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Unique Names from History

Unique Names from History
Unique baby names aren't only the new and the invented; there are also many highly unusual names with deep historic roots. Celebrities have chosen unique historical names such as Hero and Lozen for their children.

Along with Hero and Lozen, other fashionable and unique names from history that would work well on modern babies include Alaric, Cassia, Cato, Eluned, Isolde, Leonidas, Meliora, and Xerxes. Among those with the strongest ties to their historical figures are Cicero, Godiva, Nefertiti, and Siddhartha.

Read more about this topic in our overview on unique names of every kind. Here's a selection of the most intriguing, but you'll find many more in our lists of mythological names, biblical names, and names from ancient cultures.

AureliusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "the golden one"
  • Description:

    Since Aurelius was given the supermodel seal of approval by Elle Macpherson, this is one of the Roman emperor names, like Augustus, now in the realm of possibility. Like the female Aurelia and Aurora, Aurelius has a particularly warm golden aura.

IsoldeHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "ice ruler"
  • Description:

    Now that Tristan has been rediscovered, maybe it's time for his fabled lover in the Arthurian romances and Wagnerian opera, a beautiful Irish princess, to be brought back into the light as well.

CassiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine form of Cassius or Greek
  • Meaning:

    "cinnamon"
  • Description:

    Cassia is related to the cassia tree, which has yellow flowers and produces a spice that can be a substitute for cinnamon. Keziah, the name of Job’s daughter in the Old Testament, derives from the name of the plant as well. Cassia also has ties to the Ancient Roman name Cassius, an Ancient Roman family name meaning "hollow."

LeifHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "heir, descendant"
  • Description:

    Leif is one of the most recognizable Scandinavian names, thanks to Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson, and is still one of the best, with a pleasant aural association with the word leaf.

AlaricHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "all-powerful ruler"
  • Description:

    Alaric is an ancient regal name that sounds modern enough to be considered. Alaric was a traditional name for the kings of the Ostrogoths, the most famous of whom was Alaric I, the King of the West Goths who sacked Rome in 410.

LiviaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Olivia or Latin
  • Meaning:

    "blue, envious"
  • Description:

    Though it sounds like a chopped-off variation of Olivia, which means olive, the distinctively attractive Livia has been an independent name since the days of the ancient Romans, when it belonged to Livia Drusilla—the powerful wife of the Emperor Augustus—and is still commonly heard in modern Italy.

AliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic feminine form of Ali
  • Meaning:

    "supreme, exalted"
  • Description:

    Alia is most classic and feminine form of Ali, one of the 99 attributes of Allah. The name is used by Christians, Muslims and Jews; the word Aliyah means to make a pilgrimage to Israel and the words in both languages mean sublime, lofty, or exalted. Alia is also the name of the heroine of Frank Herbert's science fiction classic Children of Dune

CatoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "all-knowing"
  • Description:

    Cato conjures up images of ancient Roman statesmen and southern antebellum retainers; it could have revival potential, with its 'O' ending and the current interest in the names of Greek and Roman antiquity.

IvoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "yew wood, archer"
  • Description:

    Ivo is an unusual, catchy name with the energetic impact of all names ending in 'o'. Hardly heard in the U.S., it is used a bit more frequently in England, as is the related Ivor, a favorite of such novelists as Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse. Ivo is currently most popular in the Netherlands.

AchillesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "thin-lipped"
  • Description:

    The name of the great Homeric hero with the vulnerable heel (portrayed by Brad Pitt in Troy) is widely used in European versions but rarely here. It certainly make a strong statement It premiered on the US Top 1000 list in 2015 and has been climbing ever since.

LeonidasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "lion"
  • Description:

    Leonidas is an ancient name that has started rising again along with centuries-old names such as Augustus and Cato. The original Leonidas was the most famous of Sparta's warriors, sacrificing his life at the Battle of Thermopylae; there is also a saint Leonidas.

AletheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    Alethea, the name of the Greek goddess of truth, came into fashion in England in the 16th century, in tandem with the virtue names. Alethea may find new favor now as one of the goddess names stylish for baby girls.

ConstantineHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "steadfast"
  • Description:

    This Roman Emperor's name has long been considered too grand for an American boy. But in this era of children named Augustine and Atticus, it just may be prime for an unlikely comeback.

AmbrosiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name or feminine form of Ambrose, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "Immortal"
  • Description:

    Ambrosia combines some of the more whimsical qualities of more popular Aurora and Isabella, with a heavenly meaning.

BrutusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "heavy, dull"
  • Description:

    Brutus is the quintessential brute--far too close to the word brutal. And any child with this name would spend much of his life hearing "Et tu."

GalenHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "calm, healer"
  • Description:

    Many will associate this name with Galen of Pergamon, the second-century physician considered to be the founding father of medicine. A more recent reference is Star Wars character Galen Erso. The name still projects a gentle, scholarly image, while sharing sounds with more popular names like Aiden and Nathan. Bonus: it's also an anagram of Angel.

ErasmusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "beloved, desired"
  • Description:

    Erasmus has long retained the image of the bearded and bespectacled Dutch philosopher, but could be one that the audacious baby namer just might dare to dust off.

XerxesHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "hero among heroes"
  • Description:

    The two X's may be a challenge for even the most intrepid baby namer. Xerxes was the name of two early kings of Persia and the Handel opera Serse or Xerxes is loosely based on Xerxes I.

ArtemisiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Artemis, Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    You might think Artemisia is the feminine form of the name, but in fact the original Artemis is feminine too, the name of the Greek mythological goddess of the moon. Artemisia Gentileschi was an esteemed Italian Baroque painter, unusual in an era when not many women were acknowledged. Artemisia is also a genus of plants which include sagebrush and tarragon.

AcaciusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "thorny; or, innocent, not evil"
  • Description:

    Acacius is a Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Akakios and can be interpreted to relate to the same root as the name Acacia, for the thorn bush, or Akakios which means "not evil." With the modern taste for ancient names that end in "us," this obscure but attractive choice may have a chance of new life. Acacius is the name of three early saints.

ApolloniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, Feminine variation of Apollo, Greek sun god.
  • Description:

    This name of a third-century Christian martyr has an romantic, appealing feel in the modern world. It first came to American attention via Prince's love interest in the film Purple Rain.

HeroHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "demi-god"
  • Description:

    Despite the possibility of gender confusion, the Hero in Greek myth was a woman. Myleene Klass got that when she chose Hero for her daughter, and Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson used it as their daughter's middle--and we wouldn't be surprised to see more girls with this heroic name.

DrusillaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "fruitful"
  • Description:

    Drusilla is an ancient Roman name, (probably) borne by descendants of Antony and Cleopatra, and is one of the 'illa' names that are ready for a comeback, especially with its cute short form Dru.

CleopatraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "glory of the father"
  • Description:

    A royal name in ancient Egypt that's never quite made it to the modern world, though nickname Cleo is widely used. Other now-extinct Cleopatra diminutives, including Cleora and Cleola, achieved some popularity in the early 20th century when there was a crazy for all things Egypt-related as the ancient tombs were opened and artifacts displayed. In the US, Cleopatra became a popular silent film in 1917 starring Theda Bara.

PippinHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Pepin
  • Meaning:

    "awe-inspiring"
  • Description:

    Super-sweet name that was the title of a Broadway play -- but best known as a type of apple. The Dutch variation is Pepijn is finding some popularity in that country, where short nickname names are stylish.

TheodosiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "giving to God"
  • Description:

    This feminine form of Theodosius has long been buried deep in the attic, but might be a good discovery for the parent who wants to move beyond Theodora. Vice President Aaron Burr named a daughter Theodosia ("Dear Theodosia" is a song in the smash musical Hamilton), and it was the birth name of silent screen vamp Theda Bara. Theodosia actually appeared on the US popularity lists in the 1880s and 90s.

CiceroHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "chickpea"
  • Description:

    Roman statesman's name used here for slaves by owners trying to show off their classical education -- and rarely heard since. A bold baby namer could try to bring it into modern life.

ElunedHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "idol, image"
  • 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.

GodricHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglo-Saxon
  • Meaning:

    "God's power"
  • Description:

    Godric is one of the unique baby names that has found more exposure since J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe came into our lives. Godric Gryffindor is an important historical figure in the series. In real life, Godric was a name popular in middle England, with many saints and sheriffs of the 11th century bearing the name. Godric, like other old English names Arthur, Edwin and Oswald, has potential to make a comeback as an easily-recognizable but creative choice for parents looking for names that are unique without being too challenging.

AnselmHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "with divine protection"
  • Description:

    A somewhat solemn appellation, Anselm is a saint's name, connected to the twelfth century archbishop of Canterbury, and in modern times tied to the German neo-expressionist painter Anselm Kiefer.

SenecaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin surname and Native American
  • Meaning:

    "people of the standing rock"
  • Description:

    Seneca's distinguished heritage as the name of the ancient Roman philosopher-playwright who tutored Nero, and of an Iroquois tribe makes this an interesting choice for either sex.

WulfricHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wolf power"
  • Description:

    Most famous as one of the many middle names of Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter, Wulfric is an earlier form of the medieval English name Ulric. It has also belonged to an 11th- century Earl of Mercia and a 12th-century saint.

HannibalHeart

  • Origin:

    Punic and Assyrian
  • Meaning:

    "grace of Baal, god of fertility and fortune"
  • Description:

    These days, it's thought of less as the name of the great general and more as the first name of Lecter the fictional cannibal. Either association is too heavy for a child to bear.

RamsesHeart

  • Origin:

    Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "son of God"
  • Description:

    Ramses was the name of several kings in Ancient Egypt, including the long-reigning Ramses II, known as Ramses the Great. Unfortuntely, some may associate it with the condom brand name.

AvilaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "desired; or island, water"
  • Description:

    An unusual and appealing name that is the origin of Evelyn, via the Norman French name Aveline. It derives from an obscure Germanic root, the meaning of which is not clear. Theories include "desired, wished for" and "water, island".

AttilaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hungarian
  • Meaning:

    "little father"
  • Description:

    Stun-gunned by the fifth-century Hun, though still well-used in contemporary Hungary and Turkey. Some sources also suggest Turkish origins for the name.

BathshebaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "daughter of an oath"
  • Description:

    Popular with the Puritans, this name of the shrewd and beautiful wife of King David and mother of King Solomon could be a bit of a load for a modern girl to carry.

BoudiccaHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "victory"
  • Description:

    First century queen who led her Brittonic Iceni tribe in revolution against the Romans occupying England. Also found as Boudica, Boadicea (as in bodacious) and in Welsh as Buddug, the historic namesake was defeated and committed suicide, but is still celebrated in England as intelligent and brave. One ancient name that, while unheard these days, could be revived along with such choices as Atticus and Cassius.

MelioraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, Cornish
  • Meaning:

    "better; honey"
  • Description:

    Unusual and lush Roman name adopted, improbably, by the Puritans.

AstaHeart

  • Origin:

    Norwegian
  • Meaning:

    "divine strength"
  • Description:

    This Scandinavian name was made famous in English-speaking countries as the name of the dog in the "Thin Man" series. Danish actress Asta Nielsen was another famous bearer. Asta can be considered as a short form of Astrid or Augusta.

ArchimedesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "master planner"
  • Description:

    Archimedes of Syracuse was a famous Ancient Greek thinker, especially in the fields of mathematics and sciences. He made important contributions to geometry and calculus. His name was a perfect choice, meaning "master planner" or "master thinker". This off-the-beaten-track choice of name was given to 10 little boys in the US in 2014. We recommend it to more parents, especially those with a penchant for all things ancient or mathematical.

EvadneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pleasing one"
  • Description:

    In Greek mythology, Evadne was the daughter of Poseidon. Evadne also appears in literature (Mary Shelley's "The Last Man") and has a pop culture reference as the cousin of Wonder Woman. A more unusual alternative to other Greek "-ee" names like Ariadne, Daphne and Penelope. The trendy "Ev" sound makes this a lovely choice in a world of Evelyns, Evangelines and Everlys.

IsmayHeart

  • Origin:

    Possible variation of Esme
  • Meaning:

    "esteemed, beloved"
  • Description:

    The rise of the the various Isabel names may give a boost to this variation, which has a sunny, springtime feel.

CharisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Reference to the mythological Three Graces of womanly charm, this one representing charity. Pronounced in Greek as starting with a back-of-the-throat H sound, most English-speakers would translate that to something closer to KAR-is. It's also the name of a girl who lived in Atlantis in the novel Taliesin, and appears in the Margaret Atwood novel The Robber Bride.

CorinnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    Delicate and gentle old-fashioned name, the kind found in early English poetry. While Corinna and the original Green Korinna are technically diminutives of the ancient Kore, now the popular Cora, this name will often be mistaken for other similar-sounding though unrelated names, such as Karenna. But it's pretty and is backed by more tradition than you'd guess.

CassanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "light of man"
  • Description:

    Cassander is the masculine form of Cassandra, and the name of an ancient king of Macedon from the 3rd century BC. It could make a nice alternative to Alexander or a refreshing way to honour a female relative named Cassie/Cassandra/Sandra.

SapphoHeart

  • Origin:

    Ancient Greek
  • Meaning:

    "sapphire"
  • Description:

    Name of the 7th century BC Greek lyric poet born on the island of Lesbos, whose name has been synonymous with lesbian love. Though this name is rarely used today, it certainly could be and, some might say, SHOULD be revived.

JevonHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh, variation of Evan
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Yet another offshoot of the original John, also sometimes used as Jevan or Yevan.

SolonHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "the wise one"
  • Description:

    Despite the reputation of the sagacious ancient Greek lawmaker, this name hasn't moved to the modern world.
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