Unusual Boy Names
Along with Stellan and Cashel, other unusual boy names worth considering include Barnaby, Cassian, Fielding, Grover, Hart, Lorcan, Orson, and Ward. Many names that are popular internationally are unusual in the US, such as Hamish, Laszlo, Linus, and Stanislav.
These names may be unusual in popularity, but they don’t skimp on style. If you're looking for boy names that are so unique that your son is sure to be the only one with his name in his classroom — or maybe even his state! — check out the selections here.
Description:Cassius, a Shakespearean name rooted in antiquity, is coming into fashion in a major way. There were two notable Ancient Roman figures named Cassius. Cassius Dio wrote an 80-volume history of Rome. Gaius Cassius Longinus, a senator who led the assassination plot against Julius Caesar, is the main figure in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. In more modern times, Cassius Clay was an abolitionist and also the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali. It was chosen for their sons by singer Bobby Brown and Getty heir/actor Balthazar Getty. Vanessa Marcil and Brian Austin Green used the nouveau Kassius spelling for theirs. With these namesakes, it's no surprise this name has become popular in recent years.
Origin:Latin, variation of Cassius
Description:Cassian is a saints' and Latin clan name, related to Cassius, that is virtually unused and waiting to be discovered.
Origin:English, diminutive of Christopher
Description:Actor Kit Harington, aka the dreamy Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, has given this nickname-name new style and appeal for boys. Actress Jodie Foster used it for her son. For girls, it's an updated diminutive of Katherine.
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.
Origin:Polish and Slavic
Meaning:"destroyer of peace"
Description:Casimir, a traditional name of Polish kings, would have problems assimilating here. But like Leopold and Laszlo, Casimir is strong and exotic and worth considering if you've got an adventurous streak -- and bet your son will too.
Description:Amias or Amyas is a unique name with an attractive sound and feel and a lovely meaning. Though it might sound like a Biblical name, it is not, but is a surname that may be related to Amadeus or even be a male version of Amy--which would make it one of the few boys' names to be derived from a girls'.
Description:Though it has a Scandinavian ring, this is an out-of-the-ordinary Irish family name. The hard 'T' at the beginning prevents it from sounding as feminine as, say, Loren. Torin's Passage was an early video game.
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.
Origin:Italian from Greek
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.
Origin:Male variation of Calixta or Latin
Description:Calix derives from the Latin word for chalice, calyx, which in turn came from the Ancient Greek word kálux, meaning “husk” or “pod.” It is also considered a diminutive of Calixtus, a variation of the Late Roman name Callistus meaning “most beautiful.” Calyx can also be spelled Calyx, as in the funnel or chalice-shaped part of a flower.
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.
Origin:Latin and English
Description:Orson has had in the past a rotund teddy-bear image, a la Orson Welles, who early on dropped his common given name of George in favor of his more distinctive middle one, and who seemed to own it during his lifetime. No longer a single-person signature, it's now an interesting possibility for any parent seeking an unusual yet solid name. It's started to appear to the celeb set--both Paz Vega and Lauren Ambrose have little Orsons.
Origin:Scottish variation of James
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.
Description:Lorcan is a name rich in Irish history as belonging to several kings, including the grandfather of the most famous high king of Ireland, Brian Boru. Lorcan O'Toole, known in English as Laurence O'Toole, is the patron saint of Dublin, so it's not too surprising that Irish-born actor Peter O'Toole named his son Lorcan.
Description:Everyone says they want an unusual name — well, if you truly do, this is one with Biblical cred that fits the bill, with the added attraction of the user-friendly nickname of Oz or Ozzie. Ozias is the name of several minor figures in the Bible. Osias is another spelling.
Origin:Swedish, meaning unknown , possibly "calm"
Description:Stellan is a strong, attractive, Scandinavian possible up-and-comer, known through actor Stellan Skarsgard, and his namesake, the son of Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany. Its trendy 'an' ending and the similarity in sound to the popular Kellen/Kellan make it all the more accessible.
Origin:Scottish and Irish
Meaning:"man of force"
Description:In Celtic lore, Fergus was the ideal of manly courage; Fergus is a charming, slightly quirky Scottish and Irish favorite.
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.
Origin:Variation of Auberon
Description:The Shakespearean character Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream is King of the Fairies, but the name, with its strong 'O' beginning, projects a far more virile image than that.
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.
Origin:Basque, medieval Spanish variation of Ignatius
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.
Meaning:"estate of the fifth son"
Description:Quirky in the way that all Q names are quirky, Quincy was once a buttoned-up, patrician New England name, an image countered in recent years by the talented and ultracool musician Quincy Jones (middle name: Delight; nickname: Q).
Origin:English variation of Barnabas, Aramaic
Meaning:"son of consolation"
Description:Barnaby, a genial and energetic name with an Irish-sounding three-syllable lilt, is an ancient appellation that manages to be both unusual and highly attractive and deserves to be used more than it is. A sweet-spot name that's a real winner.
Description:This aristocratic, somewhat formal Germanic route to the popular Leo is a royal name: Queen Victoria used it to honor a favorite uncle, King Leopold of Belgium. Though Leopold sounds as if it might be a leonine name, it's not really a relative of such choices as Leon, and Leonard.
Meaning:"one who pierces the valley"
Description:There are several Percivals scattered through the Harry Potter series, which might help transform the old-fangled, fussy image it has accrued. Actually, the original Percival was the one perfectly pure Knight of the Round Table, a worthy hero. The name was invented in the twelfth century by a poet named Chretien de Troyes, for his ideal knight in the poem Percevale, a Knight of King Arthur.
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.
Origin:Irish version of Malachi, Hebrew
This spelling, which came to the attention of readers of the best-selling Angela's Ashes as the name of author Frank McCourt's father and brother, the latter of whom wrote a bestseller of his own, lends the biblical name a more expansive, almost boisterous image. Malachy is one of the Irish baby names that manages to strike the golden mean between familiarity and distinctiveness.
Description:Wilfred is one of those Old Man Names that still sounds fusty in the US but is fashionable in the UK. It comes with readymade short forms Will or Fred and might make an adventurous alternative to the ubiquitous William. The central character of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe is the knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Wilfred Owens was a well-known British poet.
Description:The name of the greatest Roman poet and an early Irish saint who believed the earth was round, Virgil is heard most notably today as the name of designer Virgil Abloh of Off-White.
Meaning:"of the Tiber"
Description:The name of an important ancient Roman emperor, Tiberius might sound a bit heavy for a modern boy to carry, but with the rise of Atticus, Tiberius and brothers begin to feel more baby-friendly, much in the same way as Old Testament names like Elijah and Isaiah have been rejuvenated.
Meaning:"beloved of the Lord"
Description:Jedidiah, an Old Testament name with a touch of Gunsmoke-era western panache, is right in line to be revived along with the other biblical -iah names.
Description:Crispin, which was introduced into the mainstream by actor Crispin Glover and which means "curly-haired" in Latin, has an image very much like its first syllable: crisp, autumnal, and colorful.
Origin:English from German
Description:Rarely heard in the US, Auberon has a gentle autumnal feel rare in a male name. Possibly starting as a pet form of Aubrey, it was also infuenced by Oberon, the king of the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:The name of the brave, resourceful hero of Homer's epic saga has almost always been considered too weighty for a child to bear, but at this point, some brave, resourceful parents out there might be willing to take it on.
Origin:Spanish and Cornish variation of Jacob
Description:Jago is a dashing alternative to overused favorite Jacob.
Meaning:"citizen of Rome"
Description:He was the original Roman, Remus's twin and a founder of Rome. But parents attracted to this name are advised to read the legend first. Romulus does have some less than savory characteristics, including killing his twin brother and making Rome in his own image, and is later deified as Quinnius. Romy and Quinn might make good twin names.
Origin:Persian, variation of Gaspar
Meaning:"keeper of the treasure"
Description:After half a century, this otherwise feasible name has at last started to lose its link to the friendly ghost; it certainly didn't scare model Claudia Schiffer, who chose it for her son, as did Atomic Kitten Jenny Frost. Iconoclastic namer Jason Lee switched genders and called his daughter Casper. Also related to the revived Jasper, Caspar seems headed towards the path to a similar resurgence.
Origin:Latinized variation of German Tillman, “one who plows the earth”
Description:One of the coolest of names, thanks to legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk, who inherited this Latin-sounding German name from his father. It has been used very sparingly since the 1960's, with just a sprinkling of baby boys receiving the name each year, though it's one of the unique baby names we predict will get much less unique as more parents embrace its quirky charms.
Meaning:"exaltation or little dwelling"
Description:An Old Testament name with a Puritan feel and post-Zachary possibilities--one of several routes to the cool nickname Zeb.
Description:Piers was the first version of Peter to reach the English-speaking world, via the Normans, but it's never made it in the US, despite its large measure of understated panache. This might change due to the high visibility of TV personality and former news editor Piers Morgan.
Meaning:"castle, stone fort"
Description:Cashel is one of the many appealing Irish names that have not yet emigrated to the US. Cashel was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller for their son.
Description:Phelan, pronounced FAY-lan or FEE-lan, is an appealing Irish surname name, with a rich history in Irish myth and religious and secular life. One bearer was a fiercely loyal follower of the legendary warrior Finn MacCool, another was a missionary saint.
Description:Hart could be the hero of a romantic novel, but on the other hand, it's short, straightforward, and strong sounding. The most famous bearer of the name was tragic poet Hart (born Harold) Crane, but it also has musical cred via Lorenz Hart, of the classic Rodgers & Hart songwriting duo and a literary tie to playwright Moss Hart.
Description:Vaughn, also commonly spelled Vaughan, has been used quietly over the years, reaching a peak of Number 349 in 1949. It is now in the process of rediscovery, being seen as a good Sean alternative or an updated way to honor an ancestral Paul (which also means small).
Description:Clancy, one of the original crossover Irish surname names, is as energetic and appealing as ever — full of moxie, more distinctive than Casey, and also one of the less obvious of the red-headed names.
Origin:English occupational surname
Description:Booker would make for a very cool name, for writers, reformers, R & B fans and those wanting to pay tribute to Booker T. Washington.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Calloway is one of those irresistibly jaunty, animated three-syllable surnames, like Sullivan and Finnegan — but this one has the added attraction of jazzy ties to the immortal "Dean of American Jive," Cab Calloway.
Origin:French variation of Ralph
Description:Raoul, with its unique three-vowel middle, rolls off the tongue in an appealing way. Raoul is one of the French names that sounds infinitely more romantic and attractive than the somewhat harsh English version Ralph.
Description:This Irish name of a saint from the Isle of Aran also appears in myth and fantasy fiction, giving it an intriguing, mystical air.
Origin:Irish, variant of Diarmaid/Dermot
Description:Kermit was a Top 500 name until the 1960s, not coincidentally the decade in which Kermit the Frog became well known, proving that it isn't easy being green, even for a name. But we think it's time for some of those appealing Sesame Street names--Kermit, Elmo, Grover--to be taken out of that context and be considered on their own.