Boy Names Uncommon in the US
All of the names on this list rank below the US Top 500. Those rising up the American charts include Idris, Alessio, Monty, and Archie. All of these names could be considered hidden gems, but those that feel especially ripe for American discovery include Viggo, Maxence, Florian, and Cormac.
A rare name will set your son apart from the crowd. The international boy names uncommon in the US but popular in their cultures of origin include the following.
Boy Names Uncommon in the US
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.
Origin:English spelling of Alasdair, Scottish version of Alexander
Description:With many British names invading the Yankee name pool, the sophisticated Alistair could and should be part of the next wave. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016. You have a triple choice with this name--the British spell it Alistair or Alastair, while the Scots prefer Alasdair--but they're all suave Gaelic versions of Alexander. Adopted by the lowland Scots by the seventeenth century, the name didn't become popular outside Scotland and Ireland until the twentieth century.
Meaning:"from the fjord-land"
Description:Lachlan is as Scottish as haggis and tartan plaid kilts—a favorite used throughout England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand—and just beginning to be noticed in the US: it reached the Top 1000 for the first time in 2013. An ancient name, Lachlan was originally used to describe the Viking invaders of Scotland, those from the land of the lochs.
Origin:Diminutive of Archibald, Teutonic
Description:Archie made global news as the surprise first name of the newborn royal baby, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aka Harry and Meghan. Archie has now officially transcended Archie Bunker and Riverdale's Archie to take the, um, throne as the quintessential retro nickname name.
Meaning:"war strife or church"
Description:This classic Irish name , which is better known in this country by its Anglicized form Killian, is one of several newer recommended Gaelic choices that have entered the American name pool. Killian now stands at Number 516 in the US, while Cillian is 22 in its Irish homeland.
Origin:Variation of Ralph
Description:Used almost exclusively in England; would make an equally amiable short form here for Raphael or Rafferty -- and could also stand on its own. If you're looking for boys' names starting with R, this is one of your cooler choices.
Origin:Diminutive of Alfred, English
Description:Alfie is a Top 20 name throughout the British Isles, where retro nickname names are mega-popular, but it hasn't really been picked up in the US yet. Both Alfie and rising star Archie are spunky nickname possibilities with a bit of an English accent.
Origin:Anglicized form of Aonghus, Aonghas, Gaelic
Description:Angus is a traditional yet stylish choice in the UK, especially in Scotland. And it's a cool choice for US parents too, particularly those whose roots go back to Glasgow. The ancient Celtic form Oenghus has important historical overtones in Scotland, and the Gaelic form Aonghas is associated with two distinguished modern poets. In Irish folklore, Angus Og is a chieftain-lord who used his magical powers for the pleasure and prosperity of mankind--and in Irish myth, Aonghus was the god of love and youth.
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.
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.
Description:A handsome Irish name for boys, very popular in that country, but in the US this traditional spelling might cause pronunciation problems. Still, whether Cian or Kian, it's simple and straightforward enough for the initiated. Cian is rising in the British popularity charts. This was the name of several legendary figures, including Cian, son of the god of medicine. His own son was Lugh, the sun god and father of the Ulster warrior Cuchulain and Cian is also the name of the son-in-law of the high king Brian Boru. So very well connected.
Description:Aarav is derived from the Sanskrit root “rav,” which is related to peace and music. Aarav is also associated with the concept of wisdom. It has traditionally been a common name among Hindus, who intentionally select names to inspire particular values in their children.
Meaning:"bright, shining, white"
Description:Popular in India and among Indo-Americans, this name of the hero of a famous Hindu epic has an extremely pleasing sound.
Origin:Diminutive of Montague, Montgomery
Description:Monty, a name with a World War II feel, is rarely used on its own. But we're hearing rumblings of a comeback and think that Monty, whatever it's short for, is an adorable vintage nickname name of the future.
Origin:Scandinavian from Latin Laurentius
Meaning:"crowned with laurel"
Description:Lars is a perfect candidate for a cross-cultural passport: it has been heard often enough here to sound familiar and friendly, yet retains the charisma of a charming foreigner.
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.
Description:If Flora and Florence have returned full force, Florian, with its trendy Latinate ending, could also have a chance. Popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland -- he was the venerated patron saint of those in danger from water and of firefighters -- might sound a tad feminine and floral to English speakers. But as a middle name, Florian could be a great way to honor grandma Florence (or any other flower name).
Origin:Irish, variation of Cian
Description:A friendly Irish name chosen for one of her twin boys by Geena Davis.
Origin:French form of Latin Julius
Meaning:"youthful; soft, downy"
Description:Though Jules hasn't been on the US popularity list in fifty years, it is a current hit in its native France—where it's currently in the Top 10—and we can definitely see it making a comeback here, being far more romantic than, say, Jim.
Description:Oisin is one of the most popular Irish baby names in its native land, though largely unknown in the US. The original Oisin was the mythological son of Finn McCool and Sadb, the goddess who was changed into a deer. A legendary war hero and poet, Oisin had a name that is also reminiscent in sound of the ocean. Pronounced correctly, this name has an attractive sheen.
Origin:Diminutive of Albert, Alban or Albus
Description:This cute masculine nickname -- with connections to princes, Hogwarts headmasters and the Manzo family of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" -- almost has enough heft to stand on its own. But all of its precursor names have merit.
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:A common Welsh name virtually unknown before the emergence of the charismatic Idris Elba, first on The Wire and then depicting Nelson Mandela in the acclaimed film.
Idris Hawr "the Giant" was a legendary seventh century Welsh giant and magician who gave his name to a well known mountain, "Idris's Fort"
Idris also exists in Arabic, meaning "to learn, study" and is the name of a prophet mentioned twice in the Koran. Idris Shah was a prominent Sufi writer.
Origin:Irish, variation of John
Meaning:"God is gracious"
Description:Though Eoin is a Gaelic form of John, its Anglicized pronunciation links it directly to Owen. Eoin is currently a Top 30 name in Ireland. Other variations: Ewan, Ewen, Evan and Eoghan (pronounced as Owen but also translated as Eugene).
Description:Niall is pronounced nye-al--something like Neil, but this Irish spelling of the name makes it much more current and cool.
Description:Though to most Americans Viggo is a one-person name attached to intense actor Mortensen, it is actually an old Norse name dating back to the Vikings, and is currently the 32nd most popular appellation in Sweden. Viggo Mortensen is a Jr., sharing his name with his Danish father. We think this name is so, well, vigorous, that it might appeal to others as well. Taylor and Natalie Hanson seemed to agree when they chose it for their fourth child.
Origin:Scottish form of Gaelic Eoghan
Meaning:"born of the yew tree"
Description:This appealing name has a good chance of catching on due to the popularity of Ewan McGregor, and the trend towards Gaelic names in general. Pronunciation is YOO-un.
Origin:Latin, from a Roman family name related to Mars, the god of war
Description:Marius, frequently heard in Germany and France, is a slightly fusty yet accessible name that has (Les Mis) to Anne Rice. With the rise in interest in such Latin names as Maximus and Atticus, Marius might start attracting more attention. Mario, the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese version of Marius, is much more widely used.
Description:The name of several ancient kings and princes of Ireland, Tadhg became so common at one point that it was used to represent a kind of Irish Gaelic everyman, or man in the street, as Paddy and Mick would later. Tadhg has seen a major resurgence in recent years and is also now ranked in England. It is sometimes used as the Irish equivalent of Timothy and is also anglicized as Teague and Thaddeus. Tadleigh and Thad are pet forms.
Description:Miro comes from the Slavic root word mir meaning "peace, world". Sometimes Miro is used as a diminutive of longer names like Miroslav or Vladimir, but it can also be given as a name in its own right. Miro has a wonderful meaning and fits right in with trendy names Arlo and Milo, as well as being an artistic honor name for Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró.
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.
Origin:French variation of Marcellus
Description:Marcel, despite distinguished namesakes including Proust and Duchamp, suffers from a terminal headwaiter image in this country. But along with its sister name Marcella and French variation (and Jolie-Pitt pick) Marcheline, Marcel may be on the brink of a style renaissance.
Description:In the US, the preferred boys' spin on the mega-popular Emily and Emma is Emmett, but in much of Europe it's Emil. As Emmett gets trendier in the US, parents in search of a more unusual Em name may look to Emil.
Origin:Italian variation of Alexis
Description:Alessio, simpler than the related Alessandro, would be a welcome settler here.
Origin:Dutch variation of Abraham
Meaning:"father of multitudes"
Description:Bram has an unusual measure of character and charm for a one-syllable name; it started as a hipper-than-Abe diminutive of the biblical Abraham, but is also an independent Irish and Dutch name, made famous by Irish-born Dracula creator Bram (nee Abraham) Stoker. Bram is currently Number 16 in the Netherlands; Bram Howard was a character on The West Wing.
Origin:German, Russian, and Scandinavian variation of Anthony
Description:Cultured and cultivated in an old-style, Old World way. Sometimes associated with the classic writer Anton Chekhov. Al Pacino has a son with this name.
Meaning:"little dark one"
Description:Extremely popular in Ireland, Ciaran is also well used in England and is beginning to be adopted by parents in the U.S., though usually via the more American-friendly Kieran spelling. The Irish spelling is, however, becoming more familiar on this side of the Atlantic, due to the rising popularity of Belfast-born actor Ciaran Hinds.
Description:Especially for parents of Scandinavian descent, Sven is an accessible and attractive name with an appealing mix of strength and swagger. It comes from the ancient Swedish tribe, the Sviars, who gave their name to Svealand, which later morphed into Sweden.
Meaning:"lion or strong"
Description:Hamza was the legendary uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, hero of The Hamzanama, the Story of Hamza.
Origin:English, meaning unknown
Description:Associated for half a century with Marlon Brando, who inherited the French-inflected name from his father, Marlon has been especially well used by African-Americans, including the Jackson and Wayans families. Though heard much less now than it was in the seventies, this could change as parents look to the names of old Hollywood stars.
Description:Corentin is an intriguing saint's name fashionable in France but virtually unknown here-- which you may consider a big plus. St. Corentin possessed a magical fish that regenerated itself each night, feeding himself and his lucky visitors in perpetuity.
Origin:French variation of Sasha
Description:Sasha in all its forms -- which include Sacha and Sascha -- is rising in popularity for both boys and girls. Its most prominent current bearer is Sacha Baron Cohen.
Origin:Diminutive of Reginald
Description:Old time nickname that's starting to sound fresh again, ala Alfie and Freddie.
Meaning:"born of the yew tree"
Description:Pronounced like Owen, this was the name of several early Irish kings and saints, as well as a celebrated Ulster hero. Often spelled with two 'n's in Scotland, it has been Anglicized as Ewan, Ewen, Euan, Owen, Hugh, or Eugene.
Description:A well-used Spanish saint's name with a lot of flair that could definitely cross over to more general usage. It reached its peak in the United States in 1985, when it ranked Number 456. In Spain, Alvaro is a Top 10 boys' name.
Meaning:"little pale green one"
Description:Odhran, Anglicized as Oran, was the name of an ancient saint. Today, Odhran is among the Top 100 Irish names for boys in Ireland.
Origin:Diminutive of Albert, Bertram etc
Description:Long a royal nickname in England, it's coming back there along with Archie and Alfie. British singer Kate Bush calls her little boy Bertie.
Origin:Finnish and Scandinavian variation of Erasmus
Description:Form of ancient name newly popular in Eastern Europe. Virtually unknown in the U.S. but with its philosophical roots and uplifting meaning, seems prime for use.
Description:Zayd (or its most common variant Zaid), an old and still well used Arabic name, was a slave whom Muhammad adopted as his son.