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?

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