Today, Romeo and Juliet don’t have to work hard to find each other - they’re at the highest ranking they’ve ever been on the US Top 1000. With other love-ly names like Valentina and Tristan on the rise, one might say modern namers have been struck by Cupid’s arrow! Here are some more modern (and unique) romantic name options for your little love.
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Amyas. Also spelled Amias, this handsome, ethereal name comes from the Latin for “beloved”. And despite its low popularity, the name fits in well with popular boys’ names like Elias, Atticus, or Moses. Historically, Amyas has been used in the UK a few times, but its uncommon sound and darling meaning make it stand out in a crowd.
Philo. Boy’s names ending in O have been on the rise for the last decade - from Leo to Milo to Theo, namers love the O-pen ended options. Philo would suit this trend perfectly! Another name meaning “love”, Philo speaks to classic names like Phillip - to please conservative tastes - or academic subjects like philosophy - to please intellectual tastes.
Corwin. With last names like Cooper, Parker, and Carson feeling worn, why not look at Corwin? The hard-C beginning is tempered by the soft -win ending, which is a nice balance. Corwin means “heart’s friend”, relating directly to the romantic theme, but I think Corwin also sounds like a heroic name: courageous and winning! Bonus points for animal lovers - Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet is a passionate conservationist, and a great namesake.
Liev. An anagram of the popular Levi, Liev has gained notoriety in the United States through X-Men actor Schreiber. Its solid single-syllable sound helps it fit in with the current trend of short boys’ names like Max and Luke, but the vibe is somehow lighter and more appealing. Perhaps Liev’s closeness to “love” has something to do with it? The name also means “heart”.
Adonis. It wasn’t too long ago that Romeo was thought of as overly romantic, but in today’s world of uncommon naming, everything out is in again! Adonis, like Amyas, fits in with other popular boys’ names, but its robust melody and confident connotation help to individualize the name. Uber-masculine and handsome, Adonis means “lord”, and lends itself to the vintage nickname Don.
Didier. It wouldn’t be a true romantic list without a few French options! Didier reminds one of springtime in Paris, but it’s not quite as recognizable as Pierre or Jean-Claude. Didier will also have a unique sound to English listeners, but it isn’t impossible to pronounce. The name means “desired one”, and any long-awaited baby would wear the name with pride.
Ceri. Pronounced “Seh-REE”, this name features on 30 Rock as the beautiful secretary at NBC, from the French cerise, for “cherry”. Pronounced “Keh-REE”, this name is a diminutive of Ceridwen, a Welsh name meaning “beautiful as a poem”. Either pronunciation is lovely and feminine, and the name is short enough to be a nickname but solid enough to feel complete. Ceri, of course, recalls the delicate nickname “Cherie”, and it really is oh so dear.
Esme. While this name certainly isn’t overused, it still hasn’t quite reached the popularity of sister name Amy. To that I say, why not? It’s similar to adorable Emma and Esther, and the meaning - related to both “beloved” and “emerald” - is pretty and striking. Plenty of heroine Esme’s feature throughout literature, from Salinger to Snicket. Of course, the lilt of French adds an air of romantic intrigue to this gorgeous name.
Dove. With names like Fox and Bear coming into the spotlight, Dove could easily join the menagerie. The bird inspires thoughts of peace and love, and the sound of Dove is as soft as fluttering wings. Not sure if Dove is strong enough? Similar names Dawn and Wren have done well, and Dove even ranked in the top 1000 at the beginning of the twentieth century!
Seraphina. Ardent, fiery Seraphina more than merits a place on this list! Melodic and feminine, this name is surprisingly underused despite its similarities to other Latin favorites Isabella and Serena. The name originally refers to an order of angels, but it’s less expected than Angela or Angelique. Of course, the four-syllable cadence helps Seraphina’s staying power, and the name just brims with passion.
Zelia. Zealous Zelia is fun, fresh, and full of possibility. The name has the popular -lia ending, but it’s distinctive from most other names out there (Cecilia being the closest, I think). The spirit of Zelia is reminiscent of young love and happiness, but the name also fits in with vintage and retro trends. This energetic find is still rarely used, but it won’t be long before Zelia’s energy sweeps up the popularity charts.
Mireille. This light and fluffy French name just exudes positivity and love - like “miracle” meets “hooray!” It seems to have almost an excess of letters, but on paper they give the name necessary substance. Mireille offers a variety of accessible nicknames, from Mira to Ellie (for English speakers), but any little Mireille in the US will be one of a kind.
Let me tell you about a certain name. It's a girl's name, four letters long, with independent origins in Ireland and Scandinavia. This name ranked among America's top 250 girls' names for decades, and in the top 1,000 for a century straight. At its peak, it was more popular than names like Jasmine, Sydney and Kayla -- and Mary and Maria -- are today. The name:
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It's possible that you've known an Elva. Perhaps there happens to be an Elva in your own family tree. But I'll bet that to most of you, Elva is a name you've flat-out never heard of. It's one of the forgotten hits, names that had long runs of popularity before vanishing, not just from the popularity charts but from our mental name pool.
Each of the names below ranked among America's top 1000 boys' or girls' names for decades, and spent at least some of that time in the top 500. Yet each sounds utterly unfamiliar to most Americans today.
Floy. Peak Rank: #291 in 1887. Apparently a nickname for the then-wildly-popular name Florence, with echoes of the fashionable male name Floyd.
Mozelle. Peak: #417 in 1920. This name was nearly unknown outside the Southern U.S., but there it was popular enough to place multiple variants (Mozell, Mozella) on the nationwide top-1000 list.
Marvel. Peak: #487 in 1899. Not all Victorian girls' names were modest. Marvelous Marvel took off starting in the 1890s, mostly in the Midwest. Silent film star Marvel Rea was born in Nebraska in 1901.
Ollie. Peak: #96 in 1888. Ollie can be short for Olive as well as Oliver, so it may not surprise you that there were girls with the given name Ollie. What's surprising is how many. In its prime, Ollie was more popular than names like Maya and Mackenzie are today.
Arvilla. #435 in 1881. Many have guessed at the origins of Arvilla. A feminine form of Arnold, perhaps, or of the Welsh name Arwel? I like to think of it as a distillation of the romantic sounds of its moment, much as a name like Aubriella is today.
Elva. Peak: #161 in 1885 & 1901. Elva can be a Nordic name (meaning "elf") or an Irish name (anglicized from Ailbhe). But Elva's long run of popularity wasn't linked to any particular ethnic group. The name was simply stylish, sharing a heyday with names like Erma, Iva and Edna.
Gust. Peak: #330 in 1887. A short form of Gustave, or perhaps in some cases an adoption of the German surname Gust. Probably not an adoption of the word "gust."
Cloyd. #447 in 1892. Cloyd is an occasional surname, and the Anglicized name of the Welsh river Clwyd. But the real key to understanding Cloyd as a given name is that it peaked at a time when Clyde, Lloyd and Floyd all ranked among the top 100 boys' names.
Elzie. Peak: #352 in 1891. Elzie may be a nickname for names like Eliezer, or transferred use of the surname Elzie. There have been a number of notable Elzies who chose to work under other names, like "Popeye" cartoonist E.C. Segar; stock car racer "Buck" Baker; and sportswriter LZ Granderson.
Otha. Peak: #451 in 1909. The name Otha was popular with both black and white families throughout the Southern U.S. In its peak year, the similar names Otho (a Roman emperor) and Othel also ranked in the top 1,000. Beyond that, I can't figure out what the heck this name is. Any insights, readers?
Most baby name judgments are a matter of taste. There's no objectively "coolest" or "strongest" or "smartest" name. But some things about a name can be measured, and that means we can determine champions...or at least extremes.
The names below are all tops by some measure, profound or silly. In cases of ties, the name given to the most babies in the most recent statistical year was awarded the crown.
First off, some ground rules. Just stringing two names together doesn't count. (I'm talking to you, ChristopherJohn and SamanthaNicole). With that in mind, the longest current baby name in America is Oluwatimilehin, a Yoruba name meaning "the Lord supported me/the Lord is my strength." Oluwatimilehin was given to 19 boys, which gave it the tiebreaker over other names like Oluwafunmilayo and Oluwaseyifunmi. In fact, the 15 longest individual names are ALL Yoruba names starting with Oluwa.
Longest String of Repeated Letters
Willliam. Could this just be a typo? Yeah, probabllly.
Of all the names ranking in today's top 20, none got there as fast as the girl's name Harper. In the space of a decade, the name went from rare to everywhere:
Biggest Vanishing Act
Name trends come and go, but it's rare for a popular name to vanish altogether. Every year, some babies are still named Wilbur and Myrtle. The #1 biggest hit of the past that has disappeared completely is the girl's name Willie, which ranked in the top 100 for more than 50 years straight starting in the 1880s, but is now unheard of. The runners-up are all nicknames too, like Pam, Doug, Patti and Jan.
First In the Alphabet
If you added every newborn baby in America to your contacts list, Aaban would show up first….
Last In the Alphabet
…while you'd have to scroll a lonnngggg way down to get to Zyyon. (The all-time alphabetical backstop, Zzyzx, didn't register in this year's stats.)
Highest Scrabble Value
Weighing in at a lean eight letters, Jazzmyne edges out the likes of Krzysztof, Melchizedek and Kamsiyochukwu with a powerhouse Scrabble score of 38. (If you're thinking "but there's only one Z tile," assume we're playing Super Scrabble.)
Longest Name Made of One-Point Letters
Not every Scrabble rack is made for a triple word score. Aristotelis (the Greek form of Aristotle) gives you just 11 points in 11 letters. The girl's champion, Antoinette, clocks in at 10.
Plenty of names are classics, but one has earned the right to say it truly never goes out of style. William alone has never dipped below a rate of 4 born out of every 1,000 American babies.