These 15 Familiar Girls' Names are Actually Rare—And Always Have Been

Nov 28th 2018

Familiar names, rare names. The two are opposites. Yet a handful of names manage to hit both contradictory targets, and zero in on the style bullseye at the same time.

I've uncovered 15 examples of girls' names that have flown consistently under the radar. Not only are they rare today, but they've never been popular in the United States. None has ever ranked among America's top 300 girls' names, a bar low enough that even names like Elva and Floy have crossed it. That makes them true individuals, names that your daughter could feel she had full ownership of.

At the same time, each name is pleasingly familiar. Some have famous standard bearers, others have more common name "relatives," and a few are just so simple and classic-sounding that they sound like old friends. That familiarity lends them the warmth of tradition, and should spare them from the spelling and pronunciation headaches that come with most rare names.

Best of all, these names should fit in with contemporary style, even as they stand apart. Their tones vary, from the light touch of Calla to the storybook charm of Clementine, but all have fashion elements that keep them current.

Photo: Getty Images

Calla From the calla lily flower, and because it's so close to the nickname Callie (traditionally short for Caroline)
Blythe From actress Blythe Danner, and Blythe fashion dolls
Paloma From the Spanish word for dove, and from designer Paloma Picasso
Clementine                 "Oh my darlin', oh my darlin'..."
Hollis Because it's been quietly present as a girl's name, boy's name, surname and place name
Rhea From celebrities including actresses Rhea Perlman and and Seehorn, and from the mythological mother of Zeus
Cecily Because it's the antique English form of Cecilia, and from comedian Cecily Strong and actress Cicely Tyson
Adela From the French form Adele, and a global history ranging from a daughter of William the Conqueror to telenovela star Adela Noriega
Petra As a female form of Peter, the name of an ancient stone city in Jordan, and slow but steady usage in multiple languages
Mercy From the common word mercy, and occasional fictional characters
Daria From the MTV animated series Daria
Sylvie As the French form of Sylvia, and an occasional nickname for it
Althea From barrier-breaking tennis champion Althea Gibson
Coralie Because it's popular in French, and hits the same sweet old-fashioned notes as Rosalie
Beatrix From the form Beatrice, "Peter Rabbit" creator Beatrix Potter, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands





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