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100 Cool Baby Names You've Never Heard Of

baby names listWhen I call my 5-year-old daughter’s name at the playground in our neighborhood, it seems as if all of the girls turn around. That’s because my daughter’s name is Ruby, which may not be very popular nationwide, but is very trendy in my neck of the woods (Park Slope, Brooklyn). Although I love the name dearly (and have no regrets about her name), I can safely say it is no longer a “cool” baby name. Am I the slightest bit disappointed that Ruby’s name has only grown in popularity and is not as unusual as I had hoped? Perhaps.

Why are parents these days constantly on the lookout for the next unusual name? As my colleague KJ recently wrote, “what we’re searching for is a name that no one’s used yet, scouring the top baby name lists for monikers like Purple or Whipcord. But name your child Snapfree and someone will surely follow: there’s something about baby names that follows an indefinable zeitgeist.”

Originality seems to be the key to baby naming these days. In fact, in  Babble’s recent baby name poll, 90% of those who responded said that a name’s popularity would make them less likely to choose it for their child. And nearly 90% said that as long as they liked a name, they wouldn’t mind if it was “out of style.”

The researchers who analyzed baby name trends have attributed the increase in unusual baby names to a broader cultural shift from encouraging conformity to emphasizing difference.

Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of “Beyond Ava and Aiden” recently scoured name statistics and came up with “100 Cool Uncommon Baby Names.” When she says “uncommon,” she means really uncommon – as in used for 25 or fewer babies in 2009.

By sorting through 25,000 names, Redmond Satran came up with 50 boys’ names and 50 girls’ names that fit her criteria: “a name with a genuine provenance (as opposed to a jury-rigged Lizzeth or Zhane), that is attractive (sorry, Ethel) and feels contemporary (bye-bye, Ethelred), yet is used for only a handful of babies each year.”

So what did she come up with? Here’s a selection of 20 of her discoveries:

Boys
Balthazar
Calloway
Clancy
Hamish
Kermit
Orson
Rufus
Vaughan
Osborne
Romulus

Girls
Jezebel
Fleur
Paz
Sinead
Snow
Valentine
Tulip
Tamsen
Lake
Vita

I’m curious what qualifies these names as “cool?” Are they cool simply because they’re unusual? What do you think? Would you consider naming your child any of these names? And now that they’ve been identified as “cool” and “unusual,” do you think they’re destined to surge in popularity?

Photo: flickr/Robert Crum

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