Slightly Different Baby Names: Silas & Sylvie

Is there a formula for finding a name that stands out just a bit?

By Abby Sandel

It’s a common dilemma. You’ve always loved Liam, but now that you’re expecting, it’s a Top Ten favorite that feels very popular, indeed. Or the only name you and your partner agree on is Sophia – but you already know three!

Is there a strategy for finding slightly different baby names? Baby names that share the same characteristics as the names that you love, but aren’t quite as popular?

Sadly there’s no magic formula, but there are some easy and obvious substitutes to consider. This week was filled with high profile birth announcements that seemed to be based on finding slightly different names. It was also the topic we discussed in the latest Name Sage post – and you had some amazing suggestions for the family whose favorites include Isabel and Naomi!

Let’s take a look at some of the names that can easily stand in for current chart toppers:

Emilia – Actor James Van Der Beek and wife Kimberly are already parents to Olivia, Joshua, and Annabel – all very popular choices. With their most recent addition, the couple opted for Emilia. It’s reminiscent of chart-topping names Emma and Emily, as well as fast-rising Amelia. But Emilia remains comfortably outside of the US Top 100, a name that is both nicely familiar, but not heard everywhere. Want to take it one step further? Consider Emmeline or even Amoret.

Vera – If you love vintage names like Vivian, Evelyn, and Cora, but worry that they’re much too popular, maybe Vera is the name for you. Once Upon a Time’s Emilie de Ravin chose the name Vera Audrey for her new daughter with boyfriend Eric Bilitch. Vera left the Top 1000 entirely in the 1980s, but has recently returned. Today it feels stylish, but just slightly under-the-radar. Looking for a name that’s even more surprising? Consider Zara or maybe the Scandi Viveca.

Alma – Did you know that Gal Gadot, the new Wonder Woman, has a daughter named Alma, born in 2011. Alma is a great substitute for many of the mini names so in favor today, like Ella, Nora, and Mila. With many meanings and origins, Alma is a nicely international name. For something even less common, consider Gaia or Leda.

Arabella – Another great way to find names that are just a little bit different? Consult the most popular names on Nameberry, a great list filled with names that are just slightly different. Arabella is a current Top Ten favorite on Nameberry, but is well outside of the US Top 100, making it a great substitute for Isabella or Gabriella. Equally elaborate names that are even less often heard include Aurelia or Seraphina.

Sylvie – Are you following this story on Swistle, about the three sisters who all want to name their baby Sylvie if it’s a girl? (One has already had a son called Felix, but we’re still waiting to hear what the remaining two sisters will choose.) Sylvie makes a great substitute for v-centric favorites like Ava and Evelyn, as well as Sophia/Sofia/Sophie and even choices like Lily and Sadie. No wonder it’s causing family controversy! A few other names that might appeal to those who love Sylvie: Daphne or Ivy – though Sylvie is the rarest of the three.

Theodore Love long, traditional names for boys like Alexander and Benjamin? Theodore comes in at Number 20 on the Nameberry popularity charts, but is less common than Alex or Ben in real life. It’s a good choice if you like your boys’ names buttoned-down, but with lots of nickname potential. (Theo and Teddy/Ted are the go-tos.) Other long names for boys that are well outside of the current US Top 100: Donovan, Everett, and Augustine.

Enzo Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Melissa Fumero and husband David chose a boy’s name that fits this just slightly different approach. Enzo is every bit as Italian as favorites like Luca, and is a style-cousin to o-ending names like Leo and z-names like Ezra. And yet Enzo feels just a little bit less expected than them all! Other uncommon names for boys include Arlo and Zeke.

Silas – Biblical names for boys are all over the US Top 100, from Number One Noah to favorites like Levi, Elijah, and Isaiah. Ziggy and Orly Marley recently named their fourth child together Isaiah. But if you’re looking for a Biblical name for a son that’s not quite so popular, Silas might be the better choice – at least for now. Other Biblical boy names that are outside of the current US Top 100 are Abel and Hezekiah.

Clark Henry Cavill is back on the big screen as Superman in spring blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it is mild-mannered Clark Kent that could influence baby names. A little bit Hollywood thanks to Gable, and a little bit Americana thanks to explorers William Lewis and Meriwether Clark, the name could substitute for current favorites like Luke and Jack. Other short names for boys to consider might be Hank, Royce, or even Batman’s alter ego, Bruce.

What are your favorite just slightly different baby names?

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9 Responses to “Slightly Different Baby Names: Silas & Sylvie”

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MeganJoy Says:

March 28th, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Great suggestions. We were set on Sebastian, but since we decided on it, two other people we know of named their children Sebastian. We are using Solomon instead.

teacupsandtiaras Says:

March 28th, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Theodore and Enzo are definitely on my list! I also like Elio for an Enzo alternative.

For Theodore, Edmund/Edmond are great names that are really underused in my opinion. And they can be Ned/Ted nicknames, too.

For an Alexander swap, my go-to favorite is Alastair/Alistair.

Abby Sandel Says:

March 28th, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Great idea, Meganjoy! I almost used Solomon in this list. 🙂

Maura Says:

March 28th, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Terence, Rory, Zev, Abe, Hugo, Harvey, Myles, Felix, Gordon, Ian…..

Maura Says:

March 28th, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Asa, Wade, Vaughan, Micah, Oscar, Darius, Shepherd

Suzannah Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 7:21 am

Garrett for a boy and Regina for a girl. Both well-known names but underused.

ashbee Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 3:39 pm

I hope Emilia, Alma, and Theodore don’t get too popular bu the time I have kids!

Goodkarmavt Says:

March 30th, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Sylvie was in our top 5. Serious like warm reception for it here on the forums. I really like it- just didn’t love it enough to use it. It’s perfect though- fits in while still being “slightly different.”

beehummingbird Says:

March 30th, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I think Leda is a sweet name, but I don’t think I can get past Leda and the Swan.

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