Naming a baby is a tricky thing to do. In the last weeks of pregnancy, it has been top of any mom's to-do list to find a name that is smart, beautiful, fun, fine or sassy. Many people will need to have thought of a girl’s and boy’s name to cover both eventualities. A lot of parents consider a string of middle names too. But when mom and dad meet the little one they may suddenly decide that those carefully chosen names just don’t seem right after all and it’s back to the drawing board.
What do mom and dad want the name to say about their precious bundle? Should the name be traditional or reflect a well-used family name? Or should this name be something a bit different? Why not choose something a little more exclusive? Do they want the little one to be swallowed up in the pile of Hannahs, Sarahs, Andrews and Marks that populate our schools? Why not bless them with something a little more different and daring? There are many names that are simply underused despite their beauty, so have a look at these rare yet charming names and parents can give their child the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Another extremely unusual yet chic girls’ name, Hadleigh is an old locational English name meaning ‘heathery field’. A more traditional spelling is ‘Hadley’, but as its popularity has started to spread, various spellings have emerged, managing to retain that air of exclusivity. These include Hadleah, Hedleah, and Hadli, so if you feel that you want to be even more unique, then feel free to just swap a letter or two around. Hadleigh didn’t make its first appearance in the US Top 1000 until 2014.
For any literary fans, this Anglo-Saxon boy’s name brings to mind Emily Bronte’s romantic anti-hero in her ever-popular novel, Wuthering Heights. An unusual and brooding character, Heathcliff is famed for being a strange mix of hero and villain. His name quite literally refers to the land around him - the heath and the cliffs.
So if you are a fan of windswept landscapes and dramatic coastlines, this might be the perfect choice for you. Slightly more common is the abbreviation, Heath, which was number 1477 in the charts in 2017, meaning that out of every million babies, only 131 were given this name, making it truly exclusive.
Although this is a stunningly beautiful name for any little girl, Mara doesn’t have the most optimistic of meanings. It is most popularly thought to be a Hebrew name and is the name taken by the Biblical Naomi after her family dies. In this case, it means ‘bitterness’, although also reflects strength.
There are other options, however, including the Hindu goddess of destruction, death, winter and the moon, or the Latvian high goddess. Perhaps you would prefer to go with the Gaelic meaning - ‘sea’.
Whichever meaning you prefer, it makes a great alternative to Mary or Maria or as a short version of Tamara.
Only 95 babies per million were given this charming boy’s name in 2017, landing it right down at number 1680 in the American baby name charts. A more refined version of ‘Daryl’, and a version of ‘Darius’, Darien translates from the Persian ‘good’ or the Greek ‘gift’. Poet John Keats refers to Darien, a province of Panama, in his sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’, which in turn reflects the Greek poet Homer’s work.
If you have twins this is a great name to play the anagram game with, as the same letters will give you Adrien and Andrei.
You certainly can’t get much more exclusive than being named after a god and this is certainly a majestic choice for your son. Apollo is a Greek god whose name ‘apollymi’ means ‘to destroy’. In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin of Artemis, who in turn was the goddess of hunting and wild animals. Apollo was the god of prophecy, medicine, music, art, law, beauty, and wisdom. Later he also became the god of the sun and light.
Last ranked at number 535, this is a rare and majestic name.
This rather superior name has one of the most famous bearers in world history. The famous philosopher from way back in the 4th century BC is still known as one of the greatest thinkers of all time, and his ideas on logic, metaphysics, ethics and biology are still relevant and discussed today.
The name literally translates as ‘best’ from the Greek ‘aristos’ and ‘purpose’ from the Greek ‘telos’, but in some cultures has come to mean ‘superior’ or ‘great thinker’.
Another Greek name, this one is a magnificent choice for any male. In Greek mythology, Atlas was a complete rebel, who led a ten-year battle of Titans against the god Zeus. Eventually, Zeus won and Atlas was given the special punishment of holding up the heavens for eternity. He literally bore the weight on his shoulders, so this name suggests great strength.
Atlas appears scattered through popular culture, including a song by Coldplay and as characters in ‘It Ends With Us’, ‘Bioshock’ and even as a robot in ‘Portal 2’.
This unisex name comes from Scandinavia, an ever popular source of names. Originally spelt ‘Søren’ in Danish and Norwegian or ‘Sören’ in Swedish, it should be pronounced as ‘Su-ren’. The anglicised version ‘Soren’ is still a beautiful alternative.
Originally from the Latin ‘severus’, meaning ‘sever, strict or serious’, the name’s oldest bearer is the 4th-century Christian saint Severin of Cologne.
More modern examples include the nineteenth-century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and several fictional Sorens as well, such as in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘Charlie and Lola’.
Here is an ancient and majestic name that has been used throughout history. In Hebrew, it means ‘the one to whom it belongs’, or alternatively ‘peace’, and is a prophetic name for the Messiah. Shiloh is a biblical town mention in the book of Genesis. It is here that the Ark of the Covenant lived and so it became a place of pilgrimage.
Shiloh is also notable for the being the site in Tennessee of a major American Civil War Battle.
Shiloh has enjoyed a new surge of popularity thanks to celebrity use, but is still very exclusive, at only number 582.
An ancient Latin name, Celia is derived from ‘Caelia’, which is a feminine form of the Roman clan name Caelius, meaning ‘heavenly’. A short form of Cecilia, which in turn was made popular by the 1970 Simon & Garfunkel hit, Celia is also a less fancy version of Celeste or Celestina.
Famous examples include the actresses Celia Imrie and Celia Weston whilst fictional Celias can be found in programmes as diverse as ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Monster’s Inc’ and back in time to Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’.
A Scottish and Irish name, Mack translates as ‘son of’ and is more commonly found in surnames without its final ‘k’. Whilst it was a top 100 name in 1900, it slumped for a century and is now only at number 607.
Mack can be found scattered around popular culture, with examples such as the truck in Pixar's film ‘Cars’ and as the boss in the video game ‘Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars’.
A stylish yet friendly sounding name, Mack is an unpretentious choice.
If you like the sound of Sean but want something a little more exclusive, try Seamus. Pronounced ‘SHAY-mus’, this name comes from the Latin ‘Jacomus’ and is a modern day form of James. Meaning ‘supplanter’, this name doesn’t have the best of translations but has some notable bearers such as the 1995 Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney. Harry Potter also has a half-blood wizard friend named Seamus Finnigan.
A rare name at only number 977, Seamus is a strong masculine name for your son.
Immediately bringing to mind thoughts of nobility, rich guys on horses and massive mansions, Marquis is a very unusual name. Originally a French name, Marquis is a title name ranking below duke and above earl and comes from the word ‘marchis’. This, in turn, means "march, borderland", which originally referred to someone who ruled on the borderlands of a realm.
If you are looking for a truly exclusive name, then this noble title is the one for you as it currently ranks at number 16,615 in the popularity charts.
Whilst being named after a god is certainly exclusive, being named as ‘queen’ must surely come a good second! This Latin classic can be found in Christianity from early times, being most notably borne by a 2nd-century saint. During the Middle Ages it was used to honour the Virgin Mary, but after a revival in the 19th century it became more commonly translated as the more general ‘queen’.
Pronounced ‘re-jee-na, the name enjoys varying levels of success around the world, from number 417 in America, to number 8 in Mexico. However, it hasn’t ranked in France since 1958 and fell out of Swiss favour in the 1970’s.
This charming unisex name currently only just makes the top 500, sitting at number 491 for girls, but just outside at 567 for boys. In Old English, this name means ‘Tate's homestead’ or alternatively a ‘cheerful bringer of joy’. Either way, this is a lovely homely name with happy connotations which would suit your modern and stylish child.
More commonly heard as a surname, as in Art Tatum the jazz pianist or Channing Tatum the actress, an alternative for a first name could be the shorter Tate.
Another name that originates as a surname, Fletcher is now used as a cool and funky first name. The name is an occupational name for an arrowsmith or seller of arrows, from the Old English ‘fulcher’ or Old French ‘flecher’. Reaching a peak in the late 19th century, Fletcher is slowly making a comeback but was still only given to 222 babies per million last year. Along with other occupational names such as Mason, Forester and Parker, Fletcher is certainly a stylish choice.
Greta is a Greek name meaning ‘pearl’. If you like the name ‘Pearl’ but feel that it’s still a little old-fashioned for you, then this name has a much more up-to-date feel and may not make people think of old ladies’ necklaces. It is also actually a short version of the German name ‘Margarethe’ and reaks of Hollywood glamour with its links to the actress Greta Garbo.
International variations include the Slavic Gryta, the Eastern European Gretl and the Scandinavian Grethe.
Vintage names are making a comeback and those that are traditionally associated with the older generation are coming back into fashion. Along with names such as Edith, Rose and Violet, Pearl is seeing an increase in popularity. If you lived in the 1890’s you would be one of a thousand Pearls, but last year only 299 babies per million born were given this name. Reminiscent of valuable ornaments, Pearl is a pretty name that deserves more use than it currently has.
Collins is joining the popular trend of surnames being used as first names and it is definitely a fun and stylish girls’ name. It has various meanings including ‘youthful’ in Irish and ‘victor’ in Greek. As a surname it can be used as an abbreviation for Nicholas, meaning ‘people’s victory’.
An unusual name, Collins received some publicity when it was used as the name of the sister in the 2009 Movie ‘The Blind Side’ and since then has gradually risen in use. However, it is still quite exclusive, so make use of it before it becomes common.
This beautiful name is proving to be increasingly popular for 21st-century girls and has risen in use in the last 20 years. In Latin, Juniperus is a combination of the word ‘junio’, which means ‘young’, and ‘parere’, to produce, so this gorgeous moniker means ‘youth producing’, or ‘evergreen’. Historically, Junipers were used symbolically in art to represent chastity. It is used in reference to the bright berries of the juniper tree and is also an English version of the Welsh ‘Guinevere’.
This is another name that has grown in popularity thanks to Disney. If you are a Rapunzel fan you may be thinking of the hero ‘Flynn Rider’ from the 2010 hit ‘Tangled’. Whilst, in this case, the name brings to mind rugged and daring heroes, the name is actually an ancient Gaelic one.
Originally a surname - O Flainn - meaning ‘son of Flann’, the name literally means ‘red’, so was popularly given to boys with red hair. Whilst Flynn enjoyed a peak in 2012 it is still a very rare name.
A popular Victorian name, Edison is an example of a stylish yet underused name. If you like the idea of Edward but are looking for something more exclusive, this could be a perfect choice.
It is actually an old English surname meaning ‘Eadie’s son’ or ‘Edie’s son’, from the Old English word ‘ead’, meaning ‘prosperity and wealth’. Shortened versions could include Ed or Eddy.
With famous bearers such as the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison, this is a refined Victorian moniker that is just awaiting a comeback.
This really exclusive name is so rare that it has only reached number 1,525 on the baby name charts. This fine name was very popular in the Victorian era but suffered a decline in the 20th century and is now more commonly heard as a surname.
Foster originates as an English surname with various meanings. Firstly from ‘Forester’, translating as ‘keeper of the forest’, but also from the Old French ‘fustier’, meaning saddle maker.
The surname was one of the very first into the New England colonies of America. John Foster, age unknown, is recorded as being ‘alive in Virginea’, on February 18th 1623.
This name is of German and Italian descent and means ‘old’ or ‘wise’ The 8th-century hermit Saint Aldo of Carbonari has a naming day on 10th January whilst the later 13th-century Saint Alda was an Italian Christian saint and nurse who ministered to the sick following the death of her husband.
As well as being a chain of shoe stores, Aldo features as a character in the movie "Inglourious Basterds"
And in the video game Final Fantasy XI.
Currently, at number 751, this is an unusual yet lovely name for any boy.
Although the American spelling is more commonly ‘Sterling’, this name represents the true original Scottish name. Referring to the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’, Stirling is a Scottish town on the River Forth. However, this is not only a traditional Scottish name, but also comes from Germany. There it means ‘of high quality’ or ‘pure’ and was a name given to medieval silver merchants.
Stirling Moss, the race car driver, and Stirling Silliphant, American screenwriter and producer, are modern examples of this exclusive name.
References: disneybaby.com, momjunction.com, babycenter.com, behindthename.com,