The Rare Rejects, Part One

I’m putting together a list of names that are both rare and not increasing in significant numbers, for parents looking for “safe” names to give their babies.  One of the criteria is that the name be under 300 uses on the 2014 list.  Here are a few names that fit that criterion but I’ve left off the list for other reasons (generally because they’re getting more popular, but in the case of Gertrude it’s because I think it’s fugly).

Coralie [#1052] — This name rarely saw more than a dozen uses in a year before the 2000s. As of 2014, it’s in its peak year at 81 uses. That still makes it quite rare, but tread carefully if choosing this name for its lack of popularity–with a trendy sound and an “old lady” vibe, it’s poised for racing up the charts.

Gertrude [#3409] — The quintessential “ugly old lady name,” Gertrude peaked in 1917 with 6300 uses. Its low point was in 1998, when it nearly fell off the charts. This name can be considered both extremely rare, with only 19 uses in 2014, and not for the faint of heart. It might be chosen by brave parents who don’t care about the negative kneejerk reaction most people have to hearing it.

Astrid [#787] — Astrid saw consistent use in low numbers (<80) until it started taking off in the late 1980s. It’s currently peaking at 293 uses and will very likely see much higher numbers over the next decade.

Ingrid [#794] — Ingrid’s numbers have stayed in the 200-500 range since the mid-1940s. Its peak years were 1967 (577 uses) and 2008 (564 uses). There doesn’t appear to be much of a pattern to this name’s use, and for that reason I hesitate to make any predictions. This would be a good choice for parents who want an easily pronounced, recognizable name that’s also not too common.

Violeta [#800] — This name, along with its sister Violet, is currently enjoying its most popular era in history. Although it only had 286 uses in 2014, it’s sure to keep growing in popularity until Violet sputters out years from now.

Clementine [#803] — Clementine saw fair to middling use in the first half of the 20th century, but petered out and was seldom used until its revival around 2005. Its current numbers are the highest they’ve ever been and will probably increase considerably over the next few years.

Promise [#805] — This wasn’t used as a name in the United States until 1975, and has been slowly but steadily increasing in popularity since its debut. It has more than doubled since 2005 and by all appearances will keep growing.

Cordelia [#816] — Cordelia has been used consistently over the past century, seeing its highest use before now exactly 100 years ago. In 2002 the name started moving up the charts once again, and in 2014 hit a record high 264 uses. Like Coralie and Astrid, this name has a fashionable vibe and big potential to grow.

Are you a Uneek Naymer? The Top 11 Warning Signs.

Do you suspect you may be a Uneek Naymer?  Don’t be caught off guard and succumb to this affliction!  Here are the top 11 warning signs of this illness.

1. You become upset when you hear someone has used “your” name.

Example: “Jennifer named her daughter Hayden!  Can you believe that?!  She knew I liked that name for my next child!!!”

Reality: No one owns a baby name.  Even if your friend really did hear you say the name and “stole” it from you, there is nothing you can do about it (except whine).  Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and chances are you’re both imitating thousands of other people, anyway.

Recommendation: Relax.

2. You believe that spelling a common name differently makes it different, less popular, or “unique,” and therefore magically better.  (See also: #3)

Example: Operating under the delusion that your child will somehow stand out amongst the tens of thousands of Emilys, you name her “Emmeleigh” instead.

Reality: Spelling a common name differently does not make it special.  It makes it a common name spelled in a bizarre fashion, that your child will have to spell out over and over and over again, for the rest of their lives.  Hint: “It’s Emily, but with two Ms, an E, and a -leigh on the end” is something no one should ever have to say.

Recommendation: For God’s sake, spell the name the right way.

3. You think a certain spelling of a name makes it cuter.  (See also: #2)

Example: “I don’t like Michaela, but McKayelah is just so CUTE!”

Reality: Sorry, but this isn’t cute.  At all.

Recommendation:  Is “your” name pronounced in approximately the same way as the original?  Then just use the regular spelling.

4. You don’t quite understand what “unique” means.

Example: You think “unique” means “less common” or “nifty” or “special.”

Reality: Unique means one of a kind.  As in ONE of a kind, meaning ZERO others exist.  Unique does NOT mean “slightly unusual” or “pretty” or “kind of cool” or whatever you’re thinking it might mean.  It’s important to understand the distinction because  it’s very, very, very unlikely you will pick a name, or a spelling of a name, for your child that has never been used in the history of the Earth.  Therefore, when you go around braying (Braylynn?) about your “unique” name, you come off sounding rather idiotic.

Recommendation: Learn what unique actually means.  Then stop pretending your name is unique.

5. You think using a boy name for a girl is always fine, 100% of the time.

Example: “I love the name Brandon for a girl!  It’s cute!  It’s spunky!  It’s original!”

Reality: Using a boy’s name on a girl is not objectively cute or spunky, nor will it imbue your girl child with these characteristics.  However, it will confuse new teachers for the next 20 years, and the post office, doctors, the IRS, new acquaintances, and other form readers for the rest of your child’s life.  I guarantee you are not the only one using the name in this fashion, so once again, originality is a poor excuse.   Plus, this thinking results in a constant reduction of the name pool for boys, which is annoying.

Recommendation: Please just choose a nice girl’s name and stop confusing everyone.

6. You think “Y” is a feminine letter.

Example: The errant belief that Jordyn is the female spelling of Jordan.

Reality: Somehow, over the past 20 years or so, this has become a thing, to the point where some people think that fracked-up invented “Y” spellings such as Baylee, Shayne, and Jordyn are the genuine and correct female versions of the male names Bailey, Shane, and Jordan.  Truly, they believe it, like a newly converted Jehovah’s Witness.  Is this you?  Then cut it out.  Now, let me point out that sex-based spellings DO have some historical basis (and there is often a solid etymological basis for it); however, this is not what’s going on here.  This is not a legit language or history thing.  This is a misguided Uneek Naymer thing.

Recommendation: You know what I’m going to say… just spell the name correctly.

7. Nothing can convince you that the name you chose was popular, or getting popular, when YOU used it.

Example: “There were NO Aidans back in 2007!  Really.  NONE.  Look it up.”

Reality: What’s going on here is you wanted to pick a “unique” name and failed, and in order to continue this delusion, you must now pull a Journey and won’t stop believin’.  No amount of statistics, baby name books, charts, articles from 2007 on the trendiness of the name Aidan, or 12 other Aidans in your child’s classroom will ever convince you.  Because you are a Uneek Naymer, and your children will have only Uneek Naymes.

Recommendation: I originally typed: “None.  You’re a hopeless case.”  I am feeling a little nicer now that it’s no longer 3:00AM, so I’ll say instead: Please just LOOK at the data before you start splurging out craziness.  It’s not other people’s fault you suck at predicting trends.  Hunh.  Maybe that’s not nicer.

8. You think “X” is a masculine letter.

Example: “I think Jaxxon looks so much stronger than Jackson!”

Reality:  Look, there are some legit and lovely X names, like Xavier, Alexander, Max, and, well, Xavier.  HOWEVER.  Inserting X (and especially TWO Xs) into any dang name does not make it look better.  The real-world effect of inserting X where it doesn’t belong ranges from “What, why?” to “Holy fuck does that look stupid.”  X-Mania has also led to some highly questionable entries on the boy list such as Braxx, Eryx, Lynx, Matrix, Nyx, and Shaddix.  Braxx?  What the hell?  Calm down, people.  Your baby is not an antihero in a futuristic prison break film.

Recommendation: If you love the letter “X” that much, use a name that is legitimately spelled with an X.  But please stop assaulting innocent X-less names with your four-bladed weapon of destruction.

9. The suffixes “-aylee” and “-ayden” are your consonant equalizers.

Example: “Braylee, Kaylee, Maylee, or Jaylee?  They are all so pretty I can’t decide!”

Reality: Again, there are a few legitimate names with an actual historical basis that use these sounds, mainly Aidan and Bailey.  You could make a case for Hayden and Hailey as well–not a great one, as those weren’t really used as first names until the 80s, but in court you’d stand a chance as there are towns and planetariums and comets and shit with those names.  But honestly–Zaylee?  Raiden?  The biggest problem with these names is there is typically no thought put into them beyond “Oooo that sounds kinda cute” and thus we end up with these nightmare constructions with no standardized spelling, no history, no melody, and no common sense.  Note that the people who use these names also tend to be the ones who squawk the loudest about #1 and #7.

Recommendation: Just no.

10. You believe the prefix “Mc” is awesome to stick on just about anything.

Example: “McKaylin is such a great name!  Or maybe I’ll spell it Makaylynne to be unique.”

Reality: The McName phenomenon traces its roots, such as they are, to the double-barreled late 70s/early 80s assault by Mackenzie/Michaela.  Yes, once upon a time, these were pretty much the only McNames in use, and Michaela was actually spelled properly.  Unfortunately, a collective someone thought it would be awesome to stick “Mc” on the beginning of every damn thing, and despite the fact “Mc” is a MALE prefix meaning “son of” in Gaelic, these names became popular for girls.  Inexplicably, aside from a minor “Mackenzie” bump in the 80s, the McNames never made it into the boy charts, which is where they would be in an ideal world.  Now there are so many of these “names” and they are so ridiculous that hearing them makes me want to puke sparkly rainbows and magical unicorns all over your girl child.  Just sayin’.

Recommendation: If you really, really, really have to use a McName on a girl, stick to the “classics” (gaaah) of Mackenzie and Michaela. At least they have some legitimacy.  And for the love of Jeebus spell them right.

11. You have read this list and still think  McRayleigh is a lovely, legitimate name that NO ONE else would ever think of and that your spelling is the cutest and bestest evarrrr.

Reality: You are an idiot.