There are the names you put on your baby name list, and then there are the names you wonder about. You hear them and can't help but think: "What kind of name is that? Where does it come from? Do people actually name their kids that?"
All that wondering brings readers to our Namipedia, making the pages for names like Katniss and Django as popular as pages for trendy baby names. We've scoured our stats for the most wondered-about names—names with heavy Namipedia traffic that are rare-to-nonexistent in the baby name realm. Here are some of the girls' names the American public is wondering about right now.
Zazie Beetz. Image: foxmovies.com
(* = appears in the most recent U.S. baby name stats)
Zazie. Actress Zazie Beetz was the breakout star of the Marvel film Deadpool 2. As the superhero Domino she captured attention with her insouciance, her showstopping look, and her name. The name Zazie is a French nickname (sometimes short for Isabelle), but run through a German filter. Beetz was born in Germany, and her parents took her name from the 1960 French film Zazie dans le Métro and pronounced it with a German twist: ZAH-see.
Nymphadora. Even in the exotic naming realm of the Harry Potter books, the name of shapeshifter Nymphadora Tonks stands out. Nymphadora is an old saint's name, from the Greek for bride/nymph + gift. Its resemblance to the word "nymphomania," though, has helped keep parents away, and the Harry Potter character herself preferred to go by her surname Tonks.
Tully. In the 2018 film "Tully," Tully is the name of a female nanny who helps out an overstressed mother. Outside the film, Tully is an occasional male nickname, an Irish and Scottish surname, and a name that was once commonly used to refer to the Roman orator Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero). It's rare but familiar, and the movie usage could help it catch on for girls.
Stamatina. Tina has been familiar as a given name for decades, but it started out as a nickname. Most often it was short for Christina, Martina, or Katarina. In the case of comedian Tina Fey, though, Tina comes from Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. Stamatina is a Greek name coming from a root meaning "stop"; Fey was named after her Greek great-grandmother.
Nike. Ah, if it weren't for the swoosh! Nike was a Greek goddess, the personification of victory. The name's appealing roots, simple, spiky sound, and fashionable Grecian -e ending would likely make it a hot baby name today, if not for the sports apparel company. As it is, Nike remains much-researched but seldom-used.
*Nymeria. In the Game of Thrones world, Nymeria is a legendary warrior queen. Her name became a classic in her native land, and is carried into the present in two suitably warrior-like namesakes: whip-wielding rebel Nymeria Sand, and a wolf companion of young swordfighter Arya Stark.
*Cressida. The recent interest in Cressida was sparked by Cressida Bonas, a former girlfriend of Prince Harry who attended his royal wedding. Previously, the name was linked to the Toyota Cressida, a sedan sold from the 1970s-'90s. But before all that, Cressida was steeped in classic literature. Cressida is the medieval English form of Chryseis, a woman of Homer's Iliad, and was immortalized by the Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida.
Gamora. The green-skinned Guardian of the Galaxy, Gamora is called "the deadliest woman in the whole Galaxy." As embodied by Zoe Saldana in a series of Marvel films, she is also one of the most charismatic. The smoothly sinister sound of Gamora's name, fueled by the "mor" root, is echoed in other super-powered names like Amora the Enchantress.
You thought they were dead and buried. But now, they walk among us again! And they're all...girls' names.
"Zombie names" are baby names that once fell so far out of style they became virtually extinct. Previously common, they disappeared from America's top-1000 name lists for more than a generation. They then found themselves revived by contemporary parents on the hunt for fresh ideas.
Unlike ordinary zombies, with their ragged outfits and alarming complexions, baby name zombies are fashion-forward. They're at the extreme end of throwback style, balancing the warmth and familiarity of traditional names with an edge of surprise, and even daring.
Our original zombie name list struck a chord with many parents. Names like Clementine and Magnolia, Theo and Mathias made one reader say, "I had no idea my style was 'zombie'!" Now, three years later, I've scanned the stats for newly reanimated names, and found that they're all on the girls' side.
Blame the gender skew on the parents of past generations. A century ago, parents were conservative in naming their sons. Classic English kingly names still dominated, even as trendy hits rose and fell for girls. That means there just aren't many dormant, suspended-in-time boys' names available to revive.
For some near-zombie-style ideas for both sexes, you can check out our lists of rare old-fashioned names and overlooked timeless names. And for the real reanimated deal, here are the new zombie names for girls.
|Name||Departed||Reanimated||Current Rank||Years Gone|
Q: I'm 17 and I've hated my name for as long as I can remember, for a few different reasons. First, I have a speech impediment which makes it almost impossible for me to say my name and have people understand me. This has made my dislike for my name grow over the years, as introducing myself has become intolerably frustrating. On top of that, I just feel like my name doesn't fit me as a person at all. My dad is supportive of me changing my first name, but I haven't told my mom yet because she can be very harsh.
My main issue in committing to this is wondering how I know this name is "the one." I'm afraid officially changing my name will hurt my mom's feelings, or end up with me regretting it down the road.
–Scared of Regret
A: Typically, I advise young would-be name changers to proceed with caution, and try on a new name unofficially before pursuing a legal change. But in my opinion, a speech impediment is a rock-solid reason to make a change, and do it now. Your own name should never feel like an enemy or a source of stress.
Regarding another source of stress—your mom, and her potentially negative reaction: If your relationship were better, I would suggest involving her, along with your dad, in a collaborative process to choose a new name. That helps make it clear that this isn't any kind of rejection of them. But it sounds like this might not work in your family.
Maybe the best that you can do is present the change in positive terms. Avoid "I’ve always hated my name," which Mom might hear as "How could you stick me with this awful name?" Instead, try something like "I'd like to change my name to one I can introduce myself by with confidence.” Or even, "I appreciate certain qualities of my name" (say, its ethnic background, meaning, or the person it honors) "but it’s very difficult for me to say, so I'd like to change it."
To avoid regret, it's safer if the new name you choose has a long history and gentle popularity curve. These are more likely to stand the test of time, while new and suddenly popular names tend to fade faster. Best of luck in finding something that you'll be proud to say, again and again.
Have a name question or dilemma of your own? Ask the Name Lady!