American Names · Analysis

Almost Popular: Baby Names that Just Missed the Top 1000

One week ago, the Social Security Administration honored a modern Mother’s Day tradition by releasing the previous year’s Top 1000 most popular baby names just before the holiday. The 2022 list is out and we know the names, but what about the names that *almost* made it? The names that would have been popular if not for alphabetical ranking order or alternative spellings?

In 2022, the two names ranked #1000, the names at the very bottom of the top, were Kahlani and London. Kahlani was given to 260 girls, while London is the name of 222 infant boys. Just below them were several other names that could have or should have made it. Here is a chart containing the names that were used up to 10 times fewer:

Boy NameNumberGirl NameNumber
Table created by extracting from Social Security Administration extended data

Many of the names just left the Top 1000. Massimo and Mordechai were common enough that they should have been in the Top 1000, but the SSA ranks alphabetically after their numerical rankings and does not extend the national Top 1000 further for popular names that are later in the alphabet. Other names should have made it in, but were hindered by alternate spellings; Leylani comes to mind, as Laylani was the preferred version to enter in 2022.

As I mentioned, Massimo and Mordechai were given to enough babies that they should have been in the Top 1000 this year. What are some other common-enough baby names that the SSA rejected from the Top 1000 by alphabetical order? Let’s look back 10 years:

  • 2021: Aarya** (255 girls) and Davian (218 boys) were the named ranked #1000. The same number of girls were named Ansley, Eleanora, and Jaelynn; Harris, Koen, and Merrick were equally popular for boys.
  • 2020: Belle (254 girls) and Kylian (212 boys) were the names ranked #1000. Jaelyn and Laylani were equally popular to Belle.
  • 2019: Adrienne (257 girls) and Aayan (209 boys) ranked #1000. Runner-ups: Ariadne, Dixie, Libby, and Marisol for girls; Cedric, Rome, and Seven for boys.
  • 2018: Elina (261 girls) and Kenny (207 boys) were #1000. Runner-ups: Maliah and Paityn; Korbyn, Marquis, and Zackary.
  • 2017: Zendaya (260 girls) and Jaxx (201 boys) were #1000. Runner-up: Mordechai.
  • 2016: Kensington (264 girls) and Gus (204 boys) were #1000. Runner-ups: Luz and Sonia; Jamar, Jeremias, Menachem, Reagan, Shmuel.
  • 2015: Jocelynn (269 girls) and Camren (204 boys) ranked #1000. Runner-ups: Mattie and Sidney; Deshawn, Jayvion, Simeon, Tristian.
  • 2014: Kaya (264 girls) and Musa (206 boys) were #1000. Only Musa had runner-ups: Reagan, Rylen, and Sutton.
  • 2013: Tinley (251 girls) and Clyde (196 boys) were #1000. Runner-ups for boys: Graeme and Yisroel.
  • 2012: Aurelia (253 girls) and Augustine (199 boys) were #1000. Runner-ups: Aya, Dalilah, Hayleigh, and Tegan; Ephraim, Jaylon, and Kamdyn.

**Originally, Annabella was the girls’ name ranked #1000 in 2021. The birth data changes slightly from year to year, though whether that’s due to late applications or name changes is unknown.

Do you think the SSA should extend the Top 1000 to account for alphabetical order? With the Top 1000 creating a clear demarcation between popular and rare, I’m not sure it’s fair that two equally-common baby names could be so differently classified. In 2022, a baby boys was just as likely to be named Massimo as London, and yet London is the one we call popular.

Name Lists

Sweet Spring Flower Names for Babies

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.

Irises by Van Gogh.
Irises, by Vincent Van Gogh, gorgeously depicting the spring flower.

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!

Sources for flower language:

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Name Lists

Underused Vintage Baby Names for Boys

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!

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Name Lists

Underused Vintage Baby Names for Girls

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!

Name Lists

Baby Names Inspired by Roots, Grains, Beans, and Vegetables

When it comes to food names, the options that best adapt to baby names are herbs, edible flowers, and spices…you know, plant names! Fruits as names are more challenging, and vegetables are usually difficult to pair with baby names. That said, it’s 2023, and practically anything can be a name. Parents are seeking new baby names from all kinds of sources, whether to find ones that align with their values or that will be too rare and uncommon to duplicate in a classroom or on the playground. The sky is the limit!

Here is a curated selection of baby names inspired by roots, grains, beans, and vegetables, including many of the earthy things themselves. For the crunchy, eco-conscious parent or the foodie who wants something completely different and unexpected for their child, this unique garden salad of nature names is for you.

Let’s start with the vegetables that *do* work as baby names, shall we?

  • Amaranth is a fine standalone name, but it also gives us Amarantha, Amara, and maybe even Amaryllis. Amaranth is a type of grain.
  • Barley – 6 boys were named Barley in 2021. I’m just going to insert a pun about barley counting in the Social Security Administration’s baby name data (the minimum is 5 children)…
  • Bean’s name fame comes from the middle spot of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s daughter Frances Bean Cobain. Parents with young children may be more familiar with the Ivy and Bean chapter book series, and adults with a dark sense of humor and Matt Groening shows may be fans of Princess Bean in the Netflix cartoon Disenchantment. Either way, Bean is a cute veggie name on its own! For a longer, formal version, consider Beatrice or Albina. Bean would also make a unique alternative to Birdie as a nickname for Bernadette. The aforementioned Princess Bean’s name is short for Tiabeanie.
  • Calabash – I included Calabash in my list of names beginning with “Cal,” and I’m still convinced that it’s a cool-sounding name even if nobody is using it. Squash, a more common word for the produce, does not sound cool. There’s also Spanish Calabaza, which applies to both squash and pumpkins.
  • Cress makes for a great nature-inspired nickname of Cressida, Christina, Christopher, or Chrysanthemum.
  • Fennel – Need a rare ‘F’ name that’s also gender-neutral? Fennel has you covered.
  • Hyacinth isn’t just a flower…it’s also the name of an edible bean! Just 16 American girls were named Hyacinth in 2021, but expect that number to rise thanks to Bridgerton.
  • Kale – 28 boys. As a men’s name in the U.S., Kale is often treated as the Hawaiian version of Charles, though this is not the only possible origin. It can also be a variant on a German surname relating to cabbages, a variant on a Dutch nickname meaning “bald,” and a Hindi nickname meaning “black” (compare to the Sanskrit name Kali, referring to the powerful Hindu goddess). Additionally, as a women’s name, Kale was one of the three Graces or Charites in Greek Mythology along with her sisters Charis and Aglaia. That version means “beauty,” and today we see the Greek Kale transformed into names like Callidora, Calliope, and Calanthe that ultimately derive from the same root.
  • Lotus – Like Hyacinth, Lotus is both a flower and vegetable…in this case, via lotus root. It’s also the name of a sports car brand. 137 girls and 24 boys were named Lotus in 2021.
  • Lima – In addition to the bean, Lima refers to the Peruvian capital city and possibly to an obscure Ancient Roman goddess of doorways. I’d only recommend not making Bean the middle name since that’s a little on the nose. 7 girls were named Lima in 2021.
  • Maize – This international word for “corn” was given to 23 girls and 10 boys in 2021. Some of those children probably have a unique spelling of Maisie, a Scottish nickname for Margaret that’s picking up steam in the U.S. There are also a few girls named Maizelynn.
  • Navy is another kind of legume and a trendy baby name, ranking #452 for girls and rapidly rising. Unisex, it was given to 688 girls and 74 boys in 2021.
  • Pearl is a small, sweet type of onion found on Thanksgiving tables. Pearl ranked #751 in 2021.
  • Pepper boasts a bright, peppery sound that makes for a great baby name; plus, it’s a surname, so maybe it’s new on your radar of last-names-as-first-names. Or who knows, maybe you love Iron Man’s Pepper Potts? 155 girls and 8 boys were named Pepper in 2021, and 7 girls were named Bell.
  • Rhubarb – I feel like this could work as a standalone name, but Rue and Barb are cute too.
  • Rye – 53 boys and 17 girls were named Rye in 2021. I wonder how many are named after the bread, the whiskey, or as a variation on Ryan and related names?
  • Taro – Taro is both a widely-consumed root vegetable (for example, it’s the main ingredient in poi and a major component of laulau) and a Japanese boys’ name. Like most other Japanese names, Taro’s meaning depends on the Kanji used to write it. Taro is one of Sean Lennon’s middle names. 
  • Vidalia – While “onion” is a terrible idea for a baby name, a few adventurous parents name their daughters Vidalia each year. Vidalia’s meaning likely relates to names meaning “life, vital” (i.e. Vidal, Vitale, Vitalis), but, as Nancy points out, at least some recent usage is related to a song. 18 girls received the name in 2021.

A few vegetables that might not work as standalone baby names but do inspire some great options include:

  • Arugula transforms into Aria, Rue, and Aruna. Avoid Caligula for a person.
  • Asparagus doesn’t make a great baby name, but you can name a little Gus, August, or Augusta after your favorite veggie. Other alternatives inspired by asparagus are Aspen, Casper, Jasper, Aster, Aspasia, and Hesper.
  • BroccoliBrock is the most obvious choice for a baby name inspired by Broccoli, though James Bond fans may also consider Barbara or Albert after the producers.
  • Brussels – Brussels Sprouts taste a lot better than they used to. If anyone asks, Brussels is a place name too. It’s hard to go wrong with Russell, though.
  • Fava derives from the same root that gives us Fabian and Fabiana.
  • Lettuce is not a usable baby name, but it’s similar to antique Lettice (pronounced Leh-TEECE), an English name from the Tudor era (1500s). The most famous bearer is Lettice Knollys, a noblewoman and possible secret grandchild of Henry VIII. Sadly, I don’t think Lettice can be salvaged, but there’s always Lettie and Leticia.
  • Parsnip – I feel like Parsnip is cute enough for the right child to rock it, but maybe it belongs in the middle spot. That said, for first names Parsnip evokes Parthenia, Parvati, Parthenope, and Percy.
  • Pea – This doesn’t work outside the middle name spot for obvious reasons, and unfortunately Sweetpea can sound condescending depending on who says it. However, Cicero is an option which derives from a Latin word meaning “chickpea!”
  • Rutabaga Ruth or Ruthie for short? How about Baker?

I love how Pumpkin sounds, but unfortunately I think it would fall victim to condescension and sexism on a human baby. It’s a great name for a pet!

Do you have any favorite names from this list? Are there any you would add?

American Names · Modern names · Name Lists

Baby Name Mash-Ups: Boys Edition!

Do you enjoy mashing two names together to create a third? Whether you love name games, want an unconventional honoring name, or simply like rare baby names, name mashes are a fantastic way to explore the outer bounds of language.

Yesterday, I posted a list of real girls’ names that qualify as baby name mash-ups. Today, I publish the boys’ names! All of the mash-ups listed are legitimate baby names found within the Social Security Administration‘s data set for U.S. babies born in 2021. I also list how many times they were used that year to get a sense of rarity or popularity (For context, the SSA publishes all names used at least 5 times in a year. The most popular name in the country, Liam, was given to over 20,000 babies. To be considered popular, it needs to rank in the Top 1000…which started at 217 boys for the names Atharv, Bishop, Blaise, and Davian. Sense of scale!).

  • Adrius = Adrian + Atreus. 7 boys were named Adrius in the U.S. in 2021.
  • Aidric = Aidan + Godric. 6 boys were named Aidric in the U.S. in 2021.
  • Alexiel = Alex + Daniel. 6 boys.
  • Amarion = Amari + Marion. 136 boys.
  • Augden = August + Ogden. 5 boys.
  • Axcel = Axel + Excel. 10 boys. Hey, some people love spreadsheets!
  • Azaiah = Azariah + Isaiah. 166 boys.
  • Azarious = Azariah + Julius. 6 boys.
  • Baxton = Baxter + Paxton. 5 boys.
  • Braven = Brave + Draven. 94 boys.
  • Breyson = Brayson + Greyson. 12 boys.
  • Briceson = Brice + Bryson. 11 boys.
  • Briggston = Briggs + Brixton. 26 boys.
  • Broxton = Brock + Brixton. 7 boys
  • Chrisean = Chris + Sean. 6 boys.
  • Dylangael = Dylan + Angel, Dylan + Gael. 6 boys
  • Eliam = Eli + Liam. This is actually a Biblical name, but it’s a great mash option. Rank: #736, and was given to 345 boys in 2021.
  • Emmerick = Emery + Merrick, Emery + Eric, Emeric + Merrick. 5 boys.
  • Ethaniel = Ethan + Nathaniel. 20 boys.
  • Faustin = Faustino + Austin. 5 boys.
  • Geremy = Gerald + Jeremy. 9 boys.
  • Gianluca = Giovanni + Luca. 180 boys.
  • Graceson = Grace + Grayson. 47 boys. This is an interesting option for parents who want to honor a woman named Grace with their son’s name.
  • Hughston = Hugh + Houston. 7 boys.
  • Iangael = Ian + Angel, Ian + Gael. 5 boys.
  • Jakayden = Jake + Kayden. 28 boys.
  • Jamichael = James + Michael. 22 boys.
  • Jaren = Jason + Daren, Jason + Karen. 34 boys.
  • Jayco = Jayden + Draco. 9 boys.
  • Jeaven = Jeremy + Heaven. 5 boys.
  • Jebediah = Jeb + Jedediah. 27 boys. This is one of the older mash-ups and one of the older psuedo-Biblical names on the block.
  • Jessiah = Jesse + Josiah. 142 boys.
  • Joevan = Joe + Evan. 5 boys.
  • Juliam = Julian + Liam. 5 boys.
  • Kaydrian = Kayden + Adrian. 11 boys.
  • Kendarius = Kendrick + Darius. 13 boys.
  • Kendrix = Kendrick + Hendrix. 98 boys.
  • Lesther = Lester + Esther. 8 boys.
  • Lloyal = Llewelyn + Loyal, Llewyn + Loyal, Lloyd + Loyal. 9 boys.
  • Maxson = Max + Jaxson. 45 boys.
  • Maxton = Max + Paxton. Rank: #994 for 218 boys.
  • Miking = Mike + King. 22 boys.
  • Nashton = Nash + Cashton. 14 boys.
  • Rhyson = Rhys + Bryson. 7 boys.
  • Rorick = Rory + Rick. 10 boys.
  • Samaj = Sam + Semaj. Semaj is backwards for James. 11 boys.
  • Santonio = Santiago + Antonio. Of course, I also thought about a smoosh of San Antonio. 12 boys.
  • Thobias = Thomas + Tobias. This spelling looks a lot like the word “phobias.” 5 boys.
  • Xaviel = Xavier + Daniel. 6 boys.
  • Zebastian = Zebedee + Sebastian. 9 boys.

What do you think of these? Several of them are Bible-inspired without actually being Biblical, which is a really interesting trend I’ve been noticing.

What baby name mash-ups can you come up with for boys? I spotted Apollo and Pablo together in the boys’ data and misread together them as Apablo, so there’s an option!

American Names · Modern names · Name Lists

Baby Name Mash-Ups: Girls Edition

Whether you like to call them mash-ups, smooshes, compound names, or something else, it’s always fun to find or create names that mash two names together into one. It’s a great way to explore language, and sometimes you can find a new and unexpected appellation that way. Here is a list of real girls’ names for the creative mind to construct and deconstruct from two other names! Most of these probably aren’t meant to be mash-ups (indeed, many are unique and unconventional spellings), but who doesn’t love name games? All the mash-ups are listed with the number of baby girls who received the name in 2021, according to data from the Social Security Administration. If rare and uncommon baby names are your thing, I think you’ll enjoy these mashes too – only one of them is in the top 1000.

  • Adaleine = Adeline + Madeleine. 8 girls were named Adaleine in 2021.
  • Adamari = Ada + Amari. 32 girls were named Adamari in 2021.
  • Adamaris = Ada + Stellamaris, Adam + Damaris. 37 girls.
  • Alyssandra = Alyssa + Alessandra. 20 girls. This may be a genuine mashup in some cases.
  • Amberley = Amber + Emberly. 28 girls.
  • Ameliana = Amelia + Emiliana. This maximalist version of Amelia was used 40 times.
  • Ariellie = Aria + Ellie, Ariel + Ellie. 6 girls.
  • Arianelly = Ariana + Nelly, Ariana + Annalee, Ariana + Nayeli. 26 girls.
  • Avangeline = Ava + Evangeline. 23 girls.
  • Baisley = Bailey + Paisley, Bailey + Haisley. 12 girls
  • Bellanie = Bellamy + Melanie. 8 girls.
  • Brystal = Bristol + Crystal. 14 girls.
  • Callaway = Calla + Calloway. 41 girls.
  • Delaila = Delilah + Laila. 9 girls.
  • Delayah = Delaney + Malaya, Delaney + Leia. 9 girls
  • Elizabella = Elizabeth + Isabella, Elizabeth + Arabella. 21 girls.
  • Elliotte = Elliot + Charlotte. 53 girls.
  • Elouise = Eloise + Louise. 216 girls.
  • Embersyn = Ember + Emersyn. 6 girls.
  • Emmarie = Emma + Marie, Emily + Marie. 174 girls.
  • Eunique = Eunice + Unique. 10 girls.
  • Francely = Frances + Aracely. 10 girls.
  • Giabella = Gianna + Isabella. 24 girls.
  • Gwendalynn = Gwendolyn + Adalynn. 10 girls.
  • Havanna = Havana + Savannah, Haven + Savanna. 15 girls.
  • Hayeslee = Hayes + Haisley, Hayes + Paislee. 5 girls.
  • Hazeley = Hazel + Haisley, Hazel + Paisley. 9 girls
  • Janellie = Jane + Ellie. In reality, probably a variant of Yaneli? 8 girls.
  • Jenesis = Jennifer + Genesis. 379 girls with a national rank of #745. This is the only popular mashup baby name I list here.
  • Jeweliana = Jewel + Juliana. 5 girls.
  • Lauralai + Laura + Lorelai. 5 girls.
  • Lehlani = Leilani + Kehlani. 43 girls. Like Alyssandra, I suspect this is a genuine mashup.
  • Lydiann = Lydia + Ann. 11 girls.
  • Maevery = Maeve + Avery. 17 girls.
  • Maisley = Maisie + Haisley, Maisie + Paisley. 35 girls.
  • Makinsley = Makayla + Kinsley, Makenzie + Kinsley. 19 girls.
  • Marilena = Maria + Elena, Maria + Helena. 21 girls.
  • Marleaux = Marlowe + Beaux, Marlowe + Devereaux. 5 girls.
  • Melaney = Melanie + Delaney. In reality, the pronunciation is probably identical to Melanie. 8 girls.
  • Myrcella = Myrtle + Marcella. I know, I know…Myrcella comes from Game of Thrones, but I can dream! 5 girls.
  • Parys = Paris + Carys. 9 girls.
  • Pauleth = Paulette + Arleth, Paula + Arleth. 13 girls.
  • Persephanie = Persephone + Stephanie. 6 girls.
  • Reigna = Reign + Rayna. 33 girls.
  • Renesmee = Renee + Esme. The original name smoosh! 161 girls.
  • Roselani = Rose + Leilani, Rose + Kehlani. 9 girls.
  • Serinity = Serenity + Trinity. 19 girls.
  • Sophonie = Sophie + Stephanie. 5 girls.
  • Taylani = Taylor + Leilani, Taylor + Kehlani. 16 girls. 
  • Tayleigh = Taylor + Kayleigh. 12 girls.
  • Zoella = Zoe + Ella. 28 girls.

One of my favorite name mash-ups didn’t even make the 2021 data. Gwenevieve (Guinevere + Genevieve) has popped up a few times starting in 2008. You could also mix Gwendolyn and Lillian to get Gwenllian, which is a Welsh name…however, the double ‘l’ sounds different in Welsh than in English, so just be mindful. Other possible mash-ups include Hermione (from Hermia and Ione), Isadora (Isabella + Theodora), Tallulah (Talia + Lula), Jaylannie (Jayla + Annie), and Davinity (Davina + Divinity).

What are some of your favorite baby name mash-ups? Would you ever consider using one? Let me know and read the boys’ list!

American Names · Name Lists

Names Beginning with Cal

Do you want to honor a Cal in your life? Maybe you just love Cal as a nickname and want a formal version. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a long name list of names beginning with “Cal” to kickstart your baby name inspiration! I’ve ordered them from most popular to rarest based on publicly available data from the Social Security Administration, which publishes the previous year’s popular baby names every May (the latest data we have is from 2021). A few of the names don’t rank at all! If you’re looking for a classic or an undiscovered gem, you may find it here.

  • Caleb, a Biblical name that probably means “dog,” is the most popular “Cal” name. Current rank: #51.
  • Calvin – When people think of formal names for Cal, Calvin is probably the first name that comes to mind. A timeless name, Calvin has never been out of the U.S. Top 1000. Current rank: #145. \
  • Callie – Rank: #177. Other spellings include Calli (42 girls), Calleigh (36 girls), Cally (14 girls), Callee (13 girls), and Calley (7 girls).
  • Cali is a variation of Callie with summery California beach vibes. Current rank: #337.
  • Callan is an Irish surname baby name that might just be the new Ryan. It ranked #375, and variant Callen ranked at #458. Other spellings include Calen (43 boys) and Callyn (19 girls). 
  • Callum is an increasingly popular Scottish name derived from Columba, a saint’s name which means “dove.” Callum currently ranks #273, while variant Calum ranks #838.
  • Calliope – Rapidly rising Calliope comes to us from Greek Mythology, a major source of trendy baby names in the 2020s. Besides its origins and a beautiful sound, its 4 syllables give it a maximalist vibe. Current rank: #603.
  • Callahan is an Irish surname. Current rank: #659 for boys, but don’t be surprised if it eventually takes off for girls too. Alternative spellings include Calihan (40 boys, 6 girls) and Callaghan (25 boys, 5 girls).
  • Cal itself is a popular baby name, firmly fitting in with other rising vintage standalone nicknames like Millie and Charlie. Current rank: #876.
  • Calista – 137 girls. Additionally, 43 girls were named Callista, 8 girls received the spelling Calixta, and 6 were named Calysta.
  • Calla is a rare floral name related to lilies, making it a wonderful choice parents seeking flower names. 134 girls were named Calla at last count, and a few baby girls (just 9!) were named Cala.
  • Caliyah rhymes with Aaliyah, creating an intriguing pairing option for twins. 96 girls were named Caliyah in 2021.
  • Caleigh is an unusual spelling of Kaylee given to 84 girls in 2021. Calee and Calie (20 girls) are other versions, though they could also be versions of Callie depending on how parents say them. You can also find Caley, which was given to 10 girls, and Calii, which was given to 5 girls.
  • Calder falls firmly into the “last names as baby names” category! 80 boys were named Calder in 2021.
  • Calian looks like it could be a mash-up of Callan and Killian. 71 boys.
  • Calix is an English form of Calixtus or Callistus given to 54 boys. 18 boys were named Calyx, which I think is an even more stylish option with the ‘y.’
  • Calia – 51 girls. 40 girls were also name Caleah, 16 were named Callia, 15 were named Caliah, 12 named Caleigha, 10 Caleya, 7 Calea, 7 Caliya, and 6 Caleyah.
  • Calani appears to be an alternate spelling of the Hawaiian name Kalani or a unique spelling of Kehlani, which is a pop musician’s name. 49 girls were given this spelling, and 11 were named Caloni.
  • Caliana looks like a maximalist version of Cali, Callie, or Kaylee. 48 girls were given this spelling, another 18 were named Calianna, and 5 were called Calliana.
  • Calloway – Fans of Cab Calloway and surnames as baby names are sure to love Calloway! A unisex option, 47 boys and 7 girls were named Calloway in 2021. Callaway is a gender-neutral spelling that was given to 41 girls and 41 boys that year.
  • Calina was given to 33 girls. 5 girls were named Caleena, additionally.
  • Cale can be short for Caleb or a variation on Kale. 33 boys.
  • Calynn is a form of Kaylin given to 25 girls. Another 9 girls were named Calyn
  • Calogero is an Italian name given to 22 boys.
  • Caliber is trendy (if rare) because it belongs to the same category of gun-related baby names as Remington, Colt, and Gunner. Of course, there’s always the possibility someone had an out-of-world experience at a Caliber Collision center. 20 boys and 6 girls were named Caliber in 2021.
  • Calil appears to be a variation of Khalil. It was given to 18 boys. Other variations are Caliel (8 boys) and Caleel (6 boys).
  • Calypso – An ultra-rare girls’ name from Greek Mythology, Calypso also has musical associations via the Caribbean music genre. 17 girls were named Calypso in 2021.
  • Calayah could be a variation of Caliyah or Malaya. Either way, it’s absolutely beautiful! 16 girls were named Calayah, while 15 girls were called Calaya.
  • Caleesi is an uncommon spelling of Khaleesi that was given to 13 girls.
  • Calise – I imagine this rhymes with Elise, not Alice. 13 girls.
  • Calissa looks like a name mash of Melissa and Calista. It was given to 12 girls.
  • Calais – 11 boys, 6 girls. Calais is a place in France that belonged to the English for centuries. As a boys’ name, Calais ties into Greek Mythology. It’s also the name of a football player, Calais Campbell.
  • Calcifer – 10 boys. Calcifer is the name of the demon in Howl’s Moving Castle.
  • Caledon appears to be a masculine form of Caledonia (see below). A possible namesake here is Caledon “Cal” Hockley, Rose’s jerk fiance in the Titanic. 10 boys.
  • Calel looks like a variation of Kal-El, i.e. Superman. 10 boys.
  • Caliann – This could be a variation of Kaylee-Ann or Callie-Ann, and I’m not sure how to pronounce it. 10 girls.
  • California is pretty self-explanatory. 10 girls.
  • Calixto is a form of Calixtus or Callistus given to 10 boys.
  • Caled – Could this be a typo of Caleb? 9 boys.
  • Caladin – I think Caladin is a variation of Kaladin, which is a Brandon Sanderson character’s name given to 80 boys. Caladin was given to 7 boys.
  • Caldwell is a surname baby name. 7 boys.
  • Calhoun is a surname baby name. 7 boys were named Calhoun in 2021, and I sincerely hope none of them have John C. Calhoun as their intended namesake.
  • Calvary is a gender-neutral option for parents who want to reference the site of the Crucifixion. 7 girls and 7 boys were named Calvary in 2021.
  • Caledonia is the old Latin name for Scotland. It was given to 6 girls in 2021.
  • Calliejo is a double-barrel first name that probably looks like Callie-Jo on paper! 6 girls.
  • Callisto has two different origins. The men’s version is related to Callistus, while the women’s version is from Greek Mythology. Either way, the apparent result is a gender-neutral baby name! 6 girls and 6 boys were named Callisto in 2021.
  • Calila looks like a feminine form of Khalil and, ergo, a variation of Khalila. 5 girls.
  • Callidora, which means “beautiful gift” in Greek, was given to 5 girls in 2021. I recently included this name in a longer list of names ending in “Dora.”
  • Callister appears to be a short form of McAllister. 5 boys.
  • Calvert is strongly associated with colonial Maryland, and today there’s even a Calvert County. 5 boys.
  • Calabash is a type of gourd that would make an intriguing option for parents who love baby names from nature and plants.
  • Calamity offers Western and Neo-Cowboy vibes thanks to Calamity Jane, who’s kind of a less famous Annie Oakley.
  • Calanthe is a rare flower name for orchids that derives from Greek words meaning “beautiful” and “flower.” Calanthia is a longer version. 
  • Calfuray is a rare flower name of Mapuche origin associated with violets or purple-colored flowers.
  • Calgary fits in with place name baby names.
  • Caligula – I don’t recommend naming your child Caligula, but it’s a great pet name!
  • Calm could be a fantastic virtue name.
  • Calpurnia is an Ancient Roman name that sometimes pops up in literature. The most recent namesake is a children’s book character called Calpurnia Tate.
  • Calrose – I think this is a brand of rice, but it works surprisingly well as a baby name!

There are a few other names that include “Cal” in the middle of the name. Some highlights from the 2021 data-set include Lyrical, Accalia, Deucalion, and Macallan.

Do you have a favorite name beginning with Cal? Is there another name you think I should add to this list? Let me know!

Name Lists

Baby Names Related to January

Happy New Year! As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, my mind wanders towards the name January.

Month names are an intriguing category of baby names. The most approachable ones, like April, June, and August are beloved by parents seeking temporal baby names or classic and vintage names. October and December are like 21st-century versions of Octavius / Octavia and Decimus / Decima – numerical Roman names, which, except for Octavia, are rarely popular but steadily used. Others are generational or never used at all. January, which was briefly popular a few decades ago, is related to the name Janus. Here are a few names for parents to consider bestowing on their January babies:

  • January itself is one of the versions you’re going to hear most often, and not just because it’s the 1st month of the year. Although only 15 girls received the name in 2021, it used to be in the top 1000 during the late 1970s. Two alternate spellings graced the Social Security Administration birth data during that time – Januari and Januarie. The most famous namesake is probably actress January Jones, though Januarie is also a Geoffrey Chaucer character.
  • Janvier is the French word for the month. It first appeared as a girls’ name when January was popular, but in 1992 it flipped to the boys. 5 boys received the name Janvier in 2016, the last year it appeared in SSA data.
  • Janus was a Roman god with two faces; one pointed to the past and the other to the future. Janus occasionally appeared as a women’s name in the mid 20th century, probably as a variant of Janice, but usage has been strictly masculine since the 1990s. It last appeared in 2019.  
  • Jana is usually related to names like John (via Jan) and Anna, making it a rarer alternative to Jane. In this case, I think a parent could use Jana to feminize Janus or name a January baby if not updating Janice and Janet, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some of its more recent usage were inspired by Jana Duggar. 227 girls were named Jana in 2021. 
  • Januarius (died c. 305 CE) is the patron saint of Naples, Italy. This form of the name comes from the Latin Ianuarius, which was the name of the month. Other famous namesakes include journalist Januarius MacGahan (1844-1878) and German artist Januarius Zick.  
  • Januaria is the feminine form of Januarius, and the name of a couple of early saints / martyrs. The most famous namesake is Princess Januária of Brazil (1822-1901), younger sister of Queen Maria II of Portugal. If you’re looking for an unconventional name inspired by royalty, this is it!
  • Gennaro is the Italian form of Januarius. Perennially popular in Italy, it’s steady but rare in the U.S. 24 boys were named Gennaro in 2021.

Unless a name is already popular or offers up a famous namesake, temporal names are best used in their corresponding times. If you don’t want scenarios like the line of questioning about day of birth that Wednesday Addams receives in the eponymous Netflix show, it’s least confusing if your baby January was born in January. There are exceptions, of course: for example, a baby born on September 19 could be named January in accordance with a Catholic holy day for St. Januarius. Additionally, I wager that most people probably won’t connect Gennaro with January unless they’re Italian or serious name-nerds, so this one can probably be used year-round with ease.

What do you think of the baby name January and its cohorts? Would you use any of them? Let me know, and have a Happy New Year once again!

Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Name Profile: Gertrude

Is it time for Gertrude to become a popular baby name again?

Gertrude is about as old-fashioned as it gets. Germanic, heavy on the consonants, and not-at-all frilly, it doesn’t sound like a name that could be popular for baby girls in 2022 or 2023. It’s quite rare, and many people probably treat it like the dodo – extinct! But I wonder if Gertrude‘s time is coming.

For one thing, it’s already more popular than it was 25 years ago. In 1998, only 5 baby girls were named Gertrude, which is the lowest count by far since the U.S. birth data starts in 1880. Just think – 100 years ago, several thousand girls were named Gertrude every year! While it hasn’t fully revived yet, you can now expect about 25-35 girls to receive the name each year and in 2021, the last year for which we have data, the count landed at 29 baby girls. There is no longer a major risk of Gertrude‘s name extinction. If anything, her long absence from the spotlight is a bonus because of the hundred-year-cycle, an idea that suggests names circle back around after a century. We’ve seen names like Evelyn return that way.

Another thing to consider is that Gertrude has fantastic nickname potential. There’s always classic Trudy or Trudie, which benefits from simultaneous cuteness and maturity. As it happens, today’s child is just about as likely to have Trudy as a legal name as they are to be called Gertrude (30 girls were named Trudy in 2021). Oddly enough, Gertie is starting to pop up again after a long absence (5 girls were named Gertie in 2021), so if you love old lady names you’re in luck! Geri might be too dated for a modern baby, but Gigi, Rudy, and Rue are adorable. Another nickname that makes Gertrude more accessible is True, a gender-neutral option which is wildly trendy thanks to Kardashian influence. You can also find that spelled without the ‘e’ (Tru), and sometimes with one extra (Truee) or even a second ‘u’ (Truu).

Bonus points for Gertrude include namesakes from Shakespeare (Hamlet’s mother), saints, Gertrude Stein, and Ma Rainey. Gertrude also gets to join the ever-growing compendium of Christmas baby names thanks to an adorable little girl in Violent Night, a 2022 Christmas movie that combines Die Hard, Home Alone, and other famous holiday movies to create a jolly dark comedy action flick. That character, named after her grandmother, goes by Trudy; funnily enough, her teenage cousin Bert’s full name is Bertrude (also after their grandmother, the family matriarch). Gertie itself boasts a modern, contemporary reference in the popular children’s book Gossie and Gertie about a pair of ducklings who are friends. If names like Gertrude, Trudy, True, and Gertie all have recent reference points in pop culture, it’s only a matter of time before they all start rising.

What kind of middle names suit Gertrude? Gertrude‘s Germanic root words mean “spear” and “strength,” which is just plain awesome! Methinks Gertrude pairs well with other strong and powerful vintage names like Hedwig (“war”), Queen, and Millicent (“work + strength”), but I also think it could be a great idea to balance it out with softer options like Evelyn, Estelle, and Winnie. Nature-related names also work well in the middle spot, such as Rose, Holly, and Sage. You can imagine a Gertrude Sage, can’t you? And when in doubt, Katherine, Marie, and Elizabeth pair well with everything!

Final thoughts: unlike most people, I’ve actually met a younger Gertrude and have wonderful associations with the name as a result. Associations are often the key.

What do you think of Gertrude? Do you have a favorite middle or nickname? Does it work as a baby girls’ name? Let me know what you think!