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International Baby Names: Top 100 Names from Outside the English-Speaking World

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By Anna Otto, Waltzing More Than Matilda

I recently released an e-book called International Baby Names for Australian Parents, to help Australian parents find names that are uncommon, but not strange. My theory was that was a name that had never ranked here, yet was on the charts in other countries, would fit the bill of being seen as both “unusual” and “normal”.

Here are some names from the book that have never ranked in English-speaking countries, but are in the Top 100 elsewhere in the world.

girls

Anouk (Top 100 in the Netherlands)

Hip and quirky while still having substance. As a short form of Anna, provides an alternative to that and related names.

Ginevra (Top 100 in Italy)

Best known from spunky redhead GinevraGinny” Weasley in the Harry Potter books. Romantic and with tons of nickname options, this could also honour a Jennifer, as it’s the Italian form of Guinevere.

Lilou (Top 100 in France and Belgium)

Only registered as a baby name after the 1997 movie, The Fifth Element, starring Milla Jovovich as Leeloo – short for Leeloominaï, meaning “precious gem” in the invented Divine Language of the film. Often viewed with disdain in France, this seems charming to Anglophones, fits in with the L-L trend for girls, and has a fashionable OOH sound.

Sunniva (Top 100 in Norway)

This Scandinavian saint’s name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and has a lovely meaning – “sun gift”. Depending on how you choose to pronounce it, Sunniva can have such diverse nicknames as Sue, Sunny, Evie, Neve, and Zuzu.

Vega (Top 100 in Spain)

Popular in Spain because it comes from one of the titles of the Virgin Mary, and means “meadow”. It’s also an astronomical name, because of the star Vega. Either way, a rather exotic nature name.

boys

Bram (Top 100 in the Netherlands)

This short form of Abraham is simple and hip, and has a Gothic edge because of Dracula author, Bram Stoker.

Corentin (Top 100 in France)

A Breton saint’s name which has become popular in France but little known elsewhere. It’s handsome, and its meaning is disputed, but two possibilities are “help” and “hurricane”, which are both appealing in different ways.

Roc (Top 100 in Catalonia)

This Catalan form of Rocco might seem like its brisk short form to Anglophones. There was a 17th century Dutch pirate with the pseudonym Roc Brasilianos, offering this a bloodthirsty piratical namesake. The name may also remind you of the mythical giant bird. All in all, it’s pretty badass.

Viggo (Top 100 in Sweden)

Best known from handsome Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen, this combines a fashionable V initial with a trendy O ending. It’s also a celebrity baby name, chosen by Taylor Hansen. With so much going for it, it’s surprising this isn’t seen more often.

Zoltan (top 100 in Hungary)

A Hungarian name whose trendy initial Z makes it sound almost science-fictionally cool to Anglophones, while fitting in with Zeke and Zander. Everyone seems to know what Zoltan “sounds like” – to me it sounds like a superhero name. Zoltan to the rescue!

So do you think my theory holds up, or does it need refining?

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About the author

waltzingmorethanmatilda

Waltzing More Than Matilda is the creation of Anna Otto, who blogs about a wide variety of Australian names, and Aussie name trends.
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12 Responses to “International Baby Names: Top 100 Names from Outside the English-Speaking World”

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mill1020 Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 1:01 am

Viggo is starting to grow on me. Wasn’t Zoltan the name of the fortune telling automaton in “Big”?

NameWeary Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 7:33 am

I adore Viggo. I just worry that everyone will assume it’s after the actor, since you never hear that name in America. (I guess… Who cares?)

Noetje Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 7:43 am

@NameWeary. Viggo Mortensen isn’t such a bad namesake now is he. Better than being named after Justin Bieber. I adore Viggo as well. It’s short, strong and easy to pronounce.

rainierloner Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 10:43 am

Anouk is a gorgeous variation of Anna/ Anne! Love this name. I also enjoyed Sunniva and Lilou. For boys, Bram makes a great nickname for Abram or Abraham, but also can stand on its’ own. Viggo is cute too. 🙂 Great post, by the way!

flowermae Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Great theory, I’ve never thought about international popularity playing into the ‘uncommon but not weird’ search. I like a lot of these names and had never heard of a few. Pronunciation issues wouldn’t even be a problem with most of these!

I also love, “All in all, it’s pretty badass.” 🙂

KateMP91 Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I love Bram and Anouk. Anouk has been in my top ten for at least five years lol…I should be in the Netherlands…

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

@mill1020 The fortune telling machine in “Big” was Zoltar Speaks – I think you can still buy purchase them. But I have noticed that a lot of people recall the name as Zoltan.

Giinkies Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I know an Anouk and an Anoushka. I also have a cousin (through marriage) named Zoltan.

author in writing Says:

January 29th, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Great theory, great names!

Guest Blogging at Nameberry | Waltzing More Than Matilda Says:

January 30th, 2014 at 2:53 am

[…] article is called International Baby Names, and a few of the names I chose are from the book, but most of them aren’t, so you may want […]

Ilsarana Says:

January 30th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

It is Zoltán… not Zoltan… gosh 😀
And this is how you say it: http://translate.google.com/#hu/en/Zolt%C3%A1n (just click on th little speaker button in the bottom right corner on the Hungarian side ^^ )

Saracita00 Says:

February 1st, 2014 at 8:32 am

Oh! I never thought of Zuzu as a nn for Sunniva. I LOVE that. Going straight to the top of my list!

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