In this era of Blue Ivys, Norths, Apples and Blankets, it’s hard to land on a baby name that’s truly unique. But Nameberry might just have the definitive list of unused names.
The baby name website cross-referenced the 2016 extended list of baby names from the Social Security Administration (which has a record of every baby name used in the U.S. that year) with their own complete database. What resulted was a list of 5,000 baby names that were not used at all in 2016.
In a recent blog post, the site narrowed the list down to 100 names — 50 for girls and 50 for boys — that weren’t used last year. Of course, this yielded a number of names that most might consider “ridiculous,” like Remember, Season, Traveler and Trout, but many draw from historic, literary and futuristic references that make for truly timeless monikers.
Top 10 least popular names for girls in 2016
Top 10 least popular names for boys in 2016
While Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com and author of The Baby Names Workbook, says that parents have been steadily looking for unique baby names since the 1990s, she says there are some major considerations to bear in mind when giving your child an unusual name.
“The first concern is the teasing factor,” she tells Global News. “We have a test in our workbook that says to ask a kid what they think of the name. If a six- or seven-year-old comes up with something to tease them with, you may want to rethink it.”
Popularity of names spreads more widely these days, thanks in large part to the Internet, says Linda Rosenkrantz Finch, co-founder of Nameberry, which is why parents are more concerned with originality.
“This priority on uniqueness is actually a high wire act. For a name to be literally unique, it would have to be invented, and invented names tend to cause endless, lifelong problems for the child whose name is totally unfamiliar to others,” she says. “We always suggest moderation — find an unusual name in your family history or a rarely used flower name, for example.”
Moss advises parents to avoid the trap of taking a traditional name and changing the spelling of it for the sake of originality. That will just result in burdening the child with the task of having to spell out their name for the rest of their life. Also, don’t make the name a joke.
“Crystal Chandelier and Fox Chase might sound cute and funny as a kid, but you have to consider the perspective of the child and how they’re going to live with it,” she says. “For girls in particular, we caution against diminutive names [like Nicki or Katie]. How will that play in a boardroom? Pick a more formal name that can be used in a professional situation.”
They can always choose to go by the diminutive if they want.
While unisex names sound really cool, Finch says to consider how that will work with siblings, especially if they’re of different genders.
“If you have two kids with unisex names — say a girl named Rory or Riley and a boy named Harper or Harley — it won’t always be clear who’s the sister and who’s the brother.”
Much like the factors that make a name a favourite — celebrities, politics and pop culture — those same factors can be responsible for the demise of a name. (Both North and West made the list, which means parents are either reluctant to treat their children like a compass or they don’t want to be associated with Kim Kardashian.)
At the end of the day, Moss says, put yourself in their shoes: “Does it work for a child and an adult?”
Traveler might sound like a cute name for an active toddler, but it may not transition well to a professional environment.