Exotic Place Names

small_palm_treeMaybe it’s because we’ve been planning our summer vacation, but the idea of exotic place names sounds very appealing right now.  Options can be found all over the map: Nameberry has a big all-inclusive list of exotic place names.  A selection we’d like to visit, figuratively and literally.

AFRICA – Most obviously, the name of the continent, but there was also a Celtic queen named Affrica.

BIMINI – Caribbean Island name is cute and casual.  Pronunciation: bim-in-ee.

BRAZIL – Also spelled Brasil, this Celtic saint’s name also references the South American country.

CUBACuba Gooding Jr. put this one on the map (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Another option: Havana.

JAVAJava Kumala was chosen as the name for their newborn daughter by Josh Holloway of TV’s Lost and his Indonesian wife.

KYOTOKyoto means “capital city,” though the Japanese city is known more for its beauty than for being a center of government or industry.

MOROCCO – Rhythmic name of the north African country could work for boys or girls.

PACIFICA – This peaceful name relates to the Pacific Ocean.

PALMAPalma de Majorca is a Spanish island city as well as a botanical name.

PERSIA – Though the country is now called Iran, Persia has more chops as a person name.  Writer Louise Erdrich has a daughter named Persia (and one named Pallas).

QUITO – The name of Ecuador’s capital works better for boys than for girls: unusual for place names.

RIO – Devil-may-care name drawn from Brazil’s best-known city, better for boys but can work for girls too.

ROMANY – Actor Romany Malco popularized this name relating to Gypsy lands and culture.  A fresher spin on Roman or Romy.

SAHARA – Hot, dry, exotic: a good place to go if you want to move beyond Sarah.

SAMOA – An unexpected choice from the South Seas.

SICILY – Everyone will confuse it with Cecily (and Cicely), but all you have to say is, “No, as in Italy.”

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17 Responses to “Exotic Place Names”

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KatieScarlett Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 3:47 am

One of my favourite girl’s names comes from an exotic location-Catalina.
Some other names from other lovely locations that came to mind are:

Siena (Italy, can be spelt Sienna)
Valencia (Spain)

All beautiful names (and places I wouldn’t mind visiting!)

Lola Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 8:59 am

Romany bothers me a bit, as it’s what Gypsies call themselves (spelled Romani), but I have to admt, Romany Malco? HOT!
From up there I like Persia & Kyoto. Java’s too cofffee for me. 🙂

JNE Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 11:07 am

Must say, I can quite see using any of these myself, but some are quite fun. Some have strong associations in my head (like Lola, Romany means the people to me too, the Pacifica is a car, and I can’t but hear Duran Duran when I see the name Rio… she dances on the sand….).

Samoa is an interesting one. I like that “Sam” becomes a nickname; it would never cross my mind that Sam’s full name might be Samoa.

I’ve always kind of liked Zealand in a very strange way. How about Odessa, Geneva, Brighton or Seychelles? Maybe they’re too out there…. or too mundane?

Sarice Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I named my first daughter Geneva, as in Switzerland, and she gets compliments on it all the time. It was for her grandmothers, Genevieve and Evalyn. With our second daughter we decided to use my late brother in laws name, Samuel, but she’s a girl so we went with Samoa, I love that it’s on here! My girls go by Sammy and Genna.

rachelmarie Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

One of my favorites is Cayman.
I have a very close friend named Cayman, and he’s actually named after the Cayman Islands. But I really do love the name Cayman. I think it’s very unique, one I’ve only heard on one other person, but spelled Khayman.
Anyway, I think this one should make the list.

itsreelygreat Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

My favorite place name is a lake in the middle of somewhere I probably wouldn’t want to visit (but love the name all the same): Caspian. Of course, the Narnian reference is partly why I love the name so much, but it is a real place, too.

pam Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Indeed, list of good choices is really long. Thanks for these ideas — Cayman is great and I like it spelled like the islands. Zealand is cool too though I do nearly immediately think of Zoolander.

Tirzah Says:

May 12th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I love Cairo, with the nn Cai. Some celebrity named their son this.

Laura Says:

May 13th, 2009 at 5:14 am

These are nice names!
My favourite is Rio its adorably short. Though I love Roman I’m not sold on Romany, ill keep with roman, the y just makes it sound… a bit made up.
Sahara is a cute name I like it but its so similar to Zahara which its becoming ever so popular

Wv Says:

May 13th, 2009 at 8:44 pm

How about Vienna?

Wasino Says:

May 13th, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Fun list! I think Kinshasa (the capitol of the Democratic Republic of Congo) would be a cool name for a little girl! Or maybe it’s just a name I love to say!

ZigZag Says:

May 14th, 2009 at 9:10 am

Petra! I love the name Petra! It’s an ancient city in Jordan and I’ve always wanted to visit there.

KristenNicole Says:

May 14th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I knew a girl in high school name Kinshasa! It reminds me of Mufasa on the Lion King though lol. My sister in- law just named her little girl Nairobi I thought that was cute but… not for me!

Wasino Says:

May 17th, 2009 at 1:01 am

KristenNicole–that’s awesome that Kinshasa has been used as a name! I admit, I like the name Mufasa, but can’t shake the Lion King connection. But I am drawn to the way both Mufasa and Kinshasa sound; they are so fun to say! Thanks for sharing!

katy Says:

May 21st, 2009 at 7:18 am

my congoloese friend called his daughter chilli, i love it!

Sarita Says:

September 18th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I know a little Spanish girl called Venecia, from Venice, it sounds pretty. Pronounced Ven-ess-ia in Spain (and Italy too I would imagine). There is Venetia (Ven-ee-sha) but that sounds too “posh” to me!

Alexandra Says:

August 1st, 2011 at 12:17 pm

My sons Name is Ireland and my daughters name is London. I am pregnant with my 3rd and I have Holland picked for a girl but I can’t think of a boys name..?

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