Signs that I've been in the name community for a "long" time - I consider almost every name in the top 1000 "relatively popular." Granted, there were over 20,000 Emma's and only 266 Alianna's (numbers 1 and 1000) born in 2015, so there's a range. Somehow, though, it seems any name with a number next to it is used too much for me!
While this is probably due to my immersion in Baby Name Wizard and Nameberry, trends point towards more and more individuality. People are making up names, creating unique spellings, and rediscovering old gems. And I'm not that picky - my current personal favorites are Anna (#44) and Beatrice (#565). But there are some lovely names that just missed the cutoff - let's look!
Antonia - 261 born last year
A name that has always been outside the norm, Antonia is pretty, compelling, and stylish. With multiple nicknames and a classic vibe, it's a name that will grow right along with its wearer. There are plenty of Antonia's throughout history that wore the name well - check out the Antonius family of Ancient Rome - and it's derived from the Latin for "priceless one."
Poppy - 257 born last year
Why hasn't this name, so popular in overseas English-speaking nations, conquered the US? Perhaps it's just too early: Jenna Bush Hager only named her daughter Poppy Louise last year, bringing the name to American attention. It's a sweet botanical name that fits in with sisters Lily and Ivy, but it's got a positive energy all its own.
Araceli - 247 born last year
I'm in love with the meaning of this name: "altar of the sky." Araceli is Spanish in origin, and comes from a city of Spain of which the Virgin Mary is patron saint (along the same lines as Guadalupe, Montserrat, and Soledad). It's ranked in the top 1000 on and off since the late 1960's, but has never become "popular." With a unique sound and beautiful origin story, Araceli could rise higher!
Gwyneth - 236 born last year
While Gwyneth has only one major namesake today, this Welsh name has been in use since the 1800's. It's a pleasant alternative to Gwendolyn or Gwen, but not quite as inaccessible as Guinevere or Gwladys (yes, a real name). The light "-eth" ending is elegant and feminine in an unexpected way; other uncommon "-eth" names include Ferelith, Annabeth, and Cherith.
Scout - 232 born last year
Now that the hubbub over Atticus has died down, let's look at another option from To Kill a Mockingbird - Scout. The character's full name was Jean Louise, but Scout is much more suited to a twenty-first century girl; it's peppy, tenacious and smart. Already, Harper has made the top ten - Scout deserves at least a spot on the top 1000! Other great names from the book include Jem, Finch, and Calpurnia.
Opal - 229 born last year
Now that Ruby is well on its way to the top, I'm excited to see which other jewel names get popular. Pearl is a definite contender, while Diamond has dropped since its peak in the 1990's. Opal is a fantastic choice for so many reasons - its vintage sound fits in well with current trends, the first initial is still relatively unpopular, and the jewel it derives from is gorgeous. Onward, Opal!
Campbell - 224 born last year
Though boys definitely dominate the rise in surnames-as-first-names, Campbell is a great choice for girls, too. The "bell" at the end relates to Isabelle or Annabel, but the sound is decidedly mature and unisex. Cam and Cami are cute nicknames - or even Bella. Like Kendall and Mitchell, I can see Campbell attracting fans for its sophisticated sound and friendly nature.
Florence - 214 born last year
With Florence and the Machine being a favorite among both indie and mainstream music lovers, I'm shocked that Florence hasn't yet ranked. It made it all the way to #6 a few times in the early twentieth century before decreasing steadily to relative obscurity. Meaning "prosperous," Florence connects to botanical names but maintains an air of elegance and timelessness.
Maritza - 207 born last year
A Latin American variation of Maria, Maritza has gained attention recently thanks to Orange is the New Black - "If you want more pizza, vote for Maritza." It's brighter than Marissa, with more flair than its originator or even Mary. The Maritza is also the name of a river in Bulgaria, giving the name added credibility in Slavic languages.
Charity - 202 born last year
A pretty virtue name with a generous meaning and a long history of use in the United States, Charity could definitely make a comeback. It's been primed by Cassidy and Cecily, but it's got a unique vibe not shared by too many other names. Bonus points for prominent use in the musical Sweet Charity, which centers on the cutest character name of all time - Charity Hope Valentine.
Next up - onto the boys' list!