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100+ Unusual and Exotic Baby Names

Unusual baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

One of our favorite name nerd activities is combing the bottom reaches of the official US list of baby names to find choices that are both high unusual and eminently usable.

The focus of our search this time: Names with an international flavor, better known in Italy or the Netherlands, Tokyo or Tehran than they are in the US.

Yet they’re names that easily translate.  They may have never fully assimilated into American culture the way Aidan or Anya have, but they’re not completely unknown either.

If you’re looking for an unusual and exotic name for your little girl or boy, consider these 100+ excellent choices all given to 25 or fewer babies in 2014 — the exact number follows the name.

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crazy word names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

With word names from Genesis to Justice, Miracle to Heaven now used for thousands of children every year, we have to ask where the craze for turning words into baby names will end. The answer? Nowhere, as proven by these words-turned-names from the extended Social Security list for 2014. Here, our picks for the most outrageous words that parents are using to name their babies.

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Amazing Names Below the Top 1000

unusual baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

The hallowed Top 1000 baby names in the US end with Kai, given to 262 baby girls last year, and Rylen, used for 205 little boys.

But what about the baby names right below the Top 1000, hiding just out of sight but prime for plucking by the clever baby namer?

We chose 25 names for girls and 25 names for boys we found swimming just beneath the surface of the Top 1000.  These baby names strike the perfect balance between unusual and familiar.

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classic girl names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Think you have to pick between names that are classics, with deep roots and centuries of use, and names that are unusual?

You don’t, as these classic girls’ names, all ranked below the U.S. Top 1000, attest.

Some were popular in recent years and are now sinking from view — Pamela, Jean — while others are rising stars we predict will soon appear on the official Top 1000: Imogen is a prime example, along with Mabel, the Margos, and Clementine.

That still leaves dozens of classic girls’ names that are neither coming into style nor sailing out but simply holding steady below the radar.

A note on how we chose the names: We did not include variant spellings of more popular classic names such as Emilee, and for the most part excluded short forms unless they have been traditionally used on their own.  Our definition of classic embraces ancient names such as Phaedra and Keturah along with more recent widely-used girls’ names such as Maureen.

If you’re in search of a classic girls’ name that’s both traditional and unusual, consider these 100+ picks, ordered from those given to the highest number of baby girls in the U.S. in 2012 (Aurelia, at 250) to the least (Petal, used for just 5).

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Is there only one Romeo?

Romeo

In our first book Beyond Jennifer & Jason, we talked about One-Person Names — appellations like Elvis (at that time) and Oprah and Aretha that were tied inextricably to one person.

The same phenomenon applies to some names from pop culture, though these can change over time.  Juliet has definitely transcended its Shakespearean associations, though is Romeo still rooted to the tragic stage?  What about Clementine, which for decades would inspire a chorus of “Oh My Darlin'” but now may have escaped that fate?

Our question of the week is:

Which names are still tied to one person, character, association?

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