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45 Rare Gender-Neutral Names Heating Up

November 26, 2019 Emma Waterhouse

Gender-neutral names are getting so popular these days that we see dozens of rare and unique unisex picks finding new favor with parents.

Lovers of unisex names can have trouble finding choices that aren’t overexposed, with familiar choices such as River (#197 for boys in 2018, and #244 for girls) and Rowan (#129 for boys, #211 for girls) enjoying double the popularity.

That means that parents in search of names that are both gender-neutral and unique need to look further afield.  Our ten hottest unusual gender-neutral favorites are featured below, or scroll down to see the full list of under-the-radar unisex names with the Nameberry seal of approval.

Aquila: An (almost) undiscovered Biblical gem, given to less than 15 babies in the US last year, Aquila comes from a Roman cognomen meaning “eagle” — also its meaning in modern Italian. Quill would make for an equally cool unisex nickname.

Autry: This distinguished alternative to the popular Audrey or Aubrey ultimately derives from an ancient Germanic name meaning “noble strength”. “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry is probably its best known bearer.

Blue: A starbaby middle name du jour, but still rare as a first: just 28 boys and 23 girls received it in the US last year. Fun fact: Blue is one of British singer-songwriter Adele’s middle names. And for an even more unusual twist, consider Blues: the musical moniker chosen by Mad Men actor Jessica Paré.

Cato: We thought classical Cato might catch on in the wake of The Hunger Games — and it has seen a small increase in use, but still remains extremely rare. In the nickname-loving Netherlands, it’s a popular diminutive of Catharina, and also ranks at #78 for girls in its own right.

Ellery: Take the bouncy rhythm of popular picks like Emery, Avery and Everly, add that cool Ell– beginning from names like Ella and Elliot, and you get the inexplicably underused surname name Ellery.

Linden: An unusual botanical option with a very stylish sound, Linden could also make for the perfect unisex honor name for an ancestral Linda or Lyndon.

Misha: Commonly heard in its native Russia as a diminutive of Mikhail, in the case of American actor Misha Collins it’s an unconventional nickname for Dmitri. Another American actor, Mischa Barton, bears the Dutch and German spelling of the name.

Pippin: A cute and quirky nickname or nature name with a surprisingly long history: Pippin (or Pepin) the Short was an 8th century Frankish king, father of Charlemagne. In Tolkien’s The Hobbit, it’s a short form of Peregrin, and it’s also a popular variety of apple — in case Clementine feels too trendy!

Valentine: We’ve recently spotted a slew of celebrity babies named Valentine — and for good reason! For boys, it’s a strong, romantic vintage option which feels ripe for revival, having been absent from the Top 1000 since the mid fifties. For girls, it’s a chic French classic which has been in the Top 100 there for over two decades.

Zephyr: Blending several hot baby name trends — nature, mythology, high-value Scrabble letters… and, of course, gender-neutral names — it’s a wonder that this cool Greek god name isn’t more popular. Yet. We’ve got our eye on Zephyr!

And now for the the full roster of Nameberry’s favorite uncommon gender-neutral baby names. Which of these would make your list?

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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