Baby names are a big deal these days. While parents have struggled for generations to figure out the perfect moniker for their newest family member, in the past people tended to reuse the same sets of names over and over again. Some names were more popular than others, but it was rare for parents to go beyond the baby name book. But these days, parents want to go even further to make their child stand out.
There are lots of naming trends, from short and sweet sounds to renewing a vintage pick to choosing a name inspired by nature or with a meaning and sentiment that touches the soul. But on top of that, many parents want an extra oomph to make the name just right. Some people call that an x factor.
We have a list of names that have an x factor in every sense of the word. While they're undoubtedly special, they also put to good use that rare 24th letter of the alphabet. We've got the boys and girls covered, and a few unisex picks as well. Plus, many of these names hit on the trends we mentioned earlier.
Here are 25 names with that x factor.
One of the most popular baby names of the past decade is Jackson. The name has been hot for a while, but some parents think it might need a little bit more of an x factor. That's why they are turning to alternative spellings, including Jaxon and Jaxson.
We love Jackson, but Jaxon is definitely even more cool. It's the spelling that reality star and fashion maven Kristin Vacallari chose for her middle child, and Justin Beiber has a half-brother with the name. We think that Jaxon is one of the biggest rising stars around for a reason — it has something that the more old-fashioned spelling just can't match.
Beatrix is an old-fashioned named, but compared to the old, staid spelling of Beatrice, it seems much more modern and cool. The name is Dutch in origin, and it means "she who brings happiness," which is the perfect meaning for just about every little baby girl we've every met.
It's the name of Uma Thurman's badass character in "Kill Bill," and also one of our favorite children's authors, Beatrix Potter. And it's got a great nickname in Trixie. Beatrix reminds us of a sassy sweet girl who isn't going to let anyone keep her from reaching her goals. That's what that x factor gives the name, and we love it.
Phoenix is a name that has risen in our hearts a lot in the past two decades or so. It's both a place name — as the capital of Arizona — and a mythological name. A phoenix is a mythical bird that rises from its ashes, which is an image that makes us all think that our child can achieve anything. The name may have gotten a boost from its references in Harry Potter, but wherever it came from, we're definitely on board.
By the way, this name has also been given to a number of girls, and we think that it works fine either way. It's a name that is aspirational and cool and all too amazing for a little one with that it factor.
There are some names where the x factor goes beyond and it createds an even loftier goal for a little one. We think that Maxima holds that power. It's the feminine version of Maximus, an ancient Latin name that was the name of Russell Crowe's character in "The Gladiator." But while Maximus seems a bit much, we think that Maxima is a perfectly cool and aspirational name for a little girl.
It's the name that Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan chose for their daughter, and we think it's a great way to get to the ultracool nickname of Max — much more modern sounding than Maxine and more interesting than Jessica Simpson's pick of Maxwell. It's got an extra oomph that a strong girl and her family can appreciate.
Xavier might be one of the most well-known but least popular names on our list. It's a very old name that hails from ancient Arabic, but you don't meet many boys that bear it these days. The name means "new house" or "bright," and we think it's a name with that x factor that is set up for a comeback.
Xavier trailed off as a name more than 100 years ago, and it's starting to spike again. Donnie Wahlberg, an actor and former pop star, chose it for his son, and so did actress Tilda Swinton. The name has a lot of class and charm, but it also stands out as very different but entirely accessible.
One-syllable names are at the top of many baby name lists these days, and we think that one of our favorites with an x is Lux. It's a Latin name that means "light," and it's so cool that there are several rock stars who have chosen it for their stage name. We first heard it in the movie "The Virgin Suicides," but now it's all over, from reality tv kids to musicians and more.
Lux is a name that is sometimes used for boys, and that makes it even more appealing since it has a unisex flair. It's got an x factor that is undeniable, and while it might sound a little materialistic, it's a nice simple and different name that we think should appear on lots of name lists.
Speaking of names fit for a rock star, Axel is a name that takes us back to the hey day of the hair bands, as it is the name of the legendary lead singer of Guns 'N Roses Axel Rose. The name is German for "father of peace," and while that meaning makes it seem a little soft, we can't help but think of it as hard rock.
The name also brings us back to Eddie Murphy in his prime in "Beverly Hills Cop," so a lot of people think it not only has the x factor but also retro charm. A lot of celebs have gone for the name, including talk show host Seth Meyers, actors Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney and comedian Will Ferrell. Singer Fergie and her ex actor Josh Duhamel went for an alternative spelling with Axl. Either way, it's a name that is synonymous with rock and roll.
Dixie is a name that means "tenth," but we doubt that many people know that. For most people it's more of an ode to the South in America. The name is slang for the region, which was originally defined as "below the Mason-Dixon line" before the Civil War.
While there is still a lot of Southern pride, the name has survived because it is super cute with an extra x factor. Dixie Carter might be the most famous person with the name, but it's also synonymous with the cups and the store Winn-Dixie, not to mention the Dixie Chicks. The Kings of Leon lead singer named his daughter Dixie, so it's definitely got that cool x factor that goes beyond the typical place name.
Dexter was always a smart, chic, cool name that worked for an engineer or a musician, either rock or orchestral. But we had kind of forgotten about it until a huge television show by that name started up, and people realized how much of an x factor the name really has.
Only a Dexter could be a psychopath killer that we still love in a show like that. The show made the name hot, and even though it's been off the air for a little while, people are being even more creative with it, even giving it to some ultra cool girls.
This name could also work in the unisex category — in fact it started out as a man's name in Russia. But these days almost all Alexises in the United States are female. It became one of the most popular names of the '90s and 2000s, although same people chose alternatives these days.
We like Alexis because it has the x factor along with a couple of great nickname options, including Lexi and Alex. It means "defender" in Greek. this is the first name of Serena Williams' little girl, so it's definitely a cool choice.
Knox is a last name that has turned into a first name because it's definitely got that x factor. It's one of the most popular names in Scotland, where John Knox was a legendary reformer. And it's also taken off here, where it can also be a place name for people who love Tennessee.
Knox one of the x names chosen by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for one of their sons, and it's taken off since his birth. Since then, it's become the name of lots of kids of musicians like Dierks Bentley and actors like Steve Howey. It's also riding the one-syllable band wagon these days, so it's a having a great moment these days.
We think that Roxanne is one of the chicest most underused names around. It's got an old-fashioned feel but still feels very modern. It's a name that comes from Cyrano de Bergerac, and in the play he says, "Your name is like a golden bell." Isn't that perfect for your little girl?
Roxanne has a great nickname — Roxie, which was the name of the star in the musical "Chicago." It's fun and sexy and sweet and a wonderful pick for a little princess with an x factor.
Here's a name that a lot of people know but they might not have considered for their list. Braxton started out as a last name — or maybe even a place name, since it means "Brock's settlement." The most famous Braxtons are the ones that carry the last name — singer Toni Braxton and her sisters who star on "Braxton Family Values."
Of course, all moms-to-be are going to encounter this name while they are pregnant because they might have Braxton Hicks contractions, which are considered false labor. It's also the name of a character in "To Kill a Mockingbird," a character named after a Confederate general. It's a name that has a lot of interesting ties on top of that x factor.
We learned this name from the show "Jane the Virgin." The mother's name is a traditional Hispanic name of Xiamara, which is really exotic and interesting. It always has a super cute meaning of "joyful deer." But she's always being referred to by her nickname of Xo, and we think that is even cuter.
A decade or so ago, Zoe was hugely popular, but we think that Xo provides an even more interesting twist. It's even shorter and sweeter and feels really modern and exotic. It has the x factor that some moms might be looking for.
Pax is another x name that Angelina Jolie picked for her children, but it's coolness goes way beyond the x. We love the meaning, which is "peaceful," so it's definitely high on our list. Some people might like a longer version like Paxton, which is a surname that has transferred over to the first position, but we like the shorter, more meaningful version.
Pax can also be used for girls, especially with such a sweet meaning. It hits on the one-syllable trend, and it's still pretty unusual, which we think makes it an even more appealing choice.
Speaking of unusual names, this one might be the most out there on the list. That's because it's unusual in England but almost unheard of on this side of the Atlantic. The name is Xanthe, which is pronounced like zan-thee. It's an old Greek name that has a beautiful, unusual sound.
The name means "golden" or "yellow," which we love for a little burst of sunshine. There is an English actress by that name and an American voice actress. But we think this is the unusual, beautiful choice that some moms looking for an x factor will think is perfect for their little girl.
Felix is an old school name, but it has an x factor that we think has a lot of appeal for today. Max and Gus were retro cool name that made big comebacks, but we think that Felix is primed to be the next one. For a generation or two, the name was synonymous with a cartoon cat, and it also brought to mind a cranky member of the Odd Couple, but these days it's a cute sweet choice for a little guy.
Felix means "happy" or "fortunate," and we can definitely see it on a smiling little guy. Elizabeth Banks and Hugh Grant have both chosen it for their sons, and we think that more and more people will appreciate the x factor that comes with this name.
When magician Penn Jillette named his daughter Moxie Crimefighter, the moniker was all over the worst celeb name lists. But we think that Penn was just ahead of his time. These days, a name like Moxie has, well, moxie. It's a word name that is perfect for a little girl with spunk and grit.
Moxie is a kind of fun energy and it means "know-how." We think that it's in the same vein as fun names like Roxie or Trixie but with a little bit of edge and sass. We all want our daughters to have moxie, so why not name them after that attribute?
One of the biggest trends out there these days with baby names is to get inspired by nature. That's where we looked for this name on our list — Fox. We know it might not be for everybody, but considering how many boys are being named Bear these days, we think that Fox is a great addition to the name list. It has even more of an x factor.
Fox is also a surname, but that can add some appeal, since there are a number of items on this list that were once at the end of the name. Fox has that one-syllable appeal, and while foxes aren't exactly cuddly animals, they do have that ferocious but sweet quality we'd love to see in all of our kids.
Here's another word name to add to your little girl list, Jinx. The name is definitely different, but many moms like that these days. It's a name that everyone has heard, but a daughter with the moniker would stand out as a sassy interesting girl. Jinx is what people say when they accidentally see say the same thing as someone else, and it can also be a bit of a hex, but that is just what makes it interesting.
For the most part, the people who have the name are fictional, such as a comic book villain and a Bond girl. But don't think that this name is all new. It was the name of a character in a Dickens novel, so it's been around as an idea for a long time. We think now is the time when it's going to get the appreciation it deserves.
We all love to name our babies after our heroes, so we're a little surprised that this name hasn't caught on more at this point. The name is Hendrix, a surname of one of the biggest music legends from a generation or two ago. Jimi Hendrix could play the guitar like no one else, so we think that he's the perfect inspiration for any little rock star.
Hendrix could be considered a cool twist on a name like Henry, or maybe it would be great to name after a family member. The name works well on a resume, but it's cool on its own, and it has an x factor like you wouldn't believe. Little Hendrix would be ready for his first concert in no time.
Nickname names are popular these days. That's because many moms don't see the point in going for a staid and old formal name when they are planning to go straight for the nickname anyway. One of our favorites that has been used for Alexandra and Alexis is Lexie, and we think it has the x factor.
A little girl named Lexie is smart and sweet, but she's also a take-charge kind of gal who might be feminine but isn't afraid to get dirty. But at the same time, this is a name that has been used for boys as well. It can work with either, as long as the kid is nice and smart and cool.
When we first saw Dax Shepherd on our television, we thought it was a made up name. But the actor's parents actually got his name from a character in a book. The short, one-syllable name is out there, but it's still pretty amazing. Dax is actually a French place name, which adds to the allure as well.
Dax is also the name of a couple of rock musicians, and it was the name of the little boy who inspired the song and the movie "The Heart of Christmas." And there is a female professional surfer with the name, who proves thatit can work for a male or a female. This name has the x factor, just like its famous bearers.
There are a lot of alternative spellings these days, and this name might seem like an example of that. But it's actually a version of the name Sara that has a traditional x spelling in it from some cultures. Xara still bears the beautiful meaning of Sara, "beautiful princess," but it adds on an x factor.
Some people might go for Zara, which is a little more edgy, but we like the exotic and unusual Xara, which is actually pronounced the same way. It's not for every little girl, but if you are looking for an x name, you are probably anything but traditional.
A name can mean different things to different people, and Lennox is one of those. It's an old name that has a history of a last name, although it means "elm grove." But for us, this name comes with a more high-quality connotation than a lot of the ones on this list. If you take away one of n's, it's the name of brand of china that is very expensive and nice.
The name is a true unisex choice, as it's only slightly more popular for boys than for girls. It definitely works great on a resume or on a concert poster, and it's got an x factor that ensures that your child is ready for success.