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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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Baby Names From Ordinary to Out-There

popular or unusual?

By Abby Sandel

Everybody loves Eackma. It’s tops in the US, huge in France, big in Italy and Ireland, loved by the Dutch, and a favorite in Spain and Scandinavia, too. This week, we learned that Emma is Number 1 in Switzerland, favored by parents who speak Italian, French, and German.

At the same time, plenty of parents are working to choose a name that’s less popular. Some avoid the Top Ten, but stick with Top 100 choices like Piper or Stella. Others worry that Esme and Magnolia are too popular now that they’ve cracked the Top 1000.

Many of the baby names in the news this week are rare – in some cases, nearly one-of-one choices.

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posted by: karacavazos View all posts by this author
popular boy names

By Kara @ The Art of Naming

For those parents who may secretly like the sound of the top names but hate their popularity, I’ve created a list of alternative options to the Top 10 names for boys. The names may be similar in sound, syllables, initial letter, meaning, origin or a combination of those. None of the alternate names below rank on the SSA’s Top 1000 most popular names chart in 2014.

1. Noah —> Nahum
Nahum is the best alternative to Noah because it is also a biblical Hebrew name and it has a similar meaning. Noah means “rest, comfort” and Nahum means “comforter”. It starts with the same letter, has the same number of syllables and they’re both very vowel heavy. While Noah ranked at #1, Nahum sits nicely at #2076. Perfectly suitable to take Noah‘s place!  Other options: Noam, Enoch, Jonah, Nolan

2. Liam —> Calum
Calum is a fun choice because it has the same ending sound as Liam and they both have Celtic roots with Liam being Irish and Calum being Scottish. Calum is a form of Columba, a Latin, saintly name meaning “dove”. While Calum ranked down at #2452 last year, it does have a slightly more popular brother, Callum, that ranks at #729. Both are still much less popular than Liam at #2!  Other options: Alec, Leland, Noam, Willem

3. Mason —> Pierson
Mason is an occupational surname that refers to a stoneworker. What better alternative than a surname name referring to a rock? Pierson comes from the medieval name Piers which is a variant of Peter. Both of these names end with -son and they both come from Old French roots. Pierson is cool and unusual and the perfect uncommon alternative since it ranked way down at #1301 in 2014. Other options: Cason, Colson, Stetson, Thatcher

4. Jacob —> Javan
Jacob was the #1 name for many years only to begin its descent in 2013 when Noah took over. Javan has never even cracked the Top 1000, receiving only 52 births in 2014. Both 5-letter J-names are Hebrew but clearly have opposite popularities which makes Javan an interesting alternative to JacobOther options: Coby, Israel, Jaime, Séamus

5. William —> Bertram

This was a tough choice. In the end, Bertram has similar, appealing qualities to William. Both names are derived from Germanic elements and both end with -am. While William has Will, Bertram has Bert. Though Bert isn’t as fashionable as Will at the moment, there’s potential for it to come back and rank as well as it did in the 1920s. With barely 7 births last year, I find Bertram a handsome and truly rare alternative. Other options: Alaric, Edmund, Luther, Wilson

6. Ethan —> Japheth
These two names take us from a popular biblical name to a rare one. Ethan may rank at #6 now but it wasn’t always popular–it wasn’t even regularly used in the US until 1911. Ethan gradually increased in usage through the 1970s until it exploded onto the scene in 1989 and zoomed up the charts, ranking as high as Number 2 in 2009 and 2010. Japheth was unheard of until 1970 and has slowly gained a handful of usage today with 43 births in 2014. Could it follow Ethan‘s pattern and someday be discovered in a big way?  Other options: Eben, Lathan, Ephraim, Irah

7. Michael —> Micaiah
These two biblical names sound similar enough to swap and still keep everyone happy. Michael has been hugely popular for a very long time; there are Mikes everywhere. However, Micaiah  is relatively obscure. It has only been in use in the US since 1973. 2014 was its best year yet with 133 male births and a rank of #1311. There were also 41 female births.  Other options: Melchoir, Mischa, Mitchell, Malcolm

8. Alexander —>  Lysander
Alexander is a big, strong Greek name that has been used very well all around the world. Lysander is also a Greek name but it has a more tame and whimsical feel to it. Both end with “ander” which makes the rare Lysander a good alternative to the popular Alexander. It only had 43 male births in 2014 for a low, low ranking of #2764. Are you sold yet? Other options: Evander, Ferdinand, Constantine, Augustus

9. James —> Ramsey

Without featuring a variant of James or a translation in another language, I wanted to find something uncommon that sounded similar. This one was very tough, especially since we also featured James‘ twin brother Jacob earlier. I settled on Ramsey. They have a similar sound because of the “am” and “s” that should satisfy that quota, and they also have a potentially cool, bad boy vibe in common. Ramsey only had 93 births in 2014 for a ranking of #1649.  Other options: HayesEllisHamish, Thiago

10. Daniel —> Dashiell

These two names sound very similar. Dashiell would work very well as an alternative choice for those who love Daniel but cannot use it. Daniel has always ranked well in the US but Dashiell has only been used in the US since 1979. It has never ranked in the Top 1000 and had only 123 births in 2014.  If you’re looking for unusual, Dashiell is it! Other options: Adriel, Uriel, Dane, Niall


What do you think of my choices? Would you choose different alternative names for any of these

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baby director

By Abby Sandel

You know you’re a name nerd when half the fun of a new Disney Pixar film is the list of production babies.

I loved every second of the studio’s newest production, Inside Out.

As the credits rolled, I waited patiently. Accounting scrolled by, then Craft Services, until – finally! – the list of 87 children born to Pixar employees during the year Inside Out was finalized and released.

We could talk about Riley, of course, the name of the main character. Between this movie and Steph Curry’s scene-stealing daughter, Riley is having quite the summer. And Amy Poehler, the voice of Joy, is a great namer herself, the mother of Archie and Abel.

But production babies are a special category of names.

Ever since the studio put out their first feature-length film, Toy Story, way back in 1995, they’ve included the list.

The lists are just names – no genders, no sibling names, middles only when more than one child has the same first name. But the names tend to be different, even daring. Exactly what you’d expect from a creative field and especially from such a famously innovative studio.

Before we go any further, it’s time for a shout out to the fabulous Sarah of Names 4 Real. Sarah compiled the names after she heard me lamenting that I hadn’t thought to jot them down.

Let’s talk about some of my favorite names from 2015’s Inside Out, and then look at the full list.

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