Unusual Baby Names: Hidden in plain sight

Unusual Baby Names: Hidden in plain sight

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.

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.