Let’s talk about nicknames. Currently, it seems that one of the biggest disagreements in baby naming centers revolves around the question of giving children formal names for the nicknames their parents will actually call them. For example, parents that want to call their child Jack or Ellie may be considering whether or not to put John or Eleanor on the birth certificate. I think there are good arguments both for choosing a formal option and not. The children may never use Margaret and William, so it makes sense just to call them Maggie and Liam. Alternatively, Liz hates her name and spends her whole life wishing she were Elizabeth, whether she’d prefer to go by no nickname or a different one entirely. Coworkers might be mildly confused to meet a Dan who’s not a Daniel, or they might call a Christopher “Chris” against his will. That’s not even going into what looks better on a resume or next to a professional title.
Here’s the thing, though. So many names that are now considered traditional formal options began their name lives as nicknames. When was the last time you met an Alison whose formal name is Alice, or a Megan that’s short for Margaret? A Robin who’s really Robert? Chances are that you haven’t met one. Some names have stood alone for so long that we’ve forgotten they’re nicknames. I guarantee that as time stretches on, more names will lose their diminutive status and be acceptable formal options. Some of them will even have their own nicknames!
Here is a list of formal names that either started out as nicknames or derived from them! Note that just because it’s a nickname doesn’t necessarily mean it’s shorter; certain endings like “ina” and “illa” turned names into their “cutesy” forms.
Aidan / Aiden – Anglicized spellings of Irish Aodhán, the pet form of Aodh. If Aodh means “fire,” then Aiden means “little fire.”
Alison – Medieval Norman-French nickname for a name that eventually developed into what we recognize as Alice.
Angelina – Via Angela, a Latin-derived name for “angel, messenger.”
Anita – Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of “Annie,” via Ana + “-ita,” a popular baby name in the U.S. until the early 2000s.
Antoinette – Feminine diminutive form of Antoine, the French form of Anthony.
Charlotte – Feminine form of Charlot, a traditional French nickname for Charles. Over centuries of (especially royal) use, Charlotte and her Latinized sister Caroline have served as the classic standalone women’s versions for the original name.
Colette – Short for Nicolette, itself an elongated nickname for Nicole.
Colin – One of Colin’s possible origins is as a medieval nickname for Nicholas, though this falls under the category of “when was the last time you heard it as a nickname?”
Daisy – While Daisy’s status as a flower name has let it stand alone for well over a century in some cases, in other cases it’s a nickname for Marguerite or Margaret. ‘Marguerite’ is the French word for ‘daisy.’
Ethel – A lot easier to swallow than longer Ethel names like Etheldreda and Ethelinda, however cool they are. Ethel is the Old English version of Germanic Adal (“noble,”) an element found in popular names like Adeline and Alice.
Ginger – Often short for Virginia, though you can also find it on its own because of the spice.
Heidi – Short for Adelheid, though very few people still give their children the formal version in the U.S. That said, the English equivalent to Adelheid is Adelaide, which *is* popular!
Jackson – Meaning “son of Jack,” this is a patronymic surname deriving from a nickname for John.
Juanita – Spanish equivalent of “Janie,” via Juana + “-ita.” Juanita was a popular baby name in the U.S. up until about 20 years ago.
Henrietta – Feminine form of Henry via the French Henriette, a pet form of Henri created by adding the “-ette” suffix.
Keenan – Anglicized spelling of Cianán, a nickname for Cian (Kean).
Kieran – Anglicized spelling of Ciarán, a nickname for Ciar (Keir).
Liam – Irish nickname of William. I do know of at least one William who’s called Liam, but this goes either way.
Lucille – French, from Latin Lucilla, the pet form of Lucia.
Marcellus – More or less, “Little Marcus.”
Margot – French nickname for Marguerite / Margaret. In Anglophone circles, I’ve never heard anyone discuss using it as a nickname. Popular alternative spellings include Margo (U.S.) and Margaux (France).
Max – Short for Maximilian, Maxwell, and other names.
Megan – Welsh nickname for Margaret that was popular for the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st until Maisie and Margot started trending.
Molly – This one’s a famous nickname for Mary, but it’s usually just Molly these days.
Natasha – Outside of Eastern Europe and Russia, Natasha often seems to remain separate from Natalia. Natalia is currently much more popular for babies born in English-speaking countries,
Nina – Short for many names including Antonina, but when was the last time you met a Nina that was short for anything?
Nixon – Means “son of Nick.” To be fair, Nixon is a lot more first name-friendly than, say, Nicholason.
Priscilla – Ancient Roman nickname/diminutive for Prisca, the feminine of Priscus.
Robin started off as a medieval nickname for Robert, but is now a classic gender-neutral option in the U.S. and U.K. Popular namesakes include Robin Hood, Robin Williams, and the bird.
Sadie is a vintage nickname for Sarah that now outranks its mother name! Even nicknames go through cycles…a few decades ago, Sally was Sarah’s top pet form.
Zelda – When not a Yiddish feminine form of Zelig (“Happy”), it’s traditionally short for Griselda, an medieval literary name from Chaucer and Boccaccio that was briefly popular between the 1970s and 1990s.
I didn’t even mention any nicknames for Elizabeth, which offers several classic options that are now formal names: Lily, Lillian, Ella, Elsa, Lisa, Elise, and more. Then there’s Leo, which has a long standalone history but also shortens to Leonard, Leopold, Leodis. Sophie is often a pet name for Sophia (occasionally, also Sophronia), but it’s also it’s own, classic (French) name. The possibilities are endless!
Do you have any any favorite formal names that started out as nicknames? Can you think of any others? Let me know! And whether you decide you’d prefer to put a “formal” name or “nickname” on the birth certificate, know that a) you’re not alone, and b) compromises are possible! The names on this list are perfect middle-of-the road options to assuage both sides of this debate.
Happy Spring! March 20th, 2023 is the equinox, marking the official start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere according to astronomy. Depending on where you live, you may have personally observed the oncoming season for a week or two! For many of us it was a mild winter, but mild weather feels a lot better when there are beautiful flowers blooming and birds prepping their nests. My philosophy is that if it’s going to be cold, let it snow!
Ah, the flowers. Each year, the sight of daffodils and blossoming trees brings me joy. Only autumn, with its warm quilt 0f scarlet, orange, and gold leaves comes close to recreating that same feeling. Spring and fall are truly the most lovely seasons if only for their sheer colorfulness.
Inspired by the start of spring, here is a selection of sweet spring flower names for babies! If you love floral monikers, nature, and the season, this list is for you.
Alyssum – “Sweet Alyssum” is a cool-weather flower that prefers spring and autumn. Alyssum is a likely influence on the spelling of Alyssa, a variant of Alicia or Alice that makes for a lovely and subtle nod to the plant. Surprisingly, despite Alyssa’s now-longstanding popularity, parents rarely opt for floral Alyssum. I think it’s time to change that!
Anemone – I’d wager many people are familiar with anemone because of Finding Nemo, but it’s also a lovely flower that can bloom from the earliest springtime into the fall. Sweetly pronounced a-NEM-oh-nee, it was traditionally associated with the story of Aphrodite and her beloved Adonis. When Adonis died, the goddess transformed his blood into the anemone with her tears. By the Victorian era, the flower came to mean something like “lost love,” whether due to forgetting or a partner’s death. Do keep in mind that in some cultures, the anemone is considered bad luck (especially depending on the color).
Bluebell – With the trendiness of names like “Blue” and “Belle,” I’m surprised more parents aren’t choosing Bluebell. Nobody in the U.S. is using it, but it occasionally reaches into the England and Wales top 1000. I’m guessing the few children who are named Bluebell aren’t named after Ginger Spice’s daughter, but you never know. All in all, the Bluebell is a gorgeous flower with a name-friendly sound and it *should* be on more people’s radars. In Victorian flower language, the bluebell signifies “humility.”
Daffodil – Along with crocuses, daffodils are one of the first flowers that bloom to mark the end of winter. Daffodil is exceedingly rare as a baby name, but its bright and sunny yellow hues make it a sweet choice. It easily shortens to Daffy, which is a possible nickname for David (via the Welsh Dafydd – no relation to Daffodil), and Dil. Possible gender-neutral option? In floriography (the language of flowers), daffodils traditionally signify “regard.”
Eirlys – Pronounced like the word “air” with “liss” added to the end. Despite the wintry connotations of the name “Snowdrop,” that flower is popularly associated with the very early spring. Eirlys, which means “snowdrop” in Welsh, is a trending modern choice thanks to its “-s” ending and nature meaning. The name is still rather rare and unique, so it’s a great choice if you want your child to be the only one on the playground with that name. For an even equally distinctive choice meaning “snowdrop,” the Georgian language also offers Endzela.
Ffion – Most English-speakers wouldn’t think of using Foxglove as a baby name (it’s an excellent pet name!), but its Welsh-equivalent is an established (if modern) baby name. Ffion is beyond rare in the U.S., but it ranks #337 in England and Wales. Pronounced “FEE-on,” parents may like it as a unique floral alternative to Fiona (no relation, though).
Hyacinth – Most people probably now consider Hyacinth a girls’ name (especially in light of Bridgerton!), but its history as a men’s name gives it credence as a rare gender-neutral flower name. Greek Mythology explains the flower’s creation through the violent death of Hyakinthos (Latinized Hyacinthus), whose blood fed the flowers that bloomed in his wake. Hyacinth has many meanings in flower language, ranging a wide gamut of human emotions depending on the color; purple and white hyacinth, which are especially popular in the spring, can respectively mean “forgiveness” and “loveliness,” though other meanings are possible (purple also means “sorrow”). 16 girls were named Hyacinth in the U.S. in 2021, while Spanish forms Jacinta (f) and Jacinto (m) were respectively given to 28 girls and 19 boys. Fans of the nickname “Gia” and “Gio” may also consider the Italian versions, Giacinta and Giacinto.
Iris is a classic name with a history stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece, where she was the messenger goddess of the rainbow. Despite meaning “rainbow,” the flower is usually purple. Amazingly, Iris is one of just a few girls’ names that have remained in the top 1000 since the Social Security Administration started counting in 1880, giving it a truly timeless feel. More popular than ever, Iris currently ranks #107 and is almost certainly set to enter the top 1000 in the upcoming 2022 dataset.
Magnolia – This beautiful flowering tree was a mildly popular girls’ name from the late 19th century until 1940, but it’s really taken off in the last decade. Whether or not that’s because of its trendiness as a vintage plant name or pop culture references, this Southern lady is ready to seize the day. According to flower language, Magnolia symbolizes “nobility” and “love of nature.” Well eco-namers, with that second meaning I think you’ve found a winner! Current U.S. rank: #140.
Primrose is a rare floral name that’s growing more popular on the both sides of the pond. It’s still unusual in the U.S., where it was given to just 92 girls in 2021, but in England and Wales it ranks #162. Deriving from a Latin term which means “first rose,” the primrose is one of the earliest flowering plants to bloom in the spring. Besides the flower, the most popular association for many people (especially in the U.S.) is Primrose “Prim” Everdeen, a character in the Hunger Games. Two unique, stunning name alternatives to Primrose are the Welsh version Briallen and the flower’s Latin genus, Primula.
Sakura – While there are other possible meanings of this name in Japanese, Sakura is typically associated with the cherry blossom tree, which blooms in early spring and serves as Japan’s national flower. Some Americans may be familiar with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a massive Washington D.C. celebration of peak bloom each year. In 2021, 58 baby girls in the U.S. were named Sakura, which is supposed to be emphasized on the first syllable (SAH-kur-a).
Solomon – Generally blooming through late April or May into early summer, “Solomon’s Seal” is a lesser-known spring flower that gives us a rare and much coveted floral name for boys. Solomon is a classic name tracing to biblical King Solomon. At last count in 2021, Solomon ranked #422 in the U.S.
Tulip – After the daffodils come the tulips, a flower that was once so valuable that a single bulb could be more expensive than a house in an economic phenomenon known as tulip mania. According to floriography, a red tulip is a “declaration of love,” while yellow tulips signify a sunny smile. 25 girls were named Tulip in 2021.
Viola is the name of the genus that includes pansies and violets. While violets can bloom year-round depending on the type, pansies only bloom in the cooler temperatures and spring and fall. Unfortunately, “pansy” has become a gendered insult, so it’s going to be a long time before vintage Pansy makes a comeback. Not only is Viola a safer naming choice, but it’s just as old-fashioned. It’s also a lot more unusual than Violet, which now ranks #35 in the United States! Whereas Violet was given to almost 5,500 baby girls in 2021, Viola was only given to 208 and ranks below the top 1000.
Another interesting spring floral choice if you’re looking for a boys’ name is Clayton, as in Claytonia Perfoliata or “Miner’s Lettuce.”
Do you have a favorite spring flower or nature name? Let me know, and Happy Spring!
A couple weeks ago, I published a darling list of underused vintage baby names for girls. All of the names were popular around the turn of the century (or even earlier!) and are now considered rare by U.S. baby name standards. They range from adorable and cute to elegant and distinguished, and all of them are ripe for a comeback. But what about the boys’ names? Well, here they are! Considering current baby name trends strongly favor old-fashioned names, these underused vintage baby names for boys are fresh and ready to turn the tide. Many of these options were considered fusty and unusable just twenty years ago, but today they’re getting ready for revival.
Algernon: This uppercrust gentleman began as a nickname among the Percy family, long the Earls of Northumberland. It delightfully means “mustache,” giving it a firmly masculine vibe. Most people will associate Algernon with Flowers for Algernon, though its appearance in the prep school video game Bully and horror writer Algernon Blackwood give it serious Dark Academia vibes. Shorten to “Algie” for a grandpa name with nature associations (“algae.”). Amazingly, Algernon only appeared in the U.S. top 1000 once (!) in the 1880s, though it saw minor usage throughout the 20th century, peaking in the early 1970s.
Archibald: Archie is popular again thanks to Prince Archie, so it’s only a matter of time before Archibald sees a resurgence! And believe it or not, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett have a child named Archibald. If you love literary associations, Archibald Craven is Colin’s father and Mary’s uncle in The Secret Garden. 100 boys were named Archibald in 2021, the highest number the Social Security Administration has ever recorded in birth data since 1880. If you’re not huge on Archie, consider shortening to Archer!
Arnold: Considering how popular Arnold Schwarzenegger is, I’m shocked Arnold isn’t a more popular baby name. Only 112 boys were given the name in 2021, which isn’t terribly low but still makes it rare and unusual for a modern baby. And isn’t Arnie such a cute nickname?
Bartholomew: This might be the most controversial choice here, but if we forget the nickname “Bart” and Simpsons references we can update to “Ollie,” “Artie,” and even “Arlo” – all of which are more than usable nickname options in 2023. Many parents will love that Bartholomew has Biblical origins and is the name of a famous saint. 37 boys were named Bartholomew in 2021.
Basil: With how popular nature and gender-neutral names are, it’s amazing more parents aren’t opting for Basil! Besides the delicious herb, Basil is an independent name of Greek origin meaning “king” and also an Arabic name that means “brave.” 73 boys and 28 girls were named Basil in 2021.
Clifford: Remember Clifford the Big Red Dog? Remember how he was the runt of the litter, but grew to the size of a house thanks to so much love? Wouldn’t that be a fantastic, sweet association for a baby? For what it’s worth, Kindercore is a new naming trend that throwbacks to beloved childhood memories. 150 boys were named Clifford in 2021, a more-or-less stable number (it fell out of the top 1000 in the early 2000s). Let’s bring it back!
Ebenezer: OK, despite Ebenezer Scrooge, this name has a wonderfully positive meaning: “stone of help.” Even so, didn’t Scrooge reform at the end? Nobody remembers his redemption…anyway. Eben, Ben, and Ezra are lovely nicknames for a little Ebenezer! 46 boys were named Ebenezer in 2021.
Edmund: Looking for an alternative to Edward? How about Edmund? Like Edward, Edmund derives from Old English / Anglo-Saxon, but it wasn’t nearly as popular after the Norman Conquest. Shortening to Eddie and all the other classic “Ed” nicknames, Edmund is also a fantastic choice for fans of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 172 boys were named Edmund in 2021. It means “wealthy protector.”
Gerard: I’ve never understood how Gerald remained popular for so many years after Gerard fell out of general usage. Maybe people emphasized the first syllable instead of the second…that would do it! Gerard has such a handsome, romantic sound. My primary association is Gerard Butler and his many action movies (and also, Phantom of the Opera), but other people likely associate with Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. 119 boys were named Gerard in 2021.
Gustav: August is a popular unisex choice in 2023, and regal Augustus has made a great comeback for boys starting in the early 90s. Gus is a classic nickname for both…and yet, there’s another way to get to Gus! Gustav is an unrelated German and Scandinavian name that was mildly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries until the early 1930s. That “V” ending is especially distinctive, and art fans may love the association with Gustav Klimt! If you miss the Romanesque prestige and length of Augustus, Gustavus is also an option. Just 34 boys were named Gustav in 2023, though over 400 boys were given the Spanish form Gustavo.
Herbert: Even though this is something of a family name, Herbert wasn’t even on my radar until recently, when I spotted it on an influencer’s baby! I was delighted by such a unique and refreshing choice in 2022 and 2023. Herbie and Herb are cute nicknames, and I think the nature vibes of Herb bolster Herbert’s chances for baby name success. Herbert itself means “bright army.” 53 boys were named Herbert in 2021.
Horatio: I’m going to be completely honest – this is probably my all-time favorite boys’ name. There are way too many reasons why to fit into this post, but Horatio (pronounced huh-RAY-she-o) boasts major literary and historical references spanning from Shakespeare (Hamlet) to the Napoleonic Wars (Horatio Nelson, Horatio Hornblower) and beyond. Horatio is the English form of Horatius, an old Roman name borne by a city-saving hero (Horatius Cocles) who’s somewhat akin to a smaller-scale Leonidas of Sparta. Distinguished and thoroughly unique, Horatio evokes adventure, courage, and intelligence. Somehow, just 12 boys were named Horatio in 2021. Admittedly it’s not the most nickname-friendly option, but I love the idea of shortening it to Ray, Ray Ray, or even Ori!
Isidore / Isadore: If Theodore is getting too popular for you (it’s currently ranked #10 in the U.S.!), try Isidore. Isidore is the English version of a Greek name meaning “Gift of Isis,” a meaning and origin that makes it one of only a few known men’s names derived from a woman’s name (others traditionally include Madison and Emmett). In 2021, 30 boys were named Isidore and another 19 boys and 5 girls received the Isadore spelling. Isidore / Isadore is a great way to honor an Isadora, Theodore, or Isabella in your life.
Orson has a lot to recommend it in 2023: for one thing, it means “bear,” which lends itself to fans of nature and animal names. Secondly, it’s short. It doesn’t have or need any nicknames! Thirdly, it has vintage Hollywood charm; I can’t be the only person thinking about Orson Welles! 97 boys were named Orson in 2021.
Percival / Percy: Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t even mention Percival without starting a fight. Now, it’s ostensibly fashionable! My generation first became familiar with Percy via Harry Potter, but the Percy Jackson series arguably has a much greater impact on that name. In this latter Percy’s case, it’s short for Perseus – another name that’s rising so quickly it may very well reach the top 1000 in a few years. Percival is great for fans of Percy who want a more formal option that isn’t Perseus, and it has Arthurian props. With the growing popularity of names like Arthur and Guinevere, that latter point likely means something to modern-day parents. In 2021, 46 boys were named Percival and 85 were named Percy; Percival’s actually in the middle of a spike, so it’s one to watch.
Phineas: Considering how easily Phineas shortens to “Finn,” I’m surprised more parents haven’t jumped at the opportunity to name their sons this! One of the most recent associations is the amusing Disney cartoon series “Phineas and Ferb.” 129 boys were named Phineas in 2021; an additional 35 children received the Phinehas spelling.
Rupert: Is Robert too popular for you? While Robert only ranks #79, that’s still a top 100 name. What *is* rare, though is Rupert. Rupert is an old-fashioned German version of Robert that’s currently far more popular in Britain than it is in the U.S. In fact, it actually broke the English and Welsh top 100 in 2021! While it ranks #93 there, it was only given to 26 boys in the U.S. during that same year. Contemporary namesakes include actors Rupert Grint, Rupert Graves, Rupert Everett, and Rupert Friend. Also…the guy who wrote the Pina Colada song? He’s a Rupert. Rupert was mildly popular in America until the early 1950s.
Ulysses: What I love about Ulysses – an unusual first initial and associations to Greek mythology and U.S. history. Ulysses is the Latin form of Odysseus, the titular character of Homer’s Odyssey. An old-school name that packs a punch, it was famously the first name of President Ulysses S. Grant, who was arguably one of the country’s greatest generals ever. Additionally, fans of classic rock may appreciate the connection to the Cream song Tales of Brave Ulysses. Like Horatio, it doesn’t shorten to many nicknames but I did come up with “Yul.” 180 boys were named Ulysses in 2021.
Ah, I love vintage names! There were so many I could have included here, but I limited things for the sake of space and time. Honorable mentions go to Clarence, Lemuel, Mortimer, Ignatius, Aloysius, Eleazar, and many more. Are there any you would add? I’d love to know which underused vintage boys’ names are your favorites!
Do you enjoy word games or name games? Do you find yourself rearranging letters in your head? Are you looking for a unique baby name? If you answered yes to any of those questions, isograms might be for you. Isograms are (usually) a type of word or name with no repeating letters. There are thousands of isogram names out there, but it can be hard to formulate more than a few on one’s own. That’s why I’m bringing them to you! In this post series, I curate lists of isogram baby names from recent U.S. birth data and a handful of other sources to cast a wide net and discover some really intriguing choices. Some initials are more prone to creating isograms than others, and some initials more popular to begin with; because relatively few baby names begin with the initials ‘G’, ‘H’, and ‘I,’ I’ve combined those isograms together into a single post!
2 and 3 Letters:
Do you have any favorite isogram names from this list? Are there any others you can think of that start with ‘G,’ ‘H,’ or ‘I?’ Let me know!
If you haven’t gotten a chance to read the other post in my series of isogram names and want more baby name inspiration, you can check them out right here!
Where I live, heavy winters are expected. Somehow, though, this season was strangely mild. Where’s all the snow I was promised when I moved to New England a year ago? Last week we vacationed north into ski country and (finally) there was almost too much snow. Spring may be just around the corner, but for a brief period it felt like winter again! And naturally, I was thinking about baby names. Specifically, names starting with “Win,” as in “Winter,” came to mind!
The letter ‘W’ is an interesting one because there aren’t that many girls’ names that start with it. It’s more traditional for boys’ names, but even so it’s no ‘A’ or ‘S’ with gajillions of possible name combinations. Even fewer are names that start with ‘Win,’ but with winter on my brain, those are the names I’m thinking about.
Here’s a selection of baby names starting with ‘Win’ for your name inspiration!
Winter – ‘Tis the season, and the name that inspired this list. Winter was briefly popular in the late 70s before reviving about a decade ago. An ultramodern nature option with a gender-neutral sound, I’m surprised this name still veers mostly feminine in usage. Current U.S. rank: #324. Interestingly, the spelling variant Wynter is almost as popular with a national ranking of #344!
Winston is a classic boys’ name with strong connections to Winston Churchill. Winston was traditionally a surname, but it’s spent so much time as a first name that I have a hard time putting it in the same category as, say, Miller. Except for a few years in the 19th century when it didn’t rank, Winston is perennially a popular choice for baby boys in the U.S. Current rank: #411.
Winnie is a trendy, up-and-coming vintage girls’ name that’s traditionally short for Winifred. I’ve also seen it used as a nickname for Winslet and Gwendolyn, so whether you prefer it as a standalone name or short for something else, you have options! Winnie is adorable either way. Current rank: #690.
Winifred is an old English name that derives from an earlier Welsh name (Gwenfrewi) via Latin in honor of an early British saint. Popular until the mid-20th century, it is so close to reaching popularity again! 234 girls were named Winifred in 2021, just 21 fewer babies than the minimum for the top 1000. Maybe she’ll make the 2022 list? Winnifred is a common spelling variation.
Winona was mildly popular for girls until the mid 20th century. Though it’s still a rare baby name, it’s risen sharply from just a few dozen a year in the early 2010s to over 170 baby girls in 2021. My guess for the increase? Actress Winona Ryder and her role on Stranger Things, which makes sense since the first big jump was in 2016 (the year the show started). Winona is a Native American name of Dakota or Sioux origin referring to a “first-born daughter.”
Winry is a character on the anime Full Metal Alchemist and the inspiration for the baby name, which is rare but trending upwards. 116 girls received the name in 2021.
Winslow Homer was a famous American painter, though these days his first name is more popular for baby girls. 63 girls and 27 boys were named Winslow in 2021. I think it makes a great, unique alternative to both Winston and Willow.
Windsor comes to us from the British Royal Family, making this one of the preppier surname baby names available to today’s parents. 33 girls and 11 boys were named Windsor in 2021.
Winsley – As far as I can tell, Winsley doesn’t have a lot of history as a first name (it’s modern!) but there is a rare surname and a village in England called Winsley. Still, I think it has lots of potential! 33 girls were named Winsley in 2021.
Winslet is the surname of famed actress Kate Winslet, who inspires a handful of parents each year to name their daughters after her. 18 girls were named Winslet in 2021…I’m surprised there weren’t more! Winslet has a sweet, feminine sound like Juliet.
Winsome – Here’s an unusual word name with a positive meaning: “charming.” Winsome Sears is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s current Lieutenant Governor. 8 baby girls were named Winsome in 2021, the same year she was elected. Since Winsome rarely ever appears in the birth data, I wonder if any (or all) were named after her?
Windy is a mid-century nature name that barely sees use anymore. In some cases Windy may be a variation of Wendy, but its popularity in the 60s and 70s was heavily influenced by an eponymous song by The Association. Just 6 girls were named Windy in 2021.
Winfield is a surname baby name you don’t really hear anymore. It was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries thanks to Winfield Scott Hancock, a famed Civil War general who ran for President in the 1880 election (Nancy has written on the election’s impact on names). Hancock was named after an earlier Winfield Scott, a general and hero of the War of 1812 who served all the way through to the Civil War. I suspect Winfield may have been a relatively popular baby name throughout the century.
Winfred is a great alternative to Wilfred, which is already rare in the U.S. If you’re looking to honor a Winnie or Winifred, try Winfred! Winfred is primarily associated as a men’s name, but I think the proximity to Winifred makes unisex usage possible as a kind of spelling variant (the traditional feminine form of Winfred, though, is Winfreda). Winfred derives from Old English roots meaning “friend” and “peace.”
Winnoc is the name of an obscure Breton or Welsh saint, though it’s also close to a word for window (“winnock”). Similarly, I came across another cool saintly name from the same region – Winwaloe.
Wingfield – This is a surname that could make a great option for expecting parents and authors who are fans of nature names (double whammy with “wing” and “field!”) and want something elegant or distinguished. Hello, maximalism!
Do you have a favorite name starting with the letters “Win?” Are there any you would add to this list? I like all of these for different reasons, but I think I have a special soft spot for Winifred and Winslow.
In the meantime, let’s toast to the end of winter and beginning of spring. I hear where I’m moving next (yes, I’m moving again!), the flowers are already blooming. It’s funny what a difference a few hundred miles makes, right?
If this is your first time tuning into this series or you just want a quick refresher, isograms are names or words that (usually) don’t repeat any letters. For example: Frances is an isogram because each letter is different but Francesca repeats two letters, ‘c’ and ‘a.’ There’s another rare type of isogram where every letter repeats the same number of times (think Fifi or Elle), but you probably won’t encounter that subset most of the time.
My previous isogram posts have all focused on one letter, but I decided to combine ‘E’ and ‘F’ due to their relative rarity. While ‘E’ names are generally popular and varied, it’s unusual and difficult to find ‘E’ isograms. I’m guessing that’s because it’s the most frequently-occurring letter in the English language and is therefore especially tricky to avoid. One brave and ingenious author managed to write a novel containing no ‘e’s anywhere in its text (can you imagine writing a book without the word “the?!”). On the other hand, ‘F’ names are rare in English, period.
Here is a list of over 250 isogram names starting with ‘E’ and ‘F.’ Most, but not all, come from recent U.S. baby name data as provided by the Social Security Administration. Enjoy!
It’s amazing how creative you can get with strict naming parameters, whether you’re looking for an isogram or not. While I’m not sure how well a handful of these work for a modern child (I’m looking at you, Eutychia), most of these are in use today. Hopefully this list provides you with plenty of inspiration for your baby, pet, or character names!
Do you have any favorites from this list or names you’d add? I’m curious!
If you’d like to peruse my previous isogram lists, here they are:
If you’re a fan of vintage baby names like I am, you’re probably over the moon to discover that old-fashioned baby names are *in.* Sure, even generations famous for ultramodern names like the 1980s and 1990s had their “grandma” and “grandpa names” – I’ve heard at least one parent of an early-90s Emily say they picked an old-fashioned name not realizing other people were naming their kids Emily too. If you look at the current U.S. Top 10, most of the names are verifiably old-school! You can’t go anywhere there’s children without running into an Ava, Emma, or Olivia. Many parents may be tired of Mary, but they aren’t tired of names from 100 years ago.
Many of you may also prefer baby names that are a little more unique than what you find in the top 10, the top 100, or even the top 1000. Luckily, there are so many other baby names to choose from! I’ve curated a collection of wonderful old-fashioned girls’ names from below the top 1000. Keep in mind that in 2021 (the last year for which we have U.S. baby name data from the Social Security Administration), the minimum threshold for a baby girls’ name to enter the top 1000 and be considered popular was 254 girls receiving the name nationally. Anything below that number is considered rare! Anyway, here’s my list of underused vintage baby names for girls:
Agatha: Historically much rarer than Agnes, stately Agatha looks like it might make a comeback. Mystery-lovers everywhere will associate this name with Agatha Christie. 136 girls were named Agatha in 2021. If you love the nickname Aggie, Agatha’s one way to reach it!
Agnes, Aggie: Agnes is a lot more popular than it was 25 years ago, but it still needs a boost to reemerge victorious. Fans of British literature may the connection to Agnes Grey, the titular character of Anne Bronte’s 1847 novel. 211 U.S. girls were named Agnes in 2021, but only 5 girls were named her adorable nickname, Aggie.
Cornelia: Cordelia is rare, but elegant Cornelia is even rarer. This Victorian beauty easily shortens to Cora, Cori, Nellie, Lia, and other nicknames for greater approachability. 42 girls were named Cornelia in 2021.
Dottie: A classic, spunky nickname for Dorothy or Dorothea. For even more moxie and pizzazz, shorten it further to Dot! Dorothy itself is popular and rising, ranking #483 nationally, but if you want something more unusual and love the old-school nicknames trend that’s currently happening, Dottie may be the baby name for you.
Effie: Effie is classically short for Euphemia, a stately Victorian name that also deserves some love. Effie is still quite rare in the U.S., though it’s gaining traction in the U.K. If you love Scottish and Scottish-adjacent names like Archie and Maisie, Effie is another name you should consider. In 2021, 82 American girls were named Effie – far more than Euphemia, which belongs to only 11 girls born that year.
Elvie: Elvira is a cool name with witchy vibes, but nickname Elvie is just plain cute. I think Elvie works wonderfully as a unique alternative to Elsie, which currently ranks #221 in the U.S. and is still rising. 19 girls were named Elvie in 2021, compared to 1335 children named Elsie.
Enid: Likely everyone with a hobby or profession in baby names who watched Wednesday now has Enid on their radar. Earlier generations associate Enid with children’s author Enid Blyton or an Arthurian character, but 2023’s denizens think of a sweet, bubbly teenage werewolf girl. Just 34 baby girls were named Enid in 2021.
Eula: I stumbled upon this lovely lady within the last week while perusing SSA data, and later heard about someone who named their daughter Eula! It’s traditionally short for Eulalia, but I think Eula is easier to say five times fast. Just 6 girls in the U.S. were named Eula in 2021, which is almost as unique as it gets!
Evelina: If Evelyn is popular, why not Evelina? Evelina is the titular character of a famous early romance novel by Frances “Fanny” Burney, who inspired Jane Austen. Consider this gorgeous 18th-century option “Austen-adjacent?” 184 girls were named Evelina in 2021, which is somehow both more and fewer than I’d expect.
Fern is a vintage nature name that, like Effie, is gaining traction in the U.K. but still has a ways to go in the U.S. before it’s popular again. 140 American baby girls received the name in 2021 and it is on the rise, so just give it a few more years. Maybe 2024 or 2025?
Gertrude: I’ve written about Gertrude before and I sincerely believe it’s time to dust off this name. With great namesakes including Gertrude Stein and Ma Rainey and a wealth of nickname potential, I hope more parents will consider this strong name. And before you say “nobody names their kid Gertrude anymore,” let’s point out that U.S. parents gave it to 29 baby girls in 2021.
Ginger: Though Ginger has serious 1930s and 1940s vibes thanks to Ginger Rogers, it surprisingly peaked in the 70s. In those days, most people thought of Ginger as a nickname or variant of Virginia, but its status as a nature name and spice gives it currency for modern parents as a standalone name. 46 girls were named Ginger in 2021.
Inez: Inez (pronounced ee-NEZ or ih-NEZ) derives from a Spanish version of Agnes. Parents who want a smoother sound may prefer this four-letter form, which also benefits from its brevity. Need something different than Ava or Isla? Inez has you covered. Oh, and Inez gets major bonus points for historical associations with suffragette Inez Milholland, who campaigned for women’s right to vote until her premature death in 1916. 129 girls were named Inez in 2021, while 138 girls received the Ines spelling.
Lettie: Leticia and Letitia have fallen to the wayside, but Lettie is a fashionable nickname that’s slowly resurging. 173 girls were named Lettie in 2021.
Lois is stylish! It’s short, sweet, and to-the-point – a huge plus for fans of minimalist baby names. It’s also a fairly obscure Biblical name from the New Testament, so religious parents may appreciate that. Most of us likely remember Lois as Superman’s girlfriend, though. 119 girls were named Lois in 2021.
Maude, or Maud, is a short medieval form of the name Matilda, which is steadily gaining traction in the U.S. with a current rank of #466. Only 18 girls were named Maude in 2021, but I’m hearing a lot of buzz about it as an upcoming middle name. That makes sense, because it’s relatively short and only one syllable! Maude was at its most popular in the 1880s, which means it’s well overdue for a revival.
Minerva, Minnie: Minerva is Roman Mythology’s equivalent to Greek Mythology’s Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Parents who grew up reading Harry Potter may associate Minerva primarily with Minerva McGonagall, the stern Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress and transfiguration teacher, but as an old-fashioned name that’s been popular before, that’s not the only association. Even so, baby names from mythology are hugely trendy in the 2020s! Overall, Minerva gives off smart librarian vibes, which makes it a great choice for bookish parents. You can even shorten it to adorable Minnie. 84 girls were named Minerva in 2021, while 63 girls received the name Minnie.
Rowena: Rowan is a trendy gender-neutral nature name ranking #106 for boys and #241 for girls! If you’re worried about its popularity, consider medieval Rowena, which hasn’t ranked nationally since 1963. Just 33 girls were named Rowena in 2021.
Theodosia: Theodosia hasn’t ranked in the U.S. Top 1000 since the 1890s, but the popularity of the musical Hamilton, the rising popularity of similar names Theodore and Theodora, and the maximalist baby names trend are creating a perfect storm for reviving this elaborate gem. 35 girls were named Theodosia in 2021, the current peak of a sharp increase we’ve had these last few years. An additional 10 girls received the Theadosia spelling.
Viola: Violet is one of today’s most popular floral names, but if you like your flower names a little rarer, try Viola! Like Agnes, Viola has the potential to reemerge into popularity with just a little boost. Music-lovers may appreciate that it shares its letters with the stringed instrument. The biggest current association though, I think, is actress Viola Davis. 208 girls were named Viola in 2021.
Do you have any favorite underused vintage girls’ names from this list? Are there any you’d add? Let me know!
An honorable mention goes out to Hildegard, Hedy, Eudora, Augusta, and Rosalind. Winifred is one to watch, but I think that may enter the top 1000 in the new 2022 stats when those arrive in May! All the others are rare and unusual for a 2023 baby…for now!
Have you been following along with my lists of isogram names? I recently began a series listing hundreds of names with no repeating letters. You’d think that’s a lot, but when the U.S. records well over 10,000 baby names per year for baby boys and baby girls each, a couple hundred is absolutely nothing. That’s not even including many trendy spelling variations – I’m generally looking for unique, distinct isogrammic baby names when I create these lists.
Isograms are a great way to play with the bounds of the English language. So many words and names repeat at least one letter that you truly have to go looking for them. Oftentimes, they hide in plain sight! Anyway, here are over 250 isogram names starting with ‘D.’ Most (but not all) of these made the list after I scoured the Social Security Administration baby name data for examples.
All in all, there are some absolutely fascinating names that count as isograms. Deucalion tickles me because it not only doesn’t repeat any letters, but it also includes all five main English-language vowels: AEIOU. Can you believe 6 baby boys received that name in 2021? I somehow can *and* can’t. All I can say is that Greek Mythology provides a lot of baby name inspiration nowadays.
Do you have any favorite isogram baby names starting with ‘D?’ I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you come up with any that aren’t on this list, let me know! Discussion is a key goal of this blog.
If you’d like to read the earlier lists, here they are:
Are you looking for a list of baby names exclusively associated with healthy foods? If so, you’ve come to the wrong blog post. If that *is* what you’re looking for, check out my posts on baby names inspired by fruits and vegetables! For everything from comfort food to haute cuisine, you’re in the right place. Either way, I hope you’re hungry. Here is a food baby names you’ll find on a menu, for foodies and culinarians alike!
Benedict is a distinguished vintage baby name that shares its name with a popular egg dish. Benedict teeters on the edge of the top 1000 with a ranking of #991 in the U.S., though it’s sure to rise thanks to Bridgerton. I’ve written extensively about Benedict here.
Bran is an Irish and Welsh name meaning “raven,” a Game of Thrones character, and a type of cereal. 14 boys were named Bran in 2021.
Nova is a type of salmon lox typically served atop a cream cheese bagel. Despite this Latin word’s meaning of “new,” Nova is a vintage name that was mildly popular in the early 20th century and that’s become wildly in the 21st. At last count in 2021, Nova ranked #32 for baby girls and #853 for baby boys. Who knows how much higher it will jump when the 2022 data arrives in May?
Appetizers and Sides:
Bao – When I saw Bao in the SSA data, I immediately thought of bao buns. Bao exists as a name in both Chinese and Vietnamese, and in Chinese the meaning depends on the character used to write it (one possible definition is “treasure” or “jewel”). 11 boys were named Bao in the U.S. in 2021.
Chip is a stylish nickname for Charles or Christopher, though I bet it would also work for Chester! The question is, are we talking about kettle-cooked potato chips or fries? 39 boys were named Chip in 2021.
Nori is the seaweed sheet you find wrapped around sushi, a Japanese name with varying kanji, and a dwarf character in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Many Americans are more familiar with Nori as the nickname of Kardashian baby North West. 251 girls and 23 boys were named Nori in 2021.
Roe is a rare, gender-neutral baby name that shares its letters with a surname and fish eggs. Caviar, anyone? 17 girls and 9 boys were named Roe in 2021.
Blue – Mmm, blue cheese. All three commonly-accepted English spellings (Blue, Bleu, and Blu) are established baby names. Chances are most parents stick Blue in the middle name spot, but the parents of 45 boys and 42 girls gave it first name status in 2021. Parents of 42 boys and 33 girls named their children Bleu that year, and parents of 46 boys and 35 girls used the Blu spelling. Blue/Bleu/Blu is a fun gender-neutral word name, and I wonder if it’s going to take off in the coming years?
Brie – There’s no denying the flexibility and usability of Brie as a baby name, especially as a nickname. Brianna, Brielle, Gabriella, and Sabrina can all shorten to Brie, whose sound is as soft and lovely as the cheese. 77 girls.
Cabot – Cabot may sound like your classic English surname (and it is), but it can also be a variation on Italian Caboto, the last name of early explorer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot). 7 boys were named Cabot in 2021.
Colby is a modern unisex name that fits in any era and setting from the beaches of California to a New England prep school. Colby currently ranks #650 for boys with 418 uses, though 55 baby girls also received the name in 2021.
Jack is a classic nickname for John that’s even more popular, ranking #11 in the U.S. to john’s #27.
Amandine isn’t just a French variation of Amanda – it’s also an almond-based garnish to dishes like Trout Amandine and Green Beans Amandine. The name is so rare in the U.S. that it hasn’t registered for several years.
Bento was given to 13 boys in 2021. Many more people ate from bento boxes, or Japanese boxed lunches. According to Behind the Name, the name Bento is a Portuguese nickname for Benedito.
Chana is the Hebrew version of Hannah. Currently ranking #802 in the U.S., most of the 348 baby girls who received this form of the name in 2021 were born in New York and New Jersey, states with large frum Jewish populations. Meanwhile, Chana Masala is delicious Indian dish consisting primarily of chickpeas and spices.
Chole is another name for Chana Masala, and ostensibly also a common misspelling of Chloe. While not all Choles may truly be Chloes, it’s one of the baby names parents legally change the most often according to the Washington Post. Anecdotally, I know a Chloe whose name was misspelled “Chole” on an important medical document, which makes me wonder if some of the children whose names are changed had that happen to them too. 44 baby girls were registered under the name Chole in 2021, and I’m curious to see if that number is smaller in an updated set that arrives in May.
Curry – Mmm, who doesn’t love a steaming, fragrant bowl of curry? Curry didn’t appear in SSA birth data for 2021, but it frequently shows up in other years. I’m thinking Steph Curry may be a popular namesake?
Frank and Frankfurter are some of the other names for hot dogs that you’ll hear. A timeless boys’ name associated with Francis, Franklin, and Frankie, Frank ranked #444 in 2021.
John reminds me of Hoppin’ John, a classic Lowcountry Southern dish with West African heritage and influences. It is traditionally made from black-eyed peas, rice, and pork (the types of peas or meat used may vary). John currently ranks #27 in the U.S.
London hearkens to London Broil, an American beef dish. A unisex place name, London ranks #219 for baby girls and #864 for baby boys.
Patty is traditionally a nickname for Martha or Patricia, but I’m thinking about burgers and falafel. 6 girls were named Patty in 2021.
Reuben is both a Biblical name and a tasty sandwich. A classic reuben consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and either Russian or Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. There are many variants (especially pastrami), of course, and nowadays they don’t even need to contain meat. Current rank: #883.
Rachel is what you call a reuben with coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. Many rachels swap out the corned beef or pastrami for turkey. Rachel currently ranks #239 nationally.
Salmon isn’t a name you really hear anymore (it’s Biblical!), but Salmon P. Chase was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court between the Lincoln and Grant administrations.
Ambrosia is an option for anyone who’s looking to honor an Ambrose in their life or family tree. These days, ambrosia is a fruit salad made with marshmallows and some kind of cream, though in Greek Mythology it’s the divine food only the gods can eat. 8 girls were named Ambrosia in the U.S. in 2021.
Caesar probably isn’t the healthiest salad either, but it’s great for people who struggle with the texture of raw tomatoes and onions, which seem to be found on most other classic salads. 55 baby boys were given this imperial name in 2021, but Cesar (the Spanish and Portuguese version) is a top 1000 baby name ranking #386.
Alaska is a trendy place name and the namesake of Baked Alaska, an ice cream cake that’s sometimes set on fire. 88 girls were named Alaska in 2021.
Charlotte is the #3 girls’ name in the U.S. and the name of a bread pudding style.
King – It’s past Mardi Gras, but who doesn’t love the colors and flavors of a king cake? King ranks #185 in the U.S.
Madeleine is the French version of Magdalene and the name of a delightful cookie. The current U.S. rank for this spelling is #381; Madeline and Madelyn are both more popular.
Napoleon – Most of us will think of the emperor, but it’s also a type of layered puff pastry treat. 14 boys were named Napoleon in 2021.
Other inspired options include Bryan (via Matzo Brei), Holland (via Hollandaise), Loxley (from Lox), Pomeline (via Pommes Frites, or French Fries), and Rue (from Roux and Rugelach).
Do you have a favorite food name from this list? Are there any other culinary baby names you would add? Let me know!
Note: Data for U.S. baby names comes from the Social Security Administration, which publishes both a national list of the top 1000 baby names and an extended list down to 5 uses based on all the applications they receive for a given year.
I’m a huge fan of isograms. When discussing baby names, an isogram is a name that (usually*) doesn’t repeat letters. For example: Caroline is an isogram, but variant Carolina is not because it repeats an ‘a.’ Playing the isogram game is a great way to find unique and distinctive name options. You would be surprised what you can come up with! All kinds of names can be isograms, so if you’re looking for an interesting way to name your baby, they’re a great place to look.
Here’s a long list of isogram names for boys and girls starting with ‘C!’ Most (but not all) came from recent Social Security Administration data. Even some incredibly old-school options are still in use (I’m looking at you Caedmon and Cephas), though the jury’s still out on Cyneburg.
There are so many great names to choose from here! I honestly thought there wouldn’t be that many isogram names starting with ‘C,’ but I was wrong. Can you think of any others? As always, let me know some of your favorites.
*There’s a second type of isogram that repeats each letter of a word or name, but these are extremely rare. Cece and Coco are examples of this other version, with each doubling two letters.
If you want to look at my previous isogram name lists, here they are: