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Offbeat Baby Names

Offbeat baby names are those that are just a little bit quirky, a tiny bit unusual, and off the beaten track. These names are unexpected on little babies, either because they’re old-fashioned, like Henrietta and Otis, or they’ve always been outside of the mainstream, such as Thisbe and Macallister.

Along with Otis, other offbeat baby names in the US Top 1000 include Beatrix, Bellamy, Clementine, Cleo, Jacoby, Lyle, Magnus, and Otto. But most quirky baby names fall well outside the most popular list, such as Flavian, Jessamy, Rafferty, and Wednesday.

Quirky names are perfect for creative, individualistic people and their children. Here are some offbeat baby names you might want to consider today.
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ImogenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    Imogen seems to have originated as a Shakespearean printer's misspelling of the traditional Celtic name Innogen, used by him for a character in one of his last plays, Cymbeline. The Innogen of legend, who Shakespeare’s character was based on, was the wife of Brutus of Troy, the first king of Britain. Her name was derived from the Gaelic word inghean, meaning “daughter” or “maiden.”

ClementineHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine version of Clement, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "mild, merciful"
  • Description:

    Clementine is a Nameberry favorite that has finally broken back into the US Top 1000 after more than half a century off the list. Still, its style value may mean there are more Clementines than you might guess in your neighborhood—it may be a name that raises Mom's eyebrows, but it won't surprise your friends.

OttoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy"
  • Description:

    Cutting-edge parents have revived this German name a la Oscar.

MagnusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.

CassianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, variation of Cassius
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • Description:

    Cassian is a saints' and Latin clan name, related to Cassius, that is virtually unused and waiting to be discovered.
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OtisHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy"
  • Description:

    Otis has a double image: it's cool and bluesy a la Otis Redding, but also an upscale, high-society name of the past. Otis has real appeal for parents attracted to its catchy O initial and combination of strength and spunk.

BeatrixHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness; blessed"
  • Description:

    Beatrix, has a solid history of its own apart from Beatrice, with that final x adding a playful, animated note to the name's imposing history. It has been largely associated with Beatrix (born Helen) Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, and Beatrix has been Queen of The Nethelands since 1980.

    The main character in Quentin Tarantino's movie Kill Bill was Beatrix Kiddo, played by Uma Thurman.

DanteHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin diminutive of Durant
  • Meaning:

    "enduring"
  • Description:

    Though closely associated with the great medieval Florentine poet Dante Alighieri -- who's so famous most people skip the last name -- it's not as much of a one-man name as you might think. Heck, it's not even a one-poet name, thanks to British pre-Rapahaelite Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Though especially well used in the Italian-American community, it would make a striking name for any little boy.

CleoHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "glory"
  • Description:

    Cleo, one of the few girls' names to boast the cool-yet-lively o ending, is of course short for Cleopatra, the name of one of the most powerful women in history.

CressidaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gold"
  • 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.
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BellamyHeart

  • Origin:

    English and Irish from French
  • Meaning:

    "fine friend"
  • Description:

    Bellamy is a surname name with an admirable meaning and upbeat rhythm, similar to jovial choices like Rafferty, Barnaby and Willoughby.

OttilieHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of German OTTO,
  • Meaning:

    "prosperous in battle"
  • Description:

    Ottilie and its diminutive Ottiline are a pair of names heard among the British upper crust, but have rarely been seen here since the 1880's. Though it has German roots via Otto, Ottilie has a distinctively delicate French feel.

PhineasHeart

  • Origin:

    English, Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "the Nubian"
  • Description:

    Phineas is the English variation of Phinehas, a Hebrew name likely derived from the Egyptian name Pa-nehasi. Pa-nehasi, meaning “the Nubian” can also be translated as “the bronze-colored one.” The Egyptians distinguished themselves from their Nubian neighbors through differences in skin tone.

TallulahHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, Anglicized variation of Tuilelaith, or Choctaw
  • Meaning:

    "lady of abundance, or leaping water"
  • Description:

    As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)

SoleilHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "sun"
  • Description:

    An attractive French word name known here via former child TV star Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punky Brewster. It started to be lightly used in the U.S. in the 1920's, and is now attracting some attention as both a sunny nature and an exotic name. It's currently Number 680 on Nameberry.
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RufusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "red-head"
  • Description:

    Rufus is a rumpled, redheaded (it was the nickname for red-haired King William) ancient Roman name popular with saints and singers (e.g. Rufus Wainwright); now, Rufus is on the cutting edge of cool.

CosmoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "order, beauty"
  • Description:

    We all heard it on "Seinfeld" as the long-concealed first name of Kramer, now some pioneering parents are wondering if this expansive Greek name that seems to embrace the whole cosmos could make a creative and cool choice for their baby.

RemusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Remus is one of the legendary twins who, with brother Romulus, founded Rome. An unusual yet classic name for the extremely adventurous who can put aside the stereotyped image of Uncle Remus. Though because of that "ream" first syllable, we prefer Romulus.

RaffertyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "floodtide, abundance, prosperity"
  • Description:

    Jaunty and raffish, Rafferty is one of the most engaging of the Irish surnames, used by Jude Law and Sadie Frost for their son. Fortunately, it doesn't still go by its original form: O'Raighbheartaigh.

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.
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CormacHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "charioteer"
  • Description:

    Both offbeat and upbeat, this evocative traditional Irish name that runs through Celtic mythology is known here via award-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy (born Charles). The author's adopted name is related to Cormac Mac Airt, one of the great legendary high kings of Ireland.

PrimroseHeart

  • Origin:

    English flower name
  • Meaning:

    "first rose"
  • Description:

    Still found in quaint British novels, and until recently considered a bit too prim for most American classrooms, some adventurous namers are suddenly beginning to see Primrose as an attractive member of the rose family.

LinusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "flax"
  • Description:

    Can Linus lose its metaphorical security blanket and move from the Peanuts page onto the birth certificate? We think it has enough charm and other positive elements going for it for the answer to be yes.

HamishHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish variation of James
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Just as Seamus/Seumus is Irish for James, Hamish is the Scottish form — one that's not often used here, but still redolent of Olde Scotland. If you're ready to go further than Duncan and Malcolm, out to Laird and Ewan territory, this may be worth consideration. It also sounds just like the Yiddish word for homey.

RupertHeart

  • Origin:

    German variation of Robert
  • Meaning:

    "bright fame"
  • Description:

    Rupert is a charming-yet-manly name long more popular in Britain (where it's attached to a beloved cartoon bear) than in the U.S. Yet we can see Rupert as a more stylish, modern way to honor an ancestral Robert.
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CocoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and French pet name
  • Description:

    Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.

BoazHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "swiftness"
  • Description:

    Now that such Old Testament patriarchs as Elijah and Moses fill the playground, Boaz seems downright baby-friendly, having more pizzazz than many of the others, perhaps as a successor to Noah.

RowenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "white spear or famous friend"
  • Description:

    A fabled storybook name via the heroine of Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe (1819), which featured a heroine called Rowena of Hargottstanstede, and also a Harry Potter name, as Rowena Ravenclaw, founder of one of the Hogwarts houses.. Rowena has some old-fashioned charm, though most modern parents seem to prefer Rowen. Pronunciation, however, is NOT like Rowen with an a at the end, but with a long e and an emphasis on the middle syllable.. She was on the popularity list until 1963, several years in the Top 500.

CelestiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Celeste, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "heavenly"
  • Description:

    Celestia is a heavenly name that sounds more ethereal than Celeste, Celestia might make a distinctive, feminine choice if your taste runs toward names like Angelina and Seraphina.

ChesterHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "fortress, walled town,"
  • Description:

    Chester is a comfortable, little-used teddy-bear of a name that suddenly sounds both quirky and cuddly.
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BillieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Wilhelmina, Wilma
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Billie is a tomboy nickname name, part of the growing trend for using boyish nicknames for girls and now destined for stardom along with its most famous contemporary bearer, music sensation Billie Eilish.

RomyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Rosemary, Roma, Romana, Romilly etc.
  • Description:

    Austrian actress Romy Schneider seemed to be the singular bearer of this international nickname name until it found new style currency in the past decade.

RoscoeHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "deer forest"
  • Description:

    Fairly popular a hundred years ago but out of sight now, the quirky Roscoe deserves a place on every adventurous baby-namer's long list. It joins Rufus, Roman, Remy, Romulus, and Ray as one of the R names that sound fresh again after too many years of Robert, Richard, and Ronald.

AramintaHeart

  • Origin:

    Invented hybrid name from Arabella and Aminta
  • Description:

    Araminta is an enchanting eighteenth-century invention familiar in Britain and just beginning to be discovered here. It was used in 1693 by William Congreve in his comedy The Old Bachelor, and in 1705 by the versatile Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace as well as a playwright, for his comedy The Confederacy.

OonaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, variation of Una
  • Meaning:

    "lamb"
  • Description:

    Oona is a name made famous by Eugene O'Neill's daughter, who became Charlie Chaplin's wife. One of the original Oona's granddaughters was named after her, and is now an actress famous in her own right for playing Talisa of Volantis in HBO's "Game of Thrones." The double-o beginning gives their name a lot of oomph.
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ZiggyHeart

  • Origin:

    German, diminutive of Siegfried and Sigmund
  • Description:

    The ultimate nicknamey name, à la Ziggy Stardust or the comic-strip character Ziggy. Then again, there's Ziggy Marley, and most anything Marley is cool. Originally named David, his father Bob Marley gave him the nickname "Ziggy" due to the soccer move of the same name.

BalthazarHeart

  • Origin:

    Phoenician
  • Meaning:

    "Baal protects the King"
  • Description:

    This evocative name of one of the Three Wise Men of the Orient, also spelled Balthasar, may finally be ready for prime time. Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar were the Magi who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus, though their names were not mentioned in the Bible.

InigoHeart

  • Origin:

    Basque, medieval Spanish variation of Ignatius
  • Meaning:

    "fiery"
  • Description:

    Inigo, almost unknown in the U.S., is an intriguing choice, with its strong beat, creative and evocative sound, and associations with the great early British architect and stage designer Inigo Jones. The sixteenth-seventeenth century Jones shared his name with his father, a London clockmaker, who received it when Spanish names for boys were fashionable in England, especially among devout Roman Catholics.

JethroHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "excellence"
  • Description:

    Jethro, though the biblical father-in-law of Moses, has suffered for a long time from a Beverly Hillbilly image, but some really adventurous parents might consider updating and urbanizing it and transitioning it into the hip o-ending category.

ScoutHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real-life possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now grown middle daughter, followed by Tom Berenger a few years later. A unisex choice that is growing in popularity for both genders -- but given to girls about four times more often than to boys -- it was picked by skater Tai Babilonia for her son and Kerri Walsh for her daughter Scout Margery.
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TabithaHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "gazelle"
  • Description:

    Though never as popular as the name of her Bewitched mother, Samantha, Tabitha has its own quirky, magical charm. The name of a charitable woman who was restored to life by Saint Peter in the Bible, it was a popular Puritan choice. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick chose it for one of their twin daughters, which gave it a slight boost. Nonetheless, Tabitha remains in decline.

LaszloHeart

  • Origin:

    Hungarian
  • Meaning:

    "glorious ruler"
  • Description:

    The Hungarian classic Laszlo, with its zippy 'z' middle and energetic 'o' ending, has become something of a hipster option, beginning to be considered by cutting-edge parents.

AnoukHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch and French variation of Anna
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anouk, made famous by French actress Anouk Aimée, is a singular name with a lovely sound and a Bohemian feel. Anouk Aimée was born as Francoise, but adopted the first name of the character she played in her debut film.

HenriettaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Henry
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Despite a return to such feminizations of male names as Josephine, Clementine, and Theodora, starchy Henrietta has not made it into that group. Still, if you look hard enough, you'll see that Henrietta has the same vintage charm.

LyleHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish and English from French
  • Meaning:

    "someone who lives on an island"
  • Description:

    Straightforward single-syllable name, but be warned that by the time he's three, any Lyle will be sick of hearing "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile".
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CorneliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Cornelius, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "horn"
  • Description:

    In ancient Rome, Cornelia was considered the paragon of womanly virtue, making it a handsome name with an excellent pedigree. It's rare today, so if you want a name no one else is using, somewhat reminiscent of Amelia and the Shakespearean Cordelia, Cornelia should be on your list. Cornelia's short forms might include Cora, Nelia or Nell--anything but Corny.

HoratioHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Latin Horatius
  • Meaning:

    "hour, time"
  • Description:

    Like Horace, Horatio is a variation on the Latin Horatius, but its Shakespearean and optimistic Horatio Alger pedigree makes it an attractive up-and-comer, especially with its cool final o. A modern reference is the charismatic TV character Horatio Caine played by David Caruso in CSI: Miami.

BrunoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brown"
  • Description:

    Bruno is a popular name throughout Europe and South America that deserves more attention here. Its color meaning makes it one of the perfect names for November babies, or really a boy born in any of the autumn months.

ElioraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is my light"
  • Description:

    Eliora is a melodic name ripe with vowel sounds.

LlewellynHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh, variation of Llywelyn
  • Meaning:

    "leader's image"
  • Description:

    Llewellyn/Llywelyn is a common patriotic first name in Wales, with its distinctive Welsh double LL's; in the U.S. Llewellyn would make a daring choice, though with the chance that some might find the ellen sound slightly feminine.
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