How popular is the baby name Unity in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Unity.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Unity


Posts that Mention the Name Unity

Popular and Unique Baby Names in Each U.S. State, 2020

Which baby names were the most popular in each U.S. state in 2020? And which names only popped up in the data for a single state in 2020? Here are the answers! (Any name that also appeared in last year’s post is in boldface.)

Alabama

  • Alabama’s top girl name: Ava
  • Alabama’s top boy name: William
  • Alabama’s 7 unique girl names: Emoree, Khylie, Petrona, Annalynn, Jailee, Kaloni, Loxley
  • Alabama’s 7 unique boy names: Kyser, Mills, Johnluke, Kamar, Kendarius, Saylor, Xzavion

Alaska

  • Alaska’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Alaska’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Arizona

  • Arizona’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Arizona’s top boy name: Liam
  • Arizona’s 3 unique girl names: Zo, Ariza, Payson
  • Arizona’s 2 unique boy names: Iram, Quill

Arkansas

  • Arkansas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Arkansas’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names
  • No unique boy names.

California

  • California’s top girl name: Olivia
  • California’s top boy name: Noah
  • California’s top 10 unique girl names: Sequoia, Emiko, Rey, Melrose, Roxanna, Shaila, Briseida, Ara, Cathy, Koa (total of 551)
  • California’s top 10 unique boy names: Slater, Curren, Armen, Fateh, Agam, Angad, Gurbaaz, Subhan, Yash, Ojas (total of 394)

Colorado

  • Colorado’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Colorado’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Connecticut

  • Connecticut’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Connecticut’s top boy name: Noah
  • No unique girl names.
  • Connecticut’s 1 unique boy name: Henrique

Delaware

  • Delaware’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Delaware’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

District of Columbia

  • D.C.’s top girl name: Olivia
  • D.C.’s top boy name: William
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Florida

  • Florida’s top girl name: Emma
  • Florida’s top boy name: Liam
  • Florida’s top 10 unique girl names: Abigaelle, Harbor, Allana, Breeze, Forever, Jaziyah, Railyn, Aniyla, Arielis, Dalani (total of 81)
  • Florida’s top 10 unique boy names: Aramis, Jaheim, Javaris, Maleek, Caio, Jahleel, Jeriel, Kamir, Marvens, Amyr (total of 81)

Georgia

  • Georgia’s top girl name: Ava
  • Georgia’s top boy name: Liam
  • Georgia’s top 10 unique girl names: Harmonii, Emmagrace, Kaior, Kiersten, Maebry, Makiya, Aloni, Jersi, Allura, Amalie (total of 25)
  • Georgia’s top 10 unique boy names: Antwon, Kiari, Woods, Elnathan, Jalil, Javontae, Keigan, Londyn, Mansa, Rhylan (total of 30)

Hawaii

  • Hawaii’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Hawaii’s top boy name: Liam
  • Hawaii’s 6 unique girl names: Halia, Anela Mahealani, Ilihia, Malie, Maile
  • Hawaii’s 6 unique boy names: Kainalu, Kahiau, Kamahao, Keawe, Alika, Kaikoa

Idaho

  • Idaho’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Idaho’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Illinois

  • Illinois’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Illinois’s top boy name: Noah
  • Illinois’s top 10 unique girl names: Zuzanna, Pola, Aniela, Eleen, Daliyah, Calia, Daniya, Destini, Eleonora, Esha (total of 18)
  • Illinois’s top 10 unique boy names: Krystian, Teodor, Jovon, Petar, Syair, Vuk, Akshar, Jameer, Kiyaan, Lashawn (total of 24)

Indiana

  • Indiana’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Indiana’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Indiana’s 2 unique girl names: Aayla, Renlee
  • Indiana’s 8 unique boy names: Maciah, Axtyn, Buckley, Emmerson, Javonni, Kashten, Lavon, Layken

Iowa

  • Iowa’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Iowa’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • Iowa’s 1 unique boy name: Kinnick
    • Kinnick is the name of the University of Iowa’s football stadium.

Kansas

  • Kansas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Kansas’s top boy name: Liam
  • Kansas’s 2 unique girl names: Brecken, Atley
  • No unique boy names.

Kentucky

  • Kentucky’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Kentucky’s top boy name: Liam
  • Kentucky’s 2 unique girl names: Larkyn, Karson
  • Kentucky’s 1 unique boy name: Brentlee

Louisiana

  • Louisiana’s top girl name: Ava
  • Louisiana’s top boy name: Liam
  • Louisiana’s 8 unique girl names: Kaislee, Rylen, Harlym, Riyah, Cecile, Damiya, Jrue, Rhemi
  • Louisiana’s 6 unique boy names: Baylen, Daxx, Jansen, Tylin, Hutson, Tyrin

Maine

  • Maine’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Maine’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Maryland

  • Maryland’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Maryland’s top boy name: Liam
  • Maryland’s 7 unique girl names: Dynver, Oakland, Brailyn, Chidera, Gelila, Kaylei, Shekinah
  • Maryland’s 3 unique boy names: Yafet, Jordon, Karon

Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Massachusetts’s top boy name: Noah
  • Massachusetts’s 8 unique girl names: Aylla, Manuella, Eloah, Nelle, Clarisse, Emilly, Heloisa, Malu
  • Massachusetts’s 8 unique boy names: Heitor, Tadhg, Joaopedro, Noriel, Walden, Dana, Enzogabriel, Jordany

Michigan

  • Michigan’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Michigan’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Michigan’s top 10 unique girl names: Zahraa, Cashmere, Ellouise, Manar, Breslyn, Cobi, Hala, Raneem, Arla, Avacyn (total of 22)
  • Michigan’s top 10 unique boy names: Blair, Ayham, Coltyn, Nicklas, Daijon, Alastair, Deante, Haidar, Kodah, Mohsen (total of 13)

Minnesota

  • Minnesota’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Minnesota’s top boy name: Henry
  • Minnesota’s top 10 unique girl names: Maida, Rayan, Nawal, Adna, Ahlam, Ikhlas, Ayan, Britta, Mumtaz, Munira (total of 28)
  • Minnesota’s top 10 unique boy names: Muad, Muhsin, Yaqub, Sudais, Abdulahi, Mohamedamin, Masud, Liban, Mikko, Yonis (total of 23)

Mississippi

  • Mississippi’s top girl name: Ava
  • Mississippi’s top boy name: James
  • Mississippi’s 3 unique girl names: Harlei, Mattilyn, Rivers
  • Mississippi’s 6 unique boy names: Ashtin, Devonta, Aycen, Jakayden, Keondre, Landan

Missouri

  • Missouri’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Missouri’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Missouri’s 8 unique girl names: Kelce, Esma, Kamori, Quinley, Blu, Jhream, Kendyl, Mavery
  • Missouri’s 5 unique boy names: Travon, Bryton, Darrion, Sutter, Whitley

Montana

  • Montana’s top girl name: Charlotte & Olivia (tie)
  • Montana’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Nebraska

  • Nebraska’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Nebraska’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Nebraska’s 1 unique girl name: Breckyn
  • Nebraska’s 1 unique boy name: Eh

Nevada

  • Nevada’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Nevada’s top boy name: Liam
  • Nevada’s 1 unique girl name: Unity
  • No unique boy names.

New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • New Hampshire’s top boy name: Lucas
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New Jersey’s top boy name: Liam
  • New Jersey’s top 10 unique girl names: Bluma, Ruchama, Leba, Avigayil, Jadelyn, Alianny, Arna, Bina, Ita, Maahi (total of 13)
  • New Jersey’s top 10 unique boy names: Boruch, Shraga, Gershon, Shaul, Avigdor, Naksh, Abeer, Nesanel, Refoel, Yerachmiel (total of 19)

New Mexico

  • New Mexico’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New Mexico’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

New York

  • New York’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New York’s top boy name: Liam
  • New York’s top 10 unique girl names: Gitty, Yitty, Raizy, Sury, Esty, Goldy, Idy, Henny, Yides, Hinda (total of 174)
    • Esty came up in the 2020 Pop Culture Baby Name Game because of the Netflix mini-series Unorthodox, which features an ultra-Orthodox Jewish main character named Esty from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. Of the 67 baby girls named Esty last year, 59 were born in New York specifically.
  • New York’s top 10 unique boy names: Lipa, Yechiel, Hershel, Pinchas, Avrum, Lazer, Md, Nachman, Berl, Muhammadyusuf (total of 157)

North Carolina

  • North Carolina’s top girl name: Olivia
  • North Carolina’s top boy name: Liam
  • North Carolina’s 8 unique girl names: Wrenn, Katara, Beckley, Embree, Kaileigh, Promyse, Reigna, Twyla
  • North Carolina’s top 10 unique boy names: Nolyn, Calihan, Aysen, Bladen, Damarcus, Dempsey, Hilton, Jahmere, Kaedyn, Kamdon (total of 16)

North Dakota

  • North Dakota’s top girl name: Amelia & Olivia
  • North Dakota’s top boy name: Oliver
  • North Dakota’s 1 unique girl name: Girl (…still probably just a place-holder)
  • No unique boy names.

Ohio

  • Ohio’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Ohio’s top boy name: Liam
  • Ohio’s top 10 unique girl names: Damyla, Jozie, Delainey, Delila, Dorcas, Joselynn, Maisley, Maizey, Marcia, Bexleigh (total of 22)
  • Ohio’s top 10 unique boy names: Willis, Larkin, Jashawn, Abdallah, Bennet, Bexley, Buck, Cylus, Freeman, Graeme (total of 26)

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Oklahoma’s top boy name: Liam
  • Oklahoma’s 4 unique girl names: Brenlee, Jentri, Lun, Man
  • Oklahoma’s 5 unique boy names: Pau, Creek, Mung, Cale, Dayson

Oregon

  • Oregon’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Oregon’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • Oregon’s 1 unique boy name: Rogue

Pennsylvania

  • Pennsylvania’s top girl name: Emma
  • Pennsylvania’s top boy name: Noah
  • Pennsylvania’s top 10 unique girl names: Barbie, Suhaylah, Lavina, Verna, Surah, Erma, Adalind, Azara, Saloma, Aasiyah (total of 28)
  • Pennsylvania’s top 10 unique boy names: Mahlon, Benuel, Ayyub, Aasim, Lavern, Baxter, Carmen, Muadh, Ahzir, Asir (total of 32)

Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Rhode Island’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

South Carolina

  • South Carolina’s top girl name: Ava
  • South Carolina’s top boy name: William
  • South Carolina’s 3 unique girl names: Kaniya, Ellory, Indya
  • South Carolina’s 3 unique boy names: Drayton, Bowman, Collins

South Dakota

  • South Dakota’s top girl name: Harper
  • South Dakota’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Tennessee

  • Tennessee’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Tennessee’s top boy name: Liam
  • Tennessee’s top 10 unique girl names: Anslee, Callaway, Henleigh, Mallie, Amellia, Blakley, Chloee, Crimson, Emersynn, Ivyanna (total of 14)
  • Tennessee’s top 10 unique boy names: Neyland, Martavious, Holston, Ladarius, Mckinley, Ripken, Conley, Crockett, Kimoni, Ryman (total of 11)
    • Neyland is the name of the University of Tennessee’s football stadium.
    • Holston is the name of a river in Tennessee.
    • Ryman is the name of the Nashville auditorium that was the home of the Grand Ole Opry (1943-’74).

Texas

  • Texas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Texas’s top boy name: Liam
  • Texas’s top 10 unique girl names: Elida, Kymber, Roberta, Xaria, Debanhi, Karyme, Abilene, Kirby, Analeigh, Bryar (total of 452)
    • Abilene is the name of a city in Texas.
  • Texas’s top 10 unique boy names: Crawford, Homero, Guadalupe, Eliazar, Abiel, Clemente, Javi, Koe, Javen, Kutter (total of 276)

Utah

  • Utah’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Utah’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Utah’s 5 unique girl names: Alta, Scottlyn, Cozette, Auburn, Swayzie
  • Utah’s 6 unique boy names: Kaladin, Taggart, Thayne, Trapper, Alma, Quaid
    • Kaladin is the name of a character in the Stormlight Archive book series by Utah author Brandon Sanderson.

Vermont

  • Vermont’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Vermont’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Virginia

  • Virginia’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Virginia’s top boy name: Liam
  • Virginia’s 6 unique girl names: Soliana, Soliyana, Cornelia, Harlan, Makenzi, Yanet
  • Virginia’s 6 unique boy names: Yuvin, Berkley, Keandre, Nayel, Nyzir, Sarim

Washington

  • Washington’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Washington’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Washington’s 6 unique girl names: Ellinor, Jasper, Freja, Korah, Ravenna, Robbie
    • Ravenna is the name of a neighborhood in Seattle.
  • Washington’s 7 unique boy names: Finlay, Amnen, Finnan, Lochlann, Peregrine, Echo, Jettson

West Virginia

  • West Virginia’s top girl name: Harper
  • West Virginia’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Wisconsin’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Wisconsin’s 1 unique girl name: Marietta
  • Wisconsin’s 2 unique boy names: Chet, Everhett

Wyoming

  • Wyoming’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Wyoming’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Have any info/theories on any of the unique names above? If so, please leave a comment!

Source: Popular Names by State – SSA

Name Quotes #92: Jock, Emmeline, Unity

About the inclusion of the name Emmeline in the Fleetwood Mac song “Seven Wonders” [vid], from the book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours (2014) by Zoë Howe:

After hearing [songwriter Sandy] Stewart sing the song first, Stevie misunderstood some of the words, hence the line ‘All the way down to Emmeline’, which has mystified fans for years. The original line was ‘All the way down you held the line’, but the use of a name like ‘Emmeline’ is typical for Stevie, so accustomed are we to hearing her throw in women’s names — ‘Sara’, ‘Lily’ — and thus we look for the clues she scatters in her songs.

[The line sounds more like “on the way down to Emmeline” to me, but it’s hard to tell. It’s also hard to tell if the song, which saw peak popularity in mid-1987, gave a boost to the baby name Emmeline that year — what do you think?]

Speaking of Fleetwood Mac…a quote from an interview with Christine McVie, née Perfect, in The Guardian:

Hi, Christine. What was it like growing up with the surname Perfect?

It was difficult. Teachers would say: “I hope you live up to your name, Christine.” So, yes, it was tough. I used to joke that I was perfect until I married John.

From an article about names in Iceland:

After the settlers had arrived [in Iceland] new names started popping up. Those were often simply made up from those pre-existing, with slight alterations such as Álfheiður (meaning bright like an elf) or Ásdís (a divine fairy).

[…]

Then there were other inspirational factors such as the landscape. The name Snælaug (snow-pool) didn’t appear until about 1155. Her mother’s name was Geirlaug so it is obvious where the extension came from and the pre-fix. Well, that’s also quite overt. There is no shortage of snow or hot pools in Iceland. And, actually, they go together perfectly!

Speaking of names in Iceland…an excerpt from a 2019 article about Icelandic names no longer being gendered:

Icelandic given names will no longer be differentiated as being “male” or “female” in the national naming registry, RÚV reports. This means that anyone will be able to take any name in the registry, irrespective of gender, and marks a major change in Icelandic naming conventions.

About the various marmalade cats named “Jock” at Winston Churchill’s country estate (Chartwell), from a 2008 article about Churchill’s feline menagerie:

For Sir Winston’s 88th birthday in November 1962, Sir John Colville gave him a ginger cat with a white chest and paws. Named “Jock,” the cat became a favorite, often found on Churchill’s knee. Churchill took Jock to his London home at Hyde Park Gate when he traveled there from Chartwell.

[…]

“After Sir Winston’s death Jock lived on at Chartwell, where he had the run of the house,” a National Trust spokesman said after the cat died at the age of 13 in January 1975. “He would spread out in front of the fire, just as he did when Sir Winston was alive. The public loved him.”

In accord with the family’s wish, a new marmalade cat, Jock II, replaced the original, and the National Trust has ensured that the tradition continues. The incumbent today is Jock IV.

[Actually, as of July 2020, it’s Jock VII.]

From a review of the book The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters (2007) by Ben Macintyre:

The collected letters (superbly edited by Diana’s daughter-in-law, Charlotte Mosley) are pure gold. In place of the caricatures – Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur – they provide the warp and weft of daily life as only letters can.

Popular and Unique Baby Names in Iowa, 2016

I love that the Social Security Administration releases so much baby name data to the public. But I’ve always had mixed feelings about that 5-baby threshold for inclusion. (Due to privacy concerns, the government doesn’t release names given to fewer than 5 babies per gender, per year.)

Part of me appreciates the threshold. For instance, I like that it adds significance to the pop culture-inspired debut names I’m always posting about, as these names had to hit a certain minimum level of usage in order to register in the data.

But the other part of me? The other part just really, really wants to see those rare/crazy names at the bottom of the list.

So I get excited when I find U.S. data from an official source that does go down to single-instance usage. Up until recently, I only knew about Sonoma County and Los Angeles County, but recently I discovered that Iowa (an entire state!) also releases down-to-1 baby name data. Yay!

But before we get to the rare names, let’s look at the state of Iowa’s top baby names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Olivia, 203 baby girls
2. Emma, 181
3. Charlotte, 158
4. Harper, 156
5. Ava & Evelyn, 148 each (2-way tie)
6. Amelia, 125
7. Nora, 123
8. Sophia, 112
9. Addison, 101
10. Grace, 96

Boy Names
1. Oliver, 197 baby boys
2. Owen, 178
3. William, 174
4. Wyatt, 170
5. Henry, 165
6. Liam, 159
7. Noah, 149
8. Benjamin, 148
9. Jackson, 144
10. Lincoln, 123

  • In the girls’ top 10, Addison and Grace replaced Avery.
  • In the boys’ top 10, Benjamin and Lincoln replaced Mason and Elijah.
  • In 2015, the top two names were Emma and Liam.

(The SSA rankings for Iowa are similar, but not exactly the same. One notable difference on is that the SSA ranks Grayson 10th on the boys list, and puts Lincoln down in 13th.)

And now for the rarities!

Iowa’s website offers interactive baby name usage graphs that include all names bestowed at least once from 2000 to 2016. Here’s a sampling of rare baby names in Iowa (2000-2016 usage):

Girl NamesBoy Names
Arabia (1)
Bishop (1)
Currency (1)
Dream (3)
Eros (1)
Fairy (1)
Gatsby (1)
Heritage (1)
Irish (5)
Jasper (1)
KeyEssence (1)
Lisbon (1)
Michigan (1)
Nirvana (3)
Orchid (1)
PairoDice (1)
Qy (1)
Reminisce (1)
Scully (1)
Tear (1)
Unity (4)
Veruca (1)
Windy (2)
Xanadu (1)
Yawh (1)
Zinnia (1)
Arcade (1)
Banksy (1)
Cactus (1)
Denali (2)
Elvis (18)
Fonzy (1)
Galaxy (1)
Helium (1)
Indigo (2)
Jeep (3)
Kal-El (3)
Lightning (1)
Mowgli (1)
Notorious (1)
Opttimus (1)
Player (1)
Quest (3)
Racer (3)
Sanctify (1)
Tavern (1)
Universe (1)
Vegas (1)
Winner (4)
Xyn (1)
Young-Sky (1)
Zealand (1)

If you decide to dig through the data, leave a comment and let me know what you spot!

And if you’re friends with any expectant parents in Iowa, tell those lucky ducks that they have access to full sets of baby name rankings for their state. Either send them a link to this post or to one of the pages below…

Sources: Top Baby Names – Iowa Department of Public Health, Baby Names Popularity Over Time – Iowa Department of Public Health

Update, 2020: The above links no longer work; here’s an updated link to the Iowa baby names.

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: U

una trevelyn, actress

Here’s the next installment of rare female names used by either the actresses or characters in very old films (1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s).

Uana
Uana was a character played by actress Yona Landowska in the short film The Cry of the First Born (1915).

Uarda
Princess Uarda was a character played by actress Carmen Phillips in the film serial Under the Crescent (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Uarda.

Ukana
Ukana was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film None So Blind (1916).

Ulah
Ulah was a character played by actress Dorothy Lamour in the film The Jungle Princess (1936).

  • Usage of the baby name Ulah.

Ulitka
Ulitka was a character played by actress Dale Fuller in the film The Cossacks (1928).

Ulrica
Ulrica was a character name in multiple films, including The House Next Door (1914) and The Lady of the Cyclamen (short, 1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Ulrica.

Una
Una Merkel was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Kentucky in 1903. Una Trevelyn was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in Tennessee in 1896. Una was also a character name in multiple films, including Paradise Garden (1917) and Bonds of Love (1919).

  • Usage of the baby name Una.

Unca
Unca was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the film The Cave of Death (1914).

Undine
Undine was a character name in multiple films, including The Galloping Fish (1924) and The Emperor Jones (1933).

  • Usage of the baby name Undine.

Unity
Unity was a character name in multiple films, including The Girl Without a Soul (1917) and Stella Maris (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Unity.

Ursula
Ursula was a character name in multiple films, including and Thirteen Women (1932) and The Perfect Clue (1935).

  • Usage of the baby name Ursula.

Userti
Userti was a character played by actress Arlette Marchal in the film The Moon of Israel (1924). The film was based on the novel Moon of Israel (1918) by H. Rider Haggard.

Ustane
Ustane was a character played by actress Miriam Fouche in the film She (1917) and by Mary Odette in She (1925). The films were based on the novel She: A History of Adventure (1887) by H. Rider Haggard.

…So which list of U-names do you prefer, this one or the 7 Usable U-Names from a few weeks ago?

What’s Wrong with U? (7 Usable U-Names)

u names, ursa, upton, upson, umber, ukiah, unity, union

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”…?

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

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Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia