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Rare Place Names

Rare Place Names
Rare place names are those that are undiscovered. Some place names, such as Cayman and Oslo, can be used for boys, but most of the rare place names work best for baby girls.

Along with Cayman and Oslo, other rare place names for babies include Avalon, Cyprus, Delphi, Marbella, Nairobi, Quebec, Sicily, and Bronx. Rare place names inspired by American states include Alabama, Jersey, Louisiana, and Indiana.

Here are some choices on (and off) the map, including unique city names, country names, island names, and the names of mythical lands, all of which can be used for babies.

You might also want to check out our list of more popular place names for babies. Or read about all the major categories of rare baby names.

Rare Place Names for Babies

AvalonHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "island of apples"
  • Description:

    Avalon, an island paradise of Celtic myth and Arthurian legend--it was where King Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds-- and also the colorful capital of the California island of Catalina-- makes a heavenly first name. Actress Rena Sofer and British musician Julian Cope used it for their daughters.

RioHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "river"
  • Description:

    Rio is a reductive ranchero place-name with an attractive Tex-Mex lilt. No Doubt's Tom Dumont has a son named Rio Atticus.

OdessaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian place-name
  • Description:

    Odessa, a Ukrainian port city, was given its name by Russia's Catherine the Great, who was inspired by Homer's Odyssey. It would make an original and intriguing choice.

OsloHeart

  • Origin:

    Norwegian place name
  • Description:

    Oslo, the capital city of Norway, makes for an intriguing new place name, especially with its bookended o's, as in Otto. One berry has already used it and we predict others will follow.

ValenciaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "brave, strong"
  • Description:

    This lovely orange-scented Spanish place-name would make an inventive namesake for an Aunt Valerie.

EverestHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name, world's tallest mountain
  • Description:

    A twist on the standard Everett takes it to lofty heights. The snow-capped Everest would surely stand out in a classroom, yet has an acceptable name-like feel.

OlympiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "from Mount Olympus"
  • Description:

    With its relation to Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods, and to the Olympic games, this name has an athletic, goddess-like aura, making it the perfect Olivia substitute.

LourdesHeart

  • Origin:

    Basque
  • Meaning:

    "craggy slope"
  • Description:

    This name of the French town where a young peasant girl had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1858 vaulted into the spotlight when Madonna chose it for her daughter, but few other families except for devout Roman Catholics have followed her lead (any more than they've used Rocco for their sons).

DelphiHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek place name
  • Description:

    An interesting unisex possibility, with an air of mystery connected to the Delphic Oracle, the most important oracle in ancient Greece; it was also a major site for the worship of the god Apollo.

IndianaHeart

  • Origin:

    American place-name
  • Meaning:

    "land of the Indians"
  • Description:

    Indiana is one of those place-names (think Camden and Trenton) that sounds cooler than the place that inspired it. Its fashionable -ana ending certainly sounds eminently name-like, and Indie/Indy/Indi is one of the hottest nickname names for girls right now.

NileHeart

  • Origin:

    River name or variation of Niall, Irish
  • Meaning:

    "champion"
  • Description:

    Water names are a cool category these days, and this one of the famous Egyptian river that streamlines the fussier Niles is no exception. Nile is also related to Niall, the Irish Gaelic form of Neal/Neil.

RomaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian place-name
  • Description:

    Never as popular as Florence; today's parents might prefer Venezia, Verona, or Romy. It is also a Hindu name meaning "one with shiny hair" and is another name for the goddess Lakshmi.

RenoHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Has a lively and swaggering sound, and also some unfortunate associations with Reno, city of gambling and failed marriages.

BronxHeart

  • Origin:

    Place name
  • Description:

    Rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz put a new baby name on the map when they chose this downscale New York borough name for their son. The Bronx, the place, was named for early Dutch settler Jonas Bronck. Might Bronx become the next Brooklyn? We'd be surprised if it did.

AbileneHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "grass"
  • Description:

    Abilene is a rarely used place name, mentioned as such in the New Testament, that combines the cowboy spunk of the Texas city with the midwestern morality of the Kansas town where Dwight D. Eisenhower spent his boyhood. Abilene is a much more untrodden path to the nickname Abbie/Abbie than the Top 10 Abigail.

CyprusHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    This Mediterranean island name would be a plausible choice for parents with a Greek or Turkish heritage.

TrinidadHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "holy trinity"
  • Description:

    Rhythmic name with both religious and geographical ties, commonly heard in Latin countries.

SicilyHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Sicily is a lilting Italian place-name that sounds like the elegant British Cicely -- which you might consider a plus or a minus.

VeronaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian place-name
  • Description:

    Verona is a scenic place-name with the added attraction of a Shakespearean connection, as in Two Gentlemen of....

AragonHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish place name
  • Description:

    Equally strong, dramatic and romantic, this name of an old kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula and a modern Spanish community as well, would give a boy an instant pedigree.

SaharaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "desert"
  • Description:

    A beautiful and evocative place-name that deserves wider use.

CaledoniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin place-name for Scotland
  • Meaning:

    "hard or rocky land"
  • Description:

    Caledonia is a rhythmic and alluring place name used by singer Shawn Colvin for her daughter. It would make an interesting and apt choice for a girl with Scottish ancestry.

ZealandHeart

  • Origin:

    English place name from Dutch
  • Meaning:

    "sea land"
  • Description:

    Zealand is the English translation of the Dutch province name Zeeland (originally Seelant). It's more commonly associated with New Zealand, the Oceanic country named by the Dutch. As a baby name, Zealand entered the popularity charts for boys in 2000, but has never been given to more than 40 babies in a single year. It is used for girls as well, but with less frequency.

NairobiHeart

  • Origin:

    African place name
  • Description:

    The capital of Kenya makes a melodic and worldly name.

DominicaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, feminine variation of Dominic
  • Meaning:

    "belonging to the Lord"
  • Description:

    Fashionably Continental and much fresher than Dominique, though it's been used since the Middle Ages. Dominica can be spelled any number of ways, from Dominika to Domenica, but we prefer this version.

ElbaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    The site of Napoleon's exile became the great-great-aunt in the purple hat.

ShenandoahHeart

  • Origin:

    Native American place-name
  • Description:

    While some sources assign the place-name the romantic meaning "beautiful daughter of the stars," the Virginia region itself says the name is of uncertain Native American origin with many possible but no definitive meaning. No matter: Shenandoah is a lovely name that's rare but usable.

PersiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Country name
  • Meaning:

    "land of the Parsa"
  • Description:

    The name Persia derives from Avestan Parsa, the name of the Indo-European nomadic people who migrated into southern Iran in about 1000 BCE. Persis or Persea, the feminine form of Perseus, feel more namelike.

IrelandHeart

  • Origin:

    Place name
  • Description:

    Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin put Ireland on the map when they chose it as a first for their daughter, saying that geographic names were a family tradition. And it seems they were a bit ahead of the curve (or trendsetting)—Ireland has been among the fastest-rising names of recent years. Other Irish place names include Shannon, Kerry, Galway, and Dublin.

CalaisHeart

  • Origin:

    French place-name
  • Description:

    Undiscovered name of picturesque northern French port.

AssisiHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian place-name
  • Description:

    This lovely Umbrian hill town became a striking first name for the young daughter of Jade Jagger.

RomanyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "Romani"
  • Description:

    Romany is a melodious name referring to the Roma or Romani community and their culture, which makes it a potentially controversial choice for a baby not of that heritage. Romany Malco is an actor who appeared on the television show "Weeds." Other similar ideas: Roman, Romano, or Romeo.

JerseyHeart

  • Origin:

    English place name
  • Meaning:

    "Geirr's island"
  • Description:

    An established place name that sounds more appealing when you attach it to the British Isles than to the Garden State. Its etymology is not certain, but it may derive from the Norse name Geirr.

IndioHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "Indian"
  • Description:

    This name of a California desert town, used by Deborah Falconer and Robert Downey, Jr. for their son, makes a much livelier and more individual – not to mention more masculine – improvisation on the themes of India and Indiana.

CharlestonHeart

  • Origin:

    American place-name
  • Description:

    Lovers of the languid South Carolina city might be attracted to this rich-sounding name. Could make an interesting update on Charles -- and can certainly work for a girl too. Actor Joey Lawrence used it for his daughter.

AquitaineHeart

  • Origin:

    French place name
  • Description:

    If you're looking for a really untouristed place name, Aquitaine could be it. Aquitaine is a region of France that includes both Bordeaux and Biarritz and is famous for such food and drink as its pates and cassoulets, Armagnac brandy and Bordeaux wines.

KyotoHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Japanese city name not yet on the map for babies, but why not?

AlamoHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name, Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "poplar tree"
  • Description:

    The unique O-ending makes this name memorable, especially for someone with ties to Texas.

BerlinHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "borderline"
  • Description:

    Edgy German capital with definite possibilities as a baby name.

AlabamaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name; Choctaw
  • Meaning:

    "vegetation gatherers"
  • Description:

    Alabama is a hot southern place-name, picking up from Georgia and Savannah. This is not a geographical name come lately, though--there have been girls named Alabama dating back well over a century.

YorkHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "from the yew estate"
  • Description:

    This British royal family name is rather formal and brusque.

SonoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Sonora may be a more unusual and melodic choice than Sierra, but this Mexican state name may sound too much like Senora to work as a name.

JavaHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicization of Indonesian Jawa; place name
  • Description:

    A name with something for everyone: for romantics, it's a beautiful Indonesian island; for teckies, it's a computer programming language.

AtlantaHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name
  • Description:

    Georgia and Savannah are already popular, but Atlanta is just entering the baby-name map. Atalanta takes it mythological.

VeniceHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian place-name
  • Description:

    This name of one of the most romantic cities in the world could easily find its way onto an American baby girl's birth certificate.

AndorraHeart

  • Origin:

    European place-name
  • Description:

    Andorra is the pretty name of a pocket-sized princedom in the Pyrenees, noted for its skiing.

MarbellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish place name
  • Description:

    The name of the resort city on Spain's Costa del Sol is pronounced mar-BAY-a, setting it apart from the bella-name competition -- though many English speakers won't realize that.

PhilippineHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine variation of Philippe
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Philippine would be taken as an ethnic identification rather than a name in the U.S. Better try Philippa, though if you don't mind eternally correcting people, Philippine can make an interesting alternative. Pippa can be a short form of Philippine as well as Philippa.

ItaliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian place-name
  • Description:

    Authentic, melodic place-name for the adventurous, chosen by rapper LL Cool J for his daughter. Like Roma, Venezia, and Milana, Italia is one of the place-names that make great Italian names for girls.

LouisianaHeart

  • Origin:

    French place-name
  • Description:

    Louisiana is a geographic spin on the Louise theme. Pretty, if a bit of a syllable overload. Short form Lou or Lulu lightens it.
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