Offbeat but Familiar

  1. Abraham
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "father of multitudes"
    • Description:

      Abraham is among the most classic baby names that's still widely-used today, popular for its references to both the Bible and American history. The Biblical Abraham was the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and is considered the founding father of the Jewish people. He was originally named Abram, until, according to Genesis, he was told, "No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."
  2. Absalom
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "father of peace"
    • Description:

      Absalom, because of its biblical and literary associations, just might appeal to the daring namegiver.
  3. Alonzo
    • Origin:

      Italian diminutive of Alphonso
    • Meaning:

      "noble, ready"
    • Description:

      Alonzo is dashing and debonair, with a large measure of Latin flair.
  4. Aloysius
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "famous warrior"
    • Description:

      This name is a classic example of an underused golden oldie that ticks so many boxes - unusual yet traditional, heaps of cute nicknames, a statement name that exudes retro cool. Aloysius is the Latin form of many more common names like Louis, Luis, Luigi and the uncommon but symphonically familiar Ludwig.
  5. Ambrose
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "immortal"
    • Description:

      Gentle but grandiose and beloved by British novelists including Evelyn Waugh and P. G. Wodehouse, Ambrose was a fast rising name in 2022. Entering the UK Top 1000 for the first time and proving popular among Nameberry users, its elegance, softness, and vintage style means it fits in with popular Theodore, Sebastian, and Jeremiah.
  6. Anders
    • Origin:

      Scandinavian variation of Andrew
    • Meaning:

      "strong and manly"
    • Description:

      Friendly, unusual, but a decidedly Old Country version of Andrew and one of the classic Scandinavian names. It made a brief appearance in the US Top 1000 in 2006 and then reentered in 2010. Its rising popularity could be attributed to the interest in Anderson, which has been gaining steadily over the last fifteen years.

      Trivia tidbits: The patronymic Andersson is the second most popular surname in Sweden, and in Denmark, Donald Duck is called Anders.

  7. Andreas
    • Origin:

      Original New Testament Greek variation of Andrew
    • Meaning:

      "strong and manly"
    • Description:

      Andreas is a beautiful name, with the patina of an Old Master painting, one that could make a dashing namesake for an Uncle Andrew.
  8. Anselm
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "with divine protection"
    • Description:

      A somewhat solemn appellation, Anselm is a saint's name, connected to the twelfth century archbishop of Canterbury, and in modern times tied to the German neo-expressionist painter Anselm Kiefer.
  9. Antigone
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "worthy of one's parents, in place of one's parents"
    • Description:

      In Greek mytholgy, Antigone was the noble and courageous daughter of Oedipus, who acts as his guide after he blinds himself. Antigone is also the eponymous heroine of a play by Jean Anouilh.
  10. Barnaby
    • 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.
  11. Baxter
    • Origin:

      English occupational name
    • Meaning:

      "baker"
    • Description:

      An x makes any name cooler, so that Baxter has a bit more pizzazz than the original Baker. Baxter had some currency as a first name a century ago--it was on the popularity lists sporadically from 1880 till the 1920s, peaking at Number 515 in 1886-- which means it's just about due for a comeback. And we can see Bax as a worthy follow-up to Max and Jax.
  12. Benedict
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "blessed"
    • Description:

      Parents who like Ben and Benjamin but find those forms too popular sometimes consider Benedict as a more distinctive choice. Unlike the Old Testament Benjamin, Benedict is the name of the saint who formed the Benedictine Order and of fifteen popes,including a recent one.
  13. Caspar
    • 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.
  14. Desmond
    • Origin:

      Irish
    • Meaning:

      "one from south Munster"
    • Description:

      Desmond is a sophisticated and debonair name, with noble ties to 1984 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop Desmond Tutu, and with some great nicknames: Des/Dez, Desi/Dezi.
  15. Elspeth
    • 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.
  16. Gideon
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "hewer; or, having a stump for a hand"
    • Description:

      Gideon is a no-longer neglected Old Testament name, but still makes an excellent choice for parents looking to move beyond such overused biblicals as Benjamin and Jacob. In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called on by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites, and the name was popular among the Puritans.
  17. Helen
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "torch; shining light"
    • Description:

      Helen is a name that has connoted beauty since ancient times – Helen of Troy was the the mythological "face that launched a thousand ships," over whom the ten-year Trojan War was fought.
  18. Hugh
    • Origin:

      English from German
    • Meaning:

      "mind, intellect"
    • Description:

      Patrician to the core, Hugh was firmly in the Top 100 until 1903. It's never achieved those heights again, though it has always managed to remain in the Top 1000, scraping bottom at literally Number 1000 in 2006 before reversing course and heading back upwards.
  19. Hermione
    • Ignatius
      • Origin:

        Latin
      • Meaning:

        "fiery"
      • Description:

        Ignatius? Good gracious! This is a name making a truly surprising return, sparked by its selection by not one but two celebrities--Cate Blanchett and Julianne Nicholson.

        Ignatius, the name of several saints including the founder of the Catholic Jesuit order, was considered more apt to be borne by churches and schools than babies in the recent past, though it was not unusual from the late nineteenth century to 1930; it ranked as high as Number 602 in 1913.