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Mercia

This Anglo-Saxon place name would also work quite well as a baby name for girls. The English kingdom of Mercia, which was part of a heptarchy during the 8th century, derived from the Old English word merce, meaning "border people," also found as mryce and mierce. It is ultimately from a root word meaning "boundary." The kingdom was independent from the 6th century to the 9th century. Mercia is typically pronounced mer-SEE-uh.

Sometimes this name is found as a variant of Mercy and pronounced mer-SEE-uh, but it may have also been a variant of Marsha and pronounced MER-sha. As for namesakes, Mercia MacDermott was a writer of Bulgarian history, and Mercia Deane-Johns is an Australian actress.

Mercia is a very rare baby name in the U.S. In 2016 it was only given to 5 girls, and although it has been used every now and again since 1918, it has never been given more than 9 times in a year.

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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…