It’s uncanny, the way you can go your entire lifetime without knowing even one person with a certain name—or maybe never realizing the name even existed—and then suddenly you seem to hear it everywhere.
Sometimes a confluence of pop-culture events propels a name from obscurity to center stage. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird becoming the national Big Read combined with the HBO series Rome a few years ago to catapult Atticus from the baby-name catacombs to style prominence.
A star or a celebrity baby or even a popular character can single-handedly turn his or her highly unusual name into the choice du jour. Examples from the current Top 100: Brody (Jenner), Brooklyn (child of Posh and Becks as well as every hipster’s favorite borough), and Trinity (from The Matrix).
And then there are those names that seem to mysteriously materialize from thin air. Where they come from and why parents are interested in them might not be so easy to pinpoint. Maybe they’re fresh spins on trendy favorites—Elizabella instead of Isabella, for instance—or maybe they’re new entries in stylish categories, such as Calla or Hyacinth taking over for drooping flower names such as Lily and Rose.
More important than their source, however, is figuring out exactly what these names are, so you can either be first to the party or steer clear all together. To that end, we pulled out 100 obscure names searched for at least 100 times in the Nameberry database in the first quarter of this year.
Some of these names—Abitha? Cavan? Haitian?—may be completely new animals to you, while others might be vaguely familiar. A couple, such as Lincoln and Nolan, are even recent entries to the Top 1000 list, though if you don’t hang out with the under-3 set you probably haven’t heard them too often.
Are the rest of the names here headed to the Most Popular list? We doubt it, and would bet that many will be just as obscure in a decade or two as they are today.
But if you choose one of these 100 names for your baby now only to lament in 10 years that everybody’s got a little Seren or Nico, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
1. ABITHA 2. AMABEL 3. AMARYLLIS 4. ARAMINTA 5. AVITA 6. AYLA 7. AZALEA 8. BRIAR 9. CALLA 10. CALLIOPE 11. CALYPSO 12. CARYS and CERYS 13. CASSIA and KEZIAH 14. CLEA 15. CRESSIDA 16. CYRA and SIRI 17. ELIZABELLA 18. ELODIE 19. FABLE 20. HOLLAND 21. HYACINTH 22. INDIGO 23. JUNIPER 24. LARK 25. LEILANI 26. LEONIE 27. LILOU 28. LUNA 29. LUX 30. LYRA 31. MAELLE 32. MIKA and MICAH 33. NOLA 34. ORIANA 35. PERSEPHONE 36. PRIMROSE 37. REMEMBER 38. RHEYA 39. ROMILLY 40. SABINE 41. SAFFRON 42. SELAH 43. SEREN 44. TAMSIN 45. TIERNEY 46. VEGA 47. VERITY 48. VIDA 49. VIRTUE 50. XANTHE
51. ACE 52. ALCOTT 53. ARCHER 54. ARLO 55. ASA 56. BEAU 57. BECKETT 58. BENNETT 59. BLAZE 60. BRECCAN 61. CALLUM 62. CASPAR 63. CASSIUS 64. CATO 65. CAVAN 66. CORMAC 67. DANTE 68. DHANI 69. DJANGO 70. EAMON 71. GERMAN 72. HAITIAN 73. HUXLEY 74. JAX 75. LACHLAN 76. LAZARUS 77. LEIF 78. LENNON 79. LINCOLN 80. LONAN 81. LUCANUS 82. MAGNUS 83. NASH 84. NICO 85. NOLAN 86. PHILOMON 87. PIERS 88. POE 89. RALEIGH 90. REMY 91. ROAN 92. SINCLAIR 93. SOREN 94. TARQUIN 95. TATE 96. TITUS 97. TOBIN 98. WESLEY 99. WEST 100. WYLIE