By Abby Sandel
Last week we learned that actress Amy Smart and her home improvement show host husband Carter Oosterhouse were new parents. They welcomed daughter Flora last month.
Count Flora with a special category of names – just a letter or two different from current favorites. If your top name choices feel just a little too popular, could changing a single letter – or sound – make all the difference?
Swapping letters becomes part-name game, part-exercise in discovering new favorites. But new favorites are waiting to be found.
I’ll start with a few of mine – and I’d love to hear yours, too!
Nora–Cora–Flora–Zora – We covered the Floradora Girls way back in 2012, but the names have only risen in popularity since then. Traditional Nora ranks Number 41. Boosted by Downton Abbey, Cora ranks Number 88. It’s quite the stylish sound. If you’re looking for something the same, but different, consider the name chosen for the new @smarthouse26 baby. If Flora’s not for you, there’s also the literary Zora. Neither ranks in the current US Top 1000.
Ella–Della – We love short, simple Ella, as well as fellow Top 100 picks Bella and Stella. Looking for something less expected? Della could strike the right note. A darling of the late nineteenth century, Della disappeared from the Top 1000 in the 1970s. You might think of Della Street, Perry Mason’s resourceful secretary, or Della Rose, Billy Joel’s youngest daughter.
Lily–Millie–Billie – Vintage, botanical Lily is a long-time favorite. Parents after something slightly different might consider Millie, boosted by young actress Millie Bobby Brown. Sweet Millie might also stand in for Molly, Ellie, or lots of other similar-sounding names. And if Millie isn’t quite your name, there’s also boyish Billie, a 1930s favorite.
Emma–Gemma – Long-time literary chart-topper Emma takes on a different image when the E becomes a G. Italian, romantic, and glittering Gemma seems different from Jane Austen’s heroine, but every bit as wearable. But while Emma has appeared near the top of the Top Ten for over a decade, Gemma remains relatively underused, at Number 269.
Kate–Nate – Of course, there’s no rule saying that the trick only works for girls’ names or boys’ names. If you love polished, preppy Kate for a girl, you might like upbeat, friendly Nate for a boy. The only problem with this technique? Use Nate today, and you can’t use Kate if a daughter is in your future.
Tyler-Wyler – Tyler topped the charts in the 1990s, a modern favorite that now feels all grown-up. Surname name Wyler is barely a blip – just seven boys were given the name last year – but with names like Wyatt and Walker feeling fashionable for our sons, Wyler could fit right in.
Max–Dax – Max packs an awful lot of style into just three letters, but between Maxwell, Maximus, and just plain Max, it’s pretty familiar. Exhange the M for a D and you’ll have Dax, a dashing name made famous by comedic actor Dax Shepard.
Jack–Mack – Casual, friendly Jack is a go-to name for a boy and a favorite among fictional characters, too. Trade the J for an M, and Jack becomes Mack – which shares much of Jack’s charm, but was given to fewer than 400 boys last year, compared to nearly 8,500 newborn Jacks.
Noah–Koa – Number One Noah shows no signs of slowing down. If you love the sound, consider Koa instead. The name has very different roots – it’s Hawaiian rather than Biblical. But they share the same vowel sounds, and they both have appealing meanings. Noah brings to mind the faithful builder of the arc, while Koa means warrior, and comes from the name of a tree.
Love this style? Visit our forums for more! The name game Change One Letter first started in 2013. It’s now up to more than 1,984 pages!