Picking a baby name can be a challenge. Do you want something easy to pronounce? Easy to find nicknames for? Some parents go the more traditional route of scrolling through popular names from the preceding year. Names like Emma, Ava, Noah, and Liam have remained virtually unmoved from the top of their respective lists.
But many others try a different route—they look for something less popular. Laura Wattenberg, author and baby name expert, says more and more parents are straying from the traditional “English regal names” that once dominated.
“Today, parents look for names that feel fresh and interesting and will make a child stand out from the pack,” she told Realsimple.com. “And the lifecycle of a trendy name keeps getting shorter and shorter as we push for the new and creative.”
According to Nameberry, there are over 5,000 names that no one in the United States used in 2016. To compile such a list, Nameberry took the 2016 extended list of baby names from the Social Security Administration and ran it against the complete list of baby names in their own database.
Wattenberg says these names are just the tip of the iceberg. “This list of potential names that ‘nobody’ uses is essentially infinite,” she told Realsimple.com. “Even among names that have appeared in the statistics in past years, there are more than 70,000 that are currently out of circulation.”
While some of these names are truly peculiar—many you have certainly never heard of—some are more familiar than you’d think. On the list of girls' names, North (as in daughter of Kanye and Kim) was one not used at all during the last calendar year. Wattenberg says this isn’t surprising. “It doesn’t surprise me, because my rule of thumb about celebrity name trends is ‘it’s not about the fame, it’s about the name.’ No matter how much a name is in the news, parents will only pick up on it if it has the kind of style they’re looking for.”
Names like Jericho, Dancer and Christmas also made the list for girl’s names.
And for the little boys, names like Puck, Humphrey, and Septimus made the cut as some of the non-existent names of 2016. Wattenberg says the unpopularity of Humphrey—like the famous actor—goes along with her rule of thumb. “Believe it or not, even in Bogie’s heyday, the name Humphrey never once ranked among the top 1,000 names for American boys. It was seen as too soft and fussy.”
While a list like this can help some parents conjure up some new and unused ideas, Wattenberg doesn’t expect names like Trout or Pagen to suddenly become the new Emma.
“The only names with any potential are the few that follow the form of current trends,” she told RealSimple.com. “Nicholson, for instance, could be an alternative for fashionable names like Harrison and Anderson, and Araminta could put the envelope a little beyond Arabella and Valentina.”