Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.
Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.
Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.
Unique baby names: A-C
- Ada—Ava with gravitas.
- Adelia—If you love Adeline and Adele, this vintage name is more distinctive.
- Alba—A Top 10 name in Spain, this last hit the US popularity list a century ago.
- Alessia—A Latinate spin freshens up Alexa and sisters.
- Alma—This soulful choice is the name of the simple-but-strong heroine of Phantom Thread.
- Amalia—Why choose the lovely-but-overused Emma, Emily, or Amelia when you could choose this Dutch royal name?
- Amaris—This unusual name meaning love is a 21st century update on Amy.
- Angelica—This most angelic of names has transcended Rugrats fame.
- Ansel—Photographer name finding a new image via young actor Ansel Elgort.
- Antonina—Dainty feminization of Anthony feels at once vintage and unexpected.
- Arden—A name with a unisex feel used mostly for girls that benefits from sounding like ardent.
- Ari—The i ending modernizes this Hebrew nickname-name.
- Artemis—Greek goddess of the hunt whose moon-related name has a strong unisex feel.
- Arthur—A princely classic with an artsy short form.
- Asa—A cross-cultural name with roots in the Bible as well as several African and Asian cultures that can work for either sex.
- Aurelius—Golden choice with Roman roots.
- Azariah—A new Old Testament name used equally for girls and boys.
- Bear—Once-unlikely animal name both cuddly and strong, gaining real traction.
- Bram—Sleek short form of Abraham popular in The Netherlands.
- Cassia—Feminine form of the newly-trendy Cassius and Cassian, with a spicy meaning.
- Cora—Classic name with literary pedigree headed for the Top 10.
Unique baby names: D-G
- Darcy—Jane Austen fans are making this popular for girls.
- Eira—Welsh name that means snow.
- Elva—In Ireland it might be spelled Ailbhe, but the Anglicized form has more possibilities in the US.
- Emil—This male spin on Emily is finally seeing new light.
- Faye—Simple and pixieish and newly back in the Top 1000 after a 40-year break.
- Fia—Mia update popular in Ireland.
- Fleur—The ultimate flower name, with a French accent.
- Gracia—A Spanish name with plenty of gratitude.
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Unique baby names: H-K
- Henley—The ley ending adds instant trendiness to any name. including this place-name of a British river town.
- Horatio—Ancient name with new possibilities.
- Ione—This name of a sea nymph squeezes three syllables out of its four letters.
- Ivo—A woodsy name most popular in The Netherlands.
- Jacinta—A Spanish name that hides its botanical origins: it means hyacinth.
- Jericho—Biblical place-name that works for either sex.
- Jessamy—If you've always loved Jessica, you might consider this flowery spin, meaning jasmine.
- Juliette—A romantic Shakespearean favorite that's new popular; this is the French spelling.
- Keir—Strong, simple name that relates to the popular female Keira.
- Kit—Game of Thrones' Kit Harington has made this short name newly attractive for boys.
- Koa—This Hawaiian name meaning warrior benefits from its resemblance to Number 1 Noah.
Unique baby names: L-M
- Leopold—One of the old-fashioned boys' names that has shed its long gray beard and feels baby-ready again.
- Lev—The leonine Lev is a sleeker, fresher spin on Levi.
- Lilia—Makes Lily more formal and more distinctive.
- Linus—The ancient god of music has finally lost his grip on his blankie.
- Lorcan—An historic Irish name ready for its turn in the spotlight, following brothers Aiden, Declan, and Finn.
- Lucinda—Formalizes and freshens up Lucy.
- Magnus—Name popular in Scandinavia, with a great meaning.
- Maia—Newer spelling of Maya.
- Malachy—The Irish form of the Biblical name takes a long ee sound at the end.
- Marisol—Traditional Spanish religious name that also relates to the sun and the sea.
- Marlow—Surname name that's become a celebrity favorite.
- Massimo—Max, in Italian.
- Milana—Part Mila, part Melania.
- Millicent—Proper old-fashioned name that can get you to the cute Millie.
Unique baby names: N-Q
- Niamh—Now that Saoirse is getting more popular, other names with Irish spellings may be poised for wider usage, including this name of the heroine of Christina Baker Kline's huge popular novel Orphan Train.
- Nola—One of those names that might be a short form — for Finola or Magnolia — but stands well on its own.
- November—Underused month name that can work for girls or boys.
- Olympia—August name brought to new attention by Serena Williams.
- Ottoline—Ottolie might feel too much like oddly, but Ottoline solves that problem.
- Petra—Feminized version of Peter rising again after a hundred-year nap.
- Quincy—Works for either gender but getting especially popular for girls.
Unique baby names: R-T
- Rafferty—Raffish Irish surname-name first used for his son by Jude Law.
- Ramona—Romantic classic that feels distinctive.
- Ren—Japanese unisex name made more popular for boys by the stylishness of homonym bird name Wren for girls.
- Renata—Operatic name that literally means rebirth.
- Reverie—Dreamy word name.
- Romilly—Rome-related name first used for boys but now more popular for girls.
- Romy—Luscious nickname-name that now often stands on its own.
- Roscoe—Quirky Norse name last popular in the 1880s.
- Rowan—One of the most popular unisex names is also used most equally for girls and boys.
- Rowena—Classic literary name little-used today.
- Sabine—An ancient girls' name never in the Top 1000.
- Sasha—Russian short form of Alexander or Alexandra used more for girls but rising for boys.
- Saul—TV's Better Call Saul has shone a new spotlight on this biblical name.
- Sera—This short form of Seraphina can be used on its own.
- Serafina—The f is the Spanish spelling.
- Seth—Gentle name never as well used as his Biblical brothers.
- Tansy—A playful flower name with a serious meaning: immortality.
- Teddy—Short form newly in the spotlight via the growing popularity of Theodore for boys and its use for her baby girl by Nicky Hilton.
- Tempest—Stormy word name that's never been more appropriate.
- Teo—Exotic form of the stylish Theo.
- Thelonious—Jazzy classic that suddenly seems possible.
- Thorin—The soft way to Thor.
- True—Virtue name not just for the middle.
Unique baby names: U-Z
- Urban—Ancient pope name that's right for modern city babies.
- Verity—The new Hope. Faith, and Charity.
- Veronica—Ancient saint's name with contemporary glamour.
- Vida—A new choice that means life.
- Virgil—Ancient literary name.
- Viviana—Enlivens Vivian.
- Wilfred—British hottie that updates William.
- Winslow—Artistic name with a winning nickname.
- Wynn—Uplifting choice for either gender.
- Xen—Zenlike name for either gender.
- Zahra—Sarah, with zest.
- Zephyr—Greek god of the west wind makes an evocative namesake.
- Ziggy—Adorable short form that lightens up Zigmund or stands on its own.
- Zion—Biblical place name with optimistic meaning.
- Zora—Simple-yet-unusual tribute name to a literary heroine.
Originally posted on Nameberry.
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