Category: unusual names for girls
By Abby Sandel
The Oscar-winning actor and his public relations executive wife chose a sophisticated, nickname-proof name for their first child. Iris has so many qualities expectant parents seek. It’s literary and glamorous, but not too much for a young child to wear. It’s nearly impossible to shorten Iris. And ecovintage Iris feels modern, but has history to spare, from the ancient world right through today.
So what’s the parent to do who loves this kind of elaborate girls’ name but wants something a lot more rare?
Some of the best choices in this style don’t even make it onto the extended list of American baby names: All the names starred below were given to fewer than five baby girls in the US in the last year counted. And the others were used for only a handful of babies.
Is Cassiopeia or Petronilla too much name for a baby girl (or even a grown-up woman, for that matter)? Maybe, but you can always call her Cassie or Nilla and trust she’ll grow into her august appellation, at least by the time she’s 40.
And if you like super-feminine names for girls, why stick with the safe Gabriellas and Valentinas when there are all these exotic beauties out there?
Thirty rare, feminine names you might consider for your little girl are:
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.
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).
One of our most popular blog posts ever was on 100 wonderful names given to 25 or fewer girls each year. (We did a boys’ version too.)
But what, we wondered recently, would happen if we narrowed the parameters even more? If we looked only at names given to ten or fewer girls in the most recent year counted? This still includes a mind-blowing total of nearly 10,000 names, but would we be able to find 100 great ones?
The answer, we believe, is a resounding yes, and we hope the list here proves it.
If you truly want an unusual name for your baby girl, this is the list for you. It includes underused classics such as Maude and Rowena along with international choices such as Anwen and Timea; ancient names such as Hebe and Hero; and newly-minted names like Cairo and Blue. And each given to only ten girls or fewer in the entire United States.
Our picks for the 100 best cool unusual girls’ names, with the number of children who received it in 2012: