Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rare but Real (2011)

It was only a few months ago that I highlighted some of the names given to only 5 children in 2010. Just like last year, most of the names this rare are either imported or invented, but there are some that seem like they should be more common.

  • Astor (AS-tor)--from Provençal, "hawk". With the surname rage in full swing, this short and easy surname feels like it should be on the rise. Perhaps the resemblance to Esther, and the aster flower is keeping it down? The feminine form Astoria fared slightly better, with 10 uses in 2011.
  • Benno (BEN-noh)--from German, "bear". A jaunty update to the "boring to some, classic to others" Benjamin?
  • Cathán (CAH-han)--from Irish Gaelic, "battle". With Cohen becoming so controversially trendy, it's surprising that this sound-alike is so uncommon--and its usual Anglicization Cahan didn't even chart!
  • Eliakim (ee-LYE-ah-kim or eh-lee-ah-keem)--from Hebrew, "God rises". With the rest of the Eli-brothers on the rise, this Biblical obscurity could stand out, while still giving that handsome nickname.
  • Eustace (YOO-stahs)--from Greek, "fruitful". Vintage names are ever on the comeback, and the Chronicles of Narnia connection gives this quirky pick a bit more depth.
  • Finbarr (FIN-bar)--from Irish Gaelic, "fair-haired". How has this Finn-name been overlooked?
  • Gawain (gah-WAYN, or GAH-wine)--from Welsh, "white hawk". I'm always shocked to see mythological & hero names so underused, especially as easy-to-say as this one. Modern variant Gavin is in the top 50, however.
  • Guillaume (gee-OHM)--French, form of William. As William & Liam get even more popular, I imagine parents will start turning to other languages' forms. French names for girls are always in style, so why not for boys? 
  • Savio (SAH-vee-oh)--from Italian, "clever". Italian, easy to say & spell, with a good meaning--If wouldn't surprise me to see this one rise on the heels of Giovanni, Mateo, & Luca.

  • Amaranta (ah-mah-RAHN-tah)--Spanish & Italian, form of Greek Amaranth, "unfading". As flower, princess-y, and Italian names are swinging back into style, I'm surprised to have not seen this one on anyone's list.
  • Dulcinea (dool-sin-EH-ah)--from Spanish, "sweet". Maybe it's the "dul" that's kept this name down, but since literary feminine names have done generally done well, Dulcinea's lact of popularity is odd.
  • Euphemia (yoo-FEM-ee-ah)--from Greek, "speaks well". Nothing screams "vintage" like the Eu-names, and they all have "good" meanings, too (literally). As the traditional full form of the chic Effie, it seems likely that this may gain a bit more use in the coming years.
  • Hannelore (hah-nah-LOHR-eh)--German, a combination of Hannah & Eleonore. With Hannah back in a big way, frilly, stand-out elaborations are inevitable. This import seems a bit more substantial than the usual popular name+girly ending concoctions.
  • Kadri (KAH-dree ['r' is trilled/rolled])--Estonian, form of Katherine. Cute "ee" ending; stylish K; exotic, but easy to spell and pronounce. What's not to love?
  • Ligia (LEE-zhee-ah or LEE-jee-ah)--Portuguese & Romanian, form of Greek Ligeia, "clear-voiced". An exotic alternative to Lydia, but with mythological & literary ties. 
  • Sebastiana (seb-ahs-TYAH-nah)--Italian. How, oh, how was Sebastian given to more girls last year than the feminine form?
  • Yarden (YAR-den or yahr-DEN)--Hebrew. An older form of Jordan making a comeback for both genders in many regions, it's somehow only charted for girls in the US. 

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