The name stands alone

Nov 25th 2009

Here's a little pet peeve of mine: nothing rhymes with orange. You've heard that before, right? Orange is famous for its rhymelessness. There's even a comic strip called "Rhymes with Orange." Fine then, let me ask you something. What the heck rhymes with purple?

If you stop and think about it, you'll find that English is jam-packed with rhymeless common words. What rhymes with empty, or olive, or silver, or circle? You can even find plenty of one-syllable words like wolf, bulb, and beige. Yet orange somehow became notorious for its rhymelessness, with the curious result that people now assume its status is unique.

In the realm of baby names, rhymeless examples are even easier to find -- and rhyming has a more practical significance. Compare the names Kayden and Faith. Faith is far more common, but Kayden is one of 40 names rhyming with Aidan that make the boys' top-1000 list. Even a rare name like Grayden hardly sounds distinctive in a Jayden-meet-Brayden world. Faith is a top-100 name, but its stand-alone sound helps keep it from sounding overused.

I've scoured the top 200 boys' and girls' lists for fashionable names with no rhymes, near rhymes, or shared roots/nicknames in the top 1000. (A single alternate spelling can pass.) I've also ruled out all boys' names ending in -n, for reason of outrageous abundance. The names on this list may not be rare in themselves, but like, purple...they stand alone.




By Rjoy (not verified)
November 25, 2009 6:40 PM

What a wonderful post. It truly describes why some more popular names in number on the list still sounds fresh. Take Isaac for example. Yes it is number 37 and pretty common but still sounds fresh.
I contemplated that one for a long time since my 6 month old baby is named Isaac. One of the more "popular" names I have used for my children but it still didn't feel over used to me.

Great post Laura! I can't wait to see what everyone else's input.

By Rjoy (not verified)
November 25, 2009 6:41 PM

I also want to point out the large number of names on that list are Biblical.

November 25, 2009 6:44 PM

It's not a rhyme, but Avery reminds me of Aubrey (two syllables, starts with A, used to be a boys name) and thus feels less original to me than some of the others.

It's interesting to see a name like Amber or Timothy look "fresh" in this context, but your points are good ones.

By Lady Hash (not verified)
November 25, 2009 6:57 PM

Off topic, but "nothing rhymes with orange" if you have an American accent. If you're from Canada or the UK, orange rhymes with doorhinge.

By Birgitte (not verified)
November 25, 2009 7:02 PM

Hm... Piper > Sniper? Maybe that will be the next big name, sibling of Hunter, of course.

By Guest (not verified)
November 25, 2009 7:13 PM

That's interesting PJ, I pronounce Avery as a 3 syllable name, and it reminds me (stylistically) of Emily.

By Melanie1 (not verified)
November 25, 2009 7:27 PM

Isn't the same kind of principle that Laura used to describe why Jeremy and Amanda sound less dated than Stacy and Tracy, for example. Too bad none of my boys names made the list.

By Keren not signed in (not verified)
November 25, 2009 7:37 PM

Giselle rhymes with Belle, surely. (Also smell and hell)

Daisy rhymes with Maisie (and crazy)

November 25, 2009 7:56 PM

cooper > snooper, seth > beth

November 25, 2009 8:13 PM

I think the point is that although a lot of these names rhyme with common names (super dooper, Cooper; bummer, Summer; lazy Daisy; you've got a crease, Reese), they don't rhyme with other names. And that makes them seem fresh, since the trend today seems to be that names evolve based on popular phonemes and rhyming patterns.

By Uly (not verified)
November 25, 2009 8:18 PM

Sporange rhymes with orange if you have the appropriate accent.

Mage rhymes with beige.

By Rjoy (not verified)
November 25, 2009 8:31 PM

Avery is still a boys name to me. ( I just re-read Charlotte's Web to my girls) :)

By TamaraR (not verified)
November 25, 2009 9:11 PM

Fun post!

I'm not as keen on having Reese on the list, as it rhymes with Elise and likely others, but Elise is what comes to mind first.
But if you're sticking to rhymes with same # of syllables, then sure, Reese works.

November 25, 2009 9:53 PM

Wouldn't Scarlett rhyme with Charlotte?

November 25, 2009 10:32 PM

Love love love this post. What a fun theme for the upcoming American wkend of craziness labeled Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Trimming the house and tree. Anyway, I also thought of Maisy rhyming with Daisy. Scarlett does rhyme with Charlotte also now that I think of it.

Some of my favorite boys names like Adam and Spencer are on the do not rhyme list. I also like Jeffrey and Conner (rhymes with Donner the reindeer though).

I also can't think of rhymes for Natalie or Abigail.

On a similar note Laura, there is also a fun game of trying to find the only 3 english words that end in -gry. Angry, and hungry are easy but what's the third?

By Jodi Y. (not verified)
November 25, 2009 10:53 PM

Very interesting post! I think I've failed on this point in naming my children. Romilly, though almost unheard of here in the US, is a very near-rhyme to the megapopular Emily. Worse yet, though we've gone to great lengths to avoid matching beginnings or endings among our girls' names, my mother-in-law in the UK insists that Philippa and Juniper share their "ip-puh" ending. We just didn't account for the accent :(

November 25, 2009 10:54 PM

(from last post)Zoerhenne and Rjoy- good guesses- Devorguilla is actually Gaelic, meaning 'true oath'. I still don't think it will ever take off, though!

Great post,Laura. It certainly is a different way of looking at names. I think my parents did well with Valerie, Philip and Sarah, although I guess Valerie rhymes with Mallory and Sarah with Clara (in some accents).

Talking of accents, Lady Hash said that in Canada and the UK orange rhymes with doorhinge. In the UK, it decidedly does not, but maybe Canada? I have definitely heard that word suggested as a rhyme... so in which accent does it rhyme?

November 26, 2009 12:10 AM

To me, the names Isaac, Zachary and (to a lesser extent) Ezekiel all go together, since each has a stressed z*k syllable. Travis and Trevor seem to go together, too, because of the stressed tr*v.

By abbey (not verified)
November 26, 2009 12:26 AM

Some of my favorite girl names are on here. I've wondered about Ruby. I feel like it is getting more popular and wonder how that will hold up.

By namedaftermygrandmother (not verified)
November 26, 2009 3:25 AM

I've always been glad my name rhymes with just a few obscure words, such as "diva." It is also an old OT name.

By annabanana (not verified)
November 26, 2009 3:27 AM

I don't get what you mean by "no shared roots"- Jesus goes with Joshua, I was once told that Diego is related to Jacob, and Charlotte is Charles.

But otherwise I totally love the list!

(Multiple people with the same name are not allowed, I guess, despite what I can only assume are different emails. Or your comment system doesn't recognize me from computer to computer. Anyway, I normally sign as anna, without the banana.)

November 26, 2009 5:40 AM

Maybe "no shared roots" means roots that are evident on the surface? You know like... Jack and Jackson? Not sure if that is a good example, but I would think that the vast majority of people don't know that Diego and Jacob are related at all. (This is the trivia that I learned here and break out at parties. lol.)

Also, it seems like having a rhyming name is more significant the more popular the rhyming name is. So like Brant rhymes with Grant, but neither is very popular so it's no big deal.

November 26, 2009 10:28 AM

Happy Thanksgiving, NEs! Just thought I would share two fun Thanksgiving-related stories from Laura's other site,

Pilgrim Names

Spice Names

And @annabanana the system only allows unique usernames - so you either need to be logged in with your registered name (use the little login button on the top right) OR if you use the comment as guest function (which requires a Captcha), you need to use a different name. (I hope that makes sense!)

By annabanana (not verified)
November 26, 2009 5:19 PM

@JB Ah ha! I bet I've got a registered name that Firefox remembers for me on my own computer, but since I've been using the living room laptop more often, I don't have the program remembering it for me and I go through the guest function.

By ClaireP (not verified)
November 26, 2009 7:37 PM

Doesn't Shelby at least sorta rhyme with Shellie? And Shelby is only a girl's name because it has the Shel- beginning - it's not exactly one that "stands alone" in my book.

November 26, 2009 8:30 PM

Jodi Y., I have to agree with your Mother-in-law that Philippa and Juniper share an ending.

Having said that, I don't think that it's a big deal. I took a look at your blog and saw the full names of your girls - they're all wonderful!

By mcgee (not verified)
November 26, 2009 11:06 PM

Hmmm... I'm going to have to disagree with some of the names on that list. The following names most definitely rhyme with other words, and they aren't all good associations.

Cooper - pooper, scooper
Grant - ant
Hunter - punter
Noah - boa
Omar - car, star, far, etc.
Seth - death
Wyatt - Hyatt

Charlotte - harlot
Daisy - lazy
Piper - sniper
Reese - geese, lease, crease, decease, piece, peace, fleece
Ruby - boobie
Summer - mummer

By Rjoy (not verified)
November 26, 2009 11:24 PM

Mcgee- I think you missed the boat here. Laura was trying to get across why some names SEEM more common than others because of how they rhyme with other NAMES. Not other words.

Just a nice FYI. (and I am really trying to be nice even though it is really hard to get that across on the computer.) :)

By Liz & Louka (not verified)
November 27, 2009 1:48 AM

JB - I love spice names, Cinnamon, Ginger, Coriander, Saffron. But with the last name Chow, I just couldn't do it. I don't know, does Chow mean food in America?

November 27, 2009 2:30 AM

liz & louka,
chow does mean food in america, though i would say (at least in my area) that it isn't very commonly used. but it is something people are aware of.

By Penny in Australia (not verified)
November 27, 2009 7:55 AM

zoerhenne please tell me what the third word that ends with -gry is!

November 27, 2009 11:41 AM

Sorry Penny, I should have done my research before posing the question as I really didn't have enough room in my mouth for turkey yesterday because my foot was still there. LOL

I had heard the question once before and thought it had a legitimate answer-which it does but not in the way I expected. I had forgotten the actual answer myself though. So here are some websites to properly explain the situation-again please accept my apologies!
However, it still might be some fun trivia for wordies like us.

By Guest (not verified)
November 27, 2009 3:36 PM

I'd like to point out that my son Oscar is constantly called Arthur or Oliver by people who've misheard his name. So, it might not stand alone.

By Melly (not verified)
November 27, 2009 5:38 PM

Naming Dilemma...

My husband and I have a daughter named Chelsea. We are expecting baby number 2. We have picked out Kirsten for a girl. But we can't seem to agree on any boys names.

We both like names that are familiar but not super common.. but not out there either.

My picks: Preston, Seth, Grant, Devin, Miller

My husband's picks: Desmond, Jack, O'Neil, Miles, Sawyer

We need to find a name we can agree on. I love Jack from his list but its way too common. Any help greatly appreciated. Also our last name is Cole.

By Joni
November 27, 2009 6:18 PM

I too thought of Daisy-Maisie. But Laura does specifically say that her list of names have no rhyme in the top 1000. The first one I noticed was Amber, as it rhymes with Ember. But then I remembered that Ember is not in the top 1000.

November 27, 2009 6:43 PM

melly-Love Chelsea. Good pick. Of your above lists I like Preston, Seth, and Miles. I wouldn't do a surnamey thing like Miller or O'Neil or even Sawyer with a last name of Cole. I'm thinking Kingston is out too LOL! Now with help from Nymbler I do think these would work:
Connor (i love this one and NEVER hear it on newborns anymore)
I also found Simon and Blake but nixed them due to Simon Cowell and Black (as) Coal/Cole connections. Be careful with your ln and any implications/associations.

November 28, 2009 5:54 AM

Melly, is your husband a Lost fan by any chance? I notice most of the names on his list come from Lost! I think I like Grant and Miller best from your list and Desmond then Cole from your husbands list. I think longer names work slightly better with your surname but some of the 1 syllable names are OK too. I don't mind the surnamey ones, I think they work OK.

From zoerhennes list I second Finn, Patrick, Spencer, Elijah, Darius and Lucas. Although I quite like all of them with your surname. If you are looking for a surnamey name, how about Garrett or Hunter?

By Jillc (not verified)
November 28, 2009 10:13 PM

This is the exact reason why we reluctantly crossed Gemma off our list for DD 4 years ago -- it's just Emma with a 'g' (it took me several months to realize this). I think I was proven right when it jumped onto the top 1000 last year.

I'll have to do the rhyming test for our list of potential names for this baby now!

By DanielleM (not verified)
November 29, 2009 1:03 AM

Jillc, Gemma reminds me more of Jenna with 'm's' in the middle than Emma with a 'g'. I still think it's a lovely name, but I don't see it becoming incredibly popular.

November 29, 2009 11:23 AM

annabanana wrote: "I don't get what you mean by "no shared roots"- Jesus goes with Joshua, I was once told that Diego is related to Jacob, and Charlotte is Charles."

I'm really glad you asked this! Compiling the rhyme-free list turned out to be much, much trickier than I expected. There were a lot of borderline cases (I somehow convinced myself at the time that Charlotte didn't rhyme with Scarlett, but I should probably scratch it now!)

For "shared roots," a straightforward example would be Miles and Milo. As things got murkier, I tried to focus on the purpose of the list: perceived commonness based on sound, NOT etymology. So John and Jack, for instance, were ruled out by the likes of Jonathan and Jackson, not by one another.

Diego and James I had no problem with, since they share almost nothing in spelling, sound or nicknames. Jesus/Joshua was a little tougher, but as khay-SOOS and JAH-shoo-ə I don't think they affect perception of each other's popularity. One pair that did barely cross the line was Peter and Pedro. They're just close enough to link together in your mind, plus plenty of Pedros use the nickname Pete.

By Melanie1 (not verified)
November 29, 2009 2:53 PM

So for fun I looked up what names would have certainly knocked my boys names off the list. I wasn't really surprised to see James and Thomas getting knocked off for Jameson, Jimmy, Jaime, Jamie, Tommy and Tomas. What I'm just curious is what knocked Henry off. I can't think of a name that rhymes with it. Was it Harry or did you cross gender lines and knock it off for Henrietta? Am I missing a rhyming name? I do see that Avery and Henry are similar. I just wanted to know.

By Melanie1 (not verified)
November 29, 2009 2:53 PM

p.s. I had thought of Henri but I couldn't find it on the top 1000 names.

By Melanie1 (not verified)
November 29, 2009 3:07 PM

Oh, Hernietta is not in the top 1,000 either. Enrique?

Talking about perceived commonalities, I was in a tumbling class with my two year old and we had a Jake and a Jack and I could not keep from saying the wrong name between the two.

November 29, 2009 3:45 PM

Sometimes it is all about the accent. Here in Central PA, Eric often gets misheard as Aaron something I never thought of. Natalie gets misheard as Madeline because of the flat A in the beginning (Naaa-tuh-lee/Maaa-duh-lin). It also comes out sounding a bit like Nellie in a fast-slurred-Pittsburghese. Uggg!

By L la M (not verified)
November 29, 2009 4:38 PM

I'm from the UK and orange certainly doesn't rhyme with "door hinge"... if anything, I would have thought that it might do in an American accent! Apparently not then, but it doesn't in an English accent either.

November 29, 2009 5:04 PM

Re Henry -- yep, it was Harry that did him in, with a slight assist from Enrique. It was a very close call, though, since most Henrys today go by the full name.

November 29, 2009 5:16 PM

I have a new niece! Her name is Evelyn Violet. I can't post on Facebook yet because my brother hasn't had a chance to call all the other family members, but I just had to share with someone!

By emily today (not verified)
November 29, 2009 7:25 PM

I am glad you posted this, Laura, because as a child I was always annoyed that nothing rhymes with "Emily." As a teenager and then as an adult, it's a huge relief. Now I see that it has helped keep my name distinct even though it's seen a huge popularity surge.

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
November 30, 2009 2:22 AM

Ohhh, I like Evelyn Violet. So pretty.

November 30, 2009 8:12 AM

I agree! I had guessed that they'd name her Violet, but I should have thought of Evelyn; it was our grandmother's name.