Lots of parents-to-be are searching for “unique baby names,” but when you Google that term, the site that pops up first is babyhold.com, a serviceable but far from unique baby name destination. Another site that promises to deliver unique baby names offers such ridiculous choices as Gimm and Sinley for a boy and Hemi Skye for a girl.
A better source for names that are distinctive and unusual as opposed to truly one-of-a-kind — what most parents are really looking for when they search for unique baby names — might be an old-fangled one like E.G. Withycombe’s 1945 Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. This classic guide contains some names with deep historic roots that are rarely used today. Some of the most intriguing choices:
ALETHEA — Greek name that means “truth” was fashionable in the 17th century.
BRILLIANA — Invented for his daughter by the governor of the Dutch city Brill.
CHRYSOGON — A male saint’s name transferred to the girls.
ELUNED — Luminous Welsh name.
EVADNE — Tragic Greek heroine name that may be revived with the craze for all Ev- and Av- names.
GRACILIA — Meaning “slender,” could substitute for the overused Grace.
HERO — The name of three female figures in Greek mythology.
IDONEA — Derived from the name of the goddess of spring.
ISMAY — Found throughout the British isles.
KINBARRA — Old name related to that of a saint named Kyneburg.
MELIORA — Romantic old Cornish name of legend.
MERAUD — Cornish name related to the emerald.
PENTECOST — Old religious day name used for both males and females.
PROTASIA — Ancient saint.
TROTH — Old word name.
ZILLAH — Hebrew name that means “shade” and is, according to Withycombe, a “favorite gypsy name.”
ARETAS — A dynasty of kings mentioned in the bible.
CYRIACK — Name of an infant martyr sometimes shortened to Cyr.
DIGGORY — A Cornish name that goes back to the medieval romance of Sir Degore. Cool modern nickname: Digg.
DURAND –Related to the Latin word for “lasting.”
EDRED — Old English king’s name.
ELKANAH — Biblical father of the prophet Samuel.
EUDO — Old German name sometimes spelled Udo.
GERSHOM — A Biblical name that means bell.
GIFFARD — All the rage in the 11th century.
KENELM — Name of an ancient king and saint.
MANASSES — Biblical name used by the Puritans.
ORIGINAL — Once used for first sons.
OSWIN — Might make an alternative to Owen.
PAGAN — Popular name that died out during the Reformation.
SERLE — Norman favorite that means “armor.”
WYSTAN — From Wigstan, name of an ancient king and saint.