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Unusual Baby Names: Aries to Zebedee

January 17, 2018 Clare Green

By Clare Bristow

As we wait with bated breath to find out what Kim and Kanye will call North and Saint’s new sister, here are some less high-profile name news stories. They include rarities spotted in birth announcements, what’s hot in Portugal and the Netherlands, and colorful names inspired by American states.

Below-the-radar names: Zailey and Lae

This week I’ve spotted a few one-of-a-kind names in birth stories. They may not be strictly unique, but it’s always nice to see parents using names that you won’t find on any popularity charts.

This story of a doctor who delivered twins shortly after giving birth herself was impressive, but my favorite part was her new daughter’s name: Verna. It was huge in 1920 but is rarely heard now, like other names with an “er” sound (think Ernest, Herman and Bertha). If you’re looking for name that won’t sound like every other kid in the playground, this is one route to take.

Lettie Lae was born super-fast, and her name has a zippy sound too. We all know of people with Mae and Rae and Lee as middle names. Lae feels like a twist on all of these.

If you want a cool Z-name but don’t like any of the existing names beginning with Z, you can always take another name and change up the first letter. That’s how we got names like Zayden and Zaxton (which was used for 30 boys in 2016). A dad in this round-up of 2017 babies used this technique to come up with his daughter’s name, Zailey, years before she was born. He’s not alone: Zailey was given to 89 girls in the US in 2016, almost twice as many as in 2015. I like that it’s not just a twist on Bailey, Hayley and Kaylee, but also sounds like saintly French name Zelie.

There were some pretty off-the-grid baby names registered in Cambridgeshire in the UK last year: Zebedee, Aries, Texas, Alba, and more.

Of course, the one-of-a-kind namers par excellence are Nameberry readers. If you haven’t seen the latest babyberry announcements yet, check them out – they include babies called Alphonse, Athena, Gaines and Swayze, among many others.

International names: the long and short of it

Do you prefer your names short and snappy, or long and flowing?

If you’re drawn to the ballgowns of names – long, swishy and elaborate – join the club with Portuguese parents. In the provisional top 100 names of 2017 for Portugal, according to name blog Nomes e mais Nomes, there are lots of names with 6, 7, 8 and 9 letters.

Girls’ names keeping the average high include Benedita, Madalena, and Caetana, while mellifluous names for boys include Salvador, Lorenzo and Cristiano. Topping the list are two classic saints’ names, Maria and Santiago, and it’s also interesting to see names in the top 100 that have passed into parent territory for English-speakers, like Brian and Kelly.

If you prefer your names pared down to as few letters and syllables as possible, you’ve got something in common with Dutch parents. Short names have been big in the Netherlands for a long time, and the newly-released 2017 statistics show that they’re not disappearing any time soon.

In the boys’ top 100, some notable short boys’ names are Sem (which reminds me, why oh why aren’t more people using the English version, Shem?), biblical Job, cool nickname Xavi, and cute diminutive PimFor girls, there are tiny names like Evi, Tess, Cato (a short form of Catherine-names), plucky Puck, and “you can’t get much shorter than this” Bo.

If you too are feeling the love for short names, here’s a list of names guaranteed to be 3 letters or less.

State-inspired place names

I’ve never been to Oregon or Michigan, but reading lists of names inspired by those states makes me want to book plane tickets. They’re a mixture of places, landmarks, names from history, and other things that make the state special.

People who love Michigan might consider place names like Kent, Cass, Isabella, Monroe, or Kal (short for Kalamazoo, and no doubt much more wearable). For people who love Oregon, how about Amity, Nyssa, Hosmer, or (for the bold) Metolius?

If you live in either state, what do you think of these choices? If not, what would you put on a list of names for where you live?

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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