Is the mom-to-be one of the parents-to-be who spends hours and hours researching potential baby names? It’s such a permanent, lifetime decision to make, that may determine how people perceive them throughout their lives. This isn’t as simple as scanning through a baby book and picking one of the first names that she sees. Nowadays, people want a name that’s unique, but not one that’s so unique that it will cause confusion or turn heads. They want to know the deeper meaning behind the name, and ideally to have it stand for something they’re aligned with. The name also has to work with siblings and family dynamic.
When she's trying to find that one perfect name, she should make sure to think about what emotions come to mind when she says it out loud. She should try saying it to a few trusted confidants, to see how they pronounce it and spell it, to see if it might turn out differently than she intended and cause frustration for her little one as they go through adolescence. Consider what it may rhyme with as well; as some kids can be merciless in their teasing.
What about if mom-to-be doesn't want to share the name with friends or family members before they arrive? Think about bouncing it off of a doctor or the nurses at her prenatal appointments. These individuals have probably heard them all, and can likely give some great, and helpful, suggestions.
If mama's looking for names that are adorable, but rare and unlikely to have any other kids in their class or school with the same name, consider picking one from this list.
21 Welsh Meaning: Rocky Water
This English boy’s name means “rocky water” in Welsh. Specifically, it’s both Old Norse and Gaelic, with the Gaelic side translating more to “calf valley”, while others say it relates more to wood, streams, water, and a Welsh call. Whichever definition you choose to use, most relate to nature, and bring in an elemental and earthy strength to the name.
A more interesting moniker than the more traditional “Callum” (meaning dove, hailing from Scotland) or “Callaghan” (Irish, going back to mean “bright-headed”, “strife”, or “church”), this name still gives you the flexibility of the nickname “Cal”, while choosing a more unique name. Wouldn’t you love the nature association more than a name that means “strife”?
Another similar name that’s rarely used is “Calderon”, meaning melting pot – likely from the similarity to a cauldron.
But again, the conciseness, strength, and return to nature make this name rise through the ranks. Still rarely used in North America, this name may be the one you’ve been searching for.
There are a few famous Calders, mostly on the last name side of things. Frank Calder was president of the NHL in the 1970's, whereas Alexander Calder was an artist, famous for creating giant mobiles. Calder Willingham penned The Graduate’s screenplay.
20 Greek/Roman Meaning: Cheerful, Happy
Do you aim for a sunny, optimistic disposition? Do you hope your daughter may bring that joy into your life? Then you may lean towards the name Ilaria, which stands for “cheerful, happy”. You already know this little one will bring joy to your life. This is one more way to express that happiness.
Ilaria is part of the Hilary family (Greek & Latin), similar to Hilaria (the ancient Roman version). Both of them also relate to cheer and happiness, often used in joyous festivals. It’s hard to think of the name Hilary without thinking of Senator Clinton, while Hilaria Baldwin owns the Hilaria name. If you go back even further, you end up at Hilarious, also meaning joyful, though not quite as funny as the word implies in today’s vocabulary. Who knows, you may have a budding comedian on your hands with this name. Historically, Hilarious was the name of a pop from the 400's, and Saint Hilarious was a bishop and theologian in the 300's AD.
Ilaria, however, is the more exotic and unique sounding of the family. There’s also something elegant about the way the name sounds – the long L, the rolling R. The masculine form, Ilario, is also an option if you’re expecting a boy. So, if you’re interested in something joyful, cheerful and happy, consider adding Ilaria into the mix.
19 Russian Meaning: Lion/ Hebrew Meaning: Heart
Looking for a strong, manly name for your son? Consider Lev, a Russian boys name meaning Lion, which is sure to represent courage and majesty. It’s of Hebrew origin, and this one syllable name packs a punch. It relates to Leo, the astrological sign of the lion, and the name of Russian Leo Tolstoy, respected as one of the greatest writers of his generation, if not of all time.
Another definition of this name can mean “heart”, on the Hebrew side of things.
Combined, you could be looking at the strength of a lion’s heart. Your son can relate to the lion aspect of his name, while you know there’s another special connection behind it. After all, it takes heart and courage to get through life.
It’s similar to the longer Levi (a biblical name, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and a prophet) and Levon (also relates to the Lion, and the name of Uma Thurman & Ethan Hawk’s son). Considering how popular Levi has become in recent years, this is a way to lean into its' sounds, yet in an entirely unique way. Lev itself is rising in popularity in European countries such as the Netherlands but is still relatively rare in North America.
18 Welsh Meaning: Star
If you’re thanking your lucky stars that this baby is on her way, or if you ever feel inspired by leaning back and staring up to the night sky, the name Seren may be calling to you. This is an old Welsh name, literally meaning “star”. It’s a favorite among Wales, yet is quite unknown outside of the area. In fact, according to Babynamewizard.com, it’s never once ranked within the top 1,000 names within America.
In addition to the female usage, it’s also a popular Turkish boy’s name, though people do agree that it’s a bit more suited towards a girl’s name. In Sirona form, Seren was a Goddess of the hot springs.
Maybe your child will grow up to be an actor or famous artist? Then “star” might be appropriate! The same goes for an astrophysicist. But even if not, there’s something celestial, peaceful and serene about this name. It can make you daydream about leaning back on a picnic blanket, on a warm summer evening, with your daughter counting the stars, and tracing the constellations. Maybe picking out one star that can be “hers”.
17 Hebrew Meaning: Son Of Ellis
This gender-neutral name hailing from the rolling hills of Scotland was originally more common as a surname. This one has transformed quite a bit, hailing from the English name Ellis, which came from the medieval name Elis. Elis is also the vernacular form of Elijah, which itself hailed from Hebrew, with Elijah as a Hebrew prophet. Officially, it means “son of Ellis”. And what does Ellis mean, you may ask? Ellis is an old Welsh name, meaning “benevolent”. As with many names starting with the “El-“ sound, it hails from the name Elijah.
This can also be a beautiful name for girls, but there’s something about the “Ellis” sound, plus “son” that gives a very masculine tone to it.
In fact, Emily Bronte used the pseudonym Ellis Bell when writing the novel Wuthering Heights. Don’t let its similarity to Allison ward you off, either. It’s different enough in spelling and pronunciation that it shouldn’t be a big issue for your boy.
Whether you choose to go with Ellis or Ellison, it’s a unique name which may be growing in popularity (you’ll start noticing Ellis being used as a character name in popular T.V shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Parks & Recreation, and movies like Age of Adeline). That said, it’s still unique enough that it’s rarely heard in classrooms, and it still a good bet to be fairly rare.
16 Greek Meaning: Lyre (A Musical Instrument)
Do you count the lucky stars that you’re lucky enough to be carrying this baby? Then maybe looking to the heavens may inspire your name choice! Lyra hails from astronomy, named after a constellation of stars discovered in the 2nd century by the astronomer, Ptolemy. How beautiful! It’s often represented as the shape of an eagle carrying a lyre, inspiring the strength and grace of the mighty eagle. The brightest star within the Lyra constellation is Vega, one of the brightest stars visible in our night sky. You always knew you had a shining star within you!
As the Greek mythology story goes, Orpheus created music on his magical lyre so wonderful and beautiful that even stationary objects like trees could be mesmerized.
He even used it to attempt to rescue his beloved from the underworld, charming Hades himself. His lyre was eventually placed into the sky by Zeus.
Alternatively, the name can also refer to the lyre musical instrument directly. However, the mythological tale is just so wonderful. There’s also the longer Philyra, which means “a person who is the born lover of music”. Which is also a great unique option. Whichever you pick, there’s a lyrical, musical and astronomical tie-in.
15 Latin Meaning: Golden-Haired
This baby boy’s name, hailing from the coasts of Italy is still very rare in North America. Unfortunately, this moniker is ranked as low as #2,607 on Babycenter.com, meaning it’s unlikely you’ll find another one in your son’s class. It’s also up 179 points from 2017, meaning it’s not becoming less popular. It’s of Latin descent, meaning golden-haired, and it’s a variant of Aurelius. But, that doesn’t mean it can only be used on little blonde haired babies. Remember that a baby's hair color often darkens over time, so even if you plan to name your golden-haired offspring this name, remember that gold can change to brown over time. And, why would you give up on a name as dashing as Aurelio just because of their golden locks? Your future ginger-haired baby or brunette may just be the next President of whatever country he's from!
Similar to the female Aurelia, it’s a lyrical, beautiful word that rolls around the tongue with a nice je ne sais quoi to it.
This may be a great option for those parents who don’t like the idea of nicknames and prefer that people call the child by their full name. Otherwise, nicknames could be Aur or (no pun intended) Lio, which is super cute.
14 Latin Meaning: Star
This is one name that has been around in multiple different cultures, from Aboriginal to Scandinavian, and even Arabic. In some cases, it translates to “swooping eagle”. In others, this is back to the night sky, as Vega is the name of one of the biggest and brightest stars in the sweeping sky.
The Vega star is part of the constellation Lyra, which is another top name on this list!
There’s also a sense of vegetables, vegetarianism, and veganism with this name. There’s even a plant-based nutritional company called Vega. Whether you focus on the vegetable side of things, the astral side, or the eagle side, this name strikes an essence of our natural world. Focus on the land or focus on the sky, either way, you’ll end up with a beautiful and unique moniker.
The word Vega has been used widely in non-human naming conventions. In aerospace, it’s been used to name anything from a crater to a rocket, and a space mission program. In geography, there are towns named Vega in Alberta, California, Texas, Norway, Sweeden, and even an island in Antarctica. It’s been the name of ships under Sweeden, Finland, the USA and Britain. There are schools named Vega, grapes, wineries, cars, machines, manufacturers, and special forces units, who have all taken the name Vega.
13 English Meaning: Old Friend
This name, which can be used for both girls and boys, is sure to put a smile on your face. After all, it’s of English origin and means “old friend”. Don’t you just want to smile hearing that? I know I do. The name itself is almost poetic, and only recently has started to be considered as a first name.
This English name was derived from the German's Aldwin.
Going back even farther, you realize it started where it ended up, in Old English with Ealdwine. It also has the same etymological origins as the name Alden. So, how did it begin as a first name? Some think it was due to the famous English poet W. H. Auden. It’s started trickling into first names, with an American climate activist and businessperson, Auden Schneider, one of the better-known holders of the name. There have been a few “Audie”s across the ages as well, some using it as a nickname from Auden. Kelsey Grammar used this name for his son, and you’re starting to see it trickle in, though it’s still quite rare.
If you love the way Aiden sounds but want to move away from such a popular name, Auden may be the next one up.
12 Hebrew Meaning: Princess
Do you feel like you have a little princess on the way? Well, Zadie might just be the name for you! The name itself means “princess”. This beautiful little girl’s name is of Hebrew origin. And while it seems modern, in 1881, it was actually ranked as number 539 on the charts.
This name stems back to the far more traditional Sarah, which holds a similar meaning.
It’s similar to the softer and more traditional Sadie but seems to have a fresher take on it. In fact, British author, Sadie Smith, changed her name to Zadie Smith at the age of fourteen. Maybe she was on to something! Sadie has become quite popular in recent days, with celebrities like Christina Applegate and Adam Sandler choosing it for their children. So, if you like the sound of it, but want a more unique spin, consider the more out of the box Zadie.
If you’d like to be even more out of the box, Zaida is even more unique. Zaida is Arabic, meaning “prosperous”. Other variations include Zada, Zaira, and Zayra. All end of the alphabet names, which have the potential to be as unique and perfect as your baby.
11 Welsh Meaning: Strong Lord or Fierce Person
Does feeling your baby’s kicks make you realize he could be a world-class soccer player? Then consider the name Griffith for your strong little one. This Welsh boy’s name means “strong Lord” or “a fierce person”. I know, you may be conjuring up Tyra Banks giving her “smeyes”. Griffith is the anglicized version of the name Gruffudd. While not quite as elegant, its' meaning is regal: it means “Lord, prince” and “strong”. This name was common to hear within Welsh royalty in medieval times.
Griffith is also similar to the more common Griffin (the Latinized descendent of Gruffudd), which can mean "the creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion."
At this point, you may be beyond Tyra Banks and now picturing Harry Potter scenes.
In today’s world, Griffith may remind you of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA, or perhaps actors like Andy or Melanie. Some spins on the name include Gryfith, Griffy, Giff, Griffey, Griffeth, and Gryfith. So, if that name interests you, but you’re not quite sure, there are many options for you to consider and to play around with. Feel free to cater the name that’s exactly perfect for your family. No matter what you pick, it’s sure to be a strong name, for a strong little one.
10 French Meaning: Pearl, Daisy
This French name has a hint of Gaelic charm to it. Its' meaning is “pearl, daisy”, evoking images of beautiful and feminine things. It actually translates to the French word for the daisy flower. This name is starting to gain traction in the cobblestone streets of Old Paris, and it is tres chic, indeed.
It’s been a royal name throughout the centuries but has never seemed to penetrate North America on a wide scale. Another thing that may appeal to you about it? There have been several Saint Margarets and Saint Marguerites over the years. There’s even a city called Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson in the province of Quebec, Canada.
Originally, Marguerite is the French form of the English name Margaret, which itself is derived from the Latin Margarita, from the Greek maragon, meaning “pearl”.
In fact, if you’re looking for something even more unique than Marguerite, you could go back to the beginning and chose the name Maragon itself. It will still mean “pearl”, yet could be a name almost unheard of.
There have been several famous Margarets, many in the literary arts, including Canadian Margaret Atwood, and Margaret Mitchell, author of the famous “Gone with the Wind,” plus the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady herself.
9 Old English Meaning: Hill
This name, while sounding very hip and trendy, actually dates back quite a bit. It was more commonly used in Old English when it meant “hill”, or “one who lived near a fold or hill”. This nice call out to nature can remind you of the rolling green hills of the English countryside, hearing the song of birds chirping nearby and villages off in the distance.
Another meaning of Penn can be from the Celtic origin when it meant “enclosure”.
However, many people love the association it can conjure with writing and literature. The pen is, after all, mightier than the sword. History buffs may love it as a reference to Pennsylvania and the early days of the Americas. Whatever you choose to associate it with, there’s little doubt that this new-again modern name is rare and interesting. This name may be more common as a surname, with famous people such as William Penn, Kal Penn, Sean Penn, and director Arthur Penns holding this moniker. However, there are a few standouts with Penn as a first name, particularly Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl fame. Finally, Gossip Girl's true identity is out, and it's Penn!
8 Gaelic Meaning Eire/Irish Meaning: Abundant Land
You can guess where this name comes from! If you love picturing the rolling hills and castles of Ireland, or feel like the luck of the Irish has always been with you, this name may be calling out to you. This name originates from the Gaelic language. When you go back far enough, it translates to the Gaelic “eire”, and while the exact translation is up for debate, it means something along the lines of “abundant land” in olden Irish.
It’s more often than not used as a surname, but is starting to become more popular as a girl’s given name.
Ireland, the third largest island in Europe, and is known for being quite green in nature. A part of Ireland, called Northern Ireland, is a part of the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, and Wales. Ireland has a rich history, with a culture that has included leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, folk music, and Irish cuisine, as well as a strong background in farming and religion. Because of extensive emigration all over the world, Irish holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween are now celebrated worldwide.
With the trend of adopting locations as first names, this is one that hasn’t yet gone mainstream. If you feel a special connection to this magical land, this may be the name, for you.
7 Latin Meaning: Peaceful
Prepare to tap into your inner Zen. This Latin name means “peaceful”. In Roman mythology, Pax was the Goddess of peace. If you’d like your child to have a constant reminder of the power and value of peace, you may want to lean into this name. With either option you choose to go with, there’s a sense of serenity around this name.
A very similar name, Paxton, is of Latin origin and means “peace town”.
One of the most famous Pax’s of the world has to be Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s son, who was born in Vietnam. If you love the sound of the name and are looking for something similar, yet want to shy away from the celebrity element of it, Paz is another, even more, unique option. Paz is a unisex name hailing from Spain that was more often used as a surname but is starting to gain traction as a first name. Paz still relates to peace, yet more towards the religious side of things. It’s mentioned in “Nuestra Señora de la Paz”, translating to “Our lady of peace”, in relation to the Virgin Mary.
Whether you choose Pax or Paz, this short, elegant name is sure to inspire feelings of peace and serenity when you reflect on it.
6 Hawaiian Meaning: Heavenly, Divine
There are two ways to look at Kiana. The first is as a Hawaiian name, their version of Diana, which means “heavenly, divine”, as Diana was the ancient goddess of childbirth, forests, hunting, and the moon. Interestingly enough, in the Hawaiian language, there are only 13 letters, of which there is no D. The other etymology is from African descent, a variant of Qiana, meaning “silk-like material”, or “soft and silky”. Qiana was also the name of a silky nylon fiber introduced by DuPont in the 1970's, so there may be some similarities there.
Yet another way to look at the name is from an Irish perspective, where it means “ancient”.
Kiana is also a city in Alaska, bringing a notion of wilderness and the north to it. It turns out there are a lot of different ways to look at this name! But it comes down to if you like the sound of it. It’s certainly unique. The closest name that could approach it may be the male name Keanu, most popularly used by Mr. Reeves, though itself also quite rare.
Do you like the sound of it, but want something slightly different? Similar names to consider include Keiana, Kienna, Kiaan, and Kian.
5 English Meaning: Ellis Town
Ellington, originally a surname meaning “Ellis’s town” is of English origin. And, what does Ellis mean, you may ask? Well, this is yet another name that dates back to Elijah from Hebrew (it turns out there are a few of them). Ellis itself is a strong name, used for centuries, yet recently has skyrocketed in popularity in North America. If you love the sound of it yet are looking for something a bit different, and potentially a bit longer, Ellington might be the name for you!
Another similar name, yet starting with a very different sound, is Wellington, which means “people who live by the temple”.
Likely the most popular person from whom the name was pulled from is Duke Ellington, the American musician. In this case, it may evoke an era of jazz, elegance, and celebration. Think you have a little celebration growing in your tummy? Then this could be the perfect name for them. Picture jazzy birthday parties, shimmering in silver and gold, taking you back to the roaring 20's. While this name is generally used mostly for gentlemen, occasionally a girl may carry the moniker as well.
Cynthia Nixon chose this as a middle name for her son Max.
4 Spanish/Italian Meaning: Lily
Lila is the Italian and Spanish version of the girl’s name Lily, which takes its' name from the flower. The lily is derived from Old English Lilie, which itself comes from the Latin word lilium, and this flower has been known to represent “purity”, and “perfection”. It’s also the Ukranian and Russian version of Lilyia, which also links back to the lily flower.
The lily flower’s botanical name is lilium, and the flower itself comes in a wide range of colors and emits a floral, fragrant scent.
In the Victorian language of flowers, lilies represent affection and love, with orange lilies standing for warmth, love, and happiness. There’s even a lily flower that stands specifically for Easter, the Easter lily.
There are many other variants on Lily, including Lilias, Lililya, and Lillian, all of which relate to the lily flower. There are a few artists named Lilia, including actresses Lilia Skala and Lilia Cabral, but the name itself hasn’t penetrated into mainstream vernacular yet.
Do you like this name, but wish for something even more unique? You can consider Analilia. This name is a combination of Anamaria (of Hebrew origin meaning “favored grace”), and Lilia and is quite a rare name indeed.
3 Gaelic Meaning: Poet, Poetry Writer
Originally Gaelic, Taegan can mean “poet, poetry writer”, while others say it means “fair” derived from the Welsh teg. Commonly used in Ireland, Teagan is a form of Teague, an Irish male name. It can also be considered to be a variation of Tegan, a Welsh Saint’s name. Some consider this to be an artistic name, so if you feel your little one could go the poetic, artistic route, this could be a great name for you.
Coming from a surname (as so many names nowadays do), this is a gender-neutral name that can work for both sexes.
It has similarities to Megan, Reagan, Keegan and the like, while having a bit of a different and new ring to it. There are various spins you can put on it, from Tegan to Tegon, Teegan, Teagon, Teegon, Tiegan, and more. That’s not even to count the nicknames that could be contrived from Tea, Tilly, Tiger, Teagy, and more. Figure out which version you like the most, and which could fit well into your family. Some people prefer it for females, and recently it’s been sewing more female than male, so do keep that in mind. However, it’s still a great boy’s name and a unique one at that.
2 Hawaiian Meaning Abundance/ African Meaning Happy One Or Delighted
Makena means “abundance” in the beautiful Hawaiian language. In the African language, it translates to “happy one”, or “delighted” under the Swahili language. It is actually more popular when used as a baby boy’s name, but as a girl’s name, it has a beautiful, feminine ring to it.
This name has been relatively unheard of over the centuries but has started to gain traction in recent years, with actress Helen Hunt naming her daughter Makena. Other spellings include McKenna, or the shortened “Kenna”. Kenna itself is a cool and unique name, which is most often considered the feminine version of Kenneth, which comes from Western Europe (England, Scotland, Sweeden, Norway, and/or Denmark) and is the Anglicized form of Coinneach and Cinaed who was a Scottish king from the 9th century who united the Scots and the Pics. Yet, according to Babynames.net, Kenna means “pretty woman”, having originated under the Gaelic language.
Want to go even farther down this path? Try the name Kenina, another variant on Kenneth.
If you like the sound of the name but are looking for something slightly more unique or different, you can also try the name “Makani”. This traditional Hawaiian boy’s name means “wind”.
1 Western European Meaning: Watchful/Alert
Greer is another Western European name, derived from the name Gregor, or Gregory, which in turn is derived from Gregorius, meaning “watchful, alert”. The name works for both males and females and works as both- a surname and first name. The background of the name was quite popular in the early centuries AD, with several saints Gregory's appearing in the fourth and sixth centuries, as well as fifteen Popes. As you can imagine, the name remained popular among Christians over the coming centuries and even up to present day.
Other variants for Greer are Grier, Grega, Grigor, Gregers, and even Reko, the Finish version.
There are a few famous Greers along the way, including Greer Germaine, an Australian writer, Greer Garson, a movie actress who won an Academy Award in the 1940's, and Greer Grammer, daughter of actor Kelsey Grammer. Additionally, you may recognize Greer Nelson as a character from the Marvel comics. More recently, Greer was a character on the CW’s hour long tv show Reign, known as Greer of Kinross. While the name is starting to pop up in popular culture, it’s still quite unknown and sure to be a unique fit for your unique little one.