100+ Unusual and Exotic Baby Names

We uncover the best names from deep in the list

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.


Thanks to Josh Murray for research help with this post.

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10 Responses to “100+ Unusual and Exotic Baby Names”

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lesliemarion Says:

August 24th, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Some absolutely lovely female names!

I love Bathsheba, Amandine, Nuala, Jessamine, Mariposa, Ondine, Elspeth, Verena (Vera for short), Carlotta, Sigrid, Flavia, Ginevra, and Anthea.

The male names I’m not as keen on. Celestino and Gaston, pretty cheesy. And Ludwig, pretty heavy sounding.

But a few I like: Leonid, Stanislav, Gustave, Franz, Milos, Llewellyn…

I wish these were the names of my new students. It does seem most names of actual 17 year olds in the US are very boring right now. I have high hopes for the babies being born now.

SimoneKadele Says:

August 24th, 2015 at 11:54 pm

I LOVE Isolde, Jessamine, and Ginevra. Mariposa is a longtime GP of mine. My aunt’s name is Sigrid. 🙂

alchemicallypurplefairy Says:

August 24th, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Lovely names, although I’m not sure some, like Leviathan, quite fit the description. I also find it interesting that Gaston is listed, although it’s condemned in the Berry Juice article…

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August 25th, 2015 at 7:47 am

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chi1127 Says:

August 25th, 2015 at 8:43 am

A lot of these names fit my naming style, but I also like names similar to these that are a little more popular. It’s just so cool (and rare) to see so many names I like in a post.

LLBaby22 Says:

August 25th, 2015 at 9:47 am

I LOOOVE Isolde and can’t believe it’s so rarely used. I’d totally name my daughter this if I didn’t have a nephew named Tristan…. that seems weird. I also love Sigmund but don’t know if I’m brave enough to ever use it. I don’t want him to get picked on because of Freud… maybe I’m overthinking. I had never heard Verena before and I must admit I have a new name crush on it.

tfzolghadr Says:

August 25th, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I like many of the names, but I wish they were more “exotic”, and a little less Eurocentric. I’d love to see Turkish names or real Persian names (not Xerxes… it’s Khashayar in Persian, and few people are choosing it as it has entered pop culture to mean “one who can’t keep a secret). Kyoko is nice, but what about other East Asian names?

Pam Says:

August 25th, 2015 at 7:03 pm

@tfzolghadr We wish we had access to more names from non-Western non-Anglo cultures! I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating here: We would love anyone with an inside view to write a guest blog for us on names from Turkey, Japan, or anywhere else it may be very hard to find from outside the culture!

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August 26th, 2015 at 6:51 pm

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eveyalecia Says:

August 27th, 2015 at 1:04 am

Fun list!

From the girls I like:
Elowen (gorgeous)

From the boys:
Florian (surprised to say I really like this!)

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