Many parents are searching for undiscovered baby names that sound cool and established but have, for one reason or another, never become widely used in the US. If this sounds like you, you are likely looking for handsome appellations with a sound history behind them that appeal to your modern sensibilities. One way to discover rare names is to look at the Social Security Administration’s records of baby names to see what names have rarely been used here.
We did some digging and found some truly remarkable names for girls and boys that are virtually unheard of in the US. These are like top-secret, illusive, monikers that many parents have never encountered. If you are looking for the rarest of rare names in the US, we’ve rounded up some of the best for you to choose from. We hope you find the right fit for your little one!
Best of the Rarest Baby Names for Girls
Acantha is a girl’s name of Greek origin meaning “thorn.” In Greek mythology, Acantha was a nymph beloved by Apollo whose transformation resulted in the creation of the acanthus plant. So this is both a mythology name and a flower name that celebrates nature.
Pronounced bree-AH-len, Briallen is a Welsh baby name for girls that means “primrose.” That makes this rare baby name a perfect choice for a spring baby! This name offers you so many opportunities for nicknames in Bri, Allen, Len, etc. We have no idea why this baby name has yet to take off in the US but you can get ahead of the curve by choosing it for your daughter.
We are sticking with Welsh names here with Carwen which is a feminine form of the more established name for boys, Carwyn. It has an attractive, accessible sound and comes with the adorable meaning: “blessed love.” This would be an update to dusty names like Bronwen or Brynn.
Pronounced eh-FEE-uh, Effia is one of the many attractive names originally used for children born on a specific day of the week. These baby names are popular in West African culture. Effia is Akan in origin. The Akan people originate in southern Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The name means “born on Friday.” If you’ve got a Friday baby, you know what to do!
It turns out that Welsh baby names happen to be sorely overlooked by American parents. Eluned is pronounced EL-in-ned. The name belonged to a legendary beauty in Welsh Arthurian romance. She was a handmaid to the Lady of the Fountain. This romantic and slightly mysterious name means “idol” or “image.”
Move over Evan, we’ve got a great alternative to the unisex hit. Evanthe has two possible pronunciations and you will hear both in the name’s native Greece, ee-VAHN-thuh or ev-AN-thee. It’s yet another flower name, meaning “fair flower.”
Harmonia is another gorgeous Greek name, meaning “agreement” or “concord.” The name belonged to the goddess and personification of order. She was the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. You won’t hear this one often in the US but Harmonia Rosales is one such namesake. She is an Afro-Cuban American artist from Chicago.
Huali is a name of Hawaiian origin with a few possible meanings, “polished,” “bright,” or “bright.” We are not mad about a single one of those! With more and more Hawaiian baby names gaining popularity across the US today, this could be an offbeat option that stands out from the pack.
Ismerie is very uncommon in the US but it has been widely used in France since the Middle Ages. This appellation is pronounced EEZ-meh-ree. The origin of the name is rather murky and shrouded in mystery. In Christian legend, a character with the name was said to be the great-aunt of Jesus Christ.
Izar is a rare Basque name that can be said in a couple of different ways: ee-THAR (in Spain); ee-SAHR (in South America). We love both and it’s your call. This sparkling name means “star.” Further, this name is a gender-neutral choice but it is given to far more girls than boys in Europe.
Kalindi is a Hindi variation of the name Kalinda. The name means “sun” and refers to one of the seven sacred rivers of India. It has a lovely rhythmic quality that you just can’t deny. Nicknames include Kal and Lindi and we favor both. We hope you feel the same way!
Sulola is a rhythmic Nigerian name chosen as a middle name for Heidi Klum and Seal’s daughter Lou. The appellation is a nod to Seal’s Nigerian roots. The meaning of this name is unknown at this time. We think it would be a great choice if you’re not embarrassed to name your child after Heidi Klum’s daughter!
Pronounced ta-rab-eye, Tarabai is an Indian appellation with serious feminist cred. Tarabai Bhosale was a 17th-century Maratha queen who was a skilled military leader in her own right and successfully resisted the Mughal empire on behalf of her people. Centuries later the name belonged to Tarabai Shinde who is often regarded as the writer of India’s first feminist text.
Even the name’s meaning is female-focused. Tarabai means “feminine star.”
Pronounced vee-CHEN-za, Vicenza is an Italian place name. Vicenza is a city in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. It’s known for the elegant buildings designed by the 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio. The romantic Italian paradise might be reason enough to choose this exciting option. One famous person with the name was Vicenza Giovanna Rovisi who was an Italian painter in the late Baroque and Neoclassical styles.
Zarida is an underutilized Arabic name for girls that means “captivating woman.” It is a form of the slightly more recognizable Zoraida, a Moorish character in Don Quixote. Zarida feels like the perfect alternative to names like Sadie, Zadie, or even Sarah. Parents today love baby names that start with Z so don;t expect this one to stay a secret for long!
Best of the Rarest Names for Boys In the US
Now, let’s get started with some rare baby names for boys. To kink things off we’ve got an appellation that rhymes with mellow, Akello. It is a Ugandan name that means “I have brought forth.”
In Roman mythology, Caelus was the god of the sky before Jupiter. It’s virtually unknown in the US, making it a great baby name for parents who want something unique. It means “sky” or “heavens.” Caelus works as a great alternative to more popular names today like Callum or Caius.
Cheever is an English name that you will not encounter outside of the UK. It has a curious meaning given that it is a name for boys in “female goat.” If you have seen this name before, it has likely been as a surname a la John Cheever.
Conran is an anglicization of O’conarain a name of Irish origin. The name means “son of Conarán.” The name is featured in Irish mythology as a chief of the Tuatha Dé Danann who appears in the Fenian Cycle.
Elidor might seem like a pretty singular name but it actually is found in two different naming traditions. As a Welsh name, Elidor is a modern form of Elidur, an ancient British king name. It was used by British author Alan Garner as the hero of his children’s fantasy novel Elidor.
In Hebrew, the name is considered a combination of the names Eli and Dor. Because of the two possible origins, there are a couple of potential meanings in “steel” and “generation of god.”
How adorable is the name Emereo? We think it’s a winning baby name for boys. It is of Latin origin and the root of the Roman name Emerentius (along with its variants). The Latin base of the name means “to fully deserve.” Not bad, right?
Finlo is a Manx name from the Isle of Man, deriving from the island’s pagan sun god, Lugh. Finlo actually means “fair Lugh.” Given the popularity of the many Finn names today, Finlo could be a perfect alternative for people who love the “Fin” sound but want a more unusual name.
Garvan is an Irish name with the curious meaning of “rough little one.” The name is an anglicized form of the appellation Gairbhín which you are more likely to see as a surname than a first name. Garvan could be a great alternative to names like Gavin, Nolan, or even Sullivan.
Jadson is a name with uniquely Brazilian origins. It is linked to soccer star Jádson Rodrigues da Silva as well as professional surfer Jadson Andre. The meaning of this name is unclear but we assume it is a form of Jason, a Greek name that means “to heal”
Keyes is actually a Latin name and a form of Caius. The name’s Latin root means “rejoice.” People in America tend to pronounce Caius like kye-us but in Europe, most pronounce it as the same as the word keys. If you want to avoid confusion, Keyes makes for ease of pronunciation. It also sounds rather adventurous.
Pronounced kah-DAHR, Qadar is sometimes spelled with a K instead of a Q. This Arabic baby name means “decree” or “destination.” This name is rarely heard outside of the Muslim community but we find it to be a completely accessible choice. It is curious that this name has not been more popular in the US yet.
Ravello is another Italian place name. Ravello is an Italian town on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a popular travel destination and famous thinkers like Virginia Woolf and Tennessee Williams cherished the town as a favorite destination. This one rolls right off the tongue!
Sindri is a Norse baby name for goys that means “sparkle.” Bjork chose this name from Norse mythology for her son. In Norse mythology, Sindri is the name of both a character and a hall that will serve as a dwelling place for the souls of the virtuous after Ragnarök. We find it rather cute.
Pronounced TAHN-doe, Thando can be found in Xhosa, Zulu, and Ndebele naming traditions. It means “love.” While this unisex name is popular in South America, it has yet to travel all the way to the United States. You can help bring some visibility to this cherished name.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 25 Rare Baby Names for Boys from 1921 That Would Sound Excellent Today
Pronounced zeh-NEH-bee, Zenebe is a name of Amharic origin. It is a name well-used in Ethiopia but rarely heard outside its native land. This name means “raining.” How lovely is that? This name also offers you the unique opportunity to use the delightful nickname, Zen.
There you go! What did you think of these rare baby names? We hope you found some worthy options that feel accessible but very unique. These names from around the world are truly remarkable and we hope we hear more of them in the future. If you liked these names, keep reading for even more baby name inspiration.
Discover Rare Gender-Neutral Baby Names Worth Considering Below:
Cypress is an underutilized gender-neutral name that celebrates nature. Cypress trees symbolize strength, hope, and immortality. That makes this name feel even more appropriate. You will not find this name on any popularity charts but we hope to see that change in the coming years. It could be the next Willow.
Honor was once a popular virtue name used by the Pilgrims. While it might not have stuck around like Constance, Grace, or Faith, Honor is coming back today. The Pilgrims gave this name to their baby girls but today, the name is given more often to boys than girls. A nice little flip for our modern world. Honor is such an admirable quality which makes it one of the most attractive and positive rare gender-neutral names.
Would you believe us if we told you that Jupiter is given to more baby girls than baby boys today? Of all the babies named Jupiter in recent years, 64% were girls. This is curious due to the mythological history of the name which belonged to the supreme deity and “father of the gods.” We believe we have Ed Sheeran and Ashley Tisdal to thank for this as they both chose the name for their daughters born in 2022 and 2021. We love this name for any baby, however, and we’re quite fond of the nickname Jupe.
Although this may sound like a virtue name like Honor, Merritt actually originated as an English surname that means “boundary gate.” We love that solid double-T ending that rivals the likes of other surname-names like Wyatt or Beckett. Actor Merritt Weaver is the most high-profile person with the name today and we hope that her popularity helps shine a light on this excellent unisex option.
Yael was once only used as a name for girls thanks to its mention in the Bible. But, it’s technically one of the Hebrew gender-neutral names. It underwent this transformation in the 1990s and it’s now a popular choice for any baby, especially in Israel. If you’re unfamiliar with this appellation, it is said with two syllables and is formally spelled Ya’el to reflect that. This treasure of a name means “to ascend.”
One of the new crop of gender-neutral names that’s heating up today, Arrow sounds sharp and feels like it’s moving in the right direction. Word-names are often polarizing but we feel this one really works thanks to its similarity to other hit names today like Arlo, Harlow, or even Willow. There have been a few hundred babies given this name in recent years and it’s an even split between baby boys and girls.
Larkin is one of the most remarkable gender-neutral names because of its history. Once a medieval nickname for Laurence, Larkin is considered by most today to be an Irish appellation that means “fierce.” In fact, it was once a popular name for boys in the US from the 1880s to the 1900s. Further, this name has a bird-like connotation thanks to the Lark element. There’s just a lot going for this name and we hope it continues to rise for all babies today.
As a rule of thumb, surnames tend to make excellent gender-neutral names. Ridley is no exception. This English surname means “cleared wood.” Ridley Scott helped new parents see this surname as a given name possibility, especially for baby boys. But, we think Ridley fits in with other names with a similar ending like Hadley, Harley, Ashley, and Ripley.
Aris is derived from the name Arista and shared the same root as the word aristocrat. Thus, it’s also considered a short form of the name Aristotle. Aris comes from Ancient Greece but it somehow sounds more contemporary than it does old. The name means “harvest.” It’s yet to trend in the US but it’s a top-1000 name for boys in England today. We love this name for any baby.
Wynn (also spelled Wyn) is a Welsh name that was originally given to boys. Today, it’s one of the most popular gender-neutral Welsh names around the world. It has a triumphant sound and a tremendous meaning in “fair and blessed.” If you have Welsh heritage or just like the ring this name has to it, give it a spin.
Azari is one of the gender-neutral names that’s truly on the rise today and is likely to rank in the top 1000 most popular names for girls in the US in the coming years. Currently, the name is given to far more girls than boys but that should not deter you. Azari is a short form of the Hebrew name Azariah (a name belonging to a male character or two in the bible). It checks off a lot of boxes of what new parents are looking for in a baby name today. It’s unisex, has three syllables, and contains a Z. That’s a triple threat!
Rumi is one of the most beloved Japanese gender-neutral names. It can mean “beauty” and/or “flow” and/or “lapis lazuli.” Lapis lazuli is a deep-blue metamorphic rock that’s been prized since antiquity for its color. While Rumi has received attention in the contemporary US as the name of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s young daughter, it’s most famously the name of a (male) 13th-century Muslim mystic and poet.
Ramsey is also spelled Ramsay and both variations are considered gender-neutral names. It had a moment of popularity for boys in the 1980s and early 1990s but has since been evenly split between baby boys and girls. It’s another English surname-turned-given-name. It means “lowlands.”
Brighton names a holiday spot in the south of England and means “bright town.” A cheery unisex name, it was used for his daughter by Jon Favreau but was a boy’s name on the TV show The Nanny. The name is really heating up today and we expect it to be widespread over the next decade as more and more parents will inevitably be looking for rare gender-neutral names.
Nikita is one of the Russian gender-neutral names that parents have begun to turn to today. It’s an extremely old name that comes from the Greek name Niketas or Aniketos. The appellation means “unconquered” or “victorious.” We are not sure what the current Russian invasion of Ukraine will do for this name’s chances. It could be doomed now after picking up so much steam in the US in recent years.
A surname belonging to novelist Jane who gave the world Emma and Pride and Prejudice. It’s a decidedly English surname but it comes from the Latin name Augustus or August, meaning “magnificent.” Austen was really moving in the right direction for boys until the early 2000s when its popularity slowed. Now, there’s a more even split making this one of the most accessible and attractive gender-neutral names on the list.
One of the gender-neutral, biblical place names on the rise today Nazareth could be the new Jericho or Galilee. Nazareth is an important place in the New Testament as the hometown of Jesus. It’s really on the rise and is equally split among baby girls and boys today. You get the enviable nickname Naz with this one and we don’t think you can beat that.
Cove is one of the rare gender-neutral names that was on the rise pre-pandemic but stalled a bit in 2020 before picking up once more in 2021. It is a celebratory nature name that gives title to a “small bay.” The name is almost equally split between boys and girls with it currently trending ever-so-slightly for girls.
One of the truly evenly split gender-neutral names, Montana is of Spanish origin and indeed means “mountainous.” The name was a trendy pick in the 1990s and early 2000s before it fell off the charts for both boys and girls. We’re expecting it to swing back up and join the other popular names any year now. You cannot deny this name’s rugged charms.
Ever is an English word name that’s full of possibility. It has ties to male names in Scandinavia that mean “wild as a boar” and in Hebrew, meaning “beyond.” It’s one of the newer gender-neutral names that is really surprising baby name-watchers as parents are using it more than ever for all of their babies. It also has celebrity cred after Alanis Morissette and Souleye named their son Ever Imre and Milla Jovovich and Paul Anderson chose it for their daughter.
Marlo is one of the gender-neutral names that is wrapped in mystery. Most believe it’s a modern invention but there is evidence that it has been used as a nickname or diminutive form of Margaret, meaning “drop in the sea,” “bitter,” and “pearl.” The character Marlo Stanfield is a (male) character in the HBO drama The Wire. Marlo Thomas is a famous American (female) actor that has brought light to this name as well. Let the mystery be!
Halen is a name of English and Scandinavian origins that is sure to inspire a baby to be a well-rooted champion. In Old English, this name translates to “hero.” But, others argue that it’s actually an English habitational name that means “hay land.” Further, in Old Norse, the name means “hall.” Either way you split it, this name works because it is similar to Hale, Haley, Galen, and others.
Lou is one of the perfectly vintage gender-neutral names that is poised to make a comeback. This adorable name is a short form of Louis or Louise and is of German and French origin. The name means “renowned warrior.” The name fell out of fashion for all babies by the 1970s but we think it’s time for a big comeback. While Lou’s favorability in the US has wained it has really exploded in continental Europe, especially for girls.
An absolutely gorgeous Arabic, unisex name, Iman means “faith.” The name is wildly popular across the Middle East, of course, but it has also been a hit in England as well. It’s a complete mystery to us as to why the name has never taken of in the US as it is truly so romantic in sound and contains such a positive meaning. You know what to do, new parents!
Early pagans and Christians treated the Linden as a holy tree. It was thought to aid healing and often planted near churches. The Linden is the mythological symbol of truth, peace, and justice. Linden was mildly popular in the early 1940s in the US for boys but has yet to return to favor. Of all the gender-neutral names on this list, we feel that Linden has the perfect balance as a celebratory nature name that sounds grounded and established.
We at Mamas Uncut have been beating the Jules drum for years now. In France and Europe more broadly, Jules is one of the most popular names for baby boys. That was the case here in the US too until the middle of the last century when it tanked. Jules is one of the very best gender-neutral names that is rooted in Latin, a form of Julius, meaning “youthful.” We’d really love to hear more of this name stateside and we expect to!
Lake works as one of the gender-neutral names thanks to its likeness to Blake which has undergone a shift and now goes to more girls than boys. Lake is a lovely nature name that evokes images of cool water tucked inside the mountains. Lake has yet to land in the US top 1000 most popular baby names but expect that to change. Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady chose it as a middle name for their daughter, Vivian. If history is any indication, normal folks tend to do as celebrities do.
Kirby was on the US top 1000 most popular baby names for boys list for decades before being joined as a popular choice for girls in the 1970s and 80s. It’s one of the gender-neutral names that has fallen out of fashion today but we still find it cute and energetic. Kirby comes from Norse and English origins and means “church settlement.”
Hollis is a name of English origin that originated as a surname. As with many other surnames, it has always been considered among other gender-neutral names in its class. Hollis is a habitational name that means “from the Holly trees.” The name is considered a vintage pick today as it has been off the popularity charts since the 1970s. That means there are plenty of grandparents out there with this name today. What’s old is new!
Amen is one of the gender-neutral names that incorporate faith like Blessing, Nazareth, and virtue names. Amen is considered a variant of the Hebrew name Amon, meaning “wealthy protector.” For the faithful, the name is also a form of agreement that typically follows prayer and means “so be it” or “it is so” or “it is true.” It is on the rise today and would make a distinct choice.
Let’s dust off that disco ball and bring back the 70s-inspired name, Halston. The name is synonymous with the American fashion designer who was given it as a middle name. The name is of English origin and is seen more often as a surname than a given one. It means “hallowed stone.”
Laine is the kind of straightforward name that parents who don’t like fuss should be attracted to. You can spell it the more traditional way, Laine, or go with the streamlined Lane. Both come from the same root and mean the same thing “path.” In the US Lane, is the most popular spelling but Laine is on the rise.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the newly ubiquitous, Kai, Koi could be the ticket. It is a name from Japanese that means “carp.” The fish are especially popular in ornamental gardens in Japan, where they are a symbol of good fortune. In Buddhist culture, the koi is associated with courage. Koi feels fresh, playful, and contemporary and should be one of the gender-neutral names to make your shortlist if you’d like a nature-inspired appellation.
Sora is another one of the great Japanese gender-neutral names. It is used for all babies in Japan and has the lovely meaning: “sky.” Sora is completely accessible and works thanks to other names like Sara, Soma, and Koda. American parents are quickly taking notice of this name so get ahead of the trend before it’s not so unique anymore.
It’s no secret that we at Mamas Uncut love the name Kit. We recommend it all the time as it plays well with others and really sounds precious. it’s also perfectly situated as a gender-neutral name. It comes from English as a form of Katherine or Christopher, thus the name can mean “pure” or “bearer of Christ.” It was once a popular given name for boys but fell of the charts by the middle of the last century. Let’s bring this name back for all babies!
There you go! We hope you found these rare gender-neutral names attractive and unique. Searching for the right baby name for your child can be a challenge but it’s not impossible. Knowing that you want a gender-neutral name considerably helps narrow down the possibilities. If you’re still looking for more gender-neutral names, keep reading as we’ve got even more to share with you below.
- 1 Best of the Rarest Baby Names for Girls
- 2 Best of the Rarest Names for Boys In the US
- 3 Discover Rare Gender-Neutral Baby Names Worth Considering Below:
- 3.1 Cypress
- 3.2 Honor
- 3.3 Jupiter
- 3.4 Merritt
- 3.5 Yael
- 3.6 Arrow
- 3.7 Larkin
- 3.8 Ridley
- 3.9 Aris
- 3.10 Wynn
- 3.11 Azari
- 3.12 Rumi
- 3.13 Ramsey
- 3.14 Brighton
- 3.15 Nikita
- 3.16 Austen
- 3.17 Nazareth
- 3.18 Cove
- 3.19 Montana
- 3.20 Ever
- 3.21 Marlo
- 3.22 Halen
- 3.23 Lou
- 3.24 Iman
- 3.25 Linden
- 3.26 Jules
- 3.27 Lake
- 3.28 Kirby
- 3.29 Hollis
- 3.30 Amen
- 3.31 Halston
- 3.32 Laine
- 3.33 Koi
- 3.34 Sora
- 3.35 Kit
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Baby Name Generator
No baby name sounding good? Want a quick way to generate unique baby name ideas? Try our baby name generator below!
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