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Unusual Baby Names: Hiding in plain sight

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The writers of a new name book go out on a limb–and then some–to come up with some unusual baby names you never, ever, would have thought of.

People often ask us how the heck we, two colleagues who live on different continents, and with a total of zero children between us, came to write a baby name book.

It started with an office email about the names of our childhood pets—Miek gave all his tank pets outrageous names like ChunksOfLoveAndLikeAndStuff, A+ Nachos, and Wraaakkkk, while Kerry believed she had discovered the perfect name—July—and so whenever her fish died (which was often), she simply replaced it with a new one, but kept the same name.From there, the email thread of course went to baby names—the trend for celebrities to out-do each other with originality, as well as all the awesome names our hipster friends, and even our non-hipsters friends, were giving their children.  Clearly, there was a movement going on to find a name that will stand out instead of merely fitting in.  As random as our naming methods seemed to friends and family back in the 1980s, it turned out that together in the 2010s they might actually be relevant, and so wa-laa, the writing project began.

But with so many parents trying to give their kids a unique name these days, we started to find that discovering a never-before-used name was quite tough. How was it possible that we both knew several babies/kids named Dante, Beatrice, Homer, and Fox? Finding enough really unique names to fill yet another baby name book on the shelf was going to be a tough task.

We wanted to push the boundaries of what might be inspiration for a great baby name, to not just give readers a list of 10,000 different names, but to show them just a few examples, and let them find the right unique one for themselves. After all, the worst thing about choosing a unique name is discovering that everyone else is choosing the same one.  We started seeing name potential everywhere—favorite fashions, alcoholic beverages, hipster sports, birds… It seemed that if we could think of names in terms of a category they might fit into, then maybe we would be able to find more options that were in our everyday life.

Music, literature and film are all places parents often look for names, but what about other things that you love, like vegan food, nineties sitcoms, or ugly animals? Kale, Blossom, Armadillo! Err, well, maybe not Armadillo, though Dillo would make for a cool nickname. But the point is, we started to see that just about any passion we had could be turned into a goldmine of names, with just a simple Google search, maybe a few spelling tweaks, and a dash of bravery.

Here are ten of our favorite and unexpected names we’ve discovered, which won’t be found on a daycare roster anytime soon:

Adelie (bird)

Coogi (sneaker)

Esso (gas station)

Malbec (alcohol)

Okra (vegetable)

Roam (verb)

Torsby (Ikea)

Vendy (food truck award)

Verdana (font)

Woolma (cartoon character)

What are some everyday places, things, words that you think would make great names?

Miek Bruno and Kerry Sparks are the authors of the upcoming baby name book Hello My Name Is Pabst: Baby Names for Nonconformist, Indie, Geeky, DIY, Hipster, and Alterna-Parents of Every Kind which will be published by Three Rivers Press/Random House in October 2012. You can follow them on Twitter @MyNameIsPabst.

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