In 1986, I was named after my great-great grandmother, Emily. Little did my parents know that the popularity of the name Emily was on an upswing, and from 1996 – 2007 it was the #1 girl’s name in the United States and has been in the top 10 since 1991. However, I like to make the case that since I was named after my grandma who was born in the 1800s, there were fewer than 500 girls a year named Emily before 1880. This makes me feel a little more unique and connected to my family’s history.
It’s interesting to think about how names have changed in popularity over time. A name that was once popular can now be considered unique, and vice versa. To explore this concept further, I decided to look at a list of the least popular baby names from 100 years ago. These are names that had less than 50 children given that name. Some of them are quite unique, while others are just plain odd.
One trend I noticed is the use of names that are often associated with food or products. For example, there is Melton or Mello, which could be ideal for fans of marshmallows. Or Cliff, which might be perfect for fans of Cliff bars. It’s interesting to think about how these products have seeped into our cultural consciousness to the point where they could influence baby names.
For Disney fans, there is Gaston, which is quite appropriate if you want your son to turn out to be a macho, gym rat. Denzel is also on the list, which could be great if you love watching high-intensity action and arse kicking. And then there is Elvis. Who wouldn’t want to name their child after the King of Rock and Roll?
For those who want to give their child a name with meaning, there are plenty of options. Hildegard, for example, is named after the 12th century mystic and saint from Germany. Hertha is named after a Germanic goddess of fertility as described by the Roman historian Tacitus in the 1st century. For boys, Einar is a name from Old Norse meaning “lone warrior,” while Walter means “ruler of the army.” Hezekiah means “Yahweh strengthens,” making it a great choice for parents seeking a strong name for their son.
There are also some names on the list that make one question whether the parents were naive or just plain evil. Ransom, for example, makes one wonder how many of these were single moms trying to lure back a loose husband. Concepcion, on the other hand, seems to imply that the parents did not know how the baby was made. And Annis and Ennis just don’t sound very pretty.
It’s also interesting to see how some names have become more gender-neutral over time. Terry, for example, was once considered a girl’s name but is now used for both boys and girls. Similarly, Casey, Ashley, and Audrey were once considered male names but are now more commonly used for girls.
Ultimately, the decision of what to name a child is a personal one. Some parents want to choose a name that honors their family or has special significance, while others are more interested in finding a unique and creative name. Regardless of the choice, it’s important to remember that a name is something that will stick with a child for their entire life, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Looking through this list of unusual baby names from over a century ago is a reminder of how times have changed and how names go in and out of fashion. Some names are still beautiful and meaningful, while others are just plain strange. But perhaps all of them can provide inspiration for parents looking for that perfect name for their child.