Name To Watch: Blythe

Blythe-original-croppedSometimes a name starts appearing in pop culture and I feel it is going places despite low birth numbers. Such is the case with Blythe. Not only do I feel Blythe is a solid up-and-coming name, I feel Blythe is a modern classic in the making.

This may seem like a hefty hypothesis, which I will attempt to support here, but of course I can never really prove since predictions are always a crapshoot. But I’m going to attempt to support this prediction and then wait and see…

Blythe’s Appearances

First let’s start with some qualitative data. Blythe has appeared in a few places both outside and inside the baby name blogosphere.

I’m going to start outside the world of name blogs, because I feel this is where the name gets its long-term potential, especially since one association is familiar to the next generation of baby namers.

The children’s show Littlest Pet Shop may suggest the name could appear on future grandchildren. Blythe Baxter is the name of the main character, a little girl who lives in an apartment above a pet shop. Blythe is the only one who can understand what the pets are saying.

Another lesser known association related to The Littlest Pet Shop are Blythe dolls. These are dolls from Japan with over-sized heads and eyes that change color with a pull of a string. Blythe dolls were created in 1972 and only sold in the U.S. for a year by a company that was later purchased by Hasbro.

In 2004 Hasbro introduced Blythe dolls as part of The Littlest Pet Shop toy line, which inspired the name of the main character in the animated TV series.

But I also feel Blythe is appealing to current baby namers. There are a couple of other strong associations. One is Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother, Blythe Danner and another is Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables.

Perhaps Blythe is a future “generational crossover” name that could be fashionable for at least two generations. Some examples are:

  • Deborah which seems imaginable on both Baby Boomers (ages 45-65) and Gen Xers (ages 30-45) and
  • Allison, imaginable on Gen Xers, Millennials (age 18-30) and present day children (under 18).

Perhaps this is some gutsy forecasting for a name that isn’t even in the top 1000, has never been in the top 1000, and was only given to 162 newborn girls last year.

But I have heard the name everywhere–so much so that I feel we are going to hear Blythe on baby name lists long before contemporary kids start having babies.

The name is already getting attention in the baby name blog world.

Blythe gets an impressive 4500+ keyword search results on popular baby name site Nameberry (at time of writing). In fact it’s getting close to 5000 search results. (These search results bring up how many times a name has been mentioned on Nameberry’s forums, members’ name lists, and blog, and are constantly changing as Nameberry bloggers and readers add more submissions.)

The name also appeared on Swistle Baby Names a few months ago–twice. Once when she mentioned it is as a name to consider and again when the blogger’s mom had asked about Blythe’s pronunciation. Apparently there are questions as to whether the TH is unvoiced like Ruth or voiced like Heather. With a one syllable name like Blythe, I find the difference between the voiced/unvoiced TH very subtle, and if the name continues to become more popular, I don’t think it will be much of an issue.

Blythe By The Numbers

Let’s look at a quantifiable measure, the name’s birth numbers for the past decade. FYI – Swistle took a sample of birth numbers from every 10 years going back to 1880, and I’m taking a sample from every year since 2002 to be consistent with the protocol I initiated with another recent name to watch, Clover. *Note these are real numbers of baby girls named Blythe each year, not Blythe’s rank.

Year # Newborn Girls
2002 74
2003 72
2004 75
2005 79
2006 65
2007 64
2008 77
2009 87
2010 85
2011 105
2012 162


The above table shows that the birth numbers for Blythe were at a plateau for most of the 2000s and even dipped slightly in 2006-7. The real jump happened just within the past couple of years.

If you check out Swistle’s table you will note a gradual increase in Blythe’s born since the early 20th century.

Prior to the 1920s-30s, Blythe did not have enough birth numbers each year to appear in the Social Security data, meaning there were fewer than 5 Blythes born each year.

The steadily rising birth numbers suggest the 2010 decade may be the decade for Blythe. Blythe very well may hit the top 1000 in the late 2010s. And I feel once Blythe hits the top 1000, it will stay there for decades due to the many strong associations–both old and new.

Blythe is going on the UBN Watch List report for next year. This report lists names that I’m watching, and is updated with each Watch List name’s birth numbers every year once the Social Security Administration releases the newest top 1000 baby names. New names are added to the report every year. The report just keeps getting better every year. 🙂

To receive this report, and other UBN updates, submit your email address below. *Blythe isn’t in the current Watch List report, which you will receive immediately once your subscription is confirmed, but it will be in the next report, which you will automatically receive once it comes out next year (unless you choose to unsubscribe before then).

And I’m curious if you agree with me that Blythe is a future hit name. Share your thoughts in the poll and comments.

Readers: Do you feel Blythe has potential to become a top baby name?

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  1. We chose Blythe as a middle name for our girl born in January. We love this happy and peaceful name.

  2. Due in December. If it’s a girl we planned to name her Blythe- a name that was on our list 2 years ago when our son was born. We first learned of it from actree Blythe Danner. Hoping it doesn’t get TOO popular. 🙂

  3. This is a name I have literally never seen on a real baby – but somehow I can imagine it! I think this is a name with tons of potential.

  4. Mom to a 2012 Blythe reporting in. We love our DD’s name and get so many compliments on it. It is absolutely perfect for her.

    • We are seriously considering Blythe for our second baby girl due in a few weeks. My main hang up with the name is pronunciation. I think it is supposed to be pronounced Blythe as in the word tithe. However I prefer it pronounced to sound closer to the way the word life sounds, if that makes sense. How do you pronounce it? We are also finding it hard to find a middle name that flows. We are considering Blythe Avery. I’d love to hear more input. Thanks!

      • Pronunciation is uncertain with Blythe. I just looked it up on and you can listen to the pronunciation:

        I think was pronouncing it the way you do, like tithe. Like you, I prefer the pronunciation that rhymes with life.

        Swistle Baby Names tackles the Blythe pronunciation question and had a poll:

        I think Avery sounds nice with Blythe – with both pronunciations.

        With a one-syllable name, I like middle names that follow the pattern like Elizabeth. Therefore Blythe Elizabeth would sound nice, but if you are looking for something different other than Elizabeth, here are some other ideas:

        Blythe Alethea – if pronounced with the stress on the second syllable
        Blythe Amelia
        Blythe Andromeda
        Blythe Azalea – if pronounced with the stress on the second syllable
        Blythe Calliope
        Blythe Camellia
        Blythe Epiphany
        Blythe Evangeline
        Blythe Felicity
        Blythe Forsythia
        Blythe Hermione
        Blythe Magnolia
        Blythe Olivia
        Blythe Parthenia
        Blythe Penelope
        Blythe Persephone
        Blythe Serenity
        Blythe Veronica
        Blythe Victoria

        Good luck!

        • Thank you for your response! Blythe Victoria is another combo we are considering. As you mentioned I think a longer 3 syllable name flows well with a single syllable first name. My husband has always liked the name Avery and I have always liked Victoria (but not as a first name b/c I’m not fond of the nicknames Vicki and Tori) so we are kind of between those two for a middle name. I think Ellery would look and flow beautifully with Blythe, but that is my first daughter’s middle name.

  5. Amy Wroughton says:

    I named my little girl Blythe. She was born in 2009. I think it’s a gorgeous, sophisticated little name and suits her creative, daydreamy personality.

  6. we also named our little girl blythe in 2012. and we pronounce it to sound like life, not tithe. it’s been a perfect name for our spunky, joyful, spirited daughter.

    • I love the feedback about Blythe! We did end up naming our little girl Blythe Avery! She is 5 weeks old now. We also pronounce it like “life” not “tithe”. I’m so happy my husband came around to the name and loves it now too. I had a gut feeling her name would be Blythe right from the start. 🙂

  7. We named our 2nd, Margaret Blythe, and call her Blythe. We love her name and get many compliments omn it. We pronounce with a strong /th/, as in thirst.

  8. I think Blythe is a beautiful and sweet name and would love to use it but it doesn’t fit with my other children’s names. I hope to see more baby Blythe’s around and agree it’s a name to watch!

  9. We named our baby girl Blythe, it’s unusual as a forename but people don’t have a problem with the pronunciation where we live because it’s Scottish and is quite a common surname. The ‘Th’ sound is hard like math. The word blithe from the same root is pronounced like ‘lithe’. The meanings are the same; joyous, carefree and happy. She really is the calmest baby and smiles all the time so it suits her!

  10. My name is Blythe and I love my name! It’s pronounced like ‘tithe’ though most people can’t pronounce it that way (I don’t know why) and end up pronouncing it rhyming with ‘life’ which, personally, I don’t care for at all. I must say, I have spent much of my life correcting people on how to say my name! I think it’s much prettier with the ‘tithe’ (long ‘y’) pronunciation. But the name definitely suits me and my dreamy personality too. This was a lovely article to read, the comments as well 🙂

  11. Lauren MacPherson says:

    Thank you for the interesting article. My daughter is called Blythe & was born August 2015. I think I first became familiar with the name after purchasing an art print of the Blythe doll. I liked the originality & meaning of the name. I also like the fact that it’s not too popular, I wanted something unique & didn’t want her to have to share a more common name with a class mate.


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