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25 Baby Names At Risk For Extinction

25 Baby Names At Risk For Extinction

Naming babies is a risky and difficult business. What if it’s an incredibly popular name that ends up overused? What if it sounds dated and is unpopular for that reason? What if it doesn’t suit your little boy or girl as they get older? What if you end up hating it and regret choosing the name you once loved for little one? But worse, what if your child hates the name and actually tries to change it when they’re older?

It’s one of the most difficult things a parent will do and you will more than likely spend the whole nine months of pregnancy debating, vetoing and deciding on a moniker for your newborn. Luckily, we’re awash with lists of baby names here at BabyGaga to help you choose a name. From a list of names to resist (if at all possible) to names inspired by our favourite TV shows like Supernatural or Disney films like Beauty and the Beast.

Recently, however Baby Center, published a list of baby names which are not being used anymore. Names which, they say, are on the verge of extinction! In fact, for the year 2017, so far none of the following names have been registered as a first name. I’ll be honest, I’m quite surprised by the list, which has some beautiful and classic names on it. But a names popularity often comes in ebbs and flows, and what isn’t popular this year, may very well shoot up the ranks next year.

If you’re looking for a name that is running out of style and fashion, something that is old worldly but may possible come back into fashion down the line, check out this list of names which Baby Center say are on the verge of extinction unless we start using them again. I’ll be honest there are a lot of names on here I’m really surprised are no longer being used. I’ll be pretty sad to see many of them die out.

25 Doris


Personally, I love the name Doris. I have a large mannequinn in my office who I named Doris because of its old worldly and petite feeling. The name lures us back into the 1920’s when it was at its most popular and reminds us of the actress Doris Day who briefly revived the name in the 1950’s. But it wasn’t to last. The name is verging on extinction as many don’t deem it suitable for their little girls in this day and age. Of course, the name Doris doesn’t necessarily fit with a beautiful, fresh faced newborn and belongs to an older generation, but I do hope we haven’t seen the last of it.

The name Doris comes from “the ancient Greek name, Δωρις, which meant Dorian woman. The Dorians were a Greek tribe who occupied the Peloponnese starting in the 12th century BC. In Greek mythology Doris was a sea nymph, one of the many children of Oceanus and Tethys. It began to be used as an English name in the 19th century.” – Behind The Name

24 Neville


There are some names that always sound as though they are only meant for an older person. The type of names people say, “Oh, he’ll grow into it.” Neville is one of those names so I’m not necessarily surprised this one is on the verge of leaving us. It is a fairly old, Dickensian name, as Charles Dickens used it in one of his novels, albeit an unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It certainly feels as though it belongs in a dark and dreary, cobblestoned laneway off the main roads of London. There aren’t many ways to smarten it up with nicknames either making it that little harder to love and fight for. But if you choose this name for your little boy, naming him after a grandfather or uncle, then he certainly will grow into it.

The name Neville comes “from an English surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning new town in Norman French. As a given name it is chiefly British and Australian.”  – Behind The Name

23 Beverly


The first person I think of when I hear Beverly is Dr Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It has a commmanding tone to the name and I love how it can be shortened to Bev, but sadly, dear old Beverly’s time is running out and very few are using it anymore. Believe it or not, Beverly was once a masculine name that, somewhere down the line, was transformed into a feminine name. I’m hopeful that Beverly will make a revival some time in the future because it’s too nice of a name to lose.

The name Beverly comes “from a surname which was originally derived from the name of an English city, itself meaning beaver stream in Old English. It came into use as a masculine given name in the 19th century, and it became common as an American feminine name after the publication of George Barr McCutcheon’s novel ‘Beverly of Graustark’ (1904).”  – Behind The Name

22 Cecil


I’m sorry to say that Cecil is another of those long past names that I can understand why it is on the verge of extinction. It belongs to a much older generation, perhaps in the upper echelons of royality or nobility. I can’t imagine peering into a bassinet to be greeted with a tender, beautiful baby boy’s face and saying, “Oh Cecil, you are so sweet.” Cecil is certainly not a name that belongs on a tiny newborn baby. Of course, it could, once again, be a name that you’re beautiful little boy could grow into since it certainly has a lot of characteristics that make it suitable for a young man. Although, that young man may belong in the early twentieth century.

The name Cecil comes “From the Roman name Caecilius. This was the name of a 3rd-century saint, a companion of Saint Cyprian. Though it was in use during the Middle Ages in England, it did not become common until the 19th century when it was given in honour of the noble Cecil family, who had been prominent since the 16th century. Their surname was derived from the Welsh given name Seisyll, which was derived from the Roman name Sextilius, a derivative of Sextus.” – Behind The Name

21 Donna


This one I’m very surprised at. I didn’t think Donna would ever be on the verge of not being used as I grew up with a number of Donna’s and considering that Madonna is still making headlines in our tabloids. It’s still a young and fresh name but perhaps parents-to-be are being pushed away from the name due to its, at one time, huge popularity. It has, possibly, become a little dated, considering that its popularity reached its peak in the 1960’s. Would you consider Donna for your little girl? I wouldn’t be surprised if the name makes a small come back after many see that it’s on the verge of being lost in the book name archives forever.

The name Donna comes “from the Italian donna meaning lady. It is also used as a feminine form of Donald.” – Behind The Name

20 Geoffrey


Geoffrey was once a longstanding and highly polished name and I’m once again surprised its on the list of names that are proving so unpopular that they’re on the verge of being wiped out. Perhaps Geoffrey is losing popularity because it has been overtaken by the simpler versions of Geoff and Jeff which are much more common and softer, making them more suitable for babies and toddlers. I quite like Jefferson as an alternative to Geoffrey with its quirky sound and similiar nickname.

The name Geoffrey comes “From a Norman French form of a Germanic name. The second element is Germanic frid peace, but the first element may be either gawia territory, walha foreign or gisil hostage. It is possible that two or more names merged into a single form. In the later Middle Ages Geoffrey was further confused with the distinct name Godfrey.The Normans introduced this name to England where it became common among the nobility. Famous medieval literary bearers include the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth and the 14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer, writer of ‘The Canterbury Tales’. By the end of the Middle Ages it had become uncommon, but it was revived in the 20th century, often in the spelling Jeffrey.” – Behind The Name

19 Elaine


I’m very surprised that Elaine is not used more often these days. It’s a beautiful, fresh and perfectly feminine name for a little girl but it has apparently lost much of its appeal over the years, so much so, that many aren’t choosing it for their baby girls. Having been a name that peaked innthe 1920s with a slump from the 1960s onwards, I’m hoping it makes some sort of come back after parents-to-be see that its on the verge of being lost. Personally, Elaine would be a name that I would consider for its beauty and charm and long history.

The name Elaine comes “from an Old French form of Helen. It appears in Arthurian legend; in Thomas Malory’s 15th-century compilation ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ Elaine was the daughter of Pelleas, the lover of Lancelot, and the mother of Galahad. It was not commonly used as an English given name until after the appearance of Tennyson’s Arthurian epic ‘Idylls of the King’ (1859).” – Behind The Name

18 Clive


There is a certain sound to the name Clive that simply makes it sound old and as though it belongs to a middle aged banker. It’s a very mature name and names that aren’t fresh and fun are often left to the bottom of a list, or kicked off that list when something more vibrant comes along. Clive, unfortunately, appears to be on its last legs as parents fail to choose it and keep it in the loop of popular baby boy names. I have never known a Clive and it wouldn’t make the grade for my little boy either. Clive Owen is, perhaps, the only modern day Clive who has managed to uphold the name but again, he is now in his fifties, and the name is most certainly an upstanding and strong name for a professional man of his age. I do wonder, how much the name suited him as he grew up from toddlerhood to childhood. It’s certainly a mature man’s name for a young boy to, once again, grow in to.

Clive comes from “a surname meaning cliff in Old English, originally belonging to a person who lived near a cliff.” – Behind The Name 

17 Joanne


I love the name Joanne. There are so many variations of it, which makes it a beautifully flexible name. However, it seems that the ever pleasing Joanne has lost popularity while parents-to-be choose Joanna over Joanne. But the name really shouldn’t be dismissed since it still holds a lot of charm and elegance. Unfortunately, it does appear that it has lost a lot of favour and is on its way out as the older generations are the ones who sport the name rather the younger newborns who are given brighter, funkier and probably more interesting monikers. Personally, I wouldn’t hestitate to consider Joanne, although I’d probably use Jo more often than the longer variant.

The name Joanne is a variant of the name Joanna which comes from the “English and Polish form of the Latin name Iohanna, which was derived from Greek Ιωαννα (Ioanna), the feminine form of Ioannes. This is the spelling used in the English New Testament, where it belongs to a follower of Jesus who is regarded as a saint. In the Middle Ages in England it was used as a Latinized form of Joan (the usual feminine form of John) and it became common as a given name in the 19th century.” – Behind The Name

16 Horace


So, there are some names I can understand to be on the verge of extinction. Horace is one those sharp, unromantic and impossibly old names as it beings me back to my classical studies in college. It’s quite probably that Horace is not even on the verge of extinction but perhaps extinct already! Horace slowly started to witness its demise at the start of the twentieth century were it actually still sat in the top 100. I’m sure there are plenty this name would suit but I’d imagine they are of a much older generation with a tight upper lip. I don’t think even Harry Potter’s, Horace Slughorn, could keep this name alive.

Horace is the “English and French form of Horatius, and the name by which the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus is commonly known in those languages. In the modern era it has been used as a given name since the Renaissance, in honour of the poet.” – Behind The Name

15 Wendy


The name Wendy often reminds me of fictional characters since its a perfect moniker for a playful platmate such as Wendy in Peter Pan. It wouldn’t necessarily appeal to me to choose it for my daughter but I don’t think it deserves to be pushed out either. Wendy is a beautiful name but the truth is we don’t often here it that much anymore and while I didn’t notice its slump in the rankings, its fairly obvious when you look at the figures that it is in fact waning in popularity and on the verge of extinction. Would you choose it for your beautiful daughter and give it a new lease of life?

“In the case of the character from J. M. Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’ (1904), the name Wendu was created from the nickname fwendy friend, given to the author by a young friend. However, the name was used prior to the play (rarely), in which case it could be related to the Welsh name Gwendolen, and other names beginning with the element gwen meaning white, fair, blessed. The name only became common after Barrie’s play ran.” – Behind The Name

14 Roy


Roy is a surprising one to lose popularity. But when you look at the famous Roy’s who kept this name afloat for so long, it’s possible to see the pattern of how the lovely Roy is diminishing in the ranks. Roy Orbison, Roy Disney and Roy Lichtenstein all gave the name some sort of credence but once again they are of an older generation that couldn’t necessarily keep the name at the top for too long. Roy has been dwindling for quite some time and to pull it back up to a good position in the baby boy name rankings would take quite a lot of effort from parents-to-be and a lot of love for the name which really doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

The name Roy is an “Anglicized form of Ruadh. A notable bearer was the Scottish outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy (1671-1734). It is often associated with the French word roi king.” – Behind The Name

13 Yvonne


To me, Yvonne is almost like a royal name. I would never have imagined that it would go out of fashion and that parents-to-be would automatically overlook it as a choice for their little girl. It’s the type of name I always assumed would stand the test of time as it is not only beautiful but charming also. It’s certainly a surprise to see that it’s almost on the verge of extinction. It’s highly possible though, that Yvonne will see a comeback since it is a traditional and sweet name. Many have started using the spelling Evonne to give it a stronger and funkier edge. What do you think? Would you choose Yvonne still and keep it in the baby name charts?

The name Yvonne is a “French feminine form of Yvon. It has been regularly used in the English-speaking world since the late 19th century.” – Behind The Name

12 Nigel


Nigel is not exactly a soft, fun or even cool name anymore and its failure to stay in the rankings is not necessarily surprising, if I’m perfectly honest. I certainly don’t mean to be cruel to any Nigel’s who have managed to keep the name fresh but it seems to me like it belongs to a much older generation that when they are long gone, they may just take the name with them. As there are a plethora of names to choose from for your little baby, certain names won’t be able to fight for their rank and hold their own. Nigel unfortunately, is one of those names that has lost a lot of favour and is jumping off the rankings. Would you be interested in keeping the name afloat and naming your little baby boy Nigel?

The name Nigel comes from the the name “Nigellus, a medieval Latinized form of Neil. It was commonly associated with the Latin niger meaning black. It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘The Fortunes of Nigel’ (1822).” – Behind The Name

11 Maureen


Oh Maureen! I love the name Maureen. Or rather, I actually love to hear the name Maureen, especially in movies and TV shows as I’m brought back to the world of actress Maureen O’Hara. But it’s far too old and mature of a name for me to ever consider passing it on to my daughter. It belongs to a Grandmother or a Great Aunt who buys enough lollipops and sweets to stuff a drawer with so that she has something to give to the grandkids when they come over. It’s a beautiful and sophisticated name but its old and waning thin in the popularity stakes as younger, fresher and livelier names take over the rankings.

Maureen is the anglicized version of the Irish Mairin which is a versiob of Mary which comes from the “usual English form of Maria, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam) and Μαρια (Maria) – the spellings are interchangeable – which were from the Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam), a name borne by the sister of Moses in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including sea of bitterness, rebelliousness, and wished for child. However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry meaning beloved or mr meaning love.” – Behind The Name

10 Leonard


Leonard is the coach of the football team. He’s your best friends Dad. He’s the bossy guy who owns the local grocery store. He’s not your newborn nephew or a name that sits high on the list of favourite boys names anymore. Leonard unfortunately is another of those names that is being overturned and ruled out, often in favour of its diminutive Leo. It’s not necessarily an impossibly old name that is only suited to the older generations but unless parents-to-be are naming their baby boy after a grandfather, Leonard is running the risk of not being chosen anymore for beautiful, bouncing baby boys.

The name Leonard means “brave lion and is derived from the Germanic elements levon meaning lion and hard meaning brave or hardy. This was the name of a 5th-century Frankish saint from Noblac who is the patron of prisoners and horses. The Normans brought this name to England, though it did not become common there until the 19th century.” – Behind The Name

9 Sheila


I actually know about five Sheila’s but they are all grandmothers and aunts of that generation, meaning they are all over 60. Sheila was once a highly popular name but it has been thrown so far out of fashion that it is rarely even thought about anymore. It’s simply not a name that would even be written down on your prospective baby name list only to be crossed out when you find the right name for your little one. It simply doesn’t make the grade anymore. And I suppose I can see why. It’s a much older name suited for a much older face.

Sheila is the anglicized version of the Irish name Síle meaning which comes from the name Cecilia which is the”Latinate feminine form of the Roman family name Caecilius, which was derived from Latin caecus “blind”. Saint Cecilia was a semi-legendary 2nd- or 3rd-century martyr who was sentenced to die because she refused to worship the Roman gods. After attempts to suffocate her failed, she was beheaded. She was later regarded as the patron saint of music and musicians.Due to the popularity of the saint, the name became common in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. The Normans brought it to England, where it was commonly spelled Cecily – the Latinate form Cecilia came into use in the 18th century.” – Behind The Name

8 Derek


While I didn’t think the name Derek was in any way popular, I didn’t think that it was so unpopular that it would be at risk of being on the verge of extinction. In fact, Derek was still in popularity right up to the mid 90’s where it saw a quick demise soon after. It’s not necessarily a beautiful name but it has a strength and quality to it that makes it worthy of having some sort of ranking in the baby name lists. I only know one Derek and it suits him quite well. It would also certainly suit a child, although possibly not a fresh faced baby but again, Derek is another one of those names that a baby can quickly and easily grow in to.

The name Derek comes from “the older English name Dederick, which was in origin a Low German form of Theodoric. It was imported to England from the Low Countries in the 15th century.” – Behind The Name

7 Sally


Sally, believe it or not, originated as a nickname for Sarah, both names which I like. Sally is fresh and fun and I’m very surprised to see that it’s highly possible the name will be extinct in the near future. Parents simply aren’t choosing it anymore and I’m not too sure why. It’s a beautiful name with a very feminine and soft feel about it making it a good choice for a little girl. It was popular right up to the 1960s which then saw it slowly drop down the rankings.

The name Sally is a diminutive of the name Sarah which “means lady, princess or noblewoman in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of Abraham‘s wife, considered the matriarch of the Jewish people. She was barren until she unexpectedly became the pregnant with Isaac at the age of 90. Her name was originally Sarai, but God changed it at the same time Abraham’s name was changed (see Genesis 17:15).In England, Sarah came into use after the Protestant Reformation. A notable bearer was Sarah Churchill (1660-1744), an influential British duchess and a close friend of Queen Anne.” – Behind The Name

6 Bertram


Ok, so there are some names that should have been dropped from the rankings a long, long, time ago and Bertram is one of them. I’m quite surprised this one held on in any way since it is far too old of a name to still be used in the twenty first century. Not surprisingly, Bertram, which was obviously much more popular in the UK than the USA, was last seen at a reasonable spot in the rankings in the 1930’s and has almost disappeared from the ranks in recent years. It really is a very particular choice and unless you have close ties and connections in a familial way, I’d be very surprised if you chose this name. Then again, little Bertie has a cute ring to it.

The name Bertram “means bright raven, derived from the Germanic element beraht meaning bright combined with hramn  meaning raven. The Normans introduced this name to England. Shakespeare used it in his play ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ (1603).” – Behind The Name

5 Angela


Angela has certainly been taken over by its namesake Angel as many choose the heavenly name instead for both their little girls and boys. Many are often using the beautifully feminine, Angelina instead, softening the name and updating it for this generation. Angela may sound like an older woman’s name, your best friends Mum when you were in school, but it still has an authority about it. I didn’t imagine that it would be on the verge of facing extinction, but nevertheless, the name is just that little bit too dated to warrant a spot in the rankings anymore.

The name Angela is “the feminine form of Angelus. which was derived from the name of the heavenly creature (itself derived from the Greek word αγγελος meaning messenger). As an English name, it came into use in the 18th century.” – Behind The Name

4 Wayne


Ah Wayne. Our dear old friend John Wayne, who made you feverishly popular, couldn’t keep you in the rankings past a certain time. Personally, I don’t feel that Wayne is dated but it also lacks that hip and cool vibe. Whatever freshness Wayne once had has diminished over time as more sophisticated and fun names are brought to the table. In saying that, Wayne, may make a comeback if parents see its potential and start using it again. Or if John Wayne movies make a cowboy revival that appeals to more than our Dad’s and Grandads, it might, just might climb that ladder for another round.

The name Wayne comes “from an occupational surname meaning wagon maker, derived from Old English wægn meaning wagon. Use of it as a given name can be partly attributed to the popularity of the actor John Wayne (1907-1979). Another famous bearer is Canadian hockey player Wayne Gretzky (1961-), generally considered the greatest player in the history of the sport.” – Behind The Name

3 Carol


The seasonal favourite Carol, is sadly losing its cool and panache and has slid down the ranks. Parents-to-be no longer see it as choice for their little girls despite its delicate grace and beauty. In fact, is your Mum’s name Carol, or her best friend? It’s certainly an older name but I think it has a chance to cling on and get a second chance. Maybe, hard as nails Carol from The Walking Dead can help bring it back, although she is Mom-like figure too. I’m not sure we can win with this one and it might be a losing battle to try and keep it in popularity.

The name Carol is a “short form of Caroline. It was formerly a masculine name, derived from Carolus. The name can also be given in reference to the English vocabulary word, which means song or hymn.” – Behind The Name

2 Cyril


Yes, Cyril is on the verge of extinction. “Why isn’t it extinct already?” I hear you ask, and that was actually my first thought too. Cyril is not a popular name (sorry Cyril). It’s not a cool name and it’s certainly not a name that has any chance of hitting a revival. Cyril is long gone despite it’s rich and archaic history! It has lost its gusto, its authority and has been banished to the stock pile forever.

The name Cyril comes “from the Greek name Κυριλλος (Kyrillos) which was derived from Greek κυριος (kyrios) meaning lord, a word used frequently in the Greek Bible to refer to God or Jesus. This name was borne by a number of important saints, including Cyril of Jerusalem, a 4th-century bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th-century theologian. Another Saint Cyril was a 9th-century linguist and a Greek missionary to the Slavs. The Cyrillic alphabet, which is still used today, was created by him and his brother Methodius in order to translate the Bible into Slavic, and thus this name has been especially popular in Eastern Christianity. It came into general use in England in the 19th century.” – Behind The Name

1 Paula


The sweet and gentle name of Paula has sadly been forgotten about or at least no longer loved. What was once a very popular name in the 1960’s is on the verge of being thrown from our baby name rankings in favour of more popular and modern names. It has however, the potential to cling on as this is not the first time that it has threatened to leave us. The same was said in 2014 and 2015, both of which managed to bring it back from the brink. And why wouldn’t you choose Paula for your little girl? It’s a beautiful name with a sweet floral ring to it. Maybe, just maybe we may be able to save this one again in 2017.

The name Paula is the “feminine form of Paulus which means small or humble in Latin. This was the name of a 4th-century Roman saint who was a companion of Saint Jerome.” – Behind The Name

Sources: BabyCenter, Behind The Name