Sunday SummaryMany of us want names that stand out, and I completely understand that we mean different things when we say, “I want an unusual name.”

But quotes like these set my teeth on edge: “We like Kasen for a boy and Emersyn for a girl.  Both on the top 100 list but I think they’re unique.”

When did unique become a synonym for good?

We do seem to have strong opinions about how common a name can – or can’t – be.  I know a mom with a nearly unique name who happily chose classic, but very popular, choices for her children.  I know another mom with a very unusual – and often butchered – name who chose a nearly unique name for her daughter.  For every Jennifer who disliked sharing her name with classmates and co-workers, there’s another Jennifer naming her kids Jacob and Ava without a second thought.

Baby name news relies on all of these – the very popular, the very rare, the surprising, the creative.  But I will never get over the misuse of the word unique.

Elsewhere online:

  • The venerable Oxford Dictionaries has developed a Baby Names Generator.  Fair warning: the pop culture references are very Brit-centric.  The generator nailed my style for a girl, though Daphne isn’t one of my personal favorites.  It was much less accurate for a boy.  It suggested Jonah, a name that just plain isn’t on my radar.
  • Would you use Jennifer?  Does Jennifer Lawrence‘s Oscar win make this name feel any fresher?
  • Speaking of dated names, can Ken shake off his image as Barbie’s boy toy?  Baby Name Pondering suggests some Ken- names that would be at home in 2013.
  • There’s dated, and then there’s really dated.  Check out Nancy’s post on male names from the Domesday Book.  Wigstan, anyone?
  • It looks like there’s a kid called Boris in upcoming crime drama Red Widow.
  • I love the idea of Lysander – and really, and of the unusual -ander names – but does it work?  Opinion at Swistle seems to be slightly against.
  • Casher, Cutler, Gatlyn, Gracen, Kaemyn, Honesty, Jersey, Khale – whoa!  Nebraskans are sure into some just-a-little-different names.
  • Ooh … Benedicta Maribel!
  • Mimosa combinations – apparently very wearable in the UK.
  • What would you name Bugsy’s sister or brother?
  • Oh, how I enjoy reading others’ shortlists of names for children.
  • It isn’t my imagination – names are getting shorter.

Have you voted in the opening rounds of March Madness?  The boy names are here, and girl names can be found here.  Help narrow the sweet sixteen to just eight competitors to advance to the next round!  Voting closes Friday, March 8 and the next round opens on Saturday, March 9.

As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week!

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I was recommended the names Ophelia and Harold. I think Ophelia is beautiful but would never use it for fear of “a feel of your….”. Harold on the other hand, not so much. Will always and forever remind me of the character on the soap opera Neighbours.

  2. The Baby Name Generator picked my second favourite girl’s name, but then I got Byron for a boy, which I don’t like at all. I tried making my responses more mainstream, and I got Jonah, which is okay, but not a favourite. So then I tried putting in all the most butchest, macho, he-man responses I could think of, and I ended up with Edgar. So no idea what the algorithm is there.

    Horrified to see so many people said “Lysander is a girl’s name because it has a Y in it”. The random-Y-as-a-vowel in girl’s names has clearly gone too far.

    The thing I’m really over is articles about “unique classics”. Unique classics seem to include Celeste, Olivia, Ruby, Samantha, April, Renee, Theodore, Jackson, Matthias, Gabriel, Atticus, Jonah and in fact almost anything.

  3. I got Ida and Griffith on the Baby Names Generator. I would never use Ida and prefer Griffin to Griffith.

  4. I’m with you on the misuse of “unique”. I suspect some people think it means “special” or “uncommon” or “not boring”. It also reminds me of the way some people attempt to prove that statistics are wrong by noting that, although the name they chose may be in the top ten nation-wide, they don’t personally know any children with that name. Because anecdotal, personal experience beats data every time, right? 😉

    I wouldn’t use Jennifer simply because I know too many Jens and Jennys (although I strongly considered Alison and I know lots of those, too), but I’d be happy to meet a young Jennifer. I do think it’ll sound a little fresher in a few years, but I don’t think it will take more than another decade for that to happen.

    I’d like to see Lysander become more popular. It’s no more fanciful than Alexander, just much less common. I think it has more potential than the similar Leander because I think the lee-ann sounds too feminine to some people. Plus Lysander can be shortened to Zander which will appeal to some.

  5. It generated Alice and Harold. I love Alice but Harold? Its sort of cute in a clunky sort of way but I don’t particularly like it.

  6. The Baby Names Generator gave me Jonah too! Jonah itself is not my cup of tea, but I do like Old Testament Bublical names. For girls I got Ophelia – “the beautiful bookworm” is apparently what I want for my daughter! That is true, but I’m more along the lines of classical/Mythology and so I’d much prefer Daphne! 🙂

  7. I’d do Juniper or Genevra, if I wanted to honor Jennifer.

    If I didn’t have a nephew named Andrew, I’d consider Lysander completely usable, although Anders would be my first choice.

    The quest for unique = “good” names tickles me. Last week I met a little Jaxxsen and his mom practically gushed about her love of his “unique” name. However this week’s birth announcements included a Jackson, a Jaxxon and a Jaxsen (girl.) Meanwhile, I’ve never met another little Peter and I’ve only met one other little Maria (and she was called a different nickname.)

    Speaking of birth announcements, there was a Benedicta Linn this week. So, I’m ready to predict a jump in popularity for Benedicta and Benedict. (At least temporarily.)

    1. I love Benedicta … and yes, I think we’re in for a brief Benedict-boomlet!

      You’re so right about names like Peter and Maria. The so-called normal ones often end up as the stand-outs.

  8. Oh, I could never go with Jennifer. I’m not sure we are ready for a Jennifer comeback, but maybe in sixty years.

    Whenever I see an unusual name in a birth announcements, I always look to see what the mother’s name is (and the dad’s). Does she have an unusual name of her own or one of the mega-popular names of seventies & eighties?

    I see quite a few with unusual names themselves, which makes me think that having an unusual name isn’t as bad as some people declare on message boards. If it was so horrible, why would you repeat the pattern with their own child?

    Great reading as always!


    1. Anecdotal evidence here… I have an unusual name and I love it. Just don’t shorten it to “Bev” if you value your good looks 🙂

  9. I’d go for Guinevere instead of Jennifer.

    And the unique=good thing drives me a bit mad, too. Especially when it seems to be the only reason one chooses a certain name.