“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. buried a number of nearby communities, including the now-famous ancient city of Pompeii.
The city was forgotten for centuries, rediscovered in 1599, forgotten again, then rediscovered a second time in 1748. Excavations finally began in the mid-1700s, and the rest of the world soon came to know of Pompeii and its sad fate.
After Russian painter Karl Bryullov visited the ruins in 1828, he was inspired to create The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833), which depicts the destruction of Pompeii as Vesuvius erupts in the background. The massive painting (which measures 15 feet high by 21 feet long) became extremely popular.
English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton (of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame) saw the painting while it was on display in Italy. It inspired him to write the book The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which also became extremely popular.
One of the book’s main characters is a blind slave-girl named Nydia (pronounced NID-ee-ah) who sells flowers to earn money for her owner.
She’s a memorable, tragic character who has since been portrayed in other works of art, most notably the sculpture Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii (see above) by American sculptor Randolph Rogers. Here’s a description:
[Nydia] struggles forward to escape the dark volcanic ash and debris of Mount Vesuvius as it erupts and buries the ancient city of Pompeii. Clutching her staff and cupping hand to ear, she strains for sounds of Glaucus (a nobleman with whom she has fallen desperately in love) and his fiancée Ione. Accustomed to darkness, blind Nydia uses her acute hearing to find the two, leading them to safety at the shore; but in the end, despairing of the impossibility of her love, she drowns herself.
In the book, Nydia tells Ione that she originally came from Greece:
“What is your name, fair girl?”
“They call me Nydia.”
“The land of Olympus–Thessaly.”
Her name was not used in ancient times, though, and the author doesn’t offer any clues about how he coined this (ostensibly Greek) name. Many sources echo the theory that the name Nydia was based on the Latin word nidus, meaning “nest,” but this shouldn’t be interpreted as fact.
So…has the literary name Nydia ever been used as a real-life baby name?
Yes, but the name has never been very common. Here’s the number of U.S. baby girls that have been given the baby name Nydia since the turn of the century:
2014: 27 baby girls named Nydia
2013: 16 baby girls named Nydia
2012: 26 baby girls named Nydia
2011: 30 baby girls named Nydia
2010: 31 baby girls named Nydia
2009: 29 baby girls named Nydia
2008: 52 baby girls named Nydia
2007: 53 baby girls named Nydia
2006: 52 baby girls named Nydia
2005: 53 baby girls named Nydia
2004: 62 baby girls named Nydia
2003: 69 baby girls named Nydia
2002: 69 baby girls named Nydia
2001: 72 baby girls named Nydia
2000: 82 baby girls named Nydia
While a handful of people were named Nydia prior to the publication of Bulwer-Lytton’s book, consistent usage of the name began only after the book came out. Usage was at its highest during the last quarter of the 20th century. Even then, though, the name never managed to earn a spot among the top 1,000 girl names in the nation. Usage has been in decline ever since. (The spelling Nidia has followed a similar trajectory.)
So, not only is Nydia a relatively young name that originates in literature, it’s also a relatively rare name that’s reminiscent of more familiar options (like Lydia and Nadia). So it might be particularly appealing to parents who like literature names and/or “sweet spot” names (that is, names that are uncommon but not unheard of).
Estonia’s top baby names of 2013 were published in the newspaper Postimees at the end of 2012.
The paper didn’t explicitly mention the source of the information (the Ministry of the Interior?) but reported that the country’s most popular names from January to November, 2013, were Maria and Rasmus.
Here are Estonia’s projected top 15 girl names and top 15 boy names of 2013:
**These names are particularly popular among Russian-speakers in Estonia.
Names that increased in popularity last year include Rasmus, Gregor and Mia.
Kevin, Kristjan and Kristina, on the other hand, decreased in popularity “significantly.”
Mirtel, 8th on the girls’ list, was rare until Estonian actress Mirtel Pohla came along.
The name Lenna was similarly uncommon until Estonian singer Lenna Kuurmaa hit the scene, and now Lenna is “quite popular,” though not in the top 15.
Robin, 4th on the boys’ list, is a curious one. It’s not an Estonian name, but simply the English male name Robin. And yet it’s trending in Estonia right now. (The last time Robin was trendy in the U.S. was a half century ago, and most of those baby Robins were female.) Could the inspiration be “Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke? I know it’s a long shot, but that’s all I can think of.
Postimees also published the following list of Estonia’s most popular baby names from 1992 to 2004. (They did say the Ministry of the Interior was the source for this one.)
Top Girl Names, 1992–2004
Top Boy Names, 1992–2004
I’m guessing 2004 was picked as an endpoint because Estonia enacted a name law in early 2005 that regulates baby name orthography (to start weeding out foreign letters such as x, y and c). The full list has 677 names; at the bottom are names like Sirje, Raina, Raneli and Patricia.