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Baby Names Cubby

Unique and Unusual Names
by Susan Harkavy

Today one of the biggest trends in naming is choosing a unique name. Those of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's undoubtedly knew multiple Jennifers, Amys, Michaels and Johns, and many parents want their child to have a more unusual name. Parents have dusted off old classics, combined names and altered spellings in the hopes of saving their child from the fate of being known throughout their school years as "Amy with a Y" or "Michael R, the one with brown hair." So how do you find a name that is unique and unusual? Here are some suggestions, along with a few warnings.

1. If you live in the US, look through the top 100 names from the Social Security lists for the past few years to get a sense of what names are currently popular. You may be surprised at just how many children share a name that sounds fresh and unusual to you.

2. Look for unused classics. Literature is a great source of names that were once popular but have since fallen down the charts. Read the names in your family tree or look at Social Security lists from the early 1900's and you may just fall in love with a forgotten classic.

3. Anticipate the trends. Right now, names from the 1900's-1930's are very hot for girls. In another decade, that will probably move forward to names from the 1940's and 1950's. Look at those names now and see if any appeal to you.

4. Create your own name by combining two family names or altering a name that you love. Be cautious in this, however, as not all created names sound appealing. You may want to ask family and friends for opinions before committing to an invented name.

And now for the warnings:

1. Keep in mind that names used in popular television series or films are likely to skyrocket in popularity, as are names of celebrity children. For example, the name Ella and its variants have become extremely popular since a few celebrities used it and it appeared as a baby's name on the show ER.

2. Beware of creative spellings. While it's true that Keightl'nne looks very different from Caitlin or Katelyn, it is still pronounced the same way and is still ultimately the same name. You may be causing your child a lifetime of confusion as she attempts to spell her name over the phone, while she is still one of five or six Caitlins in her class.

3. Beware of punctuation in names, which could cause problems when filling out computerized forms.

4. Be careful not to take the hunt for creative names too far. Imagine the name as your own, or try the "profession test". Would you wish to be known forever as Egwene? Can you picture The Honorable Judge Tequila Mad'y'syn being called to the bench?

5. Above all, remember that what really matters is finding a name you love, one that grows well with your child. Even the top names are being given to fewer and fewer children these days, so if you fall in love with Emma or Jacob, don't let fears of popularity force you to use another name you don't really care for.

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