25 Ancient Baby Names Americans Are Starting To Fall In Love With

Finding that oh-so-perfect, no one else is using this, charming baby name is not an easy task. Sometimes I wondered if the whole real point of having 9 months before giving birth was just to give us time to settle on a name.

I used to keep notebooks everywhere - by my bed, in the car, and in my purse - to jot down ideas for baby names. It's an old habit, having been a short story writer since grade school. I love names. Not everyone shares my passion for dusty old name books, so this list is for you folks. Do you love old names that people have forgotten? No, not Ethel, Gertrude, and Eustace.

I mean old as in ancient names, taken from places and languages perhaps now so distant as to be in danger of being forgotten. Names from foggy, misty and mysterious old places, and languages such as Breton, a Celtic language spoken in Brittany, or Cornish or Welsh.

Cornish names originate in the Cornwall coastal area of England. Cornish is part of the Brythonic languages, as are Welsh and Breton. These names have a unique feel, without being too oddball. Many of them could be used for either gender, so parents seeking out one perfect name, be it for a girl or a boy, can find some inspiration here.

25 Emblyn

Emblyn is actually a Cornish version of Emmeline, which is the French version of the Germanic name, Amal. This means, "industrious; hardworking." According to Babycenter.com, Emlyn ranked #11,289 in the US for baby girls in 2017. That's one letter off from Emblyn which didn't even rank at all. So I guess you can say that Emblyn is rarer than rare. Emblyn isn't a name given to anyone famous (yet) so no worries about a negative association.

There are Emblyns listed in historical British registries dating back to the 1800s and there's also a particular daffodil named "Emblyn," for you flower lovers. Emblyn could be given the nickname Emmie, Em or Bly, or possibly Emby or even Lyn. It will work well with pretty much any middle name that doesn't create a tongue twister. A good choice would be Emblyn Annika, and a bad choice for sure would be Emblyn Lynette.

24 Bryok

Bryok is pronounced bree-OK, and comes from the Celtic words "brig", meaning "mighty," and "mael",  meaning, "prince." There's a place called St. Breock, pronounced the same as Bryok, which is a village in Cornwall named after the Welsh Saint Briocus. The parish church of St. Breock dates back to the 13th century, and Cornwall's largest and heaviest prehistoric monument is located in that parish.

Bryok is not associated with anyone more contemporary and famous, however. Bryok is too rare to break onto any name charts or lists. However, it has a cool, mod sound that hearkens back to mystical, ancient times. It could be easily shortened to Bry or maybe even Okie. Bry is a much more appealing option, I would say. Since there are no strong gender associations, it could be used for a girl, I suppose, changing the meaning from mighty prince to mighty princess. Why not?

23 Mabyn

Via She Knows

Mabyn is a girl's name coming from Cornwall. St. Mabyn is, like the above name, a place in Cornwall commemorating St. Mabyn, who was also known as Mabon or Mabena, and was said to be one of the many children of a 5th century Welsh king, Brychan. Mabyn, like virtually all names on this list, is extremely rare. It charted in 2013 at #15,516.

The name is pronounced MAB-in, not with a long a, as might be expected. Of course, it's so rare that if you choose the other pronunciation, who is to say you are wrong? Mabyn, again, has an old-soul feel to it, which kind of makes it feel new and cool again. Nicknames could include May, Mab or Bynnie, to be different. It could work with 1, 2 or even 3-syllable middle names, such as Mabyn Rose, or Mabyn Alise, or Mabyn Elizabeth.

22 Colan

Via We Hear It!

Colan is said COLL-an, and there are all kinds of variations in spelling, from Colin to Collin to Colon. It is said by some sources to mean, "victory" or "from the victorious people," while others state it means, "a young creature." How about a young, victorious creature? It comes from the Scottish or Cornish version of the Greek name, Nicolas. Colan is not a name, at least a first name, shared by any famous folks.

Colin Jost is an actor/writer/comedian best known for his head writer/hosting duties on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update," and now for dating Scarlet Johansson. Colan is a familiar sounding name with very old roots and it works well with a wide range of ethnic sounding surnames and could be paired with many middle names, also of varying lengths. Col is the typical nickname given boys with this handle.

21 Demelza

Via Pinterest

Demelza is another name centered in England, specifically Cornish in heritage, and therefore, quite old. This girl's name made the charts, albeit quite low, in 2016 in the US, ranking at #10,198. Demelza means, "hill fort," and has come to some recognition due to an American-British TV series from BBC. The series Poldark, which began in 2015, has a character, Demelza.

The TV series is based upon books by writer Winston Graham, including one entitled Demelza which was originally published in 1946. Demelza is decidedly different and has a unique air to it, as do most names featuring the rare letter Z. Dem, Demi or Melzy are all possible nicknames. You could also call her Mel or Demzy. Demelza would require a sweet and simple middle name for best results.

20 Kenver

Via: pinterest.com

Kenver is pronounced KEN-va, so you will probably spend the rest of your life explaining that the 'r' is silent, or you can just give in and voice the 'r'. Kenver could be spelled Kenve to avoid the mispronunciation issues. It is yet another Cornish name, and it comes from the ancient British one, Cunmorus, which means, "great chief." Cunmorus is not the most appealing of ancient names, while Kenver sounds almost modern.

Kenver is not charting, which solidifies its status as a definite unusual name-choice. Kenver lends itself well to all kinds, and lengths of middle names. It doesn't seem limited to any type of surname, either. Possible diminutives for this name would include Ken, Kenny or maybe Kev. Kenver does rhyme with Denver, so if you live in the Mile-High City, you might want to skip the rhyming name to avoid undue teasing.

19 Meliora

Via: pinterest.com

Meliora is a girl's name which was in vogue from the 13th to the 18th century. Its roots are in Latin, and Puritans who came to early colonial America favored the name as well. It is a traditional Cornish name, and is pronounced mel-ee-OR-ah. Or it may be pronounced, "mel-YOHR-ah." It means "better," in Latin and comes from the adjective "melior". It also comes from the Cornish root word Mel, meaning "honey."

Ah, what a sweet meaning! Others trace the name through the Welsh moniker, Eleri, meaning, "earth; soil." Meliora has a ton of possible nicknames, including Mel, Meli, Liora, Lia or Melo even. Other options include Melly, Lio or Lori. Meliora is the motto for Rochester, New York's University of Rochester, translated to mean "always better." Since it's a bit of a longer name, opt for a shorter, 1 or 2 syllable middle name.

18 Treeve

Via: pinterest.com

Treeve is a boy's name from Cornwall, England. Its meaning is "farmland; village; town." It comes from the Cornish word "tre," or "trevow." It is most definitely a place in Cornwall, and even today you can find B&B's, boat companies and streets named Treeve. But in America, not so many Treeve mentions are found. There was a listing in 2011 on Babycenter.com's baby name popularity chart for a girl's name, Treeva. It was down in the basement, around the #16,000th mark. So, needless to say, if you choose to name your son Treeve, you needn't worry about him being mistaken for another Treeve at school.

It fits a modern, eco-friendly family who loves olden things. Treeve is hard to say without conjuring an image of an ancient Oak tree. Treeve doesn't really require a nickname, but should you insist you could go with Tre, Tree or Treevey.

17 Lowenna

Via Pinterest

Lowenna is a girl's name that comes from a more modern dialect of the Cornish language, and means "joy." Personally, I love names that give babies such a great meaning to start their lives with! Lowenna is pronounced lo-WEN-ah. The "o" is long, by the way. It comes from the Cornish word "lawenes" which means happiness or joy. Lowenna can also be pronounced low-EH-nah.

Lowenna made the US chart for baby girls in 2015 at #15,864, so once more, a fairly rare name. Lowenna could be shortened to Lowie, Lowe or Wen, as well as Wenna or Wennie. Maybe you'd prefer your daughter, Lowenna, to be known as Loe or Enna. Lowenna could be partnered with a 1 or 2 syllable middle name like Lowenna Charlotte or Lowenna Brie. In 2016, a Lowenna Ovens from Cornwall made international news as a brilliant student, scoring a perfect 45 out of 45 on the International Baccalaureate. So maybe it should mean joy and intelligence!

16 Cador

Via We Hear It!

Cador is an ancient king of Cornwall, who is mixed into Arthurian legend, it seems. He is rumored to have been the protector of Queen Guinevere. The meaning of the name is "warrior." Some references state that the meaning is "nephew of Arthur."  The name Cador is pronounced "CAD-or." Or it can alternatively be said, "KAHD-ohr."

Supposedly, the king from Arthurian tales had 4 hill forts, and from those came the name Cadbury. Cador is almost exclusively used as a surname today, making it highly unlikely to be used as a first name. The last name Cador is found mostly in France, the US and the United Kingdom, but it also appears in Belgium, Canada and Brazil, as well as Romania. Cador could be shortened to Cad or Caddy.

15 Eseld

Via Pinterest

Eseld is a Cornish name that is a variation of the Welsh name, Isolde. Isolde (and therefore Eseld) means "fair lady". The legendary Irish princess of this name was made famous by Wagner in his opera, 'Tristan and Isolde', which took that tale from 12th century literature. This mythological and tragic love story was said to be the model for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Eseld is pronounced es-ZELD or ez-ELD. Other variations include EH-zeld or ee-seld. It's a beautiful, very old sounding name with a bit of myth and legend attached to it, which is all the better for romantic thinking parents. Eseld Pierce is a British music composer from where else? Cornwall, naturally. Eseld could be given a nickname like Esie, Zellie or Zelda. Eseld would probably sound perfect with an equally ancient middle name, such as Eseld Kerra, or Eseld Trueth, for instance.

14 Jory

Via Pinterest

Jory is a Cornish form of the Latin name, George, which means, "tiller of soil; farmer". St. George is a legendary figure depicted fighting a dragon, who represented the devil himself and breathed fire. Jory by way of Latin comes to us from the Greek root words "gē" which means earth, and "ergein" which means work.

Jory ranked # 5321 in 2017 for US baby boys, which roughly figures out to be 23 baby boys per million. So again, not so familiar overall. Jory needs no nickname, as most 4 letter names ending in a "y" do not. Jory is the name of a minor character on Game of Thrones, is a character in 2 V.C. Andrews' books, and is the name of a 1973 film. Jory has a more modern sound, and will blend with a wide range of middle names, making it flexible.

13 Keyne

Via She Knows

Keyne is pronounced either keen or kane; take your pick. It is gender neutral, so for those aiming to pick just one name, be it girl or boy who pops out, this will work. There are different versions of where it comes from and what it means. One camp says that it comes from the Gaelic/Irish Keane and means, "sharp or keen wit or eye; a fighter."

Another says it comes from Kane and means, "man of the eastern sky". Still, another source points to the Welsh name "kain" meaning "beautiful; fine; white; or blessed." Saint Keyne is said to have been another of King Brychan's 24 children, who was born in the 5th century and is said to have lived as a hermit, traveling through Wales and the Cornwall region. Key or Keynie could be nicknames.

12 Ruan

Via Kayak Wallpaper

Ruan is a Cornish name known to be used in medieval times, but its actual etymology is undetermined, meaning that we can't trace its origins or exact meaning. What we do know is that Ruan is the name of a saint. Saint Ruan was a 5th century saint, said to have been consecrated Bishop by Saint Patrick himself. He served in Cornwall, and his feast day is held June 1.

Ruan is probably pronounced rue-AN or RUNE. But since it's so rare, who is to say? The parents! Ruan has a decidedly Irish/Welsh kind of look and sound to it, and so has again, a modern yet ancient feel. Rue or Ry could be nicknames. The middle name will depend on the pronunciation to some extent. It could work with something like Ruan Patrick or Ruan Kendrick for instance.

11 Creeda

Creeda, also spelled Cryda, is said, KREE-da. There was a Saint Creed who was a princess of Irish ancestry who founded a number of churches in the area of Cornwall and Ireland. It is also spelled Crid or Krid, and Creed is the name of a parish in mid-Cornwall. Cryda or Creeda is not a name associated with any well-known modern people, so a baby named this will have her own path before her.

She will set people's associations with the name. Nicknames could include Cree, Cryd, or Eda, as well as Edie or Creedie. Or you could do an initial nickname in conjunction with the middle name. Say you name her Creeda Jayde. You could give her the nickname CJ. It's so rare, it hasn't charted in the US at all.

10 Austol

Via We Hear It!

Austol is yet another Cornish name, and the variant spelling is Austell. Both are quite rare and have not appeared on name registries in the US. However, in the UK, it is more commonly seen as a surname. Austell was the name of a saint, and is now the name of a place in Cornwall, in the US and in Australia as well. St. Austell, an old market village from the Middle Ages, is one of Cornwall's biggest towns and boasts a lovely harbor.

There are 2 saints associated with the Austol/Austell name. The first was a Cornish holy man from the 6th century who lived much of his life in Brittany. The latter was a woman, said to be one of the daughters of King Brychan. As you can guess, either spelling can go for either gender. Nicknames could be Austi, Stell or Stol. It is pronounced AW-stel.

9 Tegan

Via Pinterest

Tegan can be used for either gender, and some Cornish authorities cite the spelling as Tegen. It is pronounced TAY-gen, TEE-gen or TEG-en. Take your pick! It's meaning (depending on whom you believe) is "poet; philosopher," or "pretty thing; ornament." So again, take your pick! Tegan can be traced to the Irish/Gaelic name "teague", which is the updated version of its root name, Tadhg.

In the US in 2017, Tegan for girls rated at #1184, and for boys at #2729, so here in America, it is at least charting and more commonly given to girls. Teg, Teggy or Tig are possible nicknames. There is a popular singing duo made up of identical twin sisters, named Tegan and Sara. For those partial to the name Megan but who also want something a bit more different, Tegan may be the ticket.

8 Edern

Source: The Rock/Instagram

Edern is pronounce AY-dern or ED-ern. It comes from the Welsh word, "edyrn", meaning, "great." St. Ederyn was a 6th century holy man who spent much time in Brittany, where the name is still popular. He was said to have been a Knight of the Round Table and a friend of King Arthur, which could have been awkward as he was also supposed to have been a love of the future Queen Guinevere. Edern was the father of a famous and important ruler, King Cunedda of Wales.

Some sources cite the origins of the name as being Welsh, Breton and Cornish from the Latin aeturnus, meaning "eternal." There is a church, St. Edern's, which was founded in the 6th century by the priest, but the present building dates back only to the 14th century. Edern could be shortened to Ed, Eddy or Eddie, or Dern.

7 Solenne

Via Pinterest

Solenne is pronounced so-LEN, and is a Breton variation of the French, Solène. Both come from the French word, solennel meaning, "solemn." It can also be traced to Spanish and Latin roots via the name Solana. That would make the meaning, "sunlight; eastern wind". Solenne made it on the 2017 US girl baby names chart, but barely, hitting the low number, #17,972. Solenne is a romantic sounding name that is pretty timeless as well. It fits a medieval lass as well as a modern one, quite equally.

Solenne could be abbreviated to Sol, Soli, Len or even Lennie. Solenne is definitely a feminine name, and there are no records that I found showing it being used as a baby boy name. Solenne would go well with a lot of middle names, giving parents much flexibility. Solenne Jolie fits well together, as does Solenne Ysella.

6 Kentin

Via Disney Baby

Kentin, according to some, is a Breton form of the name Quentin. Quentin is a Latin name traditionally bestowed on the fifth child, if it's a son, as Quentin means fifth. Kentin is also said to mean, "the royal settlement." This name is not by any means a common moniker, at least in the US, and is therefore, a good choice for a family seeking a name that won't be popular or often seen.

Kentin is a good choice for those who like other male "k" names, like Kent, Kyle or Kevin for instance. Kentin is pronounced KEHN-tin. Famous Kentins include Kentin Jivak, a French musician, and Kentin Mahé, a handball player from France. Kentin has a very neutral feel and will pair well with many surnames and middle names. You can use a middle name with 1, 2 and 3 syllables easily with Kentin.

5 Awen

Via Pinterest

Awen is an old Welsh name, meaning (and I love this one, personally) "muse." For you dreamy, artsy type parents, what could be a cooler meaning, after all? Awen is pronounced AU-wen. It ranked #16,201 in 2016 for US baby girls. Awen can be used for baby boys as well, and no one in America should have a gender in mind since it's such a rare name.

Awen has a decidedly timeless feel to it, and so should appeal to a lot of different types of ears. Nicknames for such a little name are tricky, but would have to include Wen and Wenny, or Wenni. Middle names could be any length, from one to 3 syllables. Since it's a genderless name, perhaps you'd like her middle name to shout femininity, so something like Awen Natalie or Awen Isabella.

4 Aodren

Via weddbook.com

Aodren can be pronounced AH-dren or AH-o-dren. It is an ancient Breton name meaning, "of high birth." That's right, tell the world from the outset, this guy is a pretty big deal. Unlike some of the other names on this list, Aodren is mostly recognized as a male name. It's so rare as to not be detected on any major name charts, meaning your Aodren will likely be the only Aodren anyone knows.

Aodren has a strong, ancient feel to it. Sounds like a character in a myth almost. Aodren could be shortened to AO, Dren or Ren. Maybe Ady? Aod? Why not, with such an open wide possibility, no one has expectations to shatter, so go with whatever nickname you choose. Aodren in history was the son of King Salaun, who ruled in the 5th century and fought the Saxons and the Huns.

3 Triphina

Via Pinterest

Triphina is a Breton name that came down to us by way of the Welsh, Trifin, meaning, "exact; precise". There was a female saint, Tryphina, who was married to the legendary king Conomor, who was a real ogre of a man who became violent with his wives whenever they were pregnant. According to legend, Tryphina fled while expecting their son, but he found her and, according to some stories, he killed their child, and in others, he beheaded her and killed the infant.

However, they were said to be magically restored (sort of Druid/Christian myths merging here) and became saints. Triphina could be pronounce tre-PHEE-nah or TRI-phen-UH. Play with it and decide how you want it said; no one can correct you because how would they know, since it's so rare? Nicknames could include Tri, Phini, or Phina.

2 Donan

Via Favim.com

Donan is a Breton name, which is actually a place - it is an island in Scotland, where three lochs meet; Loch Duich, Loch Alsh, and Loch Long. Donan from the Celtic roots means "world." and seems somewhat related to Donald through the root word, "dumno." The most prevalent pronunciation seems to be DOUGH-nun. There was a saint Donan who was a disciple of the Saint Briec, with churches and villages named after them to this day.

There's a castle dating from the 12oos in Eilean Donan in the Scottish Highlands. Donan has a very Scottish sound to it and would work well if you have a particularly UK-type surname. Donan could be shortened to Don or Donny most obviously. Donan works well with a wide variety of middle names such a Donan Scott, or Donan Magnus for instance.

1 Kerenza

Via Pinterest

Kerenza is an ancient Cornish name meaning, "love." How perfect is that for a newborn girl? It is pronounced ke-REN-za. This one is rare but is easily sounded out, so that removes one possible barrier for choosing it. It can also be spelled with an /s/ as in Kerensa, if you'd prefer. It is still mostly only seen in Cornwall, no matter the spelling you choose. With the /z/ spelling, it reached #18,312 in 2012 for US baby girls.

It ranked at #16,204 in 2016 for girls with the /s/ spelling. Other variations include Carensa, Karenza and Karensa. Whew! It could be shortened to Keri, Ren, Renza or even Renzi. This is a name that gives you plenty of options and a lovely meaning. It is strongly associated with being a feminine name.

Sources: behindthename.com, thenamemeaning.com, britishbabynames.com, babynamewizard.com, babycenter.com, nameberry.com, thinkbabynames.com

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