Unique Names We're Obsessed With
It’s my job to think about names all day long. (Yes, I have the coolest job ever, and no, I never get bored of baby names).
I could talk your ear off about practically any name, but if you ask my friends and family, these are the unique names I keep coming back to as of late. These rare choices are very accessible — they’re names I give when parents approach me asking for a “secret” name that’s uncommon but usable.
Without revealing anything on my personal list (actually, Rifka is on there), these are my recent name crushes. I’m pretty much obsessed with these choices, and you might be too.
Unique Names I Love Right Now
Over the holidays, I was reading a book by an author named Beata. She was born and raised in Sweden, now lives in London, and her name is ultimately Latin in origin. That makes Beata a true cross-cultural choice. Indeed, it’s also used in countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Denmark.
In the US, Beata has never been given to more than 26 baby girls in a single year (and that year was 1916). But Beata — feminine, tailored, and undeniably classic — could be a prime option for families looking to bridge cultures.
I encountered my first Eilish in an Anthropologie dressing room a few weeks back. She was exactly how I pictured an Eilish — a lanky blonde, definitely Irish somewhere down the line.
These days it screams “Billie,” which both helps and hurts Eilish. The singer is now a household name, so pronunciation and spelling are no longer a major issue. But the name is so tied to Billie Eilish, you risk looking like a superfan if you give it to your daughter. I doubt it will ever reach the Top 1000, but if you’re looking for a rare Isla soundalike, Eilish could be the name.
We featured a baby boy named Freyr on our Instagram the other week, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. You would assume, given the popularity of Freya, that American parents would be on to Freyr already. But it’s shockingly rare — given to fewer than five baby boys in 2020, and only seven at its peak in 2019.
So Freyr is a fresh option among Scandinavian boy names, one that feels likely to rise (but not too high) in coming years. In case you need another reason to love it, Freyr is also a mythological name, the Norse god of peace, fertility, and sunlight.
Over the summer, I was introduced to someone named Hatcher, and naturally, I asked him about his name. Props to his mother, who, it turns out, is a very creative namer!
Our BritBerries often dismiss Thatcher for its connections to the Prime Minister, but Hatcher has no such connotations. It strikes me as more rugged, not quite as preppy — I’m associating it with the word “hatchet.” But if preppiness is more of your vibe, you might like the similar surname Hatchell.
I know the heyday of Kenzie/Kinsley/Kinzie is behind us, but this family of names is still going strong. I’m introducing a new option to this set, inspired by a major street in Chicago: Kedzie.
Kedzie Avenue was named after John Hume Kedzie, a 19th-century real estate developer in Chicago. Like Kenzie, Kedzie is Scottish in origin, however there is little other information available on the name. There is evidence of Mackedzie as a surname as well, suggesting Kedzie may have a similar evolution to Kenzie. Kedzie has been used as a first name before — six times each in 2003, 2010, and 2016.
Trawl the bottom of the official baby name data, and you’ll find Ludo, given to just five baby boys in 2020. It’s originally short for Ludovic, which may feel a bit too grandiose for a son, but Ludo can easily stand alone on the birth certificate.
It’s snappy and upbeat, with the same charm as international mini-names such as Leo, Nico, and Hugo, and none of the popularity. Ludo ranks at Number 927 on our Nameberry charts, so it’s definitely a name stylish parents have their eyes on.
My mother recently met a cat named Rifka, which is how this name makes my list. (She sent photos — we cooed over the cat and the name). In all likelihood, the cat was probably Rivka, considering it’s more than 30 times as common for baby girls right now. But Rifka, with the gentle F, appeals to me more. I have a soft spot for Yiddish names, although the ones on my family tree — think Yetta and Sheyna — don’t quite do it for me.
These Old-World Jewish names are typically used by strongly religious families, meaning I will take a pass for my future daughter. Although I might take a page out of this Rifka’s book, and consider it for future pet names…
Researching celebrity middle names turned me on to Romary, Kate Beckinsale’s middle name. It feels like a contraction of Rosemary, but Romary is traditionally a masculine name. It is the French form of Romaric, an old German name.
Romary could be one of the coolest new unisex names, especially since the obvious nickname Romy is bounding up the charts.
In my Chicago-winter hibernation, I’ve been burning through old seasons of The Real Housewives. Former New York City housewife Kelly Bensimon has two daughters named Sea and Thaddeus “Teddy,” which I remember being struck by when I originally watched the show.
Thirteen years later, both names feel remarkably wearable, although it’s Sea that I find more interesting. With names that mean water like Ocean, River, and Brooks reaching all-time highs, how has Sea gone unnoticed? It feels ripe for discovery, and I also love that it’s a letter name, a la Elle and Bea.
A recent trip to the architecturally significant town of Columbus, Indiana, reminded me of the great name Xenia. Xenia Miller was the wife of J. Irwin Miller, who commissioned many of the great buildings in his town. Needless to say, I heard her name many times over on the various architecture tours.
Maybe it was the increased exposure, but by the end of my visit, Xenia held a lot of appeal. It feels perfect for our times — a strong X initial, cool saint’s name, and bold aura. Plus, xenia is the Greek concept of hospitality, and literally translates to “guest friendship.”