A friend recently had her second baby and, as we oohed and ahhed over this new human she and her husband created, we got to talking about other names they had been considering. My friend brought out her huge list of baby names for both genders and I was so completely, utterly shocked to see my (secret) in-the-off-chance-we-had-another-baby-and-if-that-baby-was-a-girl name on her list: Blythe.
The reason I was so surprised is because, while this friend and I have many things in common, taste in baby names is not one of them. Like, I don’t see any overlap at all. I respect her choices and can see how they’re right for her and for her children, but they are not names I would choose (as I’m certain my kids’ names aren’t ones she would choose).
My friend says she is without doubt finished having babies and I’m nearly completely certain we are, too, so this isn’t a territorial kind of scenario. It’s almost guaranteed that neither of us will use the name Blythe. Nor is it a “who wore it better” kind of thing where I want to be told my kids’ names suit Blythe’s style better.
I was just taken aback that two people with such very different tastes in names both felt moony about Blythe. So my question is this: what style is Blythe, would you say? Is it one of those names that plays well with others? I love the name, but it is a bit of a mystery to me. I’m not sure what I love about it; I think it’s a combination of the way it looks on paper and the lovely-to-me “th” sound at the end, with that bonus “e.” To me it’s unusual, short and sweet…much like my daughter’s name. Plus, my Gilbert Blythe association probably helps as we’re big Anne of Green Gables fans.
And, just for fun, what’s your personal opinion on Blythe as a name? And could I potentially use it though my other 3 kids have vowel names? NOT because “vowel names” are a style, but because Blythe might stand out as sounding different?
Your fellow name nerd,
It IS a little hard to pin down, isn’t it! I think it’s because it’s a name that’s never been in the Top 1000: I tend to group names with other names that were popular at the same time, but the name Blythe has never been popular in the United States. I looked in the Social Security database that shows the usage of names outside the Top 1000; I took a sample of the usage every ten years so we could see what it’s been up to:
1886: -F, -M
1896: -F, -M
1906: -F, -M
1916: -F, -M
1926: 6F, -M
1936: -F, -M
1946: 12F, -M
1956: 24F, 5M
1966: 16F, -M
1976: 58F, -M
1986: 68F, -M
1996: 43F, -M
2006: 65F, 8M
2016: 168F, 6M
Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. The movie was made in 1934, and then there were a fair number of miniseries and made-for-TV movies starting in the 1950s and continuing until now.
The Blythe doll was released in 1972; I wonder if that accounts for a little popularity surge, or if it was heading there already?
Blythe Danner began her career in the 1960s/1970s. That could also account for increased familiarity with the name, and increased usage.
Blythe could be a surname name, because of Gilbert; that’s not how I think of it, but I could picture someone with a surname-name style choosing it that way. I guess I think of it (apparently incorrectly, according to the usage info) as a sophisticated, non-frilly name that’s almost old enough to come back, along with names such as Edith and Ethel and Ida. But I had a lot of trouble picking the examples I just used: I don’t seem to have any other names in the same category as Blythe. I think of The Golden Girls, probably because of Blanche (another one-syllable Bl- name)—so perhaps some good example names would be Bea, Betty, Rue, and Estelle, along with Blanche and Dorothy? (Sophia and Rose are too currently popular.)
Blythe is also a word name, and word names can be particularly difficult to put in a style category.
Well! What does everyone else think? What style is Blythe? What kind of sibling names would you put it with?