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Carlo

Why did I decide to highlight Carlo and not Carl or Carlos? Besides a really unpleasant association with a Karl, it's a very dated name, while Carlos, in the US, is very region and culture specific. And Carlo is my cousin's name. Carlo, on the other hand, is less tied to any one thing or person. This Italian, German and Spanish variant of Charles means "free man," and ranked on the top 1000 until 2009, from 1905. Yet, it's still a name you don't hear often. If not for my cousin, I would have never met a Carlo. Although this name has European charm, it would fit right in with American kids today, hundreds of which start with a hard C or end in an O. (Camden, Cleo, Milo, Indigo, Leo, Shiloh, etc.)

Carlo also has a saintly namesake - Saint Carlo Borromeo, also known as Saint Charles, who died in 1584, and whose name day is November 4th. Saint Carlo was cardinal archbishop of the Catholic Church in Milan, Italy, and is now Patron Saint of many things, including apple orchards, bishops, spiritual leaders, starch makers, and stomach problems. Four kings of Spain also bore this name in the form of Charles as we know them today. Carlo Alberto Amedeo was the King of Sardinia in Italy between 1831 and 1849. Napolean Bonaparte's father was also named Carlo.

Fans of Sophia Loren might like to know that her son was named Carlo. Other namesakes include Nobel Prize winner Carlo Rubbia, six professional painters, two Olympians, an actor, and a historian. Many may also think of the Monte Carlo hotel and casino.

In 2011 there were 190 boys named Carlo, ranking slightly below the top 1000, as compared to about 140/150 in the 90's, and just 5 in the early 1900's. There are many carl- variants, such as Carlton, Carlos, Carl, Carlson and Carlito. Carlo is less popular than Carlos, which was given to 4,158 boys in 2011, and less popular than Carl, which was given to 420 boys in 2011. Carlos ranked #91 and Carl #591.

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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.

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