By Linda Rosenkrantz
If you’re looking for an unusual baby name, you don’t have to go to the extreme of inventing a new name or creating a novel spelling when there’s a whole world of unique international baby names out there to browse and choose from.
We’re not suggesting extreme, challenging global examples like Järnsaxa (Scandinavian) or Orfhlaith (Irish), which would be strictly tied to members of their own ethnicity, but rather to the countless others that are accessible and could be worn comfortably by any child anywhere.
The following are just a few examples for girls that boast both appealing foreign flair, accessibility and solid histories. And just as you don’t have to be Scottish to name your daughter Fiona, these unique international baby names for girls may (so much the better) or may not reflect your own ethnic heritage.
More good news? None of these names has ever been in the US Top 1000.
Amandine—A fragrant French diminutive of Amanda, it was the birth name of novelist George Sand, and is still a Top 100 name in France
Anouk—A cool French/Dutch diminutive of Anna, a character in the film Chocolat, and used by Ewan McGregor for his daughter
Bethan—A popular Welsh form of Elizabeth, rarely heard here, a nice extension of Beth
Caroun—A rich Armenian name meaning Springtime, it’s also spelled Karoun
Constanza—The more musical and graceful Latinate form of Constance, linked to the wife of Mozart, still popular in South America
Dasha—One of the great, undiscovered Russian nickname names, as energetic as Sasha and Misha, with a bit more dash
Edwige—Sophisticated French choice—much more appealing than its English translation Hedwig
Eluned—A Welsh saint’s name that can lead to the nickname Luna
Ginevra—Geneva is a pretty place name, and so is its more unusual Italian version– currently a Top 15 name in its native habitat.
Isabeau—A gorgeous French version of Isabel, it was worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Ladyhawke.
Kalinda –An evocative Hindi name familiar via the character on The Good Wife, more appeal than the dated Linda, Melinda, Belinda.
Mignon—A French word name that means delicate and dainty, and feels delicate, dainty and endearing; but though it’s charming here, it’s not used as a name in France
Lilou—This delightful Provencal name is now #12 on the French list, spurred by its use in the film _The Fifth Element (_spelled Leeloo)
Olwen –Americans are just beginning to discover Welsh names and this is a native favorite, the name of a legendary princess and a classic in Wales
Pilar –The name of a noble character in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, this is a strong and dynamic Spanish classic
Roza –The sweet Rosa takes on a more dynamic persona in this Russian/Polish translation.
Saskia—Take Sasha one step further with this great artistic choice, remembered as the name of Rembrandt’s wife. And also the daughter of artist Red Grooms.
Shoshana –This exotic modern form of the Hebrew version of Susannah came to contemporary life in the person of the Zosia Mamet character on Girls, aka Shosh.
Signy—This sleek, sophisticated Scandinavian name, also spelled Signe, makes an intriguing alternative to Sydney.
Suzu—A lively Japanese alternative to It’s a Wonderful Life’s nickname Zuzu, it means tiny tinkly bell.
Varvara. The Russian equivalent of Barbara has so much more energy and verve!