By Victoria L.
Unusual and unique baby names come in many forms, from under-the-radar vintage gems like Bathsheba and Barnabas to more unique choices like Uta and Uther. But today, I present a group of names that are both offbeat and familiar, unusual but not weird – truly the best of both worlds. Some of them date back to ancient times and others were created in the 20th century. What do they all have in common?
They all start with the syllable Gal.
The single-syllable Gal became familiar internationally via Gal Gadot (shown), the Israeli actress who shot to fame via her role as Wonder Woman. A unisex Hebrew name meaning wave, it’s also a Top 15 name in Slovenia. Gal is pronounced to rhyme with ball, which distinguishes it from the English word gal.
This handsome moniker that is possibly a smoosh of Greek words gala, meaning ‘milk’, and dor, meaning ‘gift’, could make a cool Theodore alternative. It was used by J. R. R. Tolkien for one of his characters – Galador was the First Prince of Dol Amroth, a brother of Gilmith.
This unique girl name is also found in Tolkien – she was the beautiful, strong and smart daughter of Finarfin, Lady of Lórien, and the “greatest of elven women.” Because of her wisdom and power, she played a major role in the history of Middle-earth. Galadriel certainly is a whole lotta name, but with its gorgeous meaning, ‘maiden crowned with a radiant garland’, and built-in nicknames Gale and Lady, it seems quite user-friendly.
Galahad might be the ultimate of Arthurian boy names, medieval and distinctive. According to Thomas Malory, Galahad was the son of Sir Lancelot du Lac and Elaine of Corbenic, renowned for his bravery and purity. He was considered the most perfect of all knights and thus allowed to attain the Holy Grail. Galahad is also widely believed to have been Sir Lancelot‘s birth name.
Galanthus, meaning ‘milk-flower’ in Greek, is a not-so-obvious flower moniker, as it is the botanical name for snowdrop. It would be lovely for a February baby or one born to floral enthusiasts. A similar name is Galanthis. In Greek mythology, she was a servant of Heracles‘ mother Alcmene, who was turned into a cat for deceiving the deities.
Galaxy is a name that might appeal to cutting-edge parents as it’s an interesting mix of futuristic and trendy, a unisex example of a fitting in-standing out name. Though it’s certainly daring, it could would play well along with the Stormies and Lunas of today.
According to the myth, Galatea was the name Ovid‘s Pygmalion gave to the sculpture he had carved out of ivory. It was so beautiful that he wished for a bride who would be ‘the living likeness of his ivory girl’. Aphrodite granted Pygmalion’s wish and transformed the statue into a woman. If you don’t mind the slightly peculiar meaning, ‘she who is milk-white’, Galatea would make a stunning and unexpected choice.
Galehaut, like the similar Galahad, is an Arthurian name that first appears in the medieval French ‘Lancelot-Grail’ cycle. Sir Galehaut was one of Arthur‘s best knights and a close friend of Sir Lancelot – some texts even suggest they were to have been romantically linked. The meaning of Galehaut is unknown, but might be connected to the Middle French hault meaning ‘high, elevated’.
Galen is a unisex name meaning ‘calm, healer’ in Greek. It is most associated with the influential second-century physician whose ideas formed the basis of much early medicine. In modern times, there have been male characters named Galen on vehicles from Gunsmoke to The Vampire Diaries. It ranked as high as #330 for boys in the late 1940s; Galen would also make a strong name for a girl.
Galilee a region in northern Israel, and the Sea of Galilee is a lake so lovely that Flavius Josephus called it ‘the ambition of Nature’. It is believed that much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on its shores. Galilee might appeal to Christian parents or perhaps scientists, as it can be seen as a nod to Galileo Galilei. A similar option might be the lilting Galila.
And here comes the great astronomer’s name itself! Galileo was derived from the Greek word Galilaios, meaning ‘Galilean; from Galilee‘. Called ‘the father of modern science’ by Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, a heliocentrism champion who played a leading role in the Scientific Revolution. Fun fact: Galileo, along with Figaro, is mentioned in the Queen classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘.
This sweet name is derived from galene, the Greek word for ‘serene’. It can be given in honor of a 2nd-century Greek physician and healer, or one of three famous Russian ballerinas, Galina Mezentseva, Galina Samsonova and Galina Ulanova. Galina is popular in Ukraine, where it’s considered a classic. Gala is the lovely diminutive adopted by Salvador Dalí’s muse, who was born Elena Diyakonova.