Unfairly Dated Names are a subset of Spotlight Names most people don’t consider old-enough to recycle. Most of these names peaked around 15-60 years ago and are often typecast as parent and grandparent names. But their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stylish stand-outs for modern children. At one point these names were ahead of the trends, and likely will be again.
Unfairly Dated Name: Cynthia
Maybe Cindy is your middle-aged neighbor working in her garden or your boss’ grandmotherly assistant. To many, especially some Baby Boomers struggling with their life-long nickname in middle-age, Cindy is the perpetual little girl.
Reinforcing this impression is Cindy Brady, the lisping pigtailed youngest member of the Brady Bunch TV clan who will never age past 12 in syndication.
Cynthia has lived in the shadow of its assumed nickname for decades. This is unfortunate since the full name Cynthia is an ethereal choice with Greek mythology origins. Say Cynthia out loud and rediscover its loveliness.
Imagine being an expectant parent before the 1950’s when Cynthia peaked in the top 10. Cynthia must have sounded almost musical. The name really does roll well off the tongue. Those who were aware of the name’s Greek Mythology origins were probably intrigued.
Even the nickname Cindy, which dates the name today, was probably a selling point back then. Cindy may seem juvenile on a 55-year-old today, but would have seemed cute on a 5-year-old back in 1960.
If you feel Cindy is simply too cute at any age and any decade, consider the future impressions of Abby, Maddy, and Addy, all popular on children today. The theory is that once Abby, Maddy, and Addy reach adulthood, they can use their given names Abigail, Madison, Madeline, Addison, Adeline or Adelaide.
That could happen, but how often does that happen? Chances are in 50 years we will have a few middle-aged Abby’s, Maddy’s and Addy’s. Some of them will hate their cute nickname, but not enough to switch to a given name they aren’t used to hearing.
Fortunately side-stepping Cindy is easy; try Thea or just Cynthia, which is simply stunning on its own.
If Cindy dates Cynthia, then Thea can bring the name up-to-date. Like its twin Rhea, Thea is outside the top 1000 and has a fashionable sound.
Thea does have one drawback. It can be both a given name and a nickname for other names such as Dorothea, which could make Thea seem more popular than name stats suggest.
The alternative nickname, Thea, is not Cynthia’s best-selling point. If an alternative nickname and beautiful sound were all Cynthia had, it would still be a nice name but would hardly qualify as unfairly dated.
Cynthia qualifies as unfairly dated for two reasons:
1. Cynthia has astrological meaning. Greek moon goddess Artemis was sometimes called Cynthia because according to legend she was born on Mount Cynthus. This puts Cynthia in the same class as these fashionable names:
- Stella #73 (3,667 births)
- Luna #278 (1,138 births)
- Celeste #453 (665 births)
- Nova #884 (293 births)
All of these names appear on the rise. Luna broke the top 300 for the first time in 2011.
Nova’s numbers hardly make Nova popular, but #884 is an impressive rank considering the name just reentered the top 1000 after being absent since 1938. Nova could disappear as quickly as it came, but that seems unlikely considering Nova follows a fashionable pattern: four letters, two syllables, a-ending and the letter V.
2. Cynthia has roots in Greek Mythology putting her in the same class as these fashionable names:
- Chloe #10 (10,917 births)
- Iris #303 (1,041 births)
- Athena #313 (998 births)
- Daphne #450 (671 births)
Most of these names appear on the rise, except for Chloe which may have reached a plateau in the top 10.
Today Cynthia ranks at #429 and has declined since its peak at #7 in 1957. Typical of mid-century names, Cynthia has a bell curve trend pattern. Cynthia was somewhat uncommon a century ago, and then gradually increased and peaked mid-century. Cynthia plateaued for a few years and then rapidly declined. Its current numbers are similar to those a century earlier.
Today adventurous parents might be more excited to put Artemis on the birth certificate. Artemis has the advantage of being unique, being outside the top 1000 for the moment. In 2011 only 39 newborn girls were named Artemis, up from 21 Artemis’ born in 2010.
Maybe Artemis is more appealing to parents seeking something unusual. But imagine both names have never been in the top 1000. Say Artemis and Cynthia out loud. Be honest with yourself. Which one truly sounds prettier? And do you know what? I don’t mind Cindy.
Readers: Which Greek moon goddess name do you prefer: Artemis or Cynthia?