Written by Pamela Redmond Satran for Nameberry
You know how there are some baby names you never heard before that suddenly seem to be everywhere?
The 20 choices here –- 11 for girls, 9 for boys -- are those kinds of names. Each is so rare that it was given to only about 100 or fewer babies in the U.S. last year. But behind the scenes in Nameberry's current database analytics, we see these names attracting twice as much attention as average.
Our conclusion: No matter how unusual they are by the official statistics, these names are drawing considerable buzz. And that's bound to translate over the coming years into usage for a lot more babies.
Besides their incipient popularity, these names share several appealing qualities. Many relate to nature, but in a fresh, surprising way. Most have deeper roots than they first seem, plus intriguing cultural connections.
And is it a coincidence that so many of these names contain the letter L? We don’t think so, as that lovely, lilting sound carries so much instinctive appeal for today’s baby namers.
Here are our picks for the 20 unusual baby names destined for stardom, in order of those given to the most babies in the past
year to least.
Humble <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Clover">Clover</a>, until recently a name most often found in the barnyard, tops our list of unusual girls’ names you’ll be hearing a lot more of because 109 little girls were given the name in the U.S. last year, the most of any of our 11 choices for girls, but it’s also one of the hottest choices in the group. Clover is a charming, offbeat botanical name used by Natasha Gregson Warner to honor her mother Natalie Wood, who starred in the film Inside Daisy Clover.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Calla">Calla</a>, an exotic flower name given to just over 100 girls in the U.S. last year, puts a fresh spin on two of its overused relatives, Lily and Callie. A trivia detail any little girl named Calla will surely love: Princess Calla was a character in a 1980s Disney show called "Gummi Bears."
Grayson may have already popped -– there were nearly 4000 of these latter day Jasons born in 2011, vaulting it into the Top 100 -- but quieter brother<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gray"> Gray</a> was given to just under 100 boys last year. One of the few color names better suited to boys than to girls, there are slightly more boys given the spelling Grey. We predict the numbers of Grays and Greys to swell, along with boys named Graylon, Grayton, and so on.
Name of the Greek god of the west wind, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Zephyr">Zephyr</a> is starting to blow into the modern world along with many of his ancient brethren. Until recently, most children only heard the name, spelled Zephir, as the appellation of the monkey friend of Babar the Elephant in the classic French story books. But in the future, Zephyr will more likely be a preschool classmate.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Lux">Lux</a>, a cooler way than Lucy to signify light, was given to 77 girls last year but is attracting attention thanks to the kickass heroine of the League of Legends game as well as the main character of the hipster novel and film The Virgin Suicides. Lux can also make a sleek, surprising middle name.
Italian place-name <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Florence">Florence</a> has been chic in England for several years now, but in the U.S., it fell off the Top 1000 around the time Florence Henderson starred in "The Brady Bunch" and has yet to climb back on. A Top 50 name in the UK, last year Florence was given to only 73 little girls here. But we see Florence along with flowery sisters Flora and Fleur set to blossom.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Lazarus">Lazarus</a> is rising again. While only 71 boys received the Biblical name last year, we see an increasing number of parents interested in Lazarus, in the vanguard of the next wave of ancient names. Lazarus also embraces several related names with considerable appeal: the Eastern European Laszlo, Latinate Lazaro, Hebrew Eleazar, and cool boy Lazer.
Cool girl name Waverly was used for a character on "Friday Night Lights" and also gets some appeal from the fashion for girls' names that end in the <em>lee</em> sound -- Ashley's daughters, like the popular Kinley and Hadley. Television's "The Wizards of Waverly Place" helped popularized it. <em>Pictured: Actress Selena Gomez who plays Alex Russo on "The Wizards of Waverly Place</em>
French favorite<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Marguerite"> Marguerite</a> means “daisy” (and also “pearl,” both great names in their own right) and is starting to attract attention here as a more exotic and attractive spin on the standard Margaret. Saint Marguerite was a pioneering nun.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Indigo">Indigo</a>, a name as alluring as the dark purplish blue color it represents, was given to only 62 girls last year. But as a color name it could eventually challenge Scarlett, with its fashionable I beginning and O ending, and it’s independent-minded nickname Indie.
All names Bella have attracted attention since Isabella scaled the charts. <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Bellamy">Bellamy</a> puts an androgynous, surname spin on the genre. Originally French for fine or beautiful friend –- belle ami -– Bellamy got some attention as the name of one of the seven children of the Novogratz family of the reality show "9 By Design." Just over 50 girls received the name last year, but we predict the numbers to climb steeply. <em>Pictured: The Novogratz family</em>
The melodic <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Coralie">Coralie</a>, which means Coral, was given to only 38 girls last year. But parents newly enchanted by Cora and longtime fans of Caroline are looking to it as a new twist on those favorites. Popular in Quebec, there are characters named Coralie in two 19th century novels.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Nero">Nero</a> is not the most inspiring namesake for a young boy -– he was the emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. But with the fashion for all names Ancient Roman, we see interest in Nero rising too. The Roman Nero’s birth name was Lucius, another obscure name attracting more heat, and there is also a modern fictional detective hero named Nero Wolfe.
Scandinavian name<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Stellan"> Stellan</a> is a natural to migrate to our shores, on the heels of trendy sister Stella. Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany’s son Stellan is a namesake of actor Stellan Skarsgard -- that’s him with now-grown actor son Alexander. Despite its celebrity connections, only 37 boys were named Stellan in the US last year. <em>Pictured: Jennifer Connelly</em>
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/cyra">Cyra</a>, which may be pronounced sigh-ra or seer-a, is the newest spin on Keira and Cara. Cyra also relates to also-fashionable brother name Cyrus; both have Persian roots and mean “throne.” There was also a fifth century saint Cyra. Only 19 girls were named Cyra in the U.S. in 2011.
An Irish name that means “freckled,” <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Breccan">Breccan</a> was given to only 17 American boys last year but is set to rise on the heels of once-obscure brothers such as Declan and Brayden. Breccan was the name of both a saint and a mythological figure. A modern bearer with a less-attractive phonetical spelling is Breckin Meyer.
Ancient Roman emperor name<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Tiberius"> Tiberius</a> was also the name of two figures in the Harry Potter universe, enough to draw attention to a name never in the Top 1000 and given to only 17 American boys last year. But like brethren Atticus and Titus, we see interest in Tiberius rising and predict we’ll all be hearing it outside of history books.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Snow">Snow</a> is one of the freshest, coolest names around, especially for winter babies. Given to only 13 girls in the U.S. last year, it’s attracting twice as much attention as the average name on Nameberry. We see it rising along with simple, offbeat nature names such as Bay and Lake, Fox and Wren.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/balthazar">Balthazar</a>, also spelled Balthasar, was the name of one of the Three Wise Men who visited the infant Jesus. The name has been used quietly in the modern world, most notably given to young oil heir Balthazar Getty. Balthazar has also been the name of many literary heroes – of Shakespeare and Balzac, James Bond and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – as well as of a fashionable restaurant in New York. Only 13 boys received the name last year, but we see that number rising.
Roman <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/cato">Cato </a>may be the most quietly used of our collection –- only 8 boys were given the name in 2011 –- but it may be the choice most likely to rise the furthest fastest. The reason, of course, is "The Hunger Games." While that fictional Cato was anything but an appealing character, Cato is a straightforward, modern-feeling name with the fashionable O ending. <em>Pictured: Actor Alexander Ludwig who played Cato in "The Hunger Games"</em>
More Baby Name Ideas
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/nameberry-classic-girls-names_n_1865314.html" target="_hplink">The 12 Classic Girl Names Making A Comeback </a></strong> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/classic-boys-baby-names_n_1884361.html">Classic Boys' Names That Are Hot Now</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/baby-names-2012_n_1666164.html" target="_hplink">The Hottest Baby Names Of 2012 (So Far)</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-redmond-satran/baby-name-rules_b_1456854.html" target="_hplink">22 Rules To Follow When Choosing A Baby Name</a>