Welcome to the best of both worlds: girls’ names that are certified timeless, yet still have the potential to surprise and intrigue. How can a name hit both targets? The secret to the double power lies in the names’ history. They’ve stood the test of time, generation after generation, without ever taking center stage.
Each of the names on the “timeless intrigue” list has been given to at least five American girls every year since 1900. That gives even the rarest among them a feeling of rootedness, and an immunity from the passing whims of fashion. Yet none has ever been truly popular. I ruled out any name that was ever given to 0.2% or more of babies in a given year, a threshold that rules out names that feel ubiquitous. And to make sure that the names sound extra fresh today, I cut that threshold down to 0.1% for the most recent year’s popularity, and eliminated any name with a strong past peak that pinned it to another era.
Then came the fine-tuning. Out went names that have recently been in sharp decline, to avoid any feeling of datedness. Out, too, went nicknames or alternate spellings for common names; names that are ultra-popular in other languages, or for the other gender; and a smattering of more specific issues, like negative cultural associations.
The result is a list of 111 girls’ names, ranging in style from from Polly to Theodora to Salome. Each is satisfy both a classic style sense and a desire to stay off the well-beaten path. If that’s your approach to naming, you need look no further.
Check out our timeless yet intriguing boys’ names, too!