Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

Ebenezer: No Longer a Scrooge?

Everyone’s talking about holiday-themed and Christmas-themed baby names right now. Whether or not they’ll admit it, Ebenezer falls into this category! Just a few years ago, children named Ebenezer were practically unheard of. Until the 1990s, Ebenezer appeared only sporadically in Social Security Administration baby name data. That hasn’t been the case in the new millennium.

Ebenezer "Stone of Help."

At least 40 babies have been named Ebenezer every year since 2012. 2017 saw 55 boys receive the name, which is the highest usage Ebenezer has ever reached in the birth data extending back to 1880 (though said data isn’t necessarily accurate or complete until the 1930s). Its traditional nickname Eben frequently ranks higher, though in 2021 there was only a difference of one baby with 47 boys getting Eben and 46 getting Ebenezer. Historically, Eben‘s usage has been a lot more steady but peaked at 100 boys just a decade ago. Going forward, it looks like Ebenezer may be more stalwart than its more accessible short form. And hey, Ebenezer is no longer just for boys – over thirty girls have been named Ebenezer since 2008!

But what is Ebenezer‘s deal? None of us can forget the cultural icon that is Ebenezer Scrooge. A lonely old man who’s cruel to everyone, especially at Christmas? Whose main catchphrase is “bah, humbug?” This Dickensian character creation permanently tainted a fine Biblical name for many, but we should remember that Scrooge came around at the end. His experience with the three ghosts permanently changed him for the better, and so he’s not so much a villain as someone who needed a wake-up call. Moreover, nobody is born that bitter, but it takes a lot to overcome bitterness like that. A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption and healing. We all love that at the Holidays, don’t we? I’d argue that makes Ebenezer an awesome Christmas baby name.

Scrooge after the ghosts

If you’re cynical about the Holiday Season and are prone to complaining about it, Scrooge may still be the namesake you want. Naturally, the Victorian Grinch is everyone’s main association with Ebenezer. I personally have another association via the 1948 movie Portrait of Jennie, which is coincidentally another ghost story (though much more romantic). One of the main characters is an artist named Eben Adams. 

As to why the name Ebenezer has gotten a lot more popular than before, I have few ideas. It offers serious old-school Puritan and Bible vibes, which imports weight considering the widespread popularity of names like Noah, Elijah, Asher, and Ezra. Also…is it at all possible that Ebenezer is losing some of its association with Scrooge, in the way that Benedict isn’t always associated with Arnold now? It has an appealing meaning, too: “stone of help.”

Ebenezer has great nickname potential! Besides the obvious Eben, you could call an Ebenezer by Ben, Ezra, Benno, Benny, Bennett, and Benz. Because of its meaning, you could even go for Rocky! Middle names should ideally be one or two syllables, as in Ebenezer John or Ebenezer Samson.

What do you think of the name Ebenezer?

My sources were the Social Security AdministrationA Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, Behind the Name, and Nancy’s Baby Names.

Originally published July 21, 2016.


Redundant Names

Every once in a while I swear I see birth announcements for children named Isabella Elizabeth or Jacob James.  First-Middle combos such as these always baffle me because Isabella and Elizabeth ultimately derive from the same Biblical Hebrew name, as do Jacob and James.  They appear different from each other, but have the same meaning and origin.  Don’t get me wrong…I love all these names (especially Elizabeth since it’s my own name).  But I do believe some names shouldn’t be juxtaposed.

Now, the meanings of names generally don’t matter too much to most people regarding English-language naming, but it is a good idea to at least make you aren’t using two versions of the same name.  Personally, if I want to look up the origin or meaning of a name, Behind the Name is the gold-standard.  Often I think BtN is far more reliable than any of the physical name dictionaries (including the one published by Oxford), but that’s a story for another time…

Here are some combos besides Isabella Elizabeth and Jacob James that I consider redundant.  Some of them are only theoretical, but I’m sure others have been tried.

  • Allison Alice Allison is a variation of Alison, which is a medieval form of Alice.
  • Hannah Anne – Both derive from a Hebrew name meaning “Grace.”  Anne is the French form of Anna, which is the Greek cognate of Hannah
  • Jacques James – Contrary to how it sounds, Jacques is related to James and Jacob, not Jack or John.  This said, if honoring a Jacques, Jack James is doable.
  • Jamie Jacqueline – ditto
  • Lillian ElizabethLillian is commonly believed to derive from Elizabeth.  Ergo, Lily Elizabeth is also an iffy combination, but the flower allows Lily to stand on her own as a name. 
  • Liam William – Visually self-evident, plus they’re closely related.  If you love both names, I recommend naming him William and using Liam as the nickname.
  • Jackson JohnJackson is a surname meaning ‘son of Jack,’ and Jack is a nickname for John.  
  • Molly MarieMolly is a nickname for Mary, English equivalent of French Marie.
  • Megan MargaretMegan is a Welsh pet form of Margaret.
  • Rebecca Rivka – Not going to lie, this could actually make a great character name.
  • Anna Grace – A stretch because the origins are different…however, they both mean “grace.”  Hannah Grace is in the same boat.
  • Nadia HopeNadia can mean “hope.”
  • Rupert Robert Even closer versions of the same name than James and Jacob.
  • Eliza Beth – One name split into two nicknames. 

Other potentially redundant combinations may arise in these situations:

  • Regarding mythological names, using both the Greek and Roman names for the same deity.  Think Hera Juno or Zeus Jupiter.  I’ll admit those sound very cool, but are still a little repetitive.  Vesta Hestia doesn’t sound so great though…
  • Regarding Biblical names; several figures in the Bible had their names changed.  Oftentimes the new names are entirely different from the old; therefore, something like Jacob Israel or Simon Peter is a fine first-and-middle combination.  I will suggest, however, that Abraham and Sarah‘s old names (Abram and Sarai) are too similar to be used in a combination with their new names (Abram Abraham and Sarah Sarai?). 

 Thoughts?  Can you think of any other repetitive or redundant combinations? 

American Names

Names that Entered and Left the Top 1000 in 2015

Usually when I examine names I focus on the top 1000 and beyond rather than just the top 10 and 100.  Here’s some information on the top 1000 this year.


  • Adaline, Zelda, Alaia, Lennox, Royal, Amaris, Adilynn, Adley, Kalani, Briar, Kaya, Analia, Jayde, Romina, Nathalia, Aminah, Sarahi, Andi, Arden, Dalary, Aitana, Vienna, Esperanza, Kyndall, Veda, Meilani, Harmoni, Luz, Aislinn, Ellis, Elora, Heavenly, Kensington, Tinley, Ophelia, Charlize, Avalyn, Taya, Lyra, Noor, Sariyah, Giavanna, Rhea, Zaylee, Frankie, Princess, Alianna (47)
  • Canaan, Otis, Shiloh, Denver, Immanuel, Jonael, Ignacio, Riaan, Musa, Ridge, Jaziel, Boone, Cairo, Kashton, Jabari, Avi, Sutton, Kamren, Huxley, Wilder, Louie, Achilles, Aarush, Robin, Yadiel, Yahya, Kye, Todd, Haiden, Brixton, Dangelo, Juelz, Bishop, Freddy, Malaki, Leroy, Briar, Antoine (38). 

It’s harder to track down exiting names, but I think I have them all here:

  • Isis, Temperance, Miley, Mercy, Patience, Cambria, Diamond, Renee, Lesly, Mercedes, Neveah, Pyper, Aanya, Rosalyn, Alaysia, Abrielle, Bryn, Carlie, Mckayla, Sherlyn, Kaleigh, Anniston, Anabel, Macey, Annabell, Janae, Alisa, Sonia, Dalia, Ayva, Mattie, Riya, Kylah, Antonia, Magdalena, Tamia, Samiyah, Natalya, Alyvia, Ayanna, Kaidence, Audriana, Abbigail, Taryn, Mollie, Danika, Cindy (47)
  • Jair, Clinton, Teagan, Koen, Aidyn, Howard, Jaycob, Arnav, Foster, Tyree, Johnathon, Konner, Mike, Broderick, Brayson, Bridger, Giovanny, Efrain, Semaj, Makhi, Khalid, Jericho, Jovanni, Gino, Jayse, Yael, Randall, Ramiro, Tristian, Rylee, Eliezer, Darien, Ayan, Maddux, Rylen, Leif, Menachem, Kale (38)


  • Arden hasn’t been in the top 1000 as a girls’ name since 1931!  I hesitate to call it old-fashioned because it charted within this parameter only for three years, but it’s kind of fitting with the reentries of Zelda and Adaline as a sort of early 20th-century glamour name.  
  • Veda was last in the top 1000 in 1960. 
  • Aislinn – Irish Gaelic-spelling alert!  Irish and Scottish names are popular all the time, but it’s rare to see a spelling that hasn’t been Anglicized within the top 1000!  This is the first time Aislinn has charted, but phonetic Ashlyn and Ashlynn have charted since the 1986 and 1992, respectively – possibly as variants of Ashley, but you never know.  Interesting how Aislinn enters the list while Ashlyn and Ashlynn are declining!
  • Ellis ranked immediately after America.  Patriotic baby names, much?
  • Elora – This name has never been in the top 1000, but sounds very old.  If you look into the extended data, this was used occasionally around WWI and the 1920s (another flapper-era name, hmm?), but usage has only picked up since the 80s. 
  • Kensington – This has never been popular before, but I did notice that Windsor is picking up as a name in the extended data.  I guess palace names are a new trend?
  • I think the song Ophelia” was released in 2016, which is only going to make the name more popular.
  • Adaline is resurrected because of last year’s movie Age of Adaline.  I’ve noticed that Adeline and other spellings also received large boosts from the movie.
  • I predicted Achilles would enter, and it did! 
  • I wonder what’s fueling the popularity of Canaan?  Old Testament names are trendy, but I’m kind of surprised there were enough of these to enter the top 1000.
  • Jonael – I thought this was possibly another rare Bible name, but instead searches turned up people named Jonael Santiago (Telemundo celebrity?) and Jonael Schickler (Swiss philosopher).  I’m guessing the former is the reason for popularity.
  • Jaziel appears to be a variant of Jaaziel, which is actually a Biblical name.
  • Isis – We all know why this one’s out.  I’ll write a more extensive post about this later.
  • Temperance, Patience, and Mercy – I had predicted that Honesty would make her debut, but I guess this was a bad year for virtue names.
  • One would think that with all the Marvel names circulating that Howard Stark might make his name more popular, but I guess not…
  • Efrain fell out, but Ephraim is even more popular than last year
  • I predicted Clinton would fall out even though usage increased between 2013 and 2014.  I think it will decline further this year. 

What do you think of these names?  If you’re interested in seeing the entire top 1000 for 2015 (and 2014), you can read them here and here.

American Names

They’re here! The 10 most popular baby names of 2015

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.25.08 AM

Wow!  The Social Security Administration published a these a few minutes BEFORE the Today Show.  Let’s take a first look at the top 10 for 2015, and how that compares to 2014.

The #1 most popular names in the country are still Noah and Emma

The entire Top 10 (Boys):

  1. Noah (0)
  2. Liam (0)
  3. Mason (0)
  4. Jacob (0)
  5. William (0)
  6. Ethan (0)
  7. James (+2)
  8. Alexander (0)
  9. Michael (-2)
  10. Benjamin (new, +2)

The entire Top 10 (Girls):

  1. Emma (0)
  2. Olivia (0)
  3. Sophia (0)
  4. Ava (+1)
  5. Isabella (-1)
  6. Mia (0)
  7. Abigail (+1)
  8. Emily (-1)
  9. Charlotte (+1)
  10. Harper (new, +1)

Positions #2 and #3 have also stayed the same.  Liam, Mason, Olivia, and Sophia are apparently all stable and enjoy the same ranks as last year. 

I was surprised that Jacob didn’t drop to #7, since last I checked it was declining in usage.  It stayed the same rank, as did #5 and #6, Ethan and William.

The first change among the boys’ names that we encounter is at #7.  James moved up two places from #9, while Michael slipped down into James‘s old spot.  Alexander was stable at #8.

There is one new boys’ name in the top 10!  Benjamin was ranked #12 at last count.  The name that fell out of the top 10: Daniel.

Ava and Isabella switched places in the ranks.  Mia stayed stable, but subsequent Abigail and Emily switched places after MiaCharlotte moved up one rank!

Harper is now a #10 name!  Madison is knocked out. 

Compare to my top 10 predictions here.  I have to say – I’m wrong about some things, but I’m pleasantly surprised.  It’s interesting how stable the top 10 names were this year! 




American Names · Analysis

Name Predictions: The Top 100

Earlier this week, I published my predictions for the 2015 American top 10 most popular baby names, which you can read here.  After the top 10, the next grouping people tend to look at the most is the top 100.  These are names that are generally popular; nowadays, to be a top 100 name requires at least a few thousand registered uses in the U.S. within a year.  In 2014, the #100 girls’ name was bestowed approximately 2900 times, while the #100 boys’ name was used around 3,900 times.  Interestingly, there are just about the same number of names for boys and girls within the top 1000 that were used at least 1,000 times (334 and 333, respectively).  But, the numerical threshold to enter the top 1000 is much higher for female names than for male names.  The suggestion is that the most popular male names tend to be skewed towards the top in their distribution, whereas female names are more spread out over a larger pool of names.  I digress.

I predict we’ll see the following names enter the top 100 in the 2015 data:

  • Girls: Cora, Hazel, Clara, AuroraAdalynn, Valentina (maybe), Kinsley (maybe), Luna (maybe), Everly (maybe)
  • Boys: Elias, Mateo, Maxwell, Miles, Sawyer, Roman, Leonardo, Ezra, Theodore, Harrison (maybe), Santiago (maybe)

I predict we’ll see the following names leave the top 100 in the 2015 sets:

  • Girls: Ashley, LaurenSophie, London, Khloe (maybe), Brianna (maybe), Alexandra (maybe)
  • Boys: Justin, Tristan*, Bentley, Luis, Camden, Nathaniel (maybe)

The names that were “modern” 20 or 30 years ago aren’t any longer.  Ashley and Lauren are the girls you and I went to high school with, and believe me, they’re not naming their daughters after themselves.  Justin – chances are that would fall out of fashion anyway, but I’m sure Justin Bieber isn’t helping matters. 

We are seeing a mass return of classic and even ancient names.  Names like Cora and Clara were both popular and trendy as far back as the 1880s.  The adage is that names become popular again after about 100 years, or when a baby will be the great-grandchild of a person with an old-fashioned name.  I almost want to say it’s more a great-great-grandchild type of renewal, though for many expectant parents in their 30s and 40s one-great is probably more accurate.  Note, however, that it’s names like Cora and Clara that are on the upswing and not names like Sandra or Judy.  The latter are what I call “outdated,” but not old-fashioned.  They’re too young to be old but still belong to a lot of living people, mostly grandparents.  Admittedly, Alice and Eleanor, which reentered the top 100 in 2014, also fall into that category; the difference is that they are classic – maybe even timeless – whereas only Sandra and Judy elicit mid-century memories.

Note then the ancient names that may enter the top 100.  Aurora, Roman goddess of the dawn, will almost certainly make her debut.  Luna, Roman goddess of the moon, is rising rapidly too, and if it doesn’t happen in 2015 it will in 2016.  Valentina, a more human Roman name, isn’t rising as quickly as the previous two but is rising close enough to the threshold that this may be her year.  From the boys’ list, a different kind of ancient name will enter the top 100.  Ezra and Elias are both Old Testament names.  Nathaniel too, but for reasons unknown is likely falling out.  Or, maybe he’ll receive a boost?  Old Testament names are currently trendier than New Testament names, which often have a very 90s-ish vibe.

After considering the names entering and leaving the top 100, it’s important to look at the current fastest risers and fallers within this range.  In 2014, these were the names that rose over 500 uses from 2013:

  • Girls: Olivia, Charlotte, Harper, Amelia, Evelyn, Victoria, Scarlett, Aria, Ariana, Penelope, Skylar, Nora, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Annabelle, Piper, Eleanor
  • Boys: Noah, James, Logan, Lucas, Carter, Luke, Oliver, Henry, Sebastian, Levi, Grayson, Hudson, Lincoln, Asher

Within the top 100 in 2014, these were the names that were used at least 500 times less than in 2013:

  • Girls: Sophia, Isabella, Emily, Addison, Hannah, Samantha, Kaylee, Alexis, Nevaeh
  • Boys: Mason, Jacob, Ethan, Anthony, Andrew, Joshua, Christopher, Ryan, Nathan, Christian, Landon, Gavin, Brayden, Tyler, Zachary, Blake, Bentley, Justin

It’s difficult to make definitive judgments from that set.  The fastest-falling names tell me the 90s are dead, but that’s about it.  I think it’s important to look at what names are rising or falling overall, and especially the ones entering or leaving the top 100. 

Ultimately I do believe that using old-fashioned names is one of the greatest trends in naming, but not all old names are destined to rise together.  Otherwise there would be a lot more adult Apollos running around with Carls.  Indeed, newly modern names will always come around.  Whether recently modern names will become trendy again the way traditional names do is yet to be determined. 

*Technically Tristan ranked #101, but had the same number of uses as the #100 (which came first in the alphabet), so I will count it as a top 100 for these purposes. 

Source: (choose extended option)

American Names

Unusual Names in the 26-30 Range (Boys)

Finally, the boys’ list.  These names were given to between 26 and 30 boys in the U.S. back in 2014.  It’s a really interesting set!

30: Amias, Aristotle, Banner, Canton, Casimir, Dimas, Dodge, Eamonn, Elimelech, Ezriel, Kolson, Macen, Mackenzie, Malique, Matthieu, Maximilliano, Mehdi, Odysseus, Pinchas, Randal

29: Alasdair, Aldon, Alexi, Braddock, Carlin, Edwyn, Enmanuel, Espen, Gryphon, Hillel, Kirin, Lyon, Oakland, Romero, Vincente, Walt, Ward

28: Adi, Alias, Bauer, Cashmere, Champ, Cordero, Ellington, Emeric, Etienne, Faustino, Flavio, Garner, Homer, Jennings, Lior, Mercer, Rooney, Seeley, Severin, Walden, Wilfred, Yeshaya

27: Alexey, Alphonso, Asiel, Azarias, Burton, Cage, Cloud, Dillinger, Dirk, Euan, Fabrizio, Jabez, Jeanluc, Jeb, Majesty, Manolo, Novak, Oswald, Oz, Rhythm, Tallon, Tito, Vladislav, Wrigley, Yareth, Yechezkel

26: Alphonse, Arun, Asaph, Atley, Beauregard, Bogdan, Boy, Captain, Cleveland, Cord, Crispin, Donato, Egan, Fallon, Harbor, Hartley, Jacinto, Jebediah, Jetson, Kenyan, Klaus, Manasseh, Quintus, Richmond, Sevastian, Thad, Thaddaeus, Timur, Uri, Vivek, Zebulon


  • Banner – Most likely because of Bruce Banner A.K.A the Hulk.
  • Canton – If intended as a geographical/political feature, I’d call this unique.
  • Kolson – I feel that this might be a Marvel-influenced name, but I don’t think it’s spelled that way in that universe.
  • Odysseus – This is equally surprising and not surprising.  I guess I’ll never get over the amazement of seeing a rare Ancient Greek or Biblical name within the data!
  • Espen – Probably a phonetic variant of Espn…I guess a television network’s standard abbreviation isn’t ‘namey’ enough, lol.
  • Homer – Considering the usage levels of Odysseus and Achilles, I imagine that Homer’s not used more because of Homer Simpson. 
  • Seeley – as in Seeley Booth, a character in the show Bones.  One of the few TV programs I watch, actually. 
  • Cage – Immediate thoughts of Nicolas Cage.  I hope these boys aren’t the brunt of too many “One True God” jokes or “Cagey” puns. :/
  • Jeanluc – Picard!
  • My favorites: Amias, Aristotle, Casimir, Elimelech, Matthieu, Odysseus, Alasdair, Emeric, Etienne, Seeley, Severin, Walden, Alphonso, Jabez, Alphonse, Asaph, Beauregard, Crispin, Manasseh, Quintus, Richmond, Thaddaeus, Zebulon

What do you think?  This is the last of the rare names from 2014 that I’ll post before the new data is released.  Stay tuned for the 2015 names!

American Names

Rare Names: The 21-25 Range (Boys)

These are names that were given to between 21 and 25 American baby boys in 2014.  Some of these are rather old-fashioned; especially the Bible names (i.e. Zedekiah).  There are also a few gender-benders in here (i.e. Artemis) and several violent names (Kutter, Trigger, etc.).  Most interesting about this set are all the astronomy names (Kepler, Sirius, etc.).  All in all, this is a fairly tame set compared to the others I’ve posted lately, and I don’t have as many comments about the names.

25: Arsenio, Artemis, Becket, Branch, Charlton, Copper, Coulter, Cypress, Drexel, Enos, Ernie, Jaaziel, Jehu, Jens, Kepler, Kutter, Lucan, Markos, Michel, Pietro, Race, Raider, Roper, Shaw, Sid, Tycho, Ulisses, Zedekiah, Zeno

24: Aceson, Carder, Ciro, Conlan, Eoghan, Finneas, Gaspar, Geo, Hays, Judge, Leviathan, Rawley, Reeves, Rutledge, Shlome, Sirius, Sully, Tobiah, Trigger, Trustin, Urban, Zadkiel, Zadok

23: Adrain, Ami, Artemio, Bain, Bosco, Bruin, Cainan, Cass, Champion, Christ, Corinthian, Creek, Elia, Ferdinand, Filiberto, Fionn, Gaetano, Golden, Helios, Hesston, Joab, Joy, Kairos, Kofi, Lazar, Linkyn, Loic, Padraig, Philippe, Platon, Prescott, Rigby, Rowland, Royalty, Sailor, Wilbur, Wynston, Zacarias

22: Becker, Cassiel, Cotton, Cove, Denzell, Diamond, Dierks, Erasmo, Gershon, Hal, Halo, Jeziel, Joachim, Kanye, Kodiak, Lael, Langdon, Laramie, Lauro, Legion, Maks, Menashe, Mosiah, Navy, Nils, Noland, Olaf, Pangiotis, Pharrell, Rees, Rigel, Siddhartha, Stacy, Thierry, Vir, Walton

21: Ajax, Callaway, Cardell, Carlyle, Cary, Celso, Elgin, Huckleberry, Igor, Jedi, Laszlo, Maxfield, Md, Montreal, Nels, Newton, Odell, Payne, Princeston, Ripley, Rosendo, Sanders, Torsten, Uzziel, Vasilios


  • Leviathan – This is like naming your kid Cerberus.
  • Considering that Age of Ultron was a 2015 movie, don’t be surprised if Pietro goes up somewhat (Pietro Maximoff)
  • It’s kind of funny that Tycho and Kepler would be used with the same frequency
  • Zeno – There was recently a Joyce Carol Oates character named Zeno, whose children were named Juliet and Cressida.  I don’t know that book (called Carthage) was popular enough to elicit any extra usage in 2015, but you never know.  I’ll check back on this name in the 2015 data once that’s out.  More likely, any extra usage will derive from the fact that this name is from Ancient Greek history. 
  • Siriusly surprised to see Sirius used as much as it was!
  • VirVir is literally the Latin word for “man.”  The new Karl, perhaps?
  • Rigel – Another astronomy name to go with Sirius!
  • Jedi – I feel like this could be a really good nickname for Jedidiah
  • Md – Is this short for Maryland or did they name their kid “Doctor?”  “Wm” for a new generation.
  • Princeston – There’s a certain irony about misspelling the name of an Ivy League institution. 
  • Ajax – Considering the trendiness of Ancient Greek names, I wonder if this will start to rise in usage or if being a brand-name will continue to keep it down
  • My favorites, in order of appearance: Enos, Ernie, Jehu, Zedekiah, Zeno, Gaspar, Sirius, Tobiah, Urban, Zadok, Ferdinand, Helios, Padraig, Prescott, Erasmo, Joachim, Langdon, Olaf, Rigel, Ajax, Laszlo, Uzziel
American Names · Opinions

Rare Names in the 11-20 Range (Boys)

Today I go over some of those rare boys’ names used between 11 and 20 times in the U.S. in 2014.  As I did with the girls’ names, I provide commentary, but many of the names aren’t so humorous this time.  Rather, they’re head-scratching or unfortunately reminiscent of the darker memories of history and religion.  Exhibit A: Nero.  Still, there are plenty of good names in here, and the occasional odd-ball.  Some of these are fandom names; I have to say, it’s pretty awesome to know there are little Theodens running around. 

And yes, in case it isn’t clear: these are actual names used in the U.S., from the last year for which we have data.  I don’t make them up.  

20: Aengus, Calloway, Christoph, Dream, Errol, Galileo, Haakon, Han, Ioannis, Jafar, Jupiter, Juvenal, Mister, Nachman, Rainier, Rufus, Sasha, Seneca, Silvestre, Stanford, Stark, Strider

19: Abenezer, Aleksey, Ananias, Andrea, Athanasios, Cassian, Evangelos, Gustav, Hamish, Hawthorne, Maynard, Ogden, Ragnar, Ripken, Styles, Winslow, Zlatan

18: Alucard, Attila, Buster, Castor, Cato, Dagoberto, Findlay, Gehrig, Harsh, Heinrich, Kyrillos, Leonid, Maximos, Miroslav, Nero, Prentice, Rand, Rollin, Supreme, Tennessee, Theoden

17: Abijah, Afton, Aleph, Amory, Caspar, Eladio, Exodus, Fabien, Friedrich, Gunther, Hale, Hannibal, Honest, Juventino, Mattia, Melchizedek, Napoleon, Oleg, Orville, Pharoah, Phinehas, Pike, Poseidon, Praise, Prentiss, Reno, Rexford, Rommel, Rourke, Tadhg, Texas, Townsend, Woodson, Yehudah

16: Auguste, Avram, Brandy, Castle, Creedence, Desi, Dewey, Dijon, Eero, Espn, Evaristo, Fenton, Florian, Francois, Garth, Gaston, Hero, Izzy, Lestat, Lynn, Mandela, Miracle, Mirko, Oisin, Omega, Pacey, Parris, Percival, Redmond, Renly, Rupert, Shooter, Sneijder, Taiga, Talmage, Theodoros, Thunder, Torben, Yohannes

15: Alp, Amilcar, Anastasios, Caelum, Elihu, Feynman, Freedom, Grover, Hercules, Hyde, Juno, Parrish, Philemon, Schuyler, Serge, Shadrach, Thurston, Welles, Yaroslav, Yochanan, Zabdiel, Zaccai

14: Aldous, Altair, Angelus, Anselmo, Arsalan, Baden, Berkeley, Cosmo, Elbert, Emmerich, Herschel, Isidore, Kona, Lafayette, Redford, Reuel, Sixto, Spenser, Stanislav, Taft, Ulrich, Wellington, Wolfe

13: Abishai, Balthazar, Barnabas, Caliber, Camillo, Catcher, Coltrane, Courage, Edris, Faolan, Gatsby, Godfrey, Gregor, Henrique, Jabin, Rocket, Taurus, Ubaldo, Ulric, Washington, Webster, Whittaker, Xerxes

12: Adams, Albin, Calvert, Cartel (?!), Christophe, Darcy, Drako, Emerald, Fergus, Garland, Giles, Makarios, Mattheus, Nephi, Padraic, Phil, Philopateer, Sanford Sumner, Thailand, Wilkes

11: Aeneas, Aldrich, Aloysius, Alvis, Avishai, Baldemar, Balin, Barack, Bastien, Bonham, Calixto, Coal, Cyprian, Django, Elric, Epic, Fitzpatrick, Franz, Godson, Gotti, Griffith, Gunter, Ioan, Ivar, Jubal, Judas, Kingdom, Leonides, Lorne, Lucifer, Majestic, Million, Milos, Nachum, Neville, Osborn, Petros, Porfirio, Priest, Promise, Rafferty, Reynolds, Righteous, Rogue, Sergei, Thornton, Winfield, Yancy, Zebulun


  • Abenezer – I’m surprised how many of these there are compared to Ebenezer, which is considered the correct spelling and registered 44 uses in 2014.  My thoughts are that perhaps parents liked the name but didn’t want the Scrooge association.
  • Espn, male equivalent to Abcde.  Yes, there are children named after ESPN. 
  • Alucard – Dracula backwards.  I highly doubt this is a case like Nevaeh; rather, I assume the parents are anime fans. 
  • Gatsby – If you’re looking for an F. Scott Fitzgerald character name that isn’t so obvious, I suggest Amory, which is also on the list. 
  • Mister – That’s gotta be confusing on forms…
  • Rommel – I have to wonder about parents who name their kids after Nazi generals.  Not good.
  • Hannibal – On the subject of generals, not so bad but still a cannibal.
  • Dijon – “Excuse me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”
  • Kona – Don’t get me wrong…I’m addicted to my coffee, but I don’t like it *that* much.  Impressive level of brand-naming though!
  • Cartel – That someone would think this is a name disturbs me. 
  • Catcher – Does he have a brother or sister named Rye?
  • Lucifer – It’s way too early to tell, but I wonder if the TV show is going to boost usage within the next few years…
  • Priest – if you remember, this was Cyanide’s twin brother. 
  • Righteous – I have a hard time determining whether the parents of these boys are ultra-religious or California surfers.
  • Ananias – I know this is a Biblical name, but it sounds rather like the German word for “pineapple.”
  • Thunder – Just name him Thor already.  Marvel names are a thing; you may have seen that Stark registered 20 uses.  
  • Names I actually really like, i.e. my favorites: Percival, Rupert, Athanasios, Gustav, Hamish, Ragnar, Melchizedek, Amory, Florian, Alucard, Rufus, Errol, Friedrich, Phinehas, Yochanan, Anastasios, Shadrach, Aldous, Altair, Herschel, Isidore, Emmerich, Balthazar, Barnabas, Godfrey, Darcy, Django, Theoden, Balin, Aeneas, Aldrich, Aloysius, Cyprian, Reuel
American Names

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Boys)

Yesterday I singled out some of the many girls’ names that were used between 5 and 10 times in 2014.  Today, the boys’ names!  Although females’ names as a whole are more unique, I personally found more names I liked within the males’ names in this range.  Again, you may be shocked, and you may only use these for characters.  They would be fantastic to see on actual people, though. 

10: Adlai, Aldric, Ambrosio, Archimedes, Ashe, Aureliano, Barnaby, Bartholomew, Colm, Constantin, Devereaux, Horatio, Inigo, Issachar, Ivo, Kipling, Kratos, Maurizio, Midas, Parke, Philopater, Prosper, Psalm, Ramesses, Romulo, Socrates, Spiro, Thorne, Thorsten, Woody, Yitzhak, Zeal

9: Adagio, Alcides, Anubis, Aodhan, Apollos, Aristides, Calogero, Chaos, Dionysios, Dom, Edgard, Eldridge, Finnbar, Isadore, Macarius, Norbert, Owain, Ruairi, Tesla, Yves

8: Acheron, Adonias, Alban, Albion, Alfie, Algernon, Anselm, Chiron, Colman, Doyle, Dudley, Gustaf, Hamlet, Jago, Meshach, Nicanor, Oberon, Prometheus, Riordan, Samwise, Sherlock, Sigmund, Stanislaw, Taliesin, Whitfield, Zaccheus, Zebedee, Zeph

7: Alastor, Artemus, Asahel, Baptiste, Bertram, Bran, Chamberlain, Deucalion, Eleazer, Elishua, Eustace, Grantham, Ingram, Ivor, Justinian, Livingston, Llewellyn, Ludwig, Naaman, Pius, Triumph, Tudor

6: Absalom, Acamas, Ademar, Benedikt, Bertrand, Carroll, Cicero, Constantinos, Desiderio, Dionysus, Drago, Ezekiah, Fitzwilliam, Gershom, Granville, Grisham, Hades, Hawthorn, Iago, Kenaniah, Naphtali, Ollivander, Osborne, Osric, Ossian, Peregrine, Phinneas, Severiano, Sylvanus, Temujin, Thackery, Thales, Torstein, Willoughby, Zed

5: Abednego, Alvar, Aristotelis, Athanasius, Bayard, Bela, Blessed, BonifacioCayetano, Cosimo, Cosmas, Decimus, Denys, Destined, Donal, Edsel, Emmeric, Frasier, Gerhard, Hannes, Harald, Harvest, Heathcliff, Hermann, Hirsch, Icarus, Jerzy, Ludovic, Manfred, Marcellino, Melquisedec, Remus, Rolf, Sascha, Severus, Seymour, Spartacus, Spyridon, Tarquin, Umberto, Valdemar, Valiant, Waldemar, Waldo, Wolfram

So, what do you think of these names?  A few of these are my all-time favorites, like Horatio, Severus, and Absalom.   Biblical, Ancient Mediterranean, surnames, literature…these kind of lists show there is an infinite range of names one can use!

American Names

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Girls)

“Unique” names are less unique than ever.  The top American names now constitute a much smaller percentage of babies born in a year than they did a century ago.  In the last 10 years alone, the percentage of children whose names are in the American top 1000 has dropped from about 75% to 73%, meaning that children are increasingly likely to have an uncommon name.  Considering that the Social Security Administration produces an extended list beyond the top 1000, I wonder what the percentage is of children whose names are common enough to make that compilation.

In order to be shown on the extended list, a name has to be used at least 5 times in a year for that given gender.  Being used 5 times does not make a name popular or even common, since the bottom names of the top 1000 tend to register a couple hundred uses in a year.  Below the top 1000, one finds all the rare or semi-rare names that are in use.  Some of these names are even trendy, and might hit the top 1000 in short order.

Today I’ve mined the American data for some of my favorite girls’ names with 10 or fewer uses in 2014.  Some of you will think: “Wait, people actually use these?”  Some of you will hardly be able to contain your excitement, some will be dumbfounded.  For many, it will be all of the above.

10: Amadea, Artemisia, Djuna, Hedy, Hephzibah, Lilac, Linnaea, Lior, Lucilla, Macaria, Markia, Pooja, Raphaela, Socorro, Tansy, Tilda, Venezia

9: Agape, Ambrosia, Anthea, Apphia, Astraea, Avis, Bellatrix, Cressida, Donatella, Rosamund, Sibylla, Tulip, Tulsi, Zoraida

8: Adamina, Amabella, Asmara, Binah, Blessed, Circe, Constantina, Coretta, Edeline, Eugenie, Ginevra, Giuseppina, Nefertari, Prosperity, Radiance, Sincerity, Tryphena, Veronique

7: Arista, Bathsheba, Christiane, Clarabella, Dulcinea, Elisheba, Fionnuala, Hyacinth, Oceane, Parthenia, Peregrine, Rejoice, Sophronia, Trillium, Yehudit

6: Agnieszka, Alejandrina, Anwen, Benedicta, Blanche, Bronwen, Calixta, Caoilinn, Damiana, Eleftheria, Euphemia, Gardenia, Gwendoline, Heloise, Hildegard, Hypatia, Joyful, Niobe, Perpetua, Tullia, Vesta

5: Alfreda, Amabel, Amandine, Corabella, Hagar, Helia, Ignacia, Morticia, Naamah, Nefertiti, Nerys, Petunia, Prisca, Rahab, Sebastiana, Theophilia, Xanthe, Zoja

As you can tell, there’s quite a mix with this set.  Mythological, Biblical, Flowers, Virtues…there are so many kinds of names here.  Now, since these names are ultra-rare, don’t expect them to suddenly enter the top 1000 in the next year or even decade.  But maybe they’ll become characters in the stories you write.  Maybe, seeing them in use will give you the courage to use one of these lovelies or an equally unique appellation on your child! 

What do you think of these names?