When parents find out they're expecting a baby, thoughts immediately turn to what kind of name they want to give their new little one. A name is so much more than a string of letters—people often describe how they come to see their name as inseparable, like a part of themselves. Names have power, as evidenced by the fact that we often associate character and personality traits with specific names. Because of this trait association, parents sometimes look for an original or unusual name to distinguish their child or to wipe the slate clean, so to speak—a fresh, new name isn't tied to the family's past like a traditional name and isn't shouted out five times in every school classroom.
Between baby name books and the internet, moms have millions of names to pour over as they try to decide which name will truly fit their child but get discouraged when they find that list after list includes the same group of names, or only focuses on names from a particular region. The world has well over seven billion people in it, and there are bound to be some amazing and totally original names amongst all those people. Best of all are the undiscovered gems in the midst of those unique names that also come with a special or significant meaning attached.
The baby girl name Caitrin could be shortened to Cait for a more familiar pet name or kept whole as Caitrin as a name worthy of the heroine of an epic novel. Caitrin is actually a Gaelic form of the more well-known Katherine and means “pure,” according to Baby Names Pedia. It's a lovely girl's name that's rarely seen outside of Ireland and Scotland, yet it won't stay hidden forever. It's elegant and simple but has a whimsical, fairy-tale sound that will stand out everywhere.
A heroic name is never a bad move when naming a baby—we always hope our newborn is destined for great and wonderful things. The name Diarmuid comes from Irish legend and means “without enemy,” as per Irish Baby Names. Most parents are hopeful that their child goes through life without an enemy, and a baby could wear the name Diarmuid like a charm against any who would wish them ill. The English version of this name is the more familiar Dermot, but we like the original version as well.
Abiola is an auspicious baby boy name from the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria, according to Baby Name Guide. With a meaning like “born in honor,” it's hard to imagine a better way to commemorate the strength of the mother and the beginning of a new and blessed life for the baby. Abiola is an inspiring name that has not appeared on any baby name lists yet in the US, so parents can be sure that their son named Abiola would definitely be in a class by himself.
Many times, we can honor a culture or a language in the meaningful names we give to our children. The captivating Khmer name Kolthida originates in Cambodia, but if it were more widely known could have global appeal. The name Kolthida means “young woman,” or “daughter of a respected family,” as per Cambodia Adoption Connection. Kolthida, pronounced “Kol TEE duh” will suit a well-loved daughter as she grows from infant to adulthood as a sweet but dignified baby girl name.
One of the biggest trends in baby naming lately has been the revival of the old-fashioned and quaint names of yesteryear. Somehow, when many of those baby names were dusted off and trotted out, a few got left in the past that deserve a second look, and Ardyss is one of them. Ardyss is of Scottish and Irish origin, meaning “blooming meadow,” according to The Bump. Ardyss is a fantastically versatile name that can do equal justice whether given to a baby boy or girl.
The Igbo (Ibo) is a large ethnic group mostly in the southern part of Nigeria with a dynamic language that continues to evolve and add to itself while maintaining a memory of its past. Ekene is a shortened version of Ekenedilichukwu, which means “thanks be to God,” as per Maternity Nest. We think Ekene—or “thanks”—can stand on its own as a testament to the rich and expressive language of the Igbo and a reminder to Mom that a healthy baby is often greeted with heartfelt thanks.
Sometimes it's such a struggle for parents who are looking for something that combines the unusual with the familiar and the simple—quite a paradoxical combination. The Cambodian name Borey is a strong but simple boy's name that can mean either “country” or “great city,” according to Adoption. A name like Borey calls to mind a solid foundation such as any truly great city would have. Borey likely isn't very familiar to many parents yet in the US, but we think it's got a lot of charm.
Most parents have met one or several dozen Rachels in their lives, but it's a pretty good bet that they have not yet met a Rachana. This name comes from Sanskrit and Hindi, with the incredibly relevant meaning of “creation,” as per Think Baby Names. The name Rachana, pronounced “Ra SHAN nah,” is so rare in the US it's as yet unheard of, but it has such a pleasant sound and is easy to pronounce. Consider Rachana for a daughter as a celebration that she has come into being.
Madoc is a variation on the spelling Madog. A Welsh name, Madoc means “fortunate son,” according to Baby Names Pedia. A modern version more well-known in the US is Maddox, but there's something about Madoc that calls up a sense of history. Some believe the Welshman Madog ab Owain Gwynedd landed in North America long before other Europeans, but there is a lack of evidence to support this. Nevertheless, both the legend and the name Madoc were featured in Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
Heroic names in folklore carry a lot of power and even a sense of magic. Norse mythology never disappoints when parents look through the legends for original names of heroes and heroines. Gudrun was featured in several legends as a wife, sister or mother. Another myth of German and Baltic origins features a different Gudrun, whose story ends happily, according to Britannica. The baby girl name Gudrun means “divinely wise,” and the name is known best in Scandinavian countries.
Llew is a distinctly Welsh name, marked by the Welsh double-L which many English speakers can find difficult to pronounce. It is also a variation on the name Lleu, famous in Welsh legend because of the sun-god Lleu Llaw Gyffes, as per Pier Religion. For US parents skilled or brave enough to help friends and family pronounce it, Llew (“HLOO”) is a deceptively short name that roars in strength and power for those who know the Mabinogi. Bright Llew is a bold name choice.
Although Idonia is a variation on the Old Norse name Iduna, it's somewhat more popular in Spanish-speaking countries. Idonia means “loving one,” according to Smart Baby Names. Girls’ names beginning with the letter “I” are rare enough, and Idonia is a bright jewel just waiting to be discovered by parents who want something out of the mainstream. Idonia has a timeless elegance that isn't obscured by trendiness and may just end up becoming a treasured name that gets passed down through the generations.
For parents who like the sound of Rain or Rainey but want something that sounds a little more grown up, Rainor is a more distinguished-sounding name that easily lends itself to nicknames in youth and matures well. In Old German, Rainor means “deciding warrior,” as per The Bump. The name Rainor might also remind parents of the famous poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, giving the name Rainor an added literary layer. Rainer Maria Rilke was a widely celebrated lyric German poet of the late 1800s, according to The Poetry Foundation.
In many countries and cultures, baby names are mined not from legends and mythologies, but rather from natural phenomena and the growing and living things all around. Mongolian baby girl names often follow this theme of echoing the beautiful things in nature, calling down good luck or warding bad luck away from a precious daughter, according to Every Day Know. The name Qara means “little cloud,” conjuring up an image of a delicate, fluffy cloud high in a vast and deep blue sky.
In The Bible, Absalom was the son of David. Absalom was strong and handsome but often disagreed with his father, the king. From the Hebrew meaning “father is peace,” Absalom is far more popular in its Scandinavian form, Axel, as per Oh Baby! Names. Absalom's hair was said to be luxurious and abundant, and he was reportedly a good lookin' guy as well as strong-willed. A kid with the name Absalom will certainly stand out for his unusual name, at the very least.
Hestia as a Greek goddess is often not featured in the more daring and adventurous myths, but historians can verify that she was a very important deity to women, especially in the home, according to Theoi. Hestia was the goddess of the hearth, which is the center of the home, as it was where food would be cooked for the household. The goddess Hestia determined her own marital fate, and this quiet strength might be communicated in a daughter who is given the name Hestia.
Depending on which region of the world parents look to, the name Zamani can be a Swahili girls’ name meaning “long time ago,” as per Name Site, or could also be a boy's name of Arabic and Muslim origin and simply mean “of Zaman,” according to Ancestry. It's not unheard of to find remarkably similar names with different meanings. The result is that Zamani could be a nod to a family's Muslim faith as gift to a newborn boy, or a remembrance of Swahili ancestry bequeathed to a baby girl.
The original Iphigenia was called on to be a sacrifice for the good fortunes of the Achaeans as they prepared to set sail for Troy. Despite her father's trickery, she decided to go through with it for the good of all, but at the last minute was spirited away by the goddess Artemis to safety, according to Greek Mythology. Iphigenia was also the subject of several Greek tragedies that are still widely read today. Despite her enduring legend, her name remains a rarity that nonetheless would suit a strong-willed daughter.
A healthy baby boy is always good news, and the name Navid literally celebrates that. The Persian name Navid means “good news” or “reward,” according to Baby Names. Navid is not an unusual name in Iran and other parts of the Middle East, but it's never been ranked on any baby list in the US so far. That just means that now is a good time to start considering Navid—pronounced “Nah-VEED”—because it's highly unlikely that any of the other little boys will have this catchy name.
Many parents are pretty familiar with the Greek name Daphne, and a few might know of the original myth that describes Apollo's pursuit of Daphne, who was eventually changed into the laurel tree. In Macedonia, the name is written as Dafina, according to Behind The Name. Dafina is also the preferential spelling in Albania. It's a lovely variation on the more well-known Daphne. Dafina is virtually unknown so far in the US and has never reached any baby lists in Western countries so far.
Any names beginning with “U” are already rare in the US. The Bosnian name Uzeir is a unique stunner that parents can add to their baby boy lists. With the meaning “he who helps,” Uzeir is a purposeful name for a compassionate, caring child, as per Bosnian Names. Parents of Muslim faith might recognize that Uzeir is also the name of a man in the Qur'an. Many groups of people go through periods of time wherein religious-themed names become more popular.
Zora is another name that has origin stories in two different linguistic groups, but in this case, both result in Zora being considered a girls’ name. In the Slavic language, Zora means “dawn,” according to Baby Names Pedia. In the Hausa language, Zora refers to the word meaning “a bargain.” Zora could also be an alternate spelling of the Hebrew Zorah. This small name carries a lot of meaning regardless of origin, and some parents might also like the literary association with Zora Neale Hurston.
Beyond the more astute hockey fans, much of Finnis2h language and culture is virtually unknown to most parents in the US. This is unfortunate, as Finland has some wonderful baby names to offer the world. For the more globally-minded parents, the baby boy name Iivari might just suit. The name Iivari means “bow warrior,” as per Baby Names Direct. Those who have spent time in Finland might immediately recognize the name—several Finnish actors have it—but a kid in the US with the name Iivari would be one in a million.
As with many other Japanese things, the name Morika is as nuanced and complex as parents want it to be. The basic meaning of the name is “scent of the forest,” but it can actually be interpreted differently depending on how it's written in the Japanese characters called Kanji, according to Japanese Names. The multiple meanings that can be expressed in the name Morika utilizing Kanji don't translate well into English, but we don't think that diminishes the beauty of the name Morika in any way.
Many English speakers still refer to the Diné as Navajo, and they are also not familiar with common baby names. Many tribes in the US are searching their languages, old family records and roots to recall the names that they once gave to their baby boys and girls before colonizers came. More often than not, these names have meaning, as in the case of Ho'kee, which means “high-backed wolf,” according to Warpaths 2 Peacepipes. Names are very personal gifts the family gives to a little one upon his entry into the world.
References: Baby Names Pedia, Irish Baby Names, Baby Name Guide, Cambodian Adoption Connection, The Bump, Maternity Nest, Adoption, Think Baby Names, Baby Names Pedia, Madeleine L'Engle, Britannica Pier Religion, Smart Baby Names, The Bump, The Poetry Foundation, Every Day Know, Oh Baby! Names, Theoi, Name Site, Ancestry, Greek Mythology, Baby Names, Bosnian Names, Baby Names Pedia, Baby Names Direct, Japanese Names, Warpaths 2 Peacepipes