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Soren

Kierkegaard
A sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by his cousin

Soren (American prn SOR-en) is a Danish and Norwegian boy's name that currently ranks at #656 in the U.S., #279 in France, but not high in Denmark or Norway (and may in fact be considered dated there). It is a variant of Severus, meaning "stern." The correct Danish/Norwegian spelling is Søren and pronounced SUU-ren, while Sören is the German and Swedish spelling and pronounced SIR-in. Severin is another variant found in France, Germany and Sweden - and is also the name of Saint Severin of Cologne. The female forms are Severina and Severa.

The most famous namesake is 19th century philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Søren Kierkegaard who is thought to be linked to existentialism. More recently there is an American fencer named Soren Thompson, former Danish footballer Soren Andersen, American inventor Soren Sorensen Adams and several others. New Zealand singer Anika Moa recently welcomed baby Soren Huia with partner Natasha.

In fiction the name can be found on characters in The Matrix Reloaded film, Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child, The Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky, and the Underworld film series.

There is also the Søren Gyldendal prize, which is a Danish literary award named for a bookstore owner born in 1742 who founded Denmark's largest publishing house.

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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…