12 Awesome Off-the-Grid Baby Names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Looking for truly unusual and distinctive baby names?  Then we have an amazing collection for you: thousands of names never in the US Top 1000 collected in the very first Nameberry book, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names.  Here is a sampling of a dozen of those wonderful names; for thousands more, download your copy of the book today!  


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Benno may sound like a nickname but it’s a proper and distinct name in its own right, German for bear. A cooler and more unusual alternative to the overused Benjamin, Benno is the name of a 10th century saint who is the patron of weavers and anglers. Benno Schmidt Sr. invented the term “venture capitalist” and Jr. was the president of Yale. Benno and the Night of the Broken Glass is a children's book about the Holocaust.

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34 Responses to “12 Awesome Off-the-Grid Baby Names”

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StrixOniro Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I like Osias and Lilac. This looks like a great book!

ayc1983 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Oh, I’m sorry but I don’t like any of these! I could not ever give any of them to my child. Although, I think my husband might like Lilac and fight me for it.

stampey Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

this is hilarious b/c I am looking for boy/girl names to go with my daughter Bronwen, and I am desperately trying to sell my spouse on Imogen & Cormac!

KateM91 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I like a lot of these, and I would love to meet a child named Jupiter! The only one I would give to a child of my own is Benno.

Pam Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

That really is hilarious, Stampey — either one would be a fantastic match!

Mischa Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I like most of these names (Bronwen, Ozias/Osias, Cosima, Lilac, Malachy, Imogen and Cormac) but there are two that don’t make the grade for me: Sayer and Honor. They sound a little more contemporary and trendy than the other choices on the list.

redwoodfey Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Great names, I like most of them a lot. I especially like Cosima and Bronwen, though I can’t get SO on board with Bronwen. He says people will call her bratwurst or brownie. ??? What?? Haha, oh well.

mnj87 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I just want to point out that Benno does not mean “bear” in German! Bär means bear. Benno is short for Benjamin (or even Benedikt in German). But it´s also a stand alone name in Germany, that´s true.

peacelovepurple Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

They’re okay…my favorites are Lilac and Imogen. 🙂

charlieandperry1 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Ahhh Cosima is so pretty. Think I’m going to add it to the long list 🙂 Really surprised at Maisie and Imogen though! They’re #22 and #32 respectively in England & Wales!

vaness1 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I love most of these! Maisie, Cosima, Bronwen, and Cormac have been on my list for a while and I would love to use any of them.

alphabetdem Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I’m sorry, I know a lot of people really like Bronwen, but it’s just not an attractive sounding name to me. The backstory that goes along with it is awesome, but it makes me think of the word “brawny” and it’s very clunky to me.

And I think Malachy is going to cause a lot of pronunciation problems, and possibly offend some people due to the prophecy.

I like Lilac, Cormac (shocked it’s not higher!), Sayer and Imogene though. I expect to see a lot more of these names in the next few years.

Lea Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

ive loved Lilac and Honor, even used Lilac on a character 🙂 funny these names come up now, i was considering Jupiter today but i would never use it because using nn Jupe just sounds too odd for me. suprised Imogen is so off the charts!

witchgreens Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 2:07 am

Imogen and Cosima are on my super short list, and I love Maisie and Bronwen as well. I also like Honora but I can’t really get into Honor. Cormac is growing on me, too.

Amy_Boyd Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 7:53 am

I actually like a lot of the names on this list. I love Malachy (ever since I started watching the show “Republic of Doyle”), Honor, Bronwen. And Maisie, Cormac and Imogen are definitely growing on me.

mge28 Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 10:31 am

Ooh! Jupiter! *swoon* I never knew you could use that on a child. I thought it was an “out-of-bounds” name. lol

Laileybug Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Imogen and Bronwen, though I’d spell it Bronwyn : ) These are all great names!

amy_beth Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I know a Maisie, Imogen and Bronwen, they are pretty common names in England 🙂

Saracita00 Says:

May 18th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Cormac, how I love thee — and Ozias has been on and off my short list. Lilac deserves a look, for sure. And Cosima. I think that Malachi is rising because it is being used as a long form to the popular Kai.

tabitha Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 12:28 am

Nooo! Please take Cormac down immediately! 😉
I really don’t want it to rise in popularity, as it’ll be a few years before I can use it!!
stampey, i *love* the sibset of Bronwen + Imogen – perfect!
Honor is problematic in Australia as we spell it Honour.

dancingwithdad Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 6:29 am

With Malachy ending in the “ee” sound I want to Ma-lack–ee…not liking it. But I’ve always loved Malachi.

Lilacs are my favorite flower, love the smell and color…would love to use this, I just don’t like the sound! I’m the same way with the word Lavender, love the color, hate the sound (am I the only one who is like this?)…but I would never use Violet, too popular.

Love Imogen (sooooooooooo much better than Imogene). I would love to see twin girls name Isla and Imogen (the teacher in me loves the idea of both sounds of I being used). Isla is becoming popular in the States, in my opinion and I see Imogen so much on here, I wonder if it would be too popular of a set?

Love Honor as well…Honor, Haven, Hope…triplets with H-names? I know, I know, that would be a horrible thing to do to them.

EssJay Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 7:56 am

Surprised to see Maisie is so unusual in the US, as it’s everywhere in the UK. I’ve also seen the alternative spellings Maisy and Maizie as well to give a hint of how popular it is that parents are now turning to variant spellings to be different.

Mclevine Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 8:57 am

I think Bronwen is getting familiar here in US – I know two Bronwens and also a few couples considering it. (same with Cosima) Imogen is an underused classic – I know a woman with little Imogen who goes by Gennie and I think it should be used more.
I am surprised to see Lilac and Maisie here because they are quite common in my area. Malachy and Honor/Honour are also getting some love but Cormac and Ozias are truly uncommon. I can see myself using the latter two.

Saracita00 Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 9:43 am

Maisie was irritating me, because I felt the same as many others who expressed surprise on Maisie’s absence from the Top 1000. I went to Social Security Administration to have a look: while this pretty spelling may not have made it into the top bunch, sound-alike Macy was number 338 last year (unless there is discrepancy on whether the S is being pronounced as a Z).

@tabitha, I wouldn’t worry quite yet…most names that have never yet made it into the Top 1000 can handle a bit of rise in popularity!

deesa Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 11:45 am

we have a 17 year old Cosima in the family. she calls herself Cosi which we hope is her teenage idea and will leave as she gets older.

we also have friends with a 10 year old Bronwyn. Her 7 year old sister is Bryce.

fun list!

tori101 Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I love Bronwen (I would never use the Bronwyn spelling as the ‘wyn’ ending is masculine) I love this choice, really elegant and charming. I also love Maisie and Imogen which is far too popular in the UK. I also think Honor is pretty however I would use Honour spelling as I’m a Brit. Lilac is also sweet. I think Cormac is really cool as well.

tarynkay Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I love Cosima. I like the way Cormac sounds, but it means “son of defilement” so I wouldn’t use it. I don’t like the way Bronwyn sounds. When I hear Jupiter, all I can think of is, “boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider/girls go to Mars to get more candy bars.” Does anyone else remember that?

Keyla Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Hahahahahaha @tarynkay… I thought the same thing, except we used to say “boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider, girls go to college to get more knowledge.” Anyway, I like Cosima and love Lilac, Imogen, and Cormac.

rook476 Says:

May 19th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

A friend just named her son Malachy. I like Cosima best off this list, myself, although I’d like Maisie as a nickname.

spotlightstarlit Says:

May 21st, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Shhhhh, don’t talk about Sayer! Honor, Maisie, Imogen & Malachi can also remain off the grid. ; ) Love this list and cannot wait to read the new book!

OceaneBreeze Says:

May 23rd, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Whoa! Loving the names Lilac and Maisie, but I just can’t picture Browen or Imogen. And I could never name a child Jupiter, no matter how cool it sounds. Thanks for the list!

ozdust Says:

May 26th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Even though I wouldn’t use any of these names, I love Lilac and Maisie; Benno is a family name; and I know two Bronwens who each suits her name wonderfully!

Millienow2011 Says:

May 26th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

As previously said, a few of these names are already popular in the UK. It would be nice to have a list of off-the-grid names us Brits could use for inspiration.

calypsotheoneandonly Says:

May 27th, 2013 at 4:15 am

Bronwen – nice, but I prefer Branwen.
Ozias – I like the sound – something about it sounds so happy – but inexplicably, all I can see when I say it is a cat.
Maisie – Sadie is probably one of the only originally-a-nickname names that I can see standing on it’s own. I adore Molly, Penny, Hattie, and yes, Maisie, but they just seems so nicknamey. It’s great for Margret or Marisa or pretty much anything that starts with M and has an S and an A somewhere in it.
Jupiter – I really like Jupiter. Jupe, not so much. I like Pit better as a nickname – if I remember right, Pit is a character from SuperSmash Bros. as well, which seems pretty cool (if Link and Zelda, why not Pit?)
Cosima – beautiful. And it doesn’t even need a nickname.
Sayer – this one is interesting. I kind of like Sawyer better (on a boy), but I can see myself falling in love with Sayer sometime.
Lilac – it’s alright, I guess. I have a soft spot for several color names – Hazel, Azure, Auburn, Russet, Crimson, Gray, I could go on all day – but Lilac just doesn’t do it for me. I do love Lila/Lyla, though.
Malachy – I don’t like this at all. Malachi is so much better, but even that I can’t see on a kid.
Imogen – there was a time not too long ago when I detested Imogen, but now it’s growing on me, LOL 🙂
Cormac – meh. Alright, but not really my style. I guess Cormac McLaggen kind of ruined it for me. He was just annoying.
Honor – I prefer the Latin version, Anora. Seems more name like, and very pretty.
Benno – cute, but I can’t see it on an adult. It makes for a great nickname on a little kid, though. Then again, the only ‘Ben’ name I have any real liking for (besides Benjamin) is Bennett, so maybe I’m just biased or something.

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