Unique, Unusual, and Rare Girl Names
By rare, unusual and unique girl names, we mean names that don't rank in the Top 100 or even Top 1000 in most countries, which makes these names uncommon no matter where you live. Still, some unique names are more appealing than others.
Unique names with nature ties seem to be especially primed to rise in popularity. Along with Bay and Bee, unique nature names for girls we may see taking off include Fleur, Garnet, Lilac, Marine, Petal, and Solstice.
Unique girl names with celebrity ties also have a better-than-average chance of becoming, well, less unique. These include Blue, Banks, Eleven, Tilda, and Winslet.
Of course, there are thousands upon thousands of unique names for baby girls. The unique names for girls listed here are ranked in order of their popularity on Nameberry, for the first 50, and below that the unique girl names are ordered A to Z.
Access lots more information on unique, uncommon, and rare names on our Unique Names page or our blog on Rare Girl Names.
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.
Description:Flora, the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, who enjoyed eternal youth, is one of the gently old-fashioned girls' flower names we think is due for a comeback--alongside cousins Cora and Dora. Also the name of a saint, Flora has long been a favorite in Scotland where it was the name of the young heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie make his way to France. Florence, Fiorella, Fleur, and Flower are translations, but we like Flora best of all.
Origin:Flower name, from Old English
Description:Clover is a charming, perky choice if you want to move beyond hothouse blooms like Rose and Lily, and it's recently become a new celeb favorite, chosen by both Neal McDonough and Natasha Gregson Wagner, who used it to honor her mother, Natalie Wood, one of whose most iconic films was Inside Daisy Clover.
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.
Description:A beautiful modern Cornish nature name that is rapidly picking up steam in the States: even spawning variant spellings like Elowyn and Elowynn. In its native region, it wasn't widely used as a name before the twentieth century, when the Cornish language was revived. A (currently) unique member of the fashionble El- family of names, it has a pleasant, evocative sound.
Description:Birdie was until recently a middle-aged Ladies' Club member wearing a bird-decorated hat --but now it's just the kind of vintage nickname (think Hattie, Josie, Mamie, Millie) that's coming back into style in a big way. Actress Busy Philipps named her baby Birdie (inspired by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson), as did soap star Maura West.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Cassiopeia, the name of a mythological mother who became a stellar constellation, is challenging but intriguing, and has all those softening Cass nicknames available. With the rise of other otherworldly and mythical choices, from Apollo to Jupiter to Juno, Cassiopeia may just feel more possible for mortals now than ever before in its long history.
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:English, diminutive of Helen, Eleanor, et al
Meaning:"bright, shining one"
Description:Nell, once a nickname for Helen, Ellen, or Eleanor, is a sweet old-fashioned charmer that is fashionably used today in its own right. While Nell is perfectly in tune with contemporary vintage name style, it hasn't taken off the way some of its sisters have and so maintains an air of distinction. Use Nell or Nellie as a short for any name from Eleanor to Penelope or just name her Nell.
Meaning:"of the stars"
Description:A kind of Jetsons-like, intergalactic name, it's attached both to a comic book character and to Princess Astra on "Doctor Who".
Meaning:"sun, radiant one"
Description:Long popular in Scotland, this attractive name is widely considered to be the Gaelic version of Helen. After the Normans introduced it into the British Isles, it was transformed into Aileen or Evelyn. It has rarely been heard in the US, but it is slowly starting to be used here too.
Description:Fleur is a generic, delicate flower name that emigrated into the English-speaking world when John Galsworthy bestowed it on one of the Forsytes in his celebrated saga. More recently, there was Fleur Delacour, a French witch and the Beauxbatons champion for the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter.
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:One of the most familiar and usable Asian names.
Description:In Greek myth, Circe, daughter of Helios, the sun, was a sorceress living on the island of Aeaea, who could turn men into animals with her magic wand, which is just what she did to Odysseus's crew in Homer's Odyssey, transforming them into swine. All was forgiven, however, as Circe and Odysseus later had a child together—Telegonus. The name and legend have appeared in countless forms, from a section of James Joyce's Ulysses to short stories by Julio Cortazar to Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon to films to DC comics to a dance by Martha Graham. So is Circe's seductive legend too powerful for a modern little girl to carry? Your call.
Origin:Greek, a violet-colored stone
Description:This unusual Greek flower and color name has gained considerable recent attention via actress Ione Skye, who is the daughter of sixties folksinger Donovan.
Origin:Dutch and French variation of Anna
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.
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.
Meaning:"citizen of Rome"
Description:Originally a surname deriving from the Roman twin Romulus, this attractive name was introduced to the English-speaking world as a first name by painter Augustus John who used it for his son. Romilly John became Admiral of the Fleet in England.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:The name of the Greek goddess of love has rarely descended to mortal use, though the Roman equivalent Venus, thanks to tennis star Williams, now seems completely possible. But with the new fashion for goddess names, we may see more little Aphrodites in the playground with Jupiter and Juno.
Origin:Irish or Portuguese or Italian
Meaning:"wild or weaver"
Description:Fia may be most notable at this moment as the Anglicized version of the Irish Fiadh, one of the fastest-rising names in the Republic of Ireland. The meaning of Fia or Fiadh is sometimes given as "deer" but that's in the sense of a wild deer, as the name relates to the ancient word for wild.
Origin:Irish, variation of Una
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.
Origin:Scottish variation of Elizabeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elspeth is one of those names that never quite made it out of the British Isles--particularly Scotland, but possesses a winningly childlike charm. Elspeth was used by Sir Walter Scott for several of his female characters.
Description:Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab in the Hebrew Book of Kings, has long had a bad girl reputation. But in the modern secular world, this is somewhat mitigated by the feminist perspective of her as a strong woman, the power behind the throne. Previously avoided as a baby name, Jezebel is now, along with the also previously avoided Delilah and Desiree, coming into use, helped by its relation to other 'bel' name such as Isabel and Bella.
Origin:English, from Persian
Meaning:"bluish or lilac"
Description:Could Lilac be the next Lila or Lily or Violet? It certainly has a lot going for it--those lilting double 'l's, the fabulous fragrance it exudes, and the fact that it's a color name as well, providing a ready made nursery theme. In addition, the lilac is symbolic of first love.
Description:This unjustly neglected floral name has a BBC accent and a Greek mythological heritage: Anthea is an epithet of Hera, the Greek queen of the gods, and her name has been used as poetic symbol of spring.
Description:Common name in Wales that's all but unknown in the U.S. Certainly an attractive choice ripe for export. In the UK it sits at Number 330.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Io may be one of the slightest names in the book, but there aren't many two-letter names with as much substance as this Greek mythological example. Io, a name used for the largest moon of Jupiter, was in classic myth raped by Zeus and escaped from him by changing herself into a cow.
Description:Blue suddenly came into the spotlight, as the unusual color name chosen by Beyonce and Jay-Z for their baby girl Blue Ivy. Blue is also a starbaby middle name du jour, used for both sexes in different spellings and forms, from John Travolta and Kelly Preston's Ella Bleu to Alicia Silverstone's Bear Blu. Dave 'The Edge' Evans named his daughter Blue Angel back in 1989.
Description:Clio is the name of the ancient Greek mythological muse of history and heroic poetry, one that is rich with modern charm and would make an intriguing choice, especially thanks to its dynamic o-ending. Unlike the sound-alike Cleo, which brings up visions of Cleopatra, Clio is very much a stand-alone name.
Description:Blanche, which originated as a nickname for a pale blonde and then became associated with the notion of purity, was in style a century ago, ranking in the double digits until 1920. She then had to fight the stereotype of faded Southern belle, a la Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire and Blanche Devereaux in TV's Golden Girls. Now all three of the Golden Girls--Blanche, Rose and Dorothy--could be ready for revival, with Blanche sounding like a stronger, simpler alternative to Bianca.
Origin:Animal name or diminutive of Beatrice
Meaning:"she who brings happiness"
Description:We've seen Beatrice and Beatrix climb in popularity, along with traditional nickname Bea. And now there's Bee, giving it a buzzy nature world spin, plus a tie to popular late night TV''s Samantha Bee, not to mention Aunt Bee on the old The Andy Griffith Show TV show. Bee can theoretically be short for any girl names starting with B.
Origin:English, contracted form of Thomasina
Description:Tamsin is an offbeat name occasionally heard in Britain and just waiting to be discovered here. U.K. actress Tamsin Greig is a star of the show Episodes, Tamsin Olivier is the daughter of Joan Plowright and Sir Laurence Olivier..
Origin:Diminutive of Beatrix, Latin
Meaning:"she who brings happiness"
Description:A sassy, spunky name for the bold parent who doesn't remember Mrs. Ed Norton on The Honeymooners. It was chosen by Damon Wayans for his daughter. Trixie Belden is the thirteen-year-old heroine of an eponymous series in which she is a girl detective.
Origin:Variation of Matilda
Description:Maude, also spelled Maud, is a lacy, mauve-tinted name that was wildly popular a hundred years ago, but has been rarely heard in the past fifty. Some stylish parents are starting to choose it again, especially as a middle.
Maud's early popularity was influenced by the Tennyson poem that included the oft-quoted line, "Come into the garden, Maude." Then, in the 1970's, along came the sitcom Maude, featuring the vociferous and opinionated character Maude Finlay, putting a very different spin on the name. But enough decades have now passed for the name to have settled back into its soft, sweet pastel image.
Origin:Greek mythology name or feminine form of Ambrose, Latin
Description:Ambrosia combines some of the more whimsical qualities of more popular Aurora and Isabella, with a heavenly meaning.
Description:The original oddball celebrity baby name, via Frank Zappa's daughter Moon Unit, who claims she's always liked it.
Origin:French, diminutive of Marie
Description:Manon is an endearing French pet name for Marie or Marianne; it has the international yet straightforward feel that makes it a viable import. Manon of the Spring was a gorgeous French film, Manon Lescaut a 1731 novel by Abbe Prevost, set in France and Louisiana, that was controversial in its day. It formed the basis of operas by Puccini and Massenet, and several films and TV series.
Description:Celestine is a pretty, crystalline extension (actually a diminutive) of Celeste that would make a choice that is both delicate and strong. It is also a popular name in France.
Description:Ethel is a name we once declared as 'So Far Out They'll Probably Always Be Out,' but with the return of other names on that list and with its new starbaby cred via Lily Allen, its soft sound and admirable meaning, we're not so sure.
Meaning:"very fair, beautiful"
Description:Anwen is one of the simplest and best of the classic Welsh girls' names, more unusual than Bronwen but with the same serene feel.
Origin:Occitan pet form of French Liliane
Description:Lilou is a charming, rarely heard import. Occitan is a language spoken in Provence, in the south of France, in which the suffix "ou" denotes a pet form — thus, Lilou as a short form of Liliane or its Occitan form Liliana or Liliano. Its popularity in France--where it's currently Number 12--can be traced to the 1997 film The Fifth Element.
Description:Though the tragedies of the Greeks and Eugene O'Neill that used this name are filled with incest and murder, Electra is still a brilliant choice. Isabella Rossellini chose the gentler Italian verson, Elettra, for her now grown daughter.
Description:Eudora is the name of five minor goddesses of Greek mythology and a major goddess (in the person of Pulitzer Prize-winning Eudora Welty) of modern American literature. Eudora is pleasant and euphoneous and a possibility for rejuvenation.
Origin:Latin, diminutive of Dulcibella
Description:A sweet-meaning and sounding name dating back to the Roman Empire, and later found in the antebellum South, Dulcie has in the modern era been heard most often in Australia.
Description:A paramour of Alexander the Great and the heroine of a Jules Massenet opera based on the life of a fourth century Egyptian saint, this name is nothing if not dramatic. Often spelled with a diaeresis or umlaut -- aka two dots -- over the letter i, Thais is a Top 100 girls' name in France and is also popular in Spain.
Meaning:"a young deer"
Description:The doe-eyed Fawn is as gentle and soft as the baby deer it represents. And much like that baby deer, it carries with it the potential of new life. Fawn was featured at the bottom of the Top 1000 throughout the '60s and '70s — around the same time that Bambi came into play. But unlike Bambi, Fawn maintains relevance in the 21st century, thanks to its warmth and ties to the natural world. We would love to meet more baby girls named Fawn.
Description:Signe could make an offbeat, more unusual alternative to Sydney or Sigrid. In Norse mythology, Signe was the twin sister of Sigmund. Can also be spelled Signy.
Description:Tove is a modern variation of an Old Norse name for which there are no letters on the twenty-first century keyboard. It's related to Thor, and Tove and Tuva are the forms that survive and thrive in modern Scandinavia. Beyond Tove, other popular Scandinavian names not well known outside of the Nordic countries include Toril, Maja, Tyra, and Ebba.
Description:This lovely surname of the three novel-writing sisters, now used as a baby name, makes a fitting tribute for lovers of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. While the original name took an umlaut over the e, modern English speakers may find that more trouble than it's worth. Trivia note: The Anglo-Irish clergyman who was the father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne changed his name from the original Brunty. According to scholars, the family pronounced the name brun-tee, though in the 21st century world it's commonly pronounced bron-tay. In Australia, the name is more likely to take inspiration from Bronte Beach in Sydney. It was named after Lord Nelson, the 1st Duke of Bronté. He got his title from a town in Sicily, itself named after a mythological Cyclops.