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New International Names: A World Of Possibility

New International Names: A World Of Possibility

New international names are entering the American lexicon from around the world at an ever-faster pace, as parents look for names that connect to their countries of origin or ancestral heritage.

The boundaries of what we think of as “international” names are constantly changing. It’s beyond old-fashioned to divide the world into White Christian English names versus everything else. In today’s Top 100 baby names, names of diverse origins such as Aaliyah and Leilani, Mateo and Axel, rub shoulders with traditional anglo options like Elizabeth and William, as well as modern additions like Kinsley and Grayson… and we consider all of them American names.

Still, there are many names that are better known in their country of origin than in the States. They may appeal to parents wishing to honor their culture, or simply looking for names with more international reach and meaning than the usual English choices.

Celebrities and athletes often popularize their names internationally. The current interest in multicultural mythology and religion is another source of international names.

We analyzed the Social Security list to find international names becoming more popular in the US. Most of the choices here were given to at least 100 babies in the US last year, but retain a distinctive flavor of their original culture.

New International Names A-E

Adalet – Turkish girl name meaning justice

Ainara – Basque nature name meaning the swallow bird, popular in Spain

Aiza – Elegant Arabic name possibly meaning replacement, or from the name Aisha

AurelioAurelia is rising fast, and its masculine form looks to be following. Short form Elio is also a stylish international option

Avi – Meaning father in Hebrew, this short, light name is rising for both genders

Ayaz – Boy name meaning frost in Turkish and Azerbaijani

Belén – Spanish form of Bethlehem

Celine – A French classic on the rise, best known for the fashion house and singer Celine Dion

Cillian – This saintly name has long been popular in Ireland; now actor Cillian Murphy has brought it to the wider world’s attention too

Dario – Hot in Spain and Italy, and starting to be discovered in the US

Dua – Meaning prayer in Arabic, made famous by singer Dua Lipa

Elif – A popular Turkish girl name, from the first letter of the Arabic alphabet (also called Aleph)

Elowen – This Cornish nature name has long been a name nerd favorite, and it’s finally starting to see more real-world use

Emiko – Meaning smiling child in Japanese, Emiko is stunningly similar-yet-different to other Em names

Emil – This European masculine form of Emily is starting to see a revival

Eren – Popular boy name in Turkey, meaning saint

Multicultural Names F-J

Fiadh – A Top 3 girl name in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both Fiadh and its anglicized spelling Fia have broken into the American charts in recent years

Finnan – Ancient Irish name meaning little fair one

Gio – Short for Giovanni, but becoming popular in its own right

Giulia – Italian spelling of a classic

Hadassah – Hebrew nature name that makes a fresh alternative to her alter-ego, Esther

Hamza – Another popular Arabic name, possibly meaning strong, that’s gaining ground in the US

Hana – A familiar-sounding name with roots in several languages, including Korean and Hawaiian

Irie – An upbeat choice from the Caribbean and Rastafarianism, used for both sexes but especially rising for girls

Ishani – Indian name from the Sanskrit meaning ruling

Isidro – Dreamy Spanish version of Isidore

Ivo – Pan-European name that’s both Germanic (relating to the yew tree), and a Slavic form of Ivan, making it a cousin of John. Either way, it has huge potential

Jai – Short, snappy Indian name meaning victory, used for both genders in the USA

Jannat – From an Arabic name for paradise, used by South Asian Muslims

Modern International Names K-O

Kali – Indian goddess of destruction

Kamaria – Used in East Africa, originally from the Arabic word for the moon

Kenji – Friendly Japanese name meaning second son

Koa – A super-cool Hawaiian choice, meaning warrior

Leonie – This feminine form of Leo is common in Europe and Quebec, but never widely used in the States

Lev – Short, sweet, and with roots in both Russian (meaning lion) and Hebrew (meaning heart)

Lucien – Lucian is a hot trending name right now, and we love the French form too

Mael – A saintly name from Brittany that (spelled Maël) is a Top 10 boy name in France

Mustafa – Arabic classic meaning the chosen one

Naia – A popular choice in Spain, meaning wave or sea foam in Basque

Noelani – Less popular than many of the “lani” names for girls, but this is an authentic Hawaiian choice meaning heavenly mist

Noor – Arabic for light, becoming more popular in Europe and America

Orla – Irish name popular in the British Isles but slow to take off Stateside

Osman – Turkish name, best known as the founder of the Ottoman Empire

Rising Global Names P-Z

Pascal – Pan-European name perfect for an Easter baby

Pia – Sweet mini-name meaning holy or dutiful, popular in several European and Latin American countries

Qasim – The name of a son of the Prophet Muhammed, whose name is slowly gaining ground in the US

Ren – Unisex Japanese name meaning the lotus flower; it can also be short for names like Soren, Lorenzo, or Renata

Rivka – Hebrew form of Rebecca that’s fresher than the English version

Soraya – Starry Persian name for the Pleiades constellation

Stellan – Swedish name that feels pleasingly like a masculine form of Stella; made famous by actor Stellan Skarsgård

Tadeo – Fast-rising Spanish name that’s less weighty than Thaddeus

Taj – Arabic name meaning crown, a millennial favorite in Australia

Uri – Hebrew name meaning my fire, or my light

Vayu – Hindu god of the air and wind

Viktor – A classic with a spelling that looks novel to English speakers

Xochitl – Nahuatl name meaning flower

Yumi – Japanese girl name meaning archery bow

Zamir – Hebrew boy name, meaning the nightingale bird

Zelie – Saintly name that’s popular with French parents

Read next: International Baby Names list, Popular Names around the world.

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at clare@nameberry.com