Uncommon Boy Names
There are many thousand uncommon boy names in the US that are widely used in their native lands. Does that mean they're ripe for import? Perhaps.
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 and uncommon 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.
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.
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.
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:"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: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:"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.
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: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.
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.
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: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.
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: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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.