Unusual Baby Names: 10 same-but-different girl names

August 14, 2013 Pamela Redmond

by Pamela Redmond Satran

It’s a common baby name dilemma: You love a name like Cora or Lila forever, holding it close as your own special secret choice, and then bang!  Right when you’re finally in a position to use it, you discover it’s become a trendy new favorite, vaulting up the charts.

What are more unusual baby names that may relate to trendier names but are more distinctive?

Here, drawn from our new  book The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names are ten girls’ names that offer some of the feeling of today’s most stylish names but are more adventurous. 

AvalonIf you like Ava and Adeline, but want a name that’s more unusual, you might love AvalonAvalon is the name of a mythical island paradise – literally, “island of apples” — that offers a fresh take on several trendier girls’ names.  And okay, so it’s also a car name, but so are Mercedes and Portia.

CordisCora is getting popular and while Cordelia may have fallen off the Top 1000 in 1950, perhaps she’s too elaborate for you.  Cordis is a more androgynous, brisk choice with a similar romantic heart-related meaning.

ElectraLove the El names, from Ella to Eleanor to Eliana?  Then you might want to go all the way to the energetic Electra, which may have a tragic literary history but still means shining or bright.  Just don’t reduce this mythic beauty to the cute-but-quotidian Ellie.

GardeniaThis exotic flower name is so much more lush and memorable than Lily or Rose.

IsabettaIsabetta takes Top Ten girl names Isabella and Elizabeth and turns them into something fresh, unusual, and fascinating.

KelilahThe Lila names are pandemic and Delilah is trendy, but Kelilah combines tradition with distinction.  But don’t rhyme it with Delilah: It’s pronounced keh-LEE-lah.

LaliaSo many double-L names, all of them seemingly stylish.  Well, not all: the undiscovered Lalia, which means “speaking well,” is much more distinctive than Lila, Laila, Layla et al.

OrianaWe’ve been hearing lots more from Aurora and Aurelia, but Italian dawn-related name Oriana remains off the beaten track.

unusual baby names

TierneyIrish surname-name Tierney and sibling Tiernan can be used as first for either sex, but seem more feminine than some other choices – perhaps thanks to jazz singer Tierney Sutton.

VivecaVivian and Vivienne may have become celebrity baby name favorites rising in popularity  over the past few years, but Scandinavian relative Viveca remains relatively untraveled yet carries the same uplifiting life meaning.

For thousands more unusual baby names, get your copy of our new ebook, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names.

Avalon painting by John Howe.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles


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