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150+ Rare International Names to Discover

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Rare international names abound in one of our favorite topics from the Nameberry Forums: What names have we missed?

Even as fully fledged name aficionados, we still encounter new rare baby names all the time – thanks, in no small part, to the wonderful suggestions of our international community!

We’ve just added a huge batch of brand new names to the Nameberry database. They hail from languages and cultures all over the world – from Cornish to Quechua, and from Sanskrit to Swahili – and all were suggested by you, our brilliant Berries.

Here is a small selection of our favorite new Nameberry names, together with the contributors’ comments.

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Top New Nameberry Names

Asaph

“Seen three times in the Bible: twice in genealogies and once, most notably, the alleged author of a number of Psalms.” – @eloiseattheplaza

Also spelled Asaf in Hebrew, this is a beautiful underused alternative to more mainstream Biblical picks like Asa and Joseph.

The most prominent bearer of the name in the Hebrew Bible was a Levite singer in the court of David, who lent his name to the twelve Psalms of Asaph. Whether he was the author of these psalms, or whether they were simply named in honor of him, is unclear. His descendants formed a prominent guild of temple musicians known as the Asaphites.

Betsabe

“The Spanish form of Bathsheba, and an unconventional way to get the nickname Betty/Betsy.” – @choupette

Another rare name of Hebrew origin, but this time in one of its intriguing international forms. In the Bible, Bathsheba was the beautiful wife of King David and mother of Solomon. The jealous king orchestrated the death of her first husband after seeing her bathing on a rooftop.

As well as being the Spanish form, sleek Betsabé (bet-sah-BAY) is also used in Catalan, Basque and Hungarian. The French form of the name, pronounced the same way, is Bethsabée, and the Polish variant is spelled Betsabe.

Dawsey

“Like Dawsey Adams from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” – @eliofclarence

Stylish surname Dawson got a massive boost from the debut of Dawson’s Creek in 1998, so will the 2018 film adaptation of the historical novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society do the same for Dawsey? It has never appeared on the US charts before, so it will be interesting to see what the 2019 data reveals!

Dawsey may derive from the same source as English surnames like Dawson and Dawes, which mean “son of David”, via the medieval diminutive Daw. Alternatively, it may come from the Old English word dowse, from Old French dous, meaning “sweet, pleasant”.

Lunet

“As a word, it’s obsolete but means a small moon or satellite. I’ve also seen that Lunet is a contraction of Eluned, and that it’s a name from Arthurian legend.” – @dogs_books

Also spelt Lunete or Luned, this pretty name belongs to a servant of the Lady of the Fountain in Arthurian legend, who saves the knight Owain and helps him to win her mistress’ hand. It comes from Welsh eilun “image, idol”, via Eluned.

Lunet can also derive from Latin Luna or French Lune, with the addition of the diminutive suffix –et. This would give it the sweet meaning of “little moon”.

Makoa

“Recently, it’s one of the most popular given names in Hawaii. It’s one of my top three names and it isn’t in this database so I thought I’d suggest it!” – @jadeolivia

Kai is cool, Koa is hot… could Makoa be the next handsome Hawaiian boys’ name to shoot up the US charts? We definitely think it has potential!

Makoa comes straight from the Hawaiian dictionary, and means “brave, fearless”. Actor Mark Dacascos has a son called Makoa – as well as two more children with beautiful Hawaiian names: Noelani and Kapono.

Nouela

Just came across Nouela as in Nouela Johnston (singer) but can’t find out much about it. Possibly made up but very cute!” – @elleplume

It’s not made up! (But it is very cute).

Nouela is the feminine counterpart to Nouel, the Breton form of Noel. Coming from the French word for “Christmas”, Noel and its variants have traditionally been given to babies born at Christmastime since the Middle Ages. But they now feel totally usable at any time of year.

Scamander

“A river god in Greek mythology. Nowadays probably more associated with Newt Scamander from the Fantastic Beasts movies.” – @Johannaa

A minor character in the Harry Potter books turned star of his own five-part film franchise, Newton Artemis Fido “NewtScamander is now most people’s first association with this mythological name.

In Greek mythology, Scamander is the personification of the river now called the Karamenderes, in modern-day Turkey. The origins of the name are not entirely clear. The ending appears to be from andros “man”, as in Alexander and Leander, while the first part may be from skazo “limp, stumble” or skaios “left-handed, awkward”.

As a verb, scamander is also a Victorian slang term meaning “to wander about without a settled purpose.”

Vitani

“Name of one of the villains from The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.” – @jill_the_author

Here’s a V name you’ve (probably) never heard before! Vitani was created for a character in the 1998 Lion King sequel from a combination of two Swahili words: vita “war” and shetani “devil”. As the meaning suggests, the character is a villain – but one who comes good in the end.

Those who were hoping for a more positive meaning might prefer to consider it an elaboration on Latin Vita, meaning “life”.

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About the Author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

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