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Belle


Belle, as we're all aware thanks to Beauty and the Beast, is French for "beautiful." It's an underused, simple-yet-elegant name that is easily pronounced in our culture and abroad. It can be a good alternative to Isabelle, which is seeing extreme popularity, and can be a nickname for any number of names starting or ending in -belle, such as Rosabelle, Claribel, Bluebell, Bellerose, Amabel, Belphoebe or Arabella. She can be a Southern Belle or "Belle of the Ball." She is close to Bella, yet miles away. The name ages well and gets rave reviews.

One real-life namesake was Confederate spy Belle Boyd, but there was also a World War II bomber plane called the Memphis Belle, and a character from Gone with the Wind. And here's a fun tidbit: Belle was Mr. Scrooge's fiance in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Belle had not ranked in the past decade, but because of the new Disney live-action, it ranked #933 in 2016. Back in 2010 there were only 154 baby girls named Belle and in 2013 there were just 187. I see a lot of people passing this name up because of Isabella, thinking Belle is more popular than it is. Maybe they're getting it confused with Bella, which was #60 in 2011. Belle was most popular just before 1920 and least popular in the 80's. While there were just 8 girls given the name in 1991 as if it was about to disappear forever, it spiked up rapidly and by the 2000's was given to hundreds of girls.

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*UPDATED
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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…