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Truly Unique Names You’ll Never Meet IRL

February 6, 2020 Emma Waterhouse
truly unique baby names

Unique” is something of a buzzword when it comes to baby names.

Most of the time, it means unconventional, a little bit edgy, or even simply below the Top 1000 names nationwide. British newspaper The Daily Mail this week reported on the unique baby names chosen by some of its readers: uncommon choices like April and Avni, Kaydence and Khaius, Titus and Theoden.

Unique Baby Names in the US

“Unique” baby names in the #1000-1500 range in the US include under-the-radar gems like Elowen, Marigold and Tallulah for girls, and Alistair, Dashiell and Ewan for boys.

But truly unique baby names — those never recorded in the US at all — are a little harder to come by. Especially if you’re looking for something straightforward to say and spell, in line with current trends, and not made up or creatively respelled. It’s a tough ask!

Luckily, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best one-of-a-kind baby names that meet all of these criteria. None of these truly unique names has ever been given to 5 or more babies in the US in any given year (for privacy reasons, the SSA doesn’t record names used four or fewer times), so we’re as sure as we can be that you’ll never run into another!

Truly Unique Girl Names

Anstice: This sweet medieval variant of Anastasia has fallen out of use today, but it shares a lot of the appeal of Top 100 favorite Alice. The masculine form Anstace has also never charted in the US.

Cariad: A lively modern Welsh name taken directly from the dictionary: cariad means “love”, and could make for an unexpected route to Carrie or Cara.

Dimity: This unusual word name (dimity is a type of fabric) has seen most use in Australia. It shares its jaunty three-syllable rhythm with popular picks like Emily, Kennedy and Trinity, as well as rarer vintage virtue names like Amity, Verity and Felicity.

Eska: A cool character name from the animated series The Legend of Korra, and an old Frisian name derived from the element ?s, meaning “god”.

Ivalo: This quirky Greenlandic option shares sounds both with the popular “Eve” group of girls’ names, and with up-and-coming o-ending picks like Indigo, Cleo and Juno. It’s one of the middle names of Princess Josephine of Denmark, born in 2011.

Fifer: Piper may be popular, but this feistier form of the name has never charted in the US, despite the rise of energetic -er ending names for both sexes.

Lowenna: A light and lovely name with a wonderful meaning to match: “joy”. Fellow Cornish beauty Morwenna is also yet to make it across the Atlantic, despite its appearance in the popular BBC series Poldark.

Mabyn: Part-Mabel, part-Robyn, this ancient Cornish saint’s name has a surprisingly cute and contemporary sound.

Margalo: Considering the perennial appeal of Margaret and the rapid rise of Margot (in all its spellings) in recent years, it’s a wonder this cool Greek variant hasn’t been picked up yet.

Venla: A Top 10 pick in its native Finland for at least the past decade (Finnish records only go back to 2007), this funky Nordic name is a feminine relative of Wendell — but it feels far fresher!

Truly Unique Boy Names

Artair: Legendary Arthur is rapidly regaining lost ground — and it’s already a Top 10 choice in France and England. But this debonair Scottish variant is yet to be discovered, despite lending itself even more naturally to the jazzy nickname Art.

Cadoc: We’ve got our eye on fellow C-sandwich names Cormac and Cedric, but Welsh Cadoc is still way under the radar, despite its appearance in the Inheritance Cycle series of novels.

Fiero: A rare Italian word name (meaning “proud”) with a strong and fiery sound.

Helier: St Helier is the patron saint of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, and also lends his handsome name to the island’s capital.

Ibsen: Boy names ending -son are big, literary names are on the rise, and I is swiftly becoming the hottest initial on the block… Ibsen, after the great Norwegian dramatist, would certainly be a cool choice.

Lumis: Beyoncé’s iconic first name was inspired by her grandfather, Lumis Beyincé. Despite its similarity to the Latin lumen (“light”) and the Finnish lumi (“snow”), this unique option actually derives from the English surname Lomax.

Rupin: A little-known Sanskrit name that nevertheless feels familiar, thanks to the similarity of names like Rupert, Reuben and Robin — and the potential for adorable nickname Rue!

Sorley: Also anglicized as Somerled, this appealing choice (meaning “summer traveller”) belonged to a medieval warlord who ruled the Western Isles of Scotland in the 12th century.

Struan: Another stylish Scottish name with an attractive nature-inspired meaning: “stream”. Struan has hovered around the #100-120 mark in its native country for the past two decades, but is yet to make it across the pond.

Zennor: This zippy Cornish saint’s name is in rare usage for both sexes in England, and would fit right in with the likes of Zen, Zion and Zephyr — all on the rise in the US right now.

Which are your favorite truly unique baby names for girls and boys? What’s the most unique name you’ve ever actually encountered? Tell us in the comments!

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

View all of Emma Waterhouse's articles

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