Saturday, June 25, 2016

Barely Used Girl Names: Joelle, Taryn & Magdalena [Part Two]

Welcome to part two of this series that features ten barely used names per month. We started this thing by investigating names just outside of the US Top 1000. We'll explore our way down the list and uncover more and more uncommon names as we go.

There are plenty of great names that are not currently popular. The best thing about their "unpopularity" is that it does not denote that there's something wrong with the names, they simply aren't on everyone's radar right now. They may have been used more in the past, or perhaps they are yet to be discovered. Either way, these great, overlooked names would be excellent choices for parents who want something you don't hear everyday.

The ones that I've handpicked from 2015's data are all very usable for a modern girl despite being uncommon at the moment.  In the parenthesis, the number of births for 2015 is listed, followed by the popularity rank as published by the Social Security Administration.

Shannon (248 births - #1059)  The longest river in Ireland is called the River Shannon, or Abha na tSionainn. The name Sionainn comes from Sionna, a goddess in Irish mythology whose name means "possessor of wisdom". As a name, Shannon had male usage first but once it was given to females, the girls took over. It entered the Top 1000 in 1937 and hit the Top 100 in 1968. Shannon's two best years (for girls) was 1970 and 1976 with an all-time high rank of #17. It dropped from the Top 100 in 1998 and the Top 1000 by 2014. Is this a came-and-went name or could it be revived again in the future?

Araceli (247 births - #1060) This beautiful Spanish name means "altar of the sky" from the Latin ara meaning "altar" and coeli meaning "sky". It has been around in the US since the 1940s. It joined the Top 1000 in 1968 but recently dropped out in 2014. The highest it has ever ranked was in 2002 at #487.  This name feels pretty and unexpected. Do you think it could gain usage?

Taryn (247 births - #1062) According to Behind The Name, Taryn may have been created as recently as 1953. Actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian gave this name to their daughter in that year, most likely as a feminine form of Tyrone. The data supports this. The name wasn't on record in the US until 1953. If that's really the case, then Taryn would have the same meaning as Tyrone which is derived from Irish Gaelic Tir Eoghain meaning "land of Eoghan". It's also possible that it is meant to be an alternate spelling to Terran, which refers to the earth or "terra". Taryn's best year to date was 1985. It only fell off the Top 1000 chart in 2015. Does it deserve the drop?

Sonia (243 births - #1071)  Sonia is a variant of Sonya, which is a Russian diminutive of Sophia. Sophia, of course, means "wisdom" in Greek. Sonia was first used in the US in 1895 with Sonya's usage following in 1904 on record. Sonia was in the Top 1000 from 1909-2014. At their peak in the late 1960s, Sonya was more popular than Sonia. Today neither rank in the Top 1000, however Sonia is ranked higher. Which spelling do you prefer?

Etta (242 births - #1075) Etta is usually said to come from the name Henrietta, but it could very well be a nickname for any other -etta name. In this case, Henrietta comes from Henry which is German meaning "home ruler". On its own, Etta was most popular in 1920 and was always in use on record since 1880. It left the Top 1000 in 1967 and fell to record lows such as a mere 7 births in 2001. Now it has climbed up again with 242 births in 2015. Could it stand alone and rise on the charts soon?

Ramona (242 births - #1076) Ramona is the feminine form of Ramón which is the Spanish form of Raymond. Raymond comes from the Germanic name Raginmund which ultimately means "advice" from the element ragin and "protector" from mund. Ramona spiked in popularity in 1928 in the US and continued to rank within the Top 1000 until 1989. Now it is on the outskirts of the charts with 242 births in 2015. Should it be allowed reentry?

Joelle (241 births - #1077) This is the feminine form of the Hebrew name Joel which means "YAHWEH is God". The US popularity record for Joelle shows 5 births in 1918 but it wasn't consistently used until 1933. It joined the Top 1000 in 1966 and dropped back out in 2004. It has lingered just beyond the charts since then. Could it rise in the future?

Gwyneth (236 births - #1091) Gwyneth is either a varient of the Welsh name Gwynedd, or it simply comes from the Welsh element gwyn meaning "white, fair, blessed". It has been well-used in Wales since the 19th century. Here in the US, it has only been used since 1915. Surprisingly, Gwyneth has only ranked with in the Top 1000 in the years 2004, 2011 and 2013. Will it ever be more commonly used here?

Magdalena (233 births - #1104) Magdalena is the Latinate form of Magdalene, which comes from a title meaning "of Magdala". The bible character Mary Magdalene was called this because she was from Magdala, a village on the Sea of Galilee whose name meant "tower" in Hebrew. She was a popular saint in the middle ages, giving the name Magdalene popularity. Magdalene ranked in the US Top 1000 from 1880-1944, but never again after that. Magdalena ranked well from 1880-2010, aside from a couple dips in the 1980s. Why is it that this name is beginning to fade? Could it regain usage?

Maxine (231 births - #1109)  This is one of the only Max names for females. It probably means "greatest" from the Latin Maximilianus which comes from Maximus.  Maxine was first used in 1884, peaking in usage from the 1910s - 1940s. It dropped out of the Top 1000 in the late 1970s and flickered on and off before it stayed off as of 1996. Could it be seen as stylish again in the near future?

Which of these ten names appeals to you the most? Would you ever consider putting it on your list? Do you know any children with these names?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Barely Used Boy Names: Leif, Roderick & Gerard [Part Two]

Welcome to part two of this series! Today we'll investigate ten interesting names that are currently not ranked within the US Top 1000. A couple were popular years ago and are uncommon now, while others have yet to hit their stride. Let's see if any of these could potentially start [re]climbing the charts in the coming years or if they are likely to remain barely-used. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you know any youngsters with these names?

Within the parenthesis, you'll find the number of births the name received in the year 2015, along with the names' corresponding popularity rank.

Denzel (186 births - #1060) Denzel is a form of Denzil which is a surname that indicated a person from the manor of Denzell in Cornwall. The spelling Denzel was made popular by Denzel Washington, an American actor. The name in the US has been around since 1906. It was rare until the early 1990s, peaking in 1993 at #311. It has since fallen off the Top 1000 chart.

Leif (186 births - #1063) This is an Old Norse name that comes from Leifr meaning "descendant, heir". The most famous bearer of this name is Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer from the 11th century. As a name, Leif has been in use in the US since 1912. It ranked in the Top 1000 from 1959 to 1987. It is very close to rejoining the chart again, do you think it could ever be commonly used?

Octavio (185 births - #1065) Octavio is the Spanish form of the Latin Octavus meaning "eighth". There are not any Oct- names in the Top 1000, Octavio is the highest ranked for boys. It gained usage in the US in 1908. It ranked in the Top 1000 from the 1970s to 2010. It fell recently but isn't too far down. Could Octavio ever be more commonly used? Do you prefer Octavius? Octavian?

Roderick (185 births - #1066)  This name comes from  the Germanic elements hrod meaning "fame" and ric meaning power "power"; so it could mean "famous power". It was the name of a Visigoth King in the 8th century, but the name died out after the Middle Ages. It was revived again by Sir Walter Scott's 1811 poem called "The Vision of Don Roderick". It's always been used in the US and nearly always ranked within the Top 1000 until recently.

Lyle (183 births - #1072) Lyle is an English surname that is actually a bit of a play on words. It comes from the Norman French word l'isle which means "island" and is pronounced the same as Lyle.  The name as always been around in the US, perhaps being most popular in the 1920s. It fell off the Top 1000 chart in 1996, dipped down and is now back up on the outskirts. Could it rejoin soon?

Clarence (180 births - #1080)  Clarence derives from the Latin title Clarensis which may mean "clear, illustrious". This was a title used by the British royal family that comes from the name of the town of Clare in Suffolk. Clarence has always been used in the US, doing its best around 1920 and remaining a Top 100 name through the 1940s. It gradually fell, dropping out of the Top 1000 in 2009. Could it make a come back or will it continue to hover just below the charts?

Gerard (179 births - #1086) Gerard comes from the Germanic element ger meaning "spear" and hard meaning "brave, hardy". This name was often confused with similar-sounding name Gerald but it has never been nearly as popular. Gerard has been in use since 1886 in the US, but was never popular enough to rank higher than the 200s. It dropped out of the Top 1000 in the early 2000s. Could it be fashionable again in a couple decades?

Sidney (179 births - #1088) Sidney is a surname that also comes from place names in England that mean "wide island" based on the Old English sid meaning "wide" and eg meaning "island". Sidney could also be based on a town in Normandy called Saint Denis. Say that quickly with a French accent and there you go, but there isn't much evidence for this. In the US, Sidney has always been in use for both genders. And there's also the spelling, Sydney, which is popular for girls. Sidney ranked well for boys until it dropped out of the Top 1000 in 2014. Is Sydney's female influence too strong for Sidney to hold popularity for boys?

Aston (178 births - #1089) Aston could be derived from an Old English place name that means "east town"; or it could be a form of Æðelstan which is derived from the Old English elements æðel meaning "noble" and stan meaning "stone".  On record, Aston popped up in 7 different years between 1915 and 1930, each with a handful of births. It wasn't until the early 1980s that this name gained regular usage on boys. It is occasionally used on girls as well, but minimally. Aston has never been in the Top 1000 but it is inching awfully close. Could it be there in the next year or five?

Dale (177 births - #1092) Dale is a nature name and a surname that refers to a person who may have lived near a dale or valley. This name has always been in use in the US for both genders, but it's more commonly a male name. It peaked in 1958 at #46 and 8,478 births. It declined after that, falling off the Top 1000 chart in 2010. It's been lingering on the outskirts, could it ever make a comeback or is it still too recently dated to feel fresh?

Which of these names do you like best? Could any rise in popularity soon or are they better off where they are?

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Today's featured boy name is pulled from the list of names ending with the letters -cy.

Percy is is male given name that comes from an English surname. There is a commune in Normandy in Northwestern France called Percy-en-Auge from which the surname was derived. The House of Percy (or Perci in Old French) was one of the most powerful noble families in northern England.

There are still members of the Percy family to this day who are Dukes of Northumberland. Their surname comes from the manor of Percy-en-Auge in Normandy which was their home during the Norman Conquest. The name Percy started out being used as a given name in their honor.

The Greek Perseus is similar in sound and could be assigned the nickname Percy. It means "to destroy" in Greek and was the name of a mythological hero who killed Medusa and founded the ancient city of Mycenae.

Percy can also be considered a short form of the name Percival. The name Perceval, with this spelling, was created by a French poet named Chrétien de Troyes in the 12th century. He wrote a poem called "Perceval, the Story of the Grail" in which Perceval was one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.  It is likely that the name Perceval was based on the name of a Welsh hero, Peredur, which means "hard spears" in Welsh. Perceval may have also been influenced by the Old French words percer val meaning "to pierce the valley".

So what does Percy actually mean? Take your pick!  How about its usage?

Percy has been in use on record in the US since 1880. It was used the most in 1920 with 601 births. It fell off the Top 1000 chart as of 1989 and is now a rare name. It only had 58 male births in the year 2015 for a rank of #2275. Despite being a possible short form of Percival, the name Percy on its own has ranked way better over the years. Percival has never scored more than 25 births in a single year.

What do you think of the name Percy? Would you consider it? If so, here are a few middle and sibling name ideas to help you out:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Alina, Cordelia, Georgia, Helena, Leonora, Matilda, Rose
Brothers: August, Clyde, Jasper, Lucien, Maurice, Simon, Willis

Middle Name Ideas:
Percy Ambrose
Percy Edmond
Percy James
Percy Randall
Percy Sebastian

As a Middle Name:
Charles Percy
Everett Percy
Finnegan Percy
Jonathan Percy
Nolan Percy

What would you pair with the name Percy? Or do you prefer Percival or Perseus?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Names Ending with the Letters "-cy"

This is a very specific series. We are taking the time to look for names ending in specific letters. We already looked at "-ay" names and "-by" names. Now we are going to investigate all the possible names ending with the letters "-cy".  There could be more out there in other languages around the world but these are some of the best options for an American kid.

Which do you like best?  Can you think of any others that could be added?




Share your thoughts on these names in the comments below! Take a look at our other articles:

<--- "-by" names ||| "-dy" names --->

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Girl Names with Only One Common Spelling

Uniqueness. What does that word mean to you? When it comes to names, it may refer to a name that is seldom heard. What about the spelling? It seems to be a trend lately to take a common name and "make it unique" by tweaking the spelling. But after all, by ear, aren't Emily, Emilee, Emaley, Emylee and Emmalea all pronounced the same? Why not opt for the common spelling to avoid headache and confusion?

(Plus, if you really want a unique name, wouldn't it make more sense to use one that is statistically uncommon rather than
respelling a common name ?)

If you'd love to steer clear of the constant "could you spell that for me?" questions, and actually be able to find your name on default personalized keepsakes, perhaps you'd prefer a name that doesn't have a ton of spelling options. In fact, maybe you'd like a name with only one common spelling.

Creative namers could be able to twist some of these around, but those variations wouldn't be common. The names on this list will most likely give you an easy time when it comes to having your name spelled correctly when spoken. Can you think of more names that are hard to respell creatively?


This list is far from complete. What other names can you think of that may have only one common spelling? Would you refute any of these?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Robert or Bobby? - Full Given Names or Nicknames on the Birth Certificate?

Here in America, we tend to like putting the long, proper form of the name on the birth certificate even if we end up calling them by something else as a nickname. Other countries sometimes cut to the chase more often and just name them the short form to start with.

However, it isn't unheard of here in the US. The #2 boys' name of 2015, Liam, is essentially the second half of the name William. It's considered the Irish form, but it still ranks higher than its longer companion.

I thought it would be fun to browse the Top 1000 and find some names that are typically thought of as nicknames (or diminutives or short forms) more often than given names. Most of these are considered nicknames for something longer and many have probably stood alone for years. You may be surprised at how well some of these more abrupt names actually rank on their own:

Liam #2
Luke #28
Jack #40
Eli #53
Jace #75
Leo #91
Max #118
Jayce #132
Alex #134
Jase #182
Mark #196
Jake #205
Xander #207
Jax #214
Zander #249
Johnny #310
Andy #323
Enzo #330
Thiago #333
Drew #363
Jay #394
Theo #408
Danny #426
Alec #455
Nico #464
Ty #484
Jaime #485
Jerry #491
Tony #504
Chris #507  
Hank #534
Sam #554
Larry #556
Randy #570
Jimmy #575
Ricky #584
Joe #596
Niko #636
Mack #661
Terry #664
Eddie #668
Marc #673
Toby #689
Zeke #704
Tommy #705
Ray #713
Clay #718
Jon #737
Bobby #738
Ben #740
Joey #758
Ronnie #771
Willie #775
Maxim #779
Harry #781
Trace #801
Billy #8009
Jamie #821
Van #826
Will #834
Rudy ##868
Jordy #874
Franco #878
Kenny #890
Rey #903
Jessie #918
Rocky #927
Louie #967
Freddy #990
Frankie #992

Would you ever use any of these names alone or would you opt for Edward with the nickname Eddie or Kenneth with the nickname Kenny instead?  Can you think of any other names like these that you would consider?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Barely Used Girl Names: Mavis, Antonella & Poppy [Part One]

No doubt you heard about the social security administration's yearly baby name list that came out a couple weeks ago for the US in the year 2015.  As you know, the #1 name for the year was Emma for girls. They also published the Top 1000 names for each gender. Did you know they also have data available for the names beyond the Top 1000?

I often have parents ask me for "unique" name ideas. Now, it is hard to define what is truly unique because everyone has different definitions. Perhaps I've never met someone named Aspen or Mara but once I suggest those, you happen to have known a few and suddenly those aren't really all that unique to you even if they are to me. The best way to determine if a name is more on the unique side of things is to look at the data.

If a name is in the Top 10, there will probably be many kids with those names in the same school, which some parents want to avoid. The farther down on the list you browse, the less likely it is you will find another kid with the same name. If you completely avoid the Top 1000 altogether, you are more likely to be "unique" than not. At least in your area.

To increase your chances of having an uncommon, one of a kind name, it helps to toss out names that are simply respellings of popular names. For example, in this series, I will not be featuring any names that are similar to one that already ranks in the Top 1000.  Since there are names like Adeline (#135), Adelyn (#193), Adelynn (#275) and Adelina (#545) in the Top 1000, I would not be featuring Adilene (#1136) or Addalynn (#1150) because of their similarity. However, there aren't any other names like Poppy so it will be discussed below.

With all of that said, I want to welcome you to this new series that features ten barely used names per month. We'll explore our way down the list and cover more and more uncommon names as we go. In the parenthesis, the number of births for 2015 is listed, followed by the rank. First up:

Mavis (263 births - #1012)  
Mavis comes from the Old French word mauvis which means "thrush" and relates to a bird called the song thrush. Mavis may also mean "purple" in Greek. It was first used in the US for girls in 1893. It was most popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but it has declined in popularity since then. It dropped out of the Top 1000 by 1964, only recently has it gained usage, climbing up to its current rank which is just shy of the Top 1000.

Mercy (263 births - #1013)  
Mercy was one of the 17th century Puritan names, now considered a virtue name. It comes from the Latin merces which means "wages, reward" and is a version of the Latin merx meaning "goods, wares". It has been in use on record in the US since 1881. It was never within the Top 1000 names until it sneaked in at the bottom from the years 2012-2014. It dipped back down in 2015. Could it continue upward in the coming years?

India (261 births - #1015)  
The name India comes from the name of the country which is named after the Indus River. The river's name is Sanskrit meaning "body of trembling water, river". India has been in use in the US since 1880 on record.  It has been on and off the Top 1000 chart over the years, with its most impressive run from 1985 to 2005. The name has dipped down in 2015.

Antonella (260 births - #1018) 
Antonella is a female form of the Latin Antonius, which is a Roman family name. Its original meaning and origin are unknown but this family of names has become associated with the Greek anthos which means "flower." That's why that "h" is added into the boy name Anthony, but is generally left out of other forms like Antonella and Antonia. Antonella has only been around since 1954 on record in the US and is getting close to making its first appearance in the Top 1000. Sister name Antonia is ranked only 4 spots higher in 2015.

Robin (260 births - #1020) 
Robin is a unisex name that comes from Robert. Robert is a German name "bright fame". It is also the name of a red-breasted bird. It currently ranks for boys at #973, cracking the Top 1000 for the first time since 1999. But for girls, it is still laying low. Female Robin ranked in the Top 1000 from 1932 to 2004. It peaked in 1961 at #169. Today, it's getting close to reclaiming a top spot again.

Cambria (259 births - #1024)  
Cambria is the Latin form of the Welsh name Cymru which is actually the Welsh name for the country of Wales meaning "the people". So this is a place name. It has only been in use in the US for girls since 1963. It cracked the Top 1000 in the years 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. It currently dipped back down. Could this name be more popular in the near future?

Poppy (257 births - #1033)  
While this name is very rare in the US, it's extremely popular in the UK, ranking as high as #5 in England and Wales recently. It comes from the Old English popæg which is also where the red flower gets its name. It first had usage in the US in 1919 as a name, but it has been inconsistent. It wasn't sued between 1983 and 1998 on record. Now, it's knocking at the door of the Top 1000.  Will it join soon?

Ellery (254 births - #1039)  
Ellery is an English surname which came from the medieval masculine name Hilary. It was derived from the Latin hilaris and the Greek Hilaros which mean "cheerful". Ellery was first used for boys as far back as 1884 in the US. The first female usage came in 1959. It only had 13 male births in 2015, but for girls, it is inching closer and closer to the Top 1000 every year.

Temperance (249 births - #1052)  
Temperance implies moderation and self-restraint. Like Mercy, it is also a virtue name used by the Puritans after the Protestant Reformation. In the US, though, it wasn't used on recent records until 1972. It has increased since 2006, likely influenced by the main character from the TV show Bones . It ranked in the Top 1000 from 2011 to 2014 but dipped below in 2015. Could it climb again or has it had its fun?

Belle (248 births - #1053) 
Despite the super popularity of Isabella (and Isabelle, Isabel, Isobel, etc), Belle has somehow managed to remain uncommon. While it may be considered a short form of one of those (or other -belle names), on its own, it is the French word for "beautiful". It had the most usage between the 1880s and the 1930s before dipping down low. It's climbing a bit lately and is just on the outskirts of the Top 1000 chart now, on which it has not ranked since 1934.

Which of these barely-used girl names do you enjoy most? Do you think any of these could gain more usage soon and become common or even popular in the coming years? 


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