14 Rare Baby Names That Are More Popular Than You Think

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One a couple realizes they're expecting a child, one of the most difficult decisions parents-to-be will face is picking the perfect name.

While there are hundreds of thousands of monikers to chose from, only one will fit your precious newborn.

Since there are already so many Johns and Janes in the world, there's nothing wrong with wanting them to have a unique name without making a mockery out of them.

But as it turns out, some of the names we would deem as rare are actually becoming more popular in the modern era. Curious about what these contemporary names are? Well according to Nameberry, these 14 monikers are steadily on the rise for both boys and girls.



Alaia Baldwin on the runway
Stephen Baldwin's daughter, Alaia

Ranking: 636

Meaning: Joyful, Happy

Pronounced ah-LYE-ah, Alaia is one of the fastest growing names in the United States. While this particular spelling originates from Basque, there are several other variations it could be written, which include Aaliyah, Aliya, and Alaya. Since they're spelled different the names also hold different meanings.


A portrait of Theodosia
Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of the third Vice President of the United StatesPublic Domain

Ranking: 702

Meaning: Giving to God

While you probably haven't met anyone named Theodosia yet, this name has skyrocketed through the charts since 2016 - it wasn't even on the list in 2015! Although it's not quite as possible as Theodora, plenty of "The" names are making a comeback after a century of staying under the radar.

This moniker has Greek and Russian origins and was the name of Vice President Aaron Burr's daughter and the real name of Theda Bara, a silent film actress in the early 20th century.


Serenity Neil
Actress Serenity NeilCelebrity Pictures Wiki

Ranking: 634

Meaning: Peaceful

The name Serenity has a Latin origin and is on the rise for parents looking to name their daughters something tranquil yet feminine. This wistful name first appeared on the top 1000 chart in 1997 and slowly moved on up ever since, becoming increasingly popular with the newer generation. For example, child actresses Serenity Neil and Serenity Reign Brown were given that name.


Jessica Alba on a talkshow
Actress Jessica AlbaTV Guide

Ranking: 395

Meaning: White

While we associate this ancient Roman name with famous actress, Jessica Alba, it was actually extremely popular a century ago, and is just making a comeback now. Alba is also the name of the daughter in The Time Traveler's Wife.


Author Zelda Fitzgerald
Author Zelda FitzgeraldThe New Yorker

Ranking: 280

Meaning: Gray fighting maid

Although we often hear the name Zelda due to the popularity of "The Legend of Zelda" video game franchise, more and more parents are naming their daughters this particular moniker as a result of the rise of "Z" and "X" names in the past few years. In 2015, Zelda was one of the fastest-rising girls names, breaking into the top 1000 for the first time in 50 years.

Famous people who have this name include author Zelda Fitzgerald and Robin William's only daughter.


Saskia de Brauw
German model Saskia de BrauwConde Nast Digital Archive

Ranking: 106

Meaning: Saxon

With Dutch and Slavic origins, the name Saskia is more popular in European countries, but is slowly making its way to North America. With about 15 million babies being named Saskia in 2015, people who share this name includes painter Rembrandt’s wife, model Saskia de Brauw, and singer Red Grooms and Anne Dudek's respective daughters.


Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi LongstockingDPA

Ranking: 44

Meaning: Divinely Beautiful

Even though you might not think Astrid is that common of a name, it actually has royal Scandinavian roots that has been used since the 10th century. While it's not as popular as Ingrid (a name that has the same origin), Astrid is being chosen by parents who have a "renewed interest" ethnic names.

People who hold this name include Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking, and the characters in How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter, and Once upon a Time.



Zoe Saldana and her son Bowie
Zoe Saldana's son BowieSplash News

Ranking: 762

Meaning: Blond

While we can thank the late David Bowie for inspiring parents to pick this creative name, it's also on the rise due to it's hip and trendy sound. This name originates from Scotland, and while boys are primarily called Bowie, it's actually considered unisex. For instance, both Zoe Saldana and Jackson Rathbone have named their son and daughter Bowie.


Finnick Odair
Finnick Odair from Catching FireLionsgate Films

Ranking: 645

Meaning: Marshland Farm (loosely translated)

Since 2012, Finnick has risen in popularity thanks to the character from the widely successful Hunger Games series. Finnick - which has Anglo-Saxon origins - is also related to the more popular name Phoenix.


Ragnar Lodbrok from Vikings
Ragnar Lodbrok from VikingsMouse

Ranking: 498

Meaning: Warrior or Judgement

This powerful Norse name has gained popularity thanks to the main character in the TV series Vikings. The name stems from the Norse Judgment Day, Ragnarök (as seen in the Thor movie franchise), and although Ragar is a popular boy's name in Scandinavian countries, it went up by 91% from 2015 to 2016 in the U.S.


Wells Adams
The Bachelorette contestant Wells AdamsInstagram

Ranking: 489

Meaning: Spring or Stream

Wells, a name traditionally short for the surname Wellington, first appeared on the charts in 1916 at number 1780, but has made a comeback in recent years. It has gone up by 252% from 2015 to 2016.

This past year one in 149,187 baby boys were named Wells, which has been most popular in the state of North Carolina.


Cleveland Browns football player Duke Johnson
Cleveland Browns football player Duke JohnsonDawgs By Nature

Ranking: 450

Meaning: Leader

While you might have heard of the name Duke being used as a title in the British monarchy, it's recently become popular as a given name to newborn boys. Since 2013, Duke has seen a renewal in popularity and has been a steady fixture on the charts.

Famous individuals named Duke include football players Duke Johnson and Duke Williams, pianist Duke Ellington, and DJ Duke Dumont.


Koa Smith with a dog
Surfer Koa SmithGalore Mag

Ranking: 179

Meaning: Warrior

Since the name Koa stems from Hawaiian origins, it's not a surprise it was ranked as the 161 most popular baby name in Hawaii last year. It's also the name of a type of tree native to the island, which is used for for canoes and surfboards.

People named Koa are surfer Koa Smith and the son of No Doubt guitarist, Tom Dumont.


Amos Diggory
Amos Diggory from Harry PotterWarner Bros.

Ranking: 142

Meaning: Carried by God

Amos, a name with Hebrew origins, is a popular moniker for those who have a penchant for the Bible. In 2012, 229 newborns were given the name, which is considered one in every 7,166 boys.

The name Amos has been used for characters in novels by George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and most notably, J.K. Rowling.

Still interested to read about potential baby names for your future child? Take a look at these interesting articles:

[H/T: Baby Name Science, Global News, Nameberry, Today's Parent]

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