Saturday, July 30, 2016

Barely Used Girl Names: Opal, Florence & Cecily [Part Three]


This is part three of our series that highlights names that rank below the Top 1000 in the US in 2015. That list is put together by the Social Security Administration every year based on the number of registered births throughout the country.

Since the names on this list don't rank, they are all great options for parents who don't want a super popular name. These would be unique enough to sound refreshing and might even guarantee that the child would be the only one with her name in her class. If you're tired of meeting dozens of Emmas and Sophias, check out the following:

1. Maren (229 births in 2015 - #1114) Maren is the Danish form of Marina which comes from the Latin Marinus meaning "of the sea". In the US, Maren popped up on the record in 1916. This name was most popular in 1979 with 226 births and a rank of #733. It hit the #900s again in the mid 2000s, but currently ranks below the Top 1000 chart. Could this name ever catch on?

2. Opal (229 births in 2015 - #1115) An opal, of course, is an iridescent gemstone. It is the birthstone for the month of October. Originally, it comes from a Sanskrit word, upala, meaning "jewel". Opal peaked in popularity in 1918 then fell just as quickly back down the charts. It ranked in the Top 100 from 1905-1919, and then left the Top 1000 by 1961. This decade, Opal is inching upward. Could it make a comeback?

3. Fallon (225 births in 2015 - #1125) Fallon is an Anglicization of the Irish surname Ó Fallamhain meaning "descendant of Fallamhan", with Fallamhan meaning "leader". It's interesting to note that it was poorly used for boys and started out strong in 1981 for girls with 232 births for the year. The name was taken straight from pop-culture. It was the name of a popular female character on the soap opera Dynasty which started in 1981. It left the Top 1000 in 1996. Could it return or does Jimmy Fallon make it too masculine and/or surnamey?

4. Sally (221 births in 2015 - #1139) Sweet Sally is considered a diminutive of Sarah. Sarah is a Hebrew name that refers to a lady, princess or noblewoman. It is usually claimed as meaning "princess". As a standalone name, Sally does date back to 1880 when records began. It ranked the best from the 1930s to the 1960s, but it peaked in 1947 with 5,266 births for the year. It left the Top 1000 in the early 2003. Sadie is doing very well, another diminutive of Sarah. Could Sally climb the charts too?

5. Whitley (221 births in 2015- #1142) The meaning of Whitley isn't certain, but if you take a look at two other Old English names, Whitney and Wesley, you could surmise that Whitley means "white meadow". Whitley has been used minimally for boys over the years since 1914, but the females have received more usage even though it wasn't on record for them until 1984. Whitley did appear in the Top 1000 for girls from 1988-1993, ranking as high as #446 in 1988.

6. Marlowe (220 births in 2015 - #1146) Marlowe is a surname that is derived from the Old English place name meaning "remnants of a lake". Marlowe is a unisex name, having popped up for boys first in 1912. For girls it arrived in 1918 but it wasn't used as consistently. It gained more usage by 1967 and is now climbing the charts in the past decade. Both Marley and Harlow are in the Top 500 right now. Will Marlowe breach the Top 1000 soon?

7. Elodie (215 births in 2015 - #1167) The French Élodie comes from the name Alodia which is possibly derived from the Germanic elements alja meaning "foreign" and aud meaning "wealth". The fact that Elodie ranks down below the Top 1000 is somewhat surprising. It is one of those names often discussed around the baby naming community as suggestions. Perhaps parents aren't actually following that advice though. The name has almost always been used in the US but there were periods of time, like the 1970s-1980s, where the name was unheard of. This decade, it is gaining steam. Births per year more than doubled from 2007 to 2011, and nearly doubled again by 2015. Will she be popular soon?

8. Katrina (215 births in 2015 - 1168) Katrina is a variant of the Gaelic name Catriona which is a form of Katherine. That is said to come from the Greek Aikaterine, and it is said to mean "pure" but its origins aren't entirely clear. I detailed that in the past here.  In the US, Katrina has been used since 1895. Its best year was 1980 with 3,397 births for the year. Despite being a beautiful name, Katrina may always be associated with the disastrous hurricane that hit the US in 2005. The number of births per year declined between 2005 and 2006, and the name left the Top 1000 by 2011.

9. Florence (214 births in 2015- 1173) Florence comes from the Latin feminine name Florentia, which came from the male Florentius and florens which means "flourishing". Florence is a city in Italy, and it was the name of a British nurse who founded modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. In the US, Florence ranked very well up until it began declining in usage in the 1960s. It was within the Top 10 and Top 100 for a very long time but it received the most births per year between 1915 and 1922.  It left the Top 1000 in 1982. In just the last 4 years, Florence has gained some momentum. Will she be a Top 1000 name again soon?

10. Cecily (212 births in 2015 - #1182) While Cecily comes from the name Cecilia, Cecily was more common during the Middle Ages. Cecilia comes from the Roman family name Caecilius, which comes from the Latin caecus meaning "blind". Cecily was first used on record in 1911. It has remained below the Top 1000 the majority of the time except for once in 1974, and from 1988-1991. It's best year by far was 1989 when it hit #497 with 473 births for the year. It has fallen since then but could it rise again in the future?

Which of these 10 names would you most like to see being commonly used on modern girls?

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