Augustus and the wife of Mark Antony. As a name, Octavia has been in the US since 1880, but it didn't join the Top 1000 until 1971 with its best year being 1987. It left the charts again by 1999 but looks like it could regain some greater usage soon.

Arlene (170 births - #1376) Arlene comes from Arline whose meaning and origin is mostly unknown. It's possible that Arline was invented for a character in the 1843 opera "The Bohemian Girl" by Michael William Balfe. Both names did well in the 1920s through the 1940s or so, but Arlene was much more used than Arline. Arlene left the Top 1000 in 2006 but Arline faded away back in the 1950s.

Which of these names do you like most? Which do you think might reenter the Top 1000 first?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Barely Used Boy Names: Murphy, Noble & Caius [Part Five]

For our fifth article in this series, we will take a look at 10 interesting boy names that are currently not ranking within the Top 1000 chart. This chart maps out the most popular names according to Social Security data every year. The year we're focusing on is 2015.

As you know, the more articles there are, the further down on the charts we explore. We've hit the 1,200s now. These names are getting more and more rare as we go! So let's get started!

Murphy (148 births - #1225) - Murphy comes from an Irish surname, Ó Murchadha, meaning "descendant of Murchadh".  Murchadh comes from the Gaelic elements muir meaning "sea" and cadh meaning "warrior". In the US, Murphy has been around since the 1880s. It has never had more than 100 births per year until recently. Since 2010, the name has started inching upward for boys. Since 1987, it has been given to girls too.

Brighton (147 births - #1228) - Brighton is said to be an English surname literally meaning "bright town" or "fair town". This name has only been on record in the US since 1983 for boys and 1986 for girls. It climbed a bit faster for males, earning 147 births in 2015. There were 102 females. Which gender do you prefer it on?

Alton (146 births - #1232) - Alton comes from an Old English surname. It was taken from a place name that means "town at the source of the river." For boys, Alton has been used in the US since 1880 on record, and since 1904 for girls. It ranked well for boys until 1999 when it left the Top 1000. For girls, it was never consistently used and died out by 1989.

Cael (145 births - #1240) - Cáel, with the accent, is an Irish name. It comes from the Gaelic caol meaning "slender". This name popped up for boys in 1989 in the US and it ranked in the Top 1000 from 2002 until 2012. Could it return to the charts soon?

Clifford (145 births - #1241) - This name is very straight forward. Clifford means "ford by a cliff" in Old English. It comes from a surname which came from a place name.  This name ranked in the Top 100 from 1886 to 1946. It left the Top 1000 in 2006.

Noble (144 births - #1250) - Noble is a word I'm sure you're familiar with. Noble could refer to an aristocrat, or a person having fine personal qualities or high moral principles. Noble comes from an English surname. This name has been used in the US for boys since 1880. It was in the Top 1000 until 1954, but it has yet to come back even though its births per year are starting to climb.

Amarion (141 births - #1265) - Amarion is possibly a long form of Amari. Both names are relatively unknown in their origins and meanings but they tend to be used by African Americans and Western Africans most frequently. Amari has been around since 1974 for boys and 1980 for girls. Amarion, though, arrived in the US for boys in 1998. It ranked from 2002-2005 and again in 2007. It's only been used a handful of times for girls from 2002-2004.

Monroe (141 births - #1270) - There is a river in Ireland named the Roe. The name Monroe comes from a Scottish surname meaning "from the mouth of the Roe". This name started out as a boy's name, dating back to 1880 but left the Top 1000 in 1972. For girls, it appeared on the charts in 1996 and entered the Top 1000 in 2012.  Much of this may be inspired by late Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe.

Eamon (140 births - #1276) -  Eamon is a variant of the Irish name Éamonn which is a form of Edmund. Edmund comes from the Old English elements ead meaning "wealth" and mund meaning "protection". In the US, this name popped up around 1920 and 1940, but it wasn't until the late 1950s that it gained consistent usage. However, it has never been in the Top 1000.

Caius (138 births - #1283) - Caius is the Roman variant of the name Gaius. It's exact meaning is uncertain but it is possibly derived from the Latin gaudere meaning "to rejoice". Gaius was a common Roman praenomen belonging to both Gaius Julius Caesar and Gaius Octavius. In the US, Caius has only been used since 1994. While it has never been in the Top 1000, it is gaining more births per year every year.

Which of these barely-used names do you like most? Which have the most potential to actually climb the charts soon?

Saturday, September 17, 2016


This interesting name comes from our list of names ending with the letters "-gy". There are not many -gy names. In fact, there were only two decent options for boys, Iggy and Ziggy. I chose to learn a bit more about Ziggy.

Have you ever heard of this name before? Perhaps in the pop culture world, you've heard of the late Bob Marley's musician son named Ziggy. Where does the name come from? For Ziggy Marley, it's a nickname. His real name is David Nesta Marley. According to Bob Marley, Ziggy is just a nickname he gave his son meaning "little spliff".  He may have been inspired by David Bowie's album "Ziggy Stardust".

Ziggy Stardust, of course, was David Bowie's alter ego. Bowie was quoted in Rolling Stone Magazine as saying that Ziggy was "one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter Z". Later, he also said he was inspired by a tailor shop called Ziggy's.

It is possible that Ziggy doesn't mean anything. It is also possible that it's a short form of the name Zigfried, a form of the German Siegfried. Siegfried comes from the elements sigu meaning "victory" and frid meaning "peace".  The meaning "peaceful victory" is appealing, but how common is this name?

It first popped up in the US with 5 male births in 1988; another 5 appeared in 1995. By 2000, this name gained some consistent usage. The most births it has ever had in a single year was 44 male births which occurred in both 2014 and 2015. It is an unusual name but it has a cool vibe with pop culture associations. Could Ziggy ever catch on?

If this is a name that peaks your interest, here's a few ideas for sibling names and middle names:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Blaire, Effie, Jacey, Maisie, Marlowe, Piper, Tamsin, Zoey
Brothers: Bowie, Bugsy, Flynn, Murphy, Rocky, Tad, Wiley, Wilder

Middle Name Ideas:
Ziggy Cole
Ziggy Daniels
Ziggy Finnegan
Ziggy John
Ziggy Sawyer
Ziggy Sebastian
Ziggy Tavish

As a Middle Name:
Evan Ziggy
Julian Ziggy
Kendall Ziggy
Milo Ziggy
Nolan Ziggy
Theodore Ziggy
Wyatt Ziggy

What would you pair with Ziggy? What do you think of it?


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