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Unusual Baby Names: Hidden in plain sight

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by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

Once upon a time, most parents would have never imagined naming their children Arya, Iker or Major. Now these are some of the fastest rising baby names in the U.S. With formerly unusual names hitting the mainstream, some parents are left wondering where to find under-the-radar names.

The trick is to stop looking for unusual names. That’s right. Instead of resorting to increasingly offbeat choices, consider some names that are right under your nose.

There are many names that seem on-trend yet remain under-the-radar, and many are familiar. Here are some names that are uncommon (most are outside the U.S. Social Security Administration’s top 1000 baby names for 2012) but don’t seem all that unusual. Next to each name is the number of babies given the name last year.


Aida – 164

Calista – 195

Cassia – 45

Flora – 124

Lavinia – 52

Lucinda – 181

Marcella – 166

Oona – 39

Ramona – 197

Rhea – 224

Sally – 205

Soleil – 177

Susanna – 183 / Susannah – 104

Sybella – 11

Sylvie – 169

Vada – 157

Viola – 162



Clive – 65

Conan – 54

Ewan – 140

Fritz – 30

Gordon – 194

Guy – 138

Murray – 42

Niles – 44

Olin – 80

Orson – 31

Tobin – 138

Viggo – 29



Arden – 221 girls / 76 boys

Darby – 117 girls / 39 boys

Kelby – 32 girls / 59 boys

Remy – 195 girls / 233 boys

Name trends can be inexplicable and unpredictable, otherwise most of these names would show up on more parents’ baby name lists.

Okay, so at first glance some of these names, like Viggo, may come across as eccentric. But when compared to other names on the rise, Viggo isn’t that eccentric. Consider that another Norwegian name, Soren, has recently crept into the top 1000 and seems to be trending upwards, and Viggo has the trendy o-suffix. When these things are considered, Viggo seems like it should have been given to more than 29 newborn boys last year.

Another name that may appear eccentric at first is Soleil. And maybe thirty years ago, when a young Soleil Moon Frye entertained children as Punky Brewster, the child star’s name, the French word for “sun,” was unfamiliar and difficult to say. Fast-forward to 2013, however, and celestial names like Luna and Stella are taking off, and thanks to the actress, the name is no longer unfamiliar.

And maybe Fritz, Murray, and Oona aren’t for everyone, but each has a quirky-vintage style popular with some contemporary parents. Yet each of these names were given to fewer than 50 babies in 2012.

Most of these names seem like they should have caught on by now. But they haven’t. This is good news for anyone seeking that elusive different but not too different name.

Angela created Upswing Baby Names to help parents find that different but not too different name. She muses about names on their way in and on their way out in her book, The Top 22 in 2022.  She is also an avid runner, wannabe foodie, and devoted mom of two.


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About the author


Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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9 Responses to “Unusual Baby Names: Hidden in plain sight”

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Guest Blogging News: Names Hidden In Plain Sight | Upswing Baby Names Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 6:05 am

[…] share more of these “hidden in plain sight” names on Nameberry today. Check it out for some ideas, names you may have even considered but dismissed […]

R_J Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 6:51 am

Susannah always surprises me with those low numbers. It’s such a beautiful name. It’s number two on my list, so hoping to use it one day 🙂

tori101 Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 10:09 am

Susannah & Orson really surprised me!

I love so many of these choices; Aida, Calista, Cassia, Sylvie, and Viola for girls. I also like Ramona but prefer Romina and I also like Marcella but prefer Mariella.

For boys I love; Murray, Niles, and Viggo.

I also think the unisex choices Remy and Arden are great.

Of course I also love Susannah and Orson.

lindsW Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I’m a big fan of Rhea! The only person I know with the name, an artist in south Louisiana, pronounces it “Ray.” Are “Ray-a” or “Ree-a” ever used?

spotlightstarlit Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Calista, Arden, Lavinia & Sylvie are all definite possibilities for future DDs.

upswingbabynames Says:

June 27th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

@lindsW: I’ve only ever heard Rhea pronounced “Ree-uh” or occasionally “Ray-uh”. This is the first time I have ever heard the name pronounced “Ray”.

shanwake98 Says:

June 28th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

What is the latest data on Hi(l)lary or any of its variants? I have a Hilarie, and have not met another one yet. The only person who has used the name in recent years that I am aware of is Samantha Harris for her second child. I think it is another “hidden in plain sight” name – just like the nameberry description says, dropped off the map because of HRC., but it is definitely prime for a comeback at some point. However, for now, I am VERY happy it is lurking in the shadows 😉

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

June 30th, 2013 at 11:22 am

I think the only names I like on this list are Lucinda and Vada. I know of two separate Lucinda’s though, but I like the ability to get to the nicknames Lucy/Lux. And Vada I’ve loved since My Girl, not because I would like to name my child after that character, just because that’s the movie that first introduced me to that name.

roseate6 Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 9:59 am

My daughter’s name is Sylvie. Here’s the conversation I have with every person who asks her name:

Stranger: Aww, what’s her name?
Me: Sylvie!
Stranger: Hi Sophie!
Me: Sylvie.
Stranger: Sophia?
Stranger: Savannah?
Me: No, Sylvie. Like Sylvia without the A.
Stranger: Oh, hi Sylvia!
Me: 😐

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