One of the most exciting things new parents get to do before the arrival of their child is choose the baby’s name. Will it be something popular or unusual? A family name or something original? We will explore the top baby names as well as some of the more unique possibilities to help you choose the perfect name.
Top Baby Names
In the 90s, the most popular name for a boy was Michael. For the past five years, the most common name has been Jacob. Other popular names include Joshua, Matthew, Ethan, Andrew, Daniel, William, Joseph, Gregory, Jonathan, Benjamin, and Christopher. If you are looking for a classic, these baby names have been popular for years.
The most popular name for a girl has not changed in the past fifteen years. It continues to be Emily, and is currently followed by Emma, Madison, Olivia, Hannah, Abigail, Isabella, Ashley, Samantha, and Elizabeth. Except for Ashley and Elizabeth, the popularity of the others is recent and affected by pop culture, especially television shows.
Other sources of popular names are best-selling novels and celebrities. After Gweneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple, many people have done the same. The Harry Potter books and the Lord of the Rings movies have also added many names to the list of the most popular.
Unusual Baby Names
One way today’s parents have created unusual names for their children is by changing the spelling of a popular name. Variations that are becoming less unusual include Emilie, Elisabeth, Karin, and Erika. Names like Stacy can be spelled in three different ways (Stacy, Stacie, Staci).
Another way to personalize a baby name is to use a nickname as the child’s full name. For instance, Ben instead of Benjamin, Jon instead of Jonathan, and Matt instead of Matthew are becoming more common.
Other unusual sources for baby names come from the world around us. The popularity of names such as April and May continues to come and go, while names such as Winter, and Hazel are still unusual. Consider choosing a baby name reminiscient of the time of year when your child will be born or the time of year they were conceived. Fruit, vegetables, colors, and the adjectives that describe them are a good starting point (Pear, Lemon, Azure). Other uncommon names are those of plants and flowers, such as Hyacinth, Daisy, and Fern.
Other ideas to get you thinking:
Names that describe an ideal or a personality, such as Hope, Grace, Prudence, Patience, Temperance, or Chastity, are still unusual although not entirely unique. Other descriptive baby names include Cadence and Candid.
Other unusual names come from sources that are not commonly used today. While Biblical names are popular, Greek mythology is only rarely used. Your child may be the only one in their class to have the name Athena, Minerva, or Pan. Or you could give them a name from another culture, such as the Swedish Carina or the Polish Aleksy.
Baby names from other cultures include:
Anuket – Egyptian mythology
Augustyn – Polish
Crina – Romanian
Dimitriy (Dima) – Russian
Freya – Norse mythology
Hestia – Greek mythology
Kirill – Russian
The possibilities are endless! But as mentioned above, remember that if the source of your baby’s name is a television show, novel, or celebrity, the name may not be that unusual when they begin school several years down the road. This is especially true for girls. Look for Apple, Reese, and Uma to be popular over the next five years.
Perhaps you’d like something even more original.
Unique Baby Names
If you don’t want your child’s name to be the same as anyone else’s, you can create a unique baby name. These names can have many sources. The more common methods of creating something original are by the combination of family names or the addition of a syllable or letter to a popular name. An example of the latter is Kylen, a unique girl’s name which stems from the boy’s name Kyle. Unique baby names which may come from a family name include Stafford, Prestoff, and Kilin. While some people may find these better suited for a middle name, others may prefer their unique nature.
A sampling of unique names:
The Meaning of a Name
For some people, it doesn’t matter whether a baby name is popular or unique, it just has to mean a certain thing. Rather than choose a baby name with an obvious connotation such as Spring, Grace, or Rose, they want a name that will bring goodwill to their child through its ancient origin.
Some popular as well as unusual baby names include:
Adelaide (Adelia, Alyssa, Allison) – noble
Albert – bright
Alethea – truth
Beatrice – traveller
Cara – beloved
Colbert – bright
Darwin – friend
Elfleda – beauty
Gertrude – stength
Hannah (Anna) – favor, grace
Henry (Henrietta) – power
Isolde – beauty
Keisha – favorite
Letitia – joy
Manfred – strength
Osmund – protector
Robert (Bob) – fame
Vivian – alive
Tips For Choosing
There are many things to consider when you finally select a baby name. Will this be a name your child can use for life, or will it sound silly when it refers to an adult? Will this name cause your child to be picked on? Will they have to constantly correct people in its pronunciation or spelling, and does this concern you? Are there any stereotypes (good or bad) associated with it?
One last concern is: does it fit with your last name? Generally it sounds better if there are a different number of syllables in the first and last names. Only rarely should the first letter of the first and last names be the same. This is of course more of a concern for boys, as they will keep their name for life. Of course, any decisions about hyphenation in the last name should be made before the first name is chosen.
Try not to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. After all, you have nine months to make this decision! Leave yourself open to the myriad sources of ideas, and you will find the baby name for you. And of course, if you let people know you’re looking, friends, family members, and even coworkers might add their own suggestions!
Keep these things in mind, and you will choose a popular, or unusual, or unique baby name that your child will be proud of for life.