Unique Baby Names

Finding Unique Baby Names

January 25, 2017

Finding Unique Baby Names

Finding Unique Baby Names
A no-nonsense guide to landing on a unique baby girl name, or unusual baby boy name. Get creative! With these tips you're sure to land on the perfect name for your baby.Finding Unique Baby Names

13 Strategies Babylist Parents Used to Find Names that Were Unique, but Tasteful

We asked Babylist parents what their baby-naming strategy was, and they answered by the hundreds! Many parents told us, “Unique but not weird.” Whether your name is too unique or too popular, either can cause problems. It’s all about balance.

Here are the 13 strategies Babylist parents used to come up with their own unique names for their babies.

1. Where did you you meet?

This Babylist parent told us, “We went through and wrote down every street name we’ve ever lived on together. We actually came up with two names we adore and hope to use—Abbot and Welles.” Parents also looked at city names for inspiration. One of them told us, “I like places for names, just saying. Dallas, Nash—my son’s name is Aspen!” We love this idea: it’s a way for your baby’s name to celebrate the love your family shares.

2. What about significant events?

You can also take inspiration from significant life events or experiences. One parent told us, “We are naming her Piper, after the first type of airplane my husband learned to fly when he was 16.” What was an emotional turning point in your life? A life event that embodied a quality you want your child to have? Picture that event. This technique will help you fish for a name that is unique and unexpected, yet full of rich personal meaning.

3. Look for beautiful meanings

You can also find a unique name by reflecting on the deeper meaning you want to give your child. A Babylist couple told us, “Jubilee was named because she was our celebration in a difficult time.” We also heard from families who wanted a strong boy name that meant strength and service, victorious and noble. What meaning do you want your kid’s name to have?

4. Who do you admire?

People have always named their babies after those they admire, but if you creatively expand your definition of “who you admire” you’ll widen the pool to include dozens of unique names. One parent wrote us, “We named our daughter after a cat and a famous physicist.” Do you admire scientists? Lots of them have really unusual names, just saying!

Artists are also admirable. One family told us, “First names we have chosen after our favorite artists (Renoir and Monet).” Or you can look to contemporary artists and celebrity names like this couple: “Hubby and I figured out the middle name Carter since we both like the famous rapper Lil Wayne and the ROCA wear (Rowan Carter 😉) owner Jay Z.”

5. Look to history

History has millions of names! If you choose from distant geographies or eras, you get unique pretty fast. Tastefully unique names can be found even in recent American history. This parent wrote us, “My husband is a history teacher, so we’re going with names of former presidents. Luckily there’s some that work for boys and for girls.” We love the idea of naming a girl after a president like Madison or Taylor! When we looked at ancient Roman names, they ran the gamut from way too weird to perfectly normal to somewhere in between. The English language has roots in ancient Latin and Greek languages, so those historical eras will be fruitful for searching for names that are “unique but not weird” and meaningful in English.

6. Take inspiration from literature

Are you a book nerd? Dive into books to search for a unique baby name! We love this family’s story: “We went the classic literature route for the first name and chose a family name for the middle name. Using that approach we decided on Sawyer James. Sawyer coming from everyone’s favorite mischievous rascal, Tom Sawyer, and James being my father’s first name.” (They used a last name as a first name! This technique often works extremely well.) It’s a rich supply of ideas; not just the characters, but also the authors. Agatha Christie, anyone?

7. Be inspired by TV and movies you love

People aren’t just inspired by books! We noticed that with TV and movies, parents tended to be more cautious, naming their babies indirectly after the characters. This family told us, “Star Trek. No joke. My son is James Tiberius K. My next one will be Wesley Charles. (Crusher isn’t an option . . . Lol).” Although they named their baby directly after Captain Kirk, only true fans of the show will notice. It gives the baby’s name a unique nerdy meaning while still enabling him to camouflage himself in mainstream society.

There’s a danger if you’re looking for unique baby names in really popular TV shows. One parent warns: “Five of our six children have been named with a reference to the TV show Lost 😂. The name Liam was unique 8 years ago. Now, not so much.” Were other parents inspired by the same TV show? Those Game of Thrones baby names sound unique now, but what about all those other parents in your generation who are also fans? What if George R.R. Martin decides to kill off the character your baby is named after or (worse!) turn them into a sociopath? He’s capable of it, you know.

8. Look to nature

You might think “hippie” when you think of nature-inspired names, but not all nature names are hippie-ish. This parent wrote us, “My husband and I are naming our kids after mountains . . . our first-born son is named Elias (Mt. Saint Elias).” Of course, hippie names can also be lovely—Meadow and Willow are classically beautiful ones.

You can also look to birds and animals for inspiration. Robin, Raven and Jay sound common, but Wren, Paloma, Merle, Starling, Peregrine and Finch start to get more unique. On the animal side of things, a lot of traditional names have animal meanings; Phillip means horse lover, Tabitha means gazelle. What’s your favorite animal? Even if naming your child directly after that animal would be weird, there may be a name derived from that animal, which is just tasteful and unique enough.

9. Use Wikipedia, the dictionary and the thesaurus

Sometimes a beautiful, obscure word in the dictionary will work just right as name. Or a lesser-known synonyms might just sound “name-like.” When you put “kind” into thesaurus.com, one of the synonyms is Clement, a baby boy name that means “merciful and gentle.”

We recently collaborated with Dictionary.com to analyze the top names of Babylist babies. Turns out some of the best baby names are actually nouns.

Are you a Wikipedia addict? This parent wrote us, “I have nine kids, they all have names that have entries in Wikipedia in the history part.” Browsing Wikipedia can be a great way to inspire yourself—famous authors, artists and scientists, characters in TV shows: Wikipedia has it all! The Wikipedia homepage changes every day, so one particularly adventurous naming technique could be to find a name on the day of your child’s birth. The Wikipedia homepage today had the following interesting names: Eucalyptus, Albert, Stephen, Vidal, Kaitlyn, Hughes, Frederick, Archibald, Earl, Cleopatra, etc. Not a bad selection?

10. Go retro! Old-fashioned names can be so unique

This Babylist parent had a brilliant method of searching for old-fashioned names: “We wanted a more traditional name, but one that we didn’t hear very often. My mom suggested we search through a list of passengers on the Titanic, since there would be older names, but more variety amongst the countries of origin. We chose to name our girl Quincy, which was a surname of one of the passengers.” The Social Security Database is a really fantastic resource for historical naming, too! You can see the most popular names in each year of the past century. You can also discover old-fashioned names by researching your family tree; naming your baby after a distant ancestor can have a special personal meaning as well.

11. Draw on your national or religious heritage

Many of our Babylist parents used their national or religious heritage to inspire their baby’s unique names. One parent told us, “My wife’s name is spiritual (her parents were/are Hare Krishna) and of Bengali origin. Our baby will have a first name of similar origin.” Another parent mentioned, “We like Saint names! That way we can pray to those saints for their intercession, and the kids have a good role model.” Note that the Bible actually has a pretty good supply of unique names; Zeke (short for Ezekiel) was one parent’s pick. Other parents looked to their families’ heritage for inspiration: “Our baby girl’s first and middle names are based on me and my husband’s background. We chose traditional Filipino and Irish names.”

12. Combine names in interesting ways

Sometimes names that are less unique by themselves become very interesting and unique when used in combination. We thought this family’s approach was brilliant. “Theodore, because it’s historic/presidential, and Bernard, because it’s my father-in-law’s middle name. And the whole name together literally means Teddy Bear.” That’s the cutest!

Another option is the Southern tradition of two short names being used in combination like they were one name. Ann and Violet are not very unique by themselves, but when you put them together, “Ann Violet” has a very unique sound to it. This is a very low-key way to get unique.

You can also combine multiple names into one name. This online name and word combiner lets you enter multiple names to generate all possible combinations. Try using just two or three short names and being patient with it, so the brilliant names have time to emerge among the bizarre ones.

13. Inspire yourself by picturing your baby being famous

One parent confided to us, “This sounds crazy but I always think of names that sound like cool clothing brands. ‘Lyla Jane’ or ‘Whitney Estelle.’” This isn’t crazy at all! We think it’s a perfect way to think of a name. Let’s run with this concept. Imagine your baby being gloriously successful—a famous movie star or CEO with their name in every paper. Would their name sound good as they called it out at the Oscars? Think about it.

A rose by any other name?

What importance does your baby’s name have, really? A name is meaningful because it’s a powerful way you communicate to your kid about your hopes and aspirations for them. It’s is a powerful act, a subtle way of sharing your parental hopes and dreams with the world.

Of course, we want our children to have it all. Maybe that’s why so many Babylist parents said they were giving their children a unique first name and a family middle name. If the trends in baby naming reflect the values of our times, then the hidden message is that although this generation of parents highly values the past, making a unique mark on the future is of slightly higher priority.

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