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Abel

Today's name: Abel

Pronunciation: AY-bel

Potential nicknames: Abe, Bello

Origin: Hebrew, meaning "breath." It is said this name comes from the Hebrew name Hevel and implies vanity, but it could also come from an Assyrian word meaning "meadow."

Popularity: Used since the 6th century, Abel has a long history of use. In 2011 there were 1,497 baby boys named Abel, which means it ranked at #237 on the U.S. top 1000, a slow rise from a decade ago, and also from 1880. In 2010 there were 1,119 baby boys named Abel, #292. It is even more popular in Hungary.

Fun fact: (1) In the Bible, Abel was the second son of Adam and Eve. He was murdered out of jealously by his brother Cain because Abel had pleased God more than Cain. He was also said to be the first shepherd. The Christian Church claims he is a pre-Christian martyr, thus a saint. There is also a Saint Abel of Reims from the 8th century. (2) Tasmania was named in honor of explorer Abel Tasman. (3) The Abel Prize is an international mathematics award named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel. (4) Amy Pohler and Will Arnett chose this name for their baby. (5) There are two movie directors with this name: Abel Fererra and Abel Gance. (6) Abel is a Dickens character and a Trollope character.

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Forest

Here's one of my personal favorites, although I'm surprised I still like it after seeing Forrest Gump so often (thanks, Dad). In fact, the name peaked in popularity for the second time the year the movie was released, jumping to number #217 in 1994. Now he's on the move yet again, rising to 132 boys given the name in 2015 from a low dip to 47 in 2006. To be clear, Forest is the word spelling and Forrest the name spelling, and Forrest remains a much more popular choice with 387 boys given the name in 2015, ranking at #659. Forrest also had a dip in 2006 with only 147 births, disappearing from the charts between 2003 and 2013, and it also peaked in 1994 with 1,343 boys born, rising to #217. Historically both spelling options have been very popular.

Forest doesn't have an obvious nickname, but it's one of those names you enjoy saying without having to shorten it. Forest is Old French, meaning "woods." A famous namesake is St. John Forest of the 16th century…