Category: Unusual Baby Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
If you’re looking for an unusual baby name, you don’t have to go to the extreme of inventing a new name or creating a novel spelling when there’s a whole world of unique international baby names out there to browse and choose from.
We’re not suggesting extreme, challenging global examples like Järnsaxa (Scandinavian) or Orfhlaith (Irish), which would be strictly tied to members of their own ethnicity, but rather to the countless others that are accessible and could be worn comfortably by any child anywhere.
The following are just a few examples for girls that boast both appealing foreign flair, accessibility and solid histories. And just as you don’t have to be Scottish to name your daughter Fiona, these unique international baby names for girls may (so much the better) or may not reflect your own ethnic heritage.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
In our previous salutes to Black History Month, we’ve looked back to Civil Rights and cultural heroes and other barrier breakers of the past. Today, instead, we’re focusing on the present– the history that’s being made right now with the breakthrough on diversity via the increased numbers of this year’s nominees and winners of various screen awards, with many more people of color making the lists than ever before. These include not just actors but directors, producers, writers and musicians.
Here are some of the more outstanding names.
Down at the very bottom of the Social Security extended list of baby names, among the hundreds of names given to only five babies in that particular year, are a few dozen names that have radically crossed gender lines.
I’m not talking about unisex names like Charley or Emerson that are widely used for both girls and boys. I’m not even talking about those names like Addison, say, or August, that are occasionally used for babies of the opposite sex but are predominantly given to children of a single gender.
I mean names that are universally considered boys’ names or girls’ names — except for the handful of parents who chose to use them for babies of the nonconforming gender. Girls named Eric, for instance, or boys named Karen.
Baby names crossing gender lines is nothing new — US records from the 1880s list girls named John and boys named Mary — but sometimes it’s all a mistake. Maybe the recording official noted the wrong gender or misspelled the name. Or perhaps the parents are from another culture and don’t understand that in the US, Louie is generally considered a boys’ name while Lucy is for girls.
But in this age of Social Security registration for newborns and digitized records, errors are less common and it’s more probable that those parents, for whatever reason, chose to name their baby daughter Oscar and their son Alice.
People, particularly people who happen to be berries, often have very strong feelings about this kind of thing. Keep names attached to their traditional gender, many say, including boys “taking back” traditionally-male names such as Madison that have become used mostly for girls. Other people feel that gender is an artificial construct and that names can and should be used free of gender considerations, as long as it’s done even-handedly.
We want to know your thoughts on this issue. But first, the names from the 2015 Social Security list that were radical gender-benders:
It’s easy to see the how a catchy, name-centric song like “Jolene” or “Hey There Delilah” might make a particular baby name trendy. But did you know that the names of singers can sometimes be just as influential as the names in lyrics?
Each of the female vocalists below popularized her unusual name enough to boost it onto the U.S. baby name charts for the very first time.
So does unique mean different, as in names that depart from the traditional lexicon? Or maybe unique indicates names that have become widely-used only recently. Or names that are spelled differently from how anyone else has ever spelled them. And of course many people simply use unique to mean unusual.
But what if unique really means what it says: names that are literally one-of-a-kind. As in, no other babies were given this name, at least at this moment in this country. In the case of the US, that means names that don’t even make it to the Social Security complete list of names given to at least five babies.
The baby names here make that cut. So yes, theoretically, some of these names may have been used for two or four babies in the United States in 2015. And some of them may have been used for zero.
The point is, if you’re truly looking for unique baby names and want to make sure that nobody else has your name, then you’ll look to this list. Or to the thousands of other names on Nameberry that are authentically unique.
To hunt down unique baby names, check your favorites against the Social Security complete list, which you can download here by clicking on National Data. You can also find thousands of unique names in our book, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names.
Once you find a unique baby name you love, then the question becomes: Do you really want to use it? Do you want your child to be the only person anyone has ever met with that name? For your child to spend a lifetime explaining and spelling and pronouncing his or her name? For there never ever to be a license plate on the rack that spells out that maybe-too-special name?
Maybe the answer is yes, and you feel that the advantages of a unique name — always standing out from the pack, feeling special and well, unique — outweigh the disadvantages. If so, you may find inspiration in the 40 truly unique baby names here.