2012 Spotlight Name Review – Part 1

This two-part series recognizes all of Upswing Baby Names’ Spotlight Names from the past year. Some of these names were published in December 2011 shortly after Upswing Baby Names launched.

This is Part 1 which covers the original Spotlight names. In order to make the list manageable, these Spotlight Names series will be included in part 2:

Failure To Launch Names: Names that could have become popular for a certain decade but didn’t.
Founding Father’s Name: Our Fourth of July special feature.
Great Grandparent Names: Names of our Great Grandparents and the stories behind them.
Stealthily Climbing Names: Names that have stealthily hit the top 100 with little fanfare.
Unexpectedly Familiar Names: Names that everyone knows that seem too bold to use.
Unfairly Dated Names: Names from the past that have something in common with today’s popular names.

When I select a spotlight name, the goal is to find a name that doesn’t appeal to everyone but has some counter-cultural appeal or the potential to become mainstream within the next couple of decades.

Many of these names are surprisingly underused (such as Susanna), but not all of them. There are a few that are a bit out-there. I don’t expect Begonia to catch on soon, but with more name lovers flocking to Magnolia, I felt it deserved recognition. A couple are surprisingly popular. Emma was spotlighted, not because it’s underused, but because it is one of the few revival names that was equally popular (at least based on rank) the first and second time.

Here is the list of Spotlight names. The names are in alphabetical order. Boys are coded blue, girls are pink and there aren’t any unisex names. I feel Perry could be unisex, but that is my opinion, not a belief that is universally recognized. ***Note: The names link to the original post, but because of the color coding you may not be able to see the links, but they should work. You will get a chance to vote on your favorite Spotlight Name.


I can’t help but share some of my personal feelings on these names. I appreciate all of them, and like all of them on some level, but would only use a few of them on a baby of my own. Sometimes even the ones I would use I can’t really use for practical reasons; they might clash with my last name, as an example.

Here are the ones I would actually use: Amos, Bianca, Effie, Ferdinand, George, Huey (as a nickname for Hugh), Martha, Susanna, Thaddeus.

Here are ones I absolutely love, but wouldn’t have the guts to use just yet (that could change): Aloysius, Elihu, Geraldine, Petula

And I’m surprised parents aren’t flocking to Rhea and Susanna.

Your opinion is what I’m really interested in. Share your thoughts in the comments and vote in the poll to help me decide which of these have the most potential.

Readers: Which ones would you use on your (real or hypothetical) baby? Which spotlight names are your favorites? (Multiple votes are allowed.)

Photo credit


  1. British American says:

    Got to vote for my son’s name: George! He was born in March 2011. My husband got to name this baby – our 3rd and George was his top pick. 🙂 I’m not even 100% sure why – but he fit in really well with our existing two kids’ names.

    I rather like Clive too, for the British vibe. 🙂

  2. I would consider using Aida if we ever had a third. I don’t like how close it sounds to names like Ayanna, though, which I don’t care for in the least. I also like Thaddeus and Martha.

    • I never considered Aida’s similarity to Ayanna. Aida reminds me of Ada, Ida, and Isla, because of the “eye” sound at the beginning.

      Thaddeus is one of my favorites. If I planned to have more children (I don’t), it wasn’t awkward with my Italian last name, and my husband liked it (I doubt he would), I would use it in a heart beat.


  1. […] is part 2 of the year-end Spotlight Name review. If you missed part 1, you can see it […]

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