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Girl Names Uncommon in the US

Girl Names Uncommon in the US
Uncommon girl names in the US may be well-liked and widely used in other countries around the world. Ebba might be uncommon in Seattle, for instance, but standard in Stockholm, while Alba is unusual in Milwaukee but everywhere in Madrid.

Along with Ebba and Alba, other fashionable girl names uncommon in the US include Darcy, Imogen, Laia, and Thais. Scandinavian names are an up-and-coming trend — Sigrid, Juni, Fenna, and Leni are among the rare options we recommend.

Restricting our search to the Top 100 names of European countries, on the theory that almost every name from Asian and African cultures will be rare in the US, these are the girl names outside of the Top 1000 in the United States but heard on every street corner from Manchester to Minsk.

Uncommon Girl Names in the US

ImogenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    The story goes that Imogen 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. Earlier versions of her name, including Ennoguent, Innoguend, and Innoguent, were found in Brittany from the 9th-11th centuries. They are probably derived from the Gaelic word inghean, meaning "daughter" or "maiden," and possibly have a connection to the Proto-Celtic word for "white," from which the suffixes -gwyn and -gwen evolved.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

ClaudiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Claude
  • Meaning:

    "lame; enclosure"
  • Description:

    A classic name with a hint of ancient Roman splendor that has never been truly in or truly out, Claudia still feels like a strong, modern choice — one of our "sweet spot" names.

PiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from Mount Olympus"
  • Description:

    Soft name in the Mia-Nia-Tia family, Pia is heard in both European and Hindi languages.

AoifeHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful, radiant"
  • Description:

    Aoife, pronounced EE-fa, is derived from the Irish word aoibh, meaning "beauty." Aoife was borne by several different heroines of ancient Irish legend. In one tale, she was the fiercest woman warrior in the world and enemy of her twin sister, Scathach.

AgnesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure, virginal"
  • Description:

    Agnes is the Latin variation of the name Hagne, which itself derived from the Greek word hagnos, meaning "chaste." In medieval times, St. Agnes was a very popular saint, leading to its popularity as a girl's name. Agnes Grey is the title of one of the two novels written by Anne Brontë.

InesHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, Portuguese, Slovene and Croatian variation of Agnes
  • Meaning:

    "pure, virginal"
  • Description:

    This form of Agnes, Ines has always been popular since the true story of the thwarted lovers Queen Ines of Castro and King Peter of Portugal. This has to be one of the most heartbreaking and bloody true romances in history!

AlbaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "white"
  • Description:

    Alba is quietly making a behind-the-scenes comeback, perhaps thanks to actress turned baby-product mogul Jessica Alba. Last on the Top 1000 a century ago, the name was given to more than 150 baby girls in the US last year. Alba might be tomorrow's successor to Ava and Ella. In Spain, Alba ranks among the Top 10 girls' names. Alba is the name of a character in The Time Traveler's Wife.

NiamhHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "bright"
  • Description:

    Niamh, derived from the Old Irish Niam, is an ancient Irish name that was originally a term for a goddess. In Irish myth, one who bore it was Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of the sea god, who falls in love with Finn's son Oisin and takes him to the Land of Promise, where they stayed for three hundred years. Niamh can be Anglicized as Neve, Nieve, or Neave.

KikiHeart

  • Origin:

    French nickname and Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "double happiness"
  • Description:

    Kiki is one of the Coco-Gigi-Fifi-Lulu bohemian-type French nickname names from the turn of the last century, which have endless energy and sparkle. Artist Kiki Smith is its most well-known contemporary representative, and Kiki was the inspiring heroine of Zadie Smith's On Beauty. Kiki can be a nickname for any name beginning with the K sound, from Katherine to Christina to Kayla.

OrlaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "golden princess"
  • Description:

    Orla is an Irish name closely associated with the high king Brian Boru, as it was the name of his sister, daughter and niece. It was very popular in the Middle Ages – the fourth most popular name in twelfth century Ireland – and has become popular again in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales today. In Irish, the name is commonly spelled Orlaith or Orlagh.

CaoimheHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful"
  • 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.

ConstanceHeart

  • Origin:

    English version of Latin Constantia
  • Meaning:

    "steadfastness"
  • Description:

    Constance is one of the more subtle of the virtue baby names, but still has quite a prim and proper image. One impediment to its revival has been the decidedly dated nickname Connie, though modern parents might well opt for using the strong and dignified name in full.

EilidhHeart

  • Origin:

    Gaelic form of Eleanor
  • Description:

    Long popular in Scotland, this attractive name is strictly-speaking the Gaelic version of Eleanor, but is also often considered part of the Helen family of names. 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.

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.

FleurHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "flower"
  • 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.

PippaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Philippa
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Pippa, a peppy condensation of Philippa that turns it from serious to sprightly, has come into the public eye in a big way via the former Kate Middleton's sister. Heard far more in the UK (where it's currently just outside the Top 100) than the US, Pippa has been used on its own since the nineteenth century, popularized by Robert Browning's dramatic poem, Pippa Passes. A recent book and film was titled The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

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.

GaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "earth mother"
  • Description:

    The name of the Greek mythological earth goddess and universal mother; actress Emma Thompson stated that she was attracted by its ecological element, so other "green" parents may want to follow her lead.

ChiaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "light, clear"
  • Description:

    Chiara is a lovely and romantic Italian name that's familiar but not widely used here: a real winner. You might consider Chiara instead of Claire, Clara, Cara, or even Keira.

LinneaHeart

  • Origin:

    Swedish
  • Meaning:

    "twinflower, lime tree"
  • Description:

    Linnea is an attractive Scandinavian name that derives from the renowned 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who developed the Linnean system of classifying plants and animals.

SallyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Sarah
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sally is a cheerful, fresh-faced girl-next-door name that was originally a nickname for Sarah, but has long been used independently. Sally was popular in the eighteenth century and then again from the 1920s to the 1960s--it was just outside the Top 50 around 1940. Though it hasn't been heard as a baby name for decades, we can see Sally bouncing back, especially after her exposure as young Ms. Draper on Mad Men--the Nameberries rank it at Number 621, and it's a Top 100 name in Sweden.

TessHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Theresa
  • Meaning:

    "to harvest"
  • Description:

    With its solid Thomas Hardy background, Tess has a lot more substance, strength, and style than most single-syllable names, with an efficient yet relaxed image.

DarcyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish or French
  • Meaning:

    "dark one, or from Arcy, or from the fortress"
  • Description:

    Delicate ballerina name with grace, charm, and heft courtesy of Jane Austen's Mr.

ViolaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "violet"
  • Description:

    Viola has several positive elements going for it: the rhythm of the musical instrument, the association with the flower, the trending 'Vi' beginning and its leading role in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

LeonoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Eleonora or Eleanor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Its mellifluous sound makes Leonora--which has a rich history and a tie to the popular Leo names-- a keen possibility for revival. Though it's been hiding below the Top 1000 since the 1940s, Leonora is being rediscovered by stylish parents in the US and Europe.
    Leonora has the distinction of being three major opera characters, including the heroines of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was also the name of two characters played by Elizabeth Taylor--in Secret Ceremony and Reflections in a Golden Eye.

AineHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "brightness, splendor"
  • Description:

    More commonly seen here as Anya, this traditional yet unique Irish name belonged to the queen of the Munster fairies and is sprinkled throughout Irish folklore as an early Celtic goddess of summer and prosperity. One of the most popular baby names in Ireland, Aine's spelling and pronunciation might seem simple but could prove confusing in the U.S.

MargauxHeart

  • Origin:

    French spelling variation of Margo
  • Description:

    Yes, it's pronounced with a long o sound at the end, just like Margo and Margot. This spelling was popularized by supermodel, actress, and tragic Hemingway granddaughter Margaux, whose name spelling came courtesy of a bottle of French wine. (The original spelling of her name was Margot; she changed it when she heard her parents were drinking a bottle of Chateau Margaux the night she was conceived.) Margo itself is a diminutive of Margaret, which means "pearl" or, in its French version, "daisy." Margaret or Marguerite would be more stylish variations now.

LeonieHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lion"
  • Description:

    Leonie is a chic French and German form of a name that exists in a range of variations from Leona to Leonia to Leon to Leo to Lionel, all newly fashionable after a couple of generations in style limbo.

LouHeart

  • Origin:

    Short form of Louise
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Lou is usually a short form of Louise, Louisa, or Lucy in English-speaking countries, when Lou is used for girls at all. But in France and Germany, it's a fashionable choice all on its own, sure to gain even more widespread style credibility since Heidi Klum and Seal chose it for their daughter.

AislingHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dream, vision"
  • Description:

    Aisling is currently a very popular Irish name for girls. Pronounced variously as ASH-ling, ASH-lin or ash-LEEN, it was part of the revival of authentic Irish names in the twentieth century, and is now being sparingly used by U.S. parents in place of the dated Ashley--though often spelled phonetically as Ashlyn or Ashlynn.

AntoniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Antonia is stronger than most feminized boys’ names, reflecting the pioneer spirit of Willa Cather's classic novel My Antonia. Antonia is hovering near the bottom of the US popularity list, which may be an excellent reason for you to use it.

CiaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dark one"
  • Description:

    Ciara is very popular in Ireland, more familiar here as the Anglicized Kiera or Keira. The uninitiated will tend to pronounce Ciara as the Italian Chiara, a form of Claire—kee-AHR-a or even see-AHR-a, like the American singer-songwriter Ciara. In the US, Ciara peaked in 2005, when it was the Number 150 name; it's since fallen down to Number 882.

RoisinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish. "little rose"
  • Meaning:

    "little rose"
  • Description:

    No, the pronunciation--ro-SHEEN--isn't immediately obvious to the non-Gaelic viewer, but the sound of this shiny Irish version of Rose is pretty enough to make it worth considering. Very popular in its native Ireland, it is now at Number 34. Earlier generations Anglicized at as Rosaleen, but we stay stick to the original.

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.

AlyaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "heavens, highborn, exalted"
  • Description:

    Alya is most familiar in the US in its much-more-complicated form Aaliyah, the spelling used by the later singer. The traditional name of the star system Theta Serpentis, Alya is also an established Muslim first name and a Turkish place-name. It may also be a Russian short form for Alexandra or any other Al- name.

ElviraHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "white, fair"
  • Description:

    Before there was the campy TV Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Elvira was the long-suffering wife of Don Juan, and remnants of those negative, gothic images still cling to it, though they are fading.

    Other references include the romantic film Elvira Madigan, based on a real person, and the main ghostly character in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, as well as appearances in several operas.

ManonHeart

  • Origin:

    French, diminutive of Marie
  • Meaning:

    "bitter"
  • 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.

AnitaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish diminutive of Ana; Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "grace; unguided"
  • Description:

    Once a Top 100 name, this Spanish diminutive of Ana still retains some of her Latin flair. A notable namesake is noted attorney Anita Hill, another is the great jazz singer Anita O'Day. Plus there's Disney cred via the lead human character in 101 Dalmatians.

NaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian, Greek, Basque
  • Meaning:

    "dolphin; to flow; wave, sea foam"
  • Description:

    Multicultural option, equally intriguing as, but more unusual than, Maia.

MajaHeart

  • Origin:

    German, Slovene, and Scandinavian form of Maya; also, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "splendid"
  • Description:

    Whether you pronounce it my-a, ma-zha or ma-ha, Maja is an intriguing choice. Sometimes associated with Goya's famous painting "The Naked Maja." As a cognate of Maya, it's a Top 10 name in Slovenia and Sweden and is also popular in Germany and Norway.

SalomeHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "peace"
  • Description:

    A soft and interesting Hebrew name long popular in France, where it has ranked in the Top 400 since 1986 (as Salomé). Ex-ER star Alex Kingston named her daughter Salome Violetta.

LilouHeart

  • Origin:

    Occitan pet form of French Liliane
  • Meaning:

    "lily"
  • 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.

EliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Elijah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah is God"
  • Description:

    Though the most famous Elia, screenwriter Kazan, was male, this name sounds like a spin on many popular girls' names, from Ella to Ellie to Isla and Leah. While the Italian pronunciation has the middle syllable as LEE, making it closer to the original Elijah would give the middle syllable a long I sound -- eh-LYE-ah.

IonaHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish place-name
  • Description:

    This name of a small island off the coast of Scotland is trending upwards along with other I names.

LarissaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Larisa, Greek and Russian
  • Meaning:

    "citadel"
  • Description:

    Larissa is a nymph name that's daintily pretty and a fresh alternative to Melissa or Alyssa. Though this is the more common variation in the Western World, the original is actually Larisa.

ThaisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "beloved, bandage"
  • 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.

ZelieHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "noble"
  • Description:

    A cute, zippy French saint's name that's picking up in popularity there, and starting to in the US as well. Zélie originated as a short form of Azélie, thought to derive from Adelaide via the Occitan form Azalaïs. Saint Zélie was born Marie-Azélie.

IsaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "strong-willed"
  • Description:

    Isa is a name unto itself but might also be a short form of Isabel or Isadora. With the new popularity of Isabel and Isabella and even Bella, Isa may become more familiar.

FridaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    The dynamic personality and paintings of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo have inspired growing numbers of parents to resurrect this form of the name. It does much better in certain European countries, especially in Denmark and Norway. The Frieda and Freida spellings were more popular in the US until the middle of the 20th century.
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