Unique Names We Love Right Now (And You Might Too)
Want a splash of namespiration, and a peek into what’s on a name writer’s mind?
I probably think about hundreds of names every day, even if only for a second. Since you’re here on Nameberry, you probably do too. Some really stick in the mind, and just for fun, I’ve rounded up ten rare and unique names I’ve been enjoying recently.
I know, I know, we use the word “unique” a lot in the name world. But at least one of them really is one-of-a-kind.
These names come from a variety of cultures, and tend towards short, sleek and unfrilly. They’re not on my personal list (ok, a couple might be up for discussion as middle names), but I’d love to recommend them to you.
Unique Names I Love Right Now
What do you get when you mix Corey and Callan? This Scottish name, which was given to ten boys in Scotland and only 6 in the States in 2020. It could be a great addition to the ranks of Gaelic last names as first names. I spotted it while browsing Scotland’s baby name charts, and then remembered it was a sibling name in a consultation on British Baby Names recently.
Down a Scandinavian names rabbithole, I discovered Elika. It’s one of those diminutives that’s been around so long most people don’t remember what it was short for. One possible origin is names beginning with Adal- (meaning “noble”), which makes Elika a distant cousin of Adele, Alice and Audrey.
Our list of Christmas names has all the obvious festive choices — Noel, Holly — and more besides. Hani is one I didn’t know before, but I’m a fan now. It’s a Hawaiian unisex name meaning “joyful”, and a sweet addition to the list of names that mean happy.
Christmas is coming, and I’ve been wondering whether the name Herod can ever recover from the bad rep it gets in the Bible. King Herod doesn’t come off well in the Nativity, nor does his nephew and namesake in the Easter story, but never say never: Cain, Delilah and Lilith have all changed from taboo to fashionable in the last two generations. Anyway, if Herod is too much, you might like the feminine form Heroda, best known as half of the glamorous Instagram duo @being__her. There’s also Herodias, and of course Hero, which shares the same root.
Updating our list of international baby girl names reminded me of this gorgeous French diminutive of Marie. It was one of the most popular names in France in the mid-1990s, and is still in the Top 50 there. It’s also familiar in Wales and the Netherlands. If you like sleek, chic and unfrilly names like Maren and Rhiannon, this could be another addition to your list.
I was speaking to someone this week about Scottish names, and how parents in Scotland have a particular love of place names. She said she knew people called Nairn, which made me go wow! I know of the town in north-east Scotland (named after the local river) but hadn’t realised it’s used for people too. It’s given to a few boys every year in Scotland, and occasionally girls too.
We’re in winter storm season on the north Atlantic. The alphabetical list of storm names is shared between the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, and has names from all three countries. One of my favorites is Nasim, a unisex Arabic name meaning “fresh air, breeze”... a bit of an understatement for a storm name!
A couple I know in England have just welcomed a baby boy, and given him a truly cutting-edge cool name: Oax with an X. I looked it up thinking it must have been used once or twice in recent years (as Banx has), but nope: it has never been on the charts in either the US or the UK. Oaks and Oakes, yes — in fact, we predict these could be America’s next top baby names. And there may be people named Oakley who use it as a nickname. But if you want a name with both a woodsy vibe and a cool X spelling, this one is truly unique.
Chatting all things names with the Nameberry editors recently, we were surprised this sweet vintage name isn’t more popular, especially in Britain, where 1) parents love nicknames as first names, and 2) Dame Prue Leith is a judge on The Great British Bake Off. There were a few girls named Prudence and Prunella in 2020, but Prue on its own makes a spirited first name or a cute one-syllable middle.
Could this be the next Bodhi? In East Asian philosophy, Tao is the underlying principle of the universe, putting it firmly in the category of spiritual names. Its simplicity and vowel ending give it a breezy, multicultural feel like Kai and Bo. It has never been given to more than 16 children in a year, but watch this space.
Got a name story to tell? If you'd like to write about your personal experience with your own name, your child's name, names in your family or your culture, we'd love to consider your story for publication on Nameberry. Email us a sentence or two about your idea at firstname.lastname@example.org