Unusual International Baby Girl Names
Unusual international girl names are a great place to start if you're looking for a beautiful and unique baby girl name with a solid history. With uncommon baby names getting more and more fashionable, it can be hard to find one that still feels fresh and undiscovered. But there's a whole world of beautiful options out there!
Uncommon international names for girls that are popular here on Nameberry (but not in the US, shhhh!) include Anjali, Cressida, Eira, Saoirse and Ziva. And if you're looking for a truly unique international name for a girl, there are plenty of beautiful rare options in the list below, including Araluen, Demelza, Ismene, Mahalia and Zuleika.
Along with Eira and Zora, other short and funky international girl names outside the US Top 1000 include Bijou, Daru, Ezri and Rio. Or if you prefer long, statement-making names, try Antonina, Cleophee, Endellion or Zipporah.
When considering rare international names for your baby girl, it's always important to bear each name's cultural context in mind. If the name is not from a culture familiar to you, do some reasearch (asking on our friendly international Forums is a great place to start!) to make sure that you understand the background to the name, and any cultural significance it may have.
Browse a selection of the best unusual international girl names below, or check out our full list of Cool International Girl Names for even more ideas!
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. After she was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, it was decreed by Zeus that she would spend six months of the year with her mother, allowing crops to grow, and six in mourning, thus accounting for the seasons.
Description:Saoirse originated as a baby name in 1920s Ireland as an applied use of saoirse, the Gaelic word for "freedom." The name was first adopted during the Irish War of Independence, when the Irish Republican Army fought the British Army for the liberation of Ireland from British rule. In modern times, Saoirse, as well as a host of other Gaelic names, are being revived in Ireland, the UK, and the US.
Origin:French from Greek
Description:Delphine is a sleek, chic French name with two nature associations—the dolphin and the delphinium, a bluebell-like flower, a well as to the ancient city of Delphi, which the Greeks believed to be the womb of the earth. It is definitely a fresher choice than over-the-hill Danielle.
Description:This Welsh nature name that can be pronounced exactly like the male Ira. Or, to avoid confusion, you could just name her Snow.
Description:Caoimhe, pronounced (more properly) kwee-va or kee-va, is a pretty and distinctive Gaelic name but one that could well lead to no end of confusion outside the Irish community. Even in its native habitat, it is sometimes spelled Keeva.
Origin:Greek, feminine version of Hermes, "messenger, earthly"
Description:Hermione's costarring role in Harry Potter has made this previously ignored, once stodgy name suddenly viable. Hermione could really take off once today's children start having kids of their own.
Description:Cressida is a pretty mythological and Shakespearean heroine name much better known in Britain than it is here — an imbalance the adventurous baby namer might want to correct. For although the Trojan heroine of that name in the tale told by Boccaccio, then Chaucer, then Shakespeare, didn't have the greatest reputation — she was faithless to Troilus and broke his heart — the name today sounds fresh, crisp and creative.
Description:Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Description:X marks the spot in names these days, usually at the middles or ends of names, but here is one that puts it squarely up front.
Origin:Catalan and Provencal pet form of Hebrew Anna
Description:Anais is an unusual, alluring name forever attached to the daring French-born American novelist and diarist Anais Nin (born Angela, with Anais as one of her middle names), who became the inspiration for the naming of the daughter of musician Noel Gallagher. Anais is also the name of a popular perfume.
Description:From the first time we saw the name Saskia attached to a portrait of Rembrandt's wife (her full name was Saakje van Uylenburgh, but she was always called Saskia), we have found it utterly charming and wondered why it hasn't attracted more fans In this country--she's appreciated by the Brits, who have moved her to Number 392. Saskia is one of those names that's been used in Europe since the Middle Ages, but has never crossed the ocean.
Description:Spelled with either one 'l' or two, Calista came to the fore in 1997 when Calista Flockhart hit it big as Ally McBeal. Flockhart, who bears her mother's middle name, didn't just introduce a name, she introduced a whole sensibility. Pretty and delicate, Calista is definitely worthy of consideration, especially for parents with Greek roots.
Description:Xochitl is a Nahuatl or Aztec floral name used in southern Mexico and pronounced SO-chee-tl or SHO-chee-tl, although sometimes the "tl" at the end is not pronounced. Internet entrepreneur Xochi Birch is probably the best-known bearer in the US – except for the Xochitl brand tortilla chips. Definitely among the most intriguing international flower names and a beautiful choice for those looking to honor Nahuatl heritage.
Meaning:"place of the cherry blossoms"
Description:Rio is one of Japan's most popular girls names, constantly sitting in that country's Top 10. Of course, Rio may also stem from the Portuguese and Spanish word for river, and the Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro. A truly international name for a cosmopolitan baby!
Meaning:"to shine; flower"
Description:Zahara, a delicate but strong multicultural name, came into the spotlight when Angelina Jolie bestowed it on her Ethiopian-born daughter, and we predict other parents will adopt it as well. If you want something simpler than Zahara, consider Zara, a royal name in England--but also the name of a Spanish-based clothing store chain.
Description:A soft and interesting Hebrew name long popular in France, where it has ranked in the Top 400 since 1986 (as Salomé). Ex-ER star Alex Kingston named her daughter Salome Violetta.
Description:This name, stemming from the Mayan mythological figure of the Rainbow Lady, is a surprising pop hit, primarily among Hispanic parents.
Origin:Feminine variation of Darius, Persian or Latin from Greek
Meaning:"kingly or possess well"
Description:An early Christian martyr, a bespectacled MTV cartoon heroine, and Canadian supermodel Daria Werbowy: Daria is a name that manages to feel contemporary and usable without being exactly stylish. Which may be a positive, in terms of Daria not being in danger of overpopularity.
Description:A cute, zippy French saint's name that's picking up in popularity there, and starting to in the US as well. Zélie originated as a short form of Azélie, thought to derive from Adelaide via the Occitan form Azalaïs. Saint Zélie was born Marie-Azélie.
Description:A popular Irish name virtually unknown here, but one that feels like it could follow in the footsteps of Siobhan and Saoirse. It's pronounced SOR-ka, but with a little hiccup between the 'r' and the 'c' that's difficult for non-Gaelic speakers to reproduce. Spelled (and pronounced) Sorsha, she is a major character in the movie Willow.
Description:A zippy little international name. The Hebrew name relates to the month of Israeli independence. The Slavic Ziva (also spelled Živa and Siva) is a goddess of love, life and fertility.
Description:Lovely Japanese name that would certainly be appreciated in Europe and the U.S. It was rarely used in Japan until the 1990s, and draws its current popularity from the fact that it is deeply connected to Japanese traditional culture without sounding frumpy and old-fashioned.
Origin:French and English, diminutive of Ottolie
Meaning:"prospers in battle"
Description:Curiously appealing, in a hoop-skirted, wasp-waisted way, Ottoline has recently entered the realm of modern possibility, especially since Sienna Miller chose it as the middle name of her daughter Marlowe.
Description:Bijou is a name that lives up to its definition -- a real jewel. Warning: not unheard of on poodles' dog collars. Actress Bijou Phillips is its best known bearer. It can also be spelled Bijoux.
Description:Not only are individual flower names more popular (and out-there) than ever, but so too are the more generic names like Florence and Flora. While brother name Fiorello became known via long-term New York Mayor LaGuardia, the lovely Fiorella has never crossed cultures. She could join Arabella as a post-Isabella ella choice.
Meaning:"altar of the sky"
Description:Obscure but intriguing Spanish name. Araceli Segarra is a noted mountain climber.
Description:This Indian name meaning gift or offering feels familiar via sound-alikes Angela or Angelina, and made a brief appearance on the U.S. Top 1000. Anjali is a pretty route to a name that's at once easy to understand and uncommon.
Description:Sigrid is a distinctly Scandinavian name that is starting to edge out into the wider world, a la cousin Ingrid. Unfortunately, short form Siri is now off the table, but Sigrid is still a possibility.
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elisheva was the original name of Aaron's wife in the Book of Exodus; Elisheva gains strength and distinction via the v sound.
Origin:French variation of German Otthild
Meaning:"prospers in battle"
Description:Odette's evil Swan Lake twin -- gives the name a sinuous, sensuous appeal.
Origin:Arabic, Basque, Hausa
Meaning:"shawl; star; section of tree"
Description:Attractive, rhythmic choice with roots in several languages and cultures. It's a lesser-known a celestial name, meaning "star" in Basque and referring to a star in the constellation Boötes in Arabic.
Origin:French form of Apollonia
Description:Apolline is a luscious French name chic in Paris and ripe for the plucking in the English-speaking world. Derived from the mythological name Apollo, the name may mean strength; Apollo was the god of sun and light. Apolline is a perfect choice for those attracted to the name Apple who don't want to go quite that far.
Origin:Cornish place and saint's name
Description:Endellion is the name of an early saint who was a daughter of King Brychan and goddaughter of King Arthur whose life is commemorated by the Cornish village of St. Endellion. This intriguing ancient name was brought into modern usage by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who used it as one of the middle names for his fourth child, a baby girl.
Origin:Irish, short form of Fionnuala
Description:Officially a shortening of the traditional and tricky Gaelic Fionnghuala/Fionnuala, Nuala makes a lovely choice all on its own. Nuala is well-used in Ireland.
Meaning:"the strong house or daughter of the sun"
Description:Common in Scandinavia, this name has rarely come to our shores. The name of the heroine in Ibsen's Peer Gynt, Solveig is currently a widely-used name in Norway. Pronounced authentically, with a silent 'g', it becomes much more appealing.
Origin:Variation of Tziporah, Hebrew
Description:There are many variations of this name, with or without the initial T and the final h, with one p or two. In the Bible she was the wife of Moses.
Meaning:"fort on the hill"
Description:Complex and challenging modern Cornish name derived from a place name. The given name began to be used in the U.K. in the 1950s via the serialization on British TV of the Poldark novels of Winston Graham, whose heroine was named Demelza.
Description:Romantic and mysterious, Eluned's beauty and intelligence were legendary in Welsh legend; she was the handmaiden of the Lady of the Fountain in a Welsh Arthurian romance, who had a magic ring that made the wearer invisible. Pronunciation is usually similar in emphasis to Eleanor, but with ned instead of nor at the end. However, it's sometimes also pronounced el-LIN-ed or even shortened to Luned, the sounce of Lynette, in Tennyson's Gareth and Lynette.
Origin:Italian variation of Guinevere
Meaning:"white shadow, white wave"
Description:A lovely alternative for the Jennifer-lover.
Description:In early, pre-Norman Ireland, this name was borne by both a sister and a niece of high king Brian Boru. Now, the English form Orla is more commonly used.
Description:Sunniva was an Irish-born saint who fled to Norway, where she hid in an island cave with her followers and eventually died. After miracles were reported on the island, the cave was excavated and Sunniva's intact body was found. Sunniva is the patron saint of Western Norway. Her name would make a fascinating and unusual choice for a modern baby girl, and if her story is a bit grim, you can take refuge in the upbeat nickname Sunny or Sunni.
Origin:Afrikaans version of Beatrice
Meaning:"blessed; she who brings happiness"
Description:Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo, who has walked the runway for every designer from Prada to Versace to Vera Wang, has introduced us to this Afrikaans version of Beate or Beatrice, a rhythmic twist on an international favorite.
Meaning:"powerful and beloved"
Description:Aziza is a zippy palindromic choice that is the female variation of Aziz and is found in several Middle Eastern and African languages and cultures. All in all, an attractive and interesting option; a Turkish variation is Azize. In African mythology, the Azizi are a supernatural race of forest dwellers who give practical and spiritual advice.
Description:Sister of Antigone and daughter of Oedipus in Greek mythology, Ismene's name is unlikely to make it in modern times because of its teasability factor. Ismay or Esme would be better bets.
Origin:Spanish for Greek flower name
Description:Jacinta, the Spanish word for hyacinth, is a lot softer and sweeter than the English version. The correct Spanish pronunciation is ha-SEEN-ta, though many English speakers would say ja-SIN-ta. Although the name is slightly different, Jacinta is largely associated at present with Australian-born actress Jacinda Barrett.
Origin:French variation of Isabel
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:With Isabel getting so popular, parents are searching for new varieties of the name, and Isabeau is one that makes a lovely French twist.
Description:Lovers of Esme might also like this beautiful Turkish name, with its mysterious meaning.
Origin:Spanish place name
Description:Actually the Spanish name for Bethlehem, which means "house of bread," this name is high on Spain's popularity list and is rising in the US as well. Though this is one of the Spanish names for girls that has not for the most part crossed over to the English-speaking population, that could change thanks to its similarity to the popular Belle or Bella.
Meaning:"to tie, bind"
Description:A traditional name still used in Orthodox families. Rivka is the original form of Rebekah or Rebecca, today used far more widely than the original. Rifka is a variation.