Unique means one of a kind. When it comes to names, that sets the bar pretty high. Just ask the 99 parents who named their children Unique last year. (Can you imagine going through kindergarten as Unique H.?)
Finding a truly one-of-one name would mean opting for something that might not be very name-like at all. Draxlee, maybe. Or Porcelain.
Instead, most parents try to strike a balance between the often-heard and the less familiar. If that’s your mission, moving beyond the most popular 1000 names in the US might be enough to satisfy your craving for the uncommon.
BEYOND THE TOP 1000
- The US Top 1000 is widely published, and available on pretty much every baby name book and website. (The official US Social Security data can be found here.) That means that many parents after something different set their sites on names above, say #500 or #750 – but they’re still looking at the same list.
- To rank in the current US Top 1000, a name had to be given to 261 girls in 2022. That sounds like a lot. Except compare that to 16,573 girls named Olivia – or even 1200 or so named Lola, Miriam, or Collins, and it starts to feel a little less common. Anything beyond that list? It’s even more rare.
- Every spelling is considered a separate name. So the Top 1000 is actually … a lot less than 1000 names. Tally up all the Madelyn/Madeline/Madalynns; Avery/Averi/Averie; and so on, and some names are actually much more common than they initially appear. The reverse is also true: a name outside the Top 1000 list that lacks popular alternate spellings will feel even more rare.
And so unique girl names won’t belong to only one girl in all the world … but there’s a very good chance that your daughter will be the only one in her class, and possibly in your circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, should you choose from this list.
Some of these might be wildly popular elsewhere in the world, but for American children? They’re distinctive enough to merit the title unique baby girl names.
UNIQUE BABY GIRL NAMES
A tree name that shares a little bit with Cecilia and Amelia.
With the meaning strong, this Hebrew name feels confident. Addie names, from Addison to Adelaide, remain popular, so Adira could fit right in.
A river name immortalized in poetry by Robert Burns.
The Spanish and Italian word for dawn, with lots of other possible meanings, too. It’s also a Top Ten French name for girls.
Greek mythology gives us Althea, containing the stylish Thea sound.
An antique name with a powerful meaning – holy – and a spiritual vibe. Don’t believe it works today? Consider the Despicable Me sisters.
A gemstone name associated with February, but name-like enough to work for any time of the year. Longer than Pearl or Ruby, but not so different from Emerald.
Anna and Elizabeth are classics, but this smoosh name is familiar mostly to readers of the Percy Jackson series.
Anthony counts as an established classic, while literary Antonia feels rare. It might make a good substitute for the more popular Anastasia.
Ariana is more popular, but Ariadne fits with Chloe, Phoebe, and friends.
An ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, and a strong name for a daughter born today.
Borrowed from Lord of the Rings, with the meaning noble maiden.
Audrey is a Top 100 favorite at the moment, while the related Audra stays under the radar.
King Arthur’s paradise, a popular beach name, and an iconic Roxy Music album.
Another word for hazelnut, and a cousin to Ava and company, too.
Lively in sound and meaning, it’s the Hebrew word for spring.
For Anne of Green Gables fans, especially.
We’ve all heard of April, but the French twist on the month name is even more intriguing.
French, feminine, and saintly, plus nickname-rich.
A former Top Ten favorite, this Elizabeth nickname remains rare, despite plenty of high profile uses.
An archaic word with a timeless meaning: happy.
Oscar winner Brie Larson puts this mini name on the list, no matter how you spell it.
Sleeker than Brenda, more feminine than Brennan.
A Greek name meaning most beautiful. Callisto is an even rarer option.
As in the lily, an alternative to chart-toppers like Ella and Stella.
As much a night sky name as Luna or Stella, this constellation resembles the keel of a ship.
From a Welsh word meaning love, though Karis is the slightly more common spelling.
Cousin to cinnamon.
The medieval form of Cecilia, far rarer in the twenty-first century.
Coco mixes a spunky nickname name with haute couture.
An elegant name, rich with meaning.
From the word for coral, making this French import a nature name.
Romantic, Shakespearean, and a cousin to Cora.
A name straight out of Les Mis, but very wearable today.
A New Testament name, delicate and distinctive at once.
This surname claims Old Norse origins but an English feel, and while it leans unisex, it’s quite rare for any child today.
A bird name like Wren or Raven, but with a bonus association of peace.
A nymph from Greek myth, and a haunting word name.
As sweet as Hattie or Maisie, but far rarer.
A surname with a great meaning: iron strong. It fits right in with popular Paisley.
A cousin to Helen and Elena, this name is Greek in origin and downright fun to say.
The El- syllable makes surname Ellery feel just feminine enough in our age of Eloise and Eliza.
A logical successor to Emma and Ella that hasn’t quite caught on.
One of many overlooked Eu- names for our daughters, all beginning with the Greek EU, meaning good.
Rare Ev- name with roots in Greek legend and an appealing sound.
Pretty double name.
Invented for a fading movie, it’s derived from the phrase “the love.”
A gentle nature name that brings to mind children’s lit classic Charlotte’s Web.
The feminine form of classic Frederick, Frederica has always been rare in the US. Nickname Freddie, though, seems like a sister for Charlie.
A gorgeous Swiss city associated with peace, thanks to a number of international treaties. It sounds quite a bit like Genevieve and other girl names, too.
A feminine form of George, far less often heard than place name Georgia, and also a type of fabric, named for an innovative French dressmaker. It tracks with names like Scarlett and Juliette that we love right now.
A Welsh name meaning fair, made famous by Hollywood superstar Gwyneth Paltrow.
High-fashion surname name from the 1970s.
We all recognize Harriet, but rarely choose it for our daughters – even as nickname Hattie has returned to the US Top 1000.
A Harry Potter heroine worthy of emulation, and a name associated with the messenger of the Greek pantheon. Despite those ancient roots, Hermione reads as a quintessentially English name.
A surname name related to holly, but with a modern, unisex vibe. Like many a surname, it’s also a gender-neutral name, used for boys and girls alike.
Take our favorite virtue names, like Grace and Hope, and Honor fits right in.
In our age of Ava and Mia, mini name Ida remains surprisingly neglected.
A Shakespearean name that feels nicely British.
Eastern mythology gives us this goddess name, associated with wild animals.
A unisex name in the hue of blue.
Place name more obvious than Erin, but plenty wearable.
Short for Isabella, or possibly a mini name that wears well in our age of Ava.
As dramatic early twentieth century dance legend Isadora Duncan, with some of Isabella’s appeal, too, plus a dash of Nora-Aurora-Flora.
Place names continue to gain in use, so why not Italy? Sicily and Ravenna come to mind, too.
Classic and storied, Joan sounds capable, fearless … and surprisingly rare. Proof that former favorites can become unique girl names. But if we love Sloane, is a comeback for Joan really so far out of reach?
It sounds like a celebration.
Roman goddess name we all think of, but seldom hear in reality. Juniper, on the other hand, is racing up the popularity charts.
Slightly more subtle than Justice, and never as popular as 1980s boys’ favorite Justin.
A surname that’s teetered on the edge of the Top 1000 for years. Possibly a future Kelsey.
A strong word name every bit as appealing as other nature-inspired choices, or short word name possibilities like Sage.
An ancient city, a Greek nymph, and a pretty sound that’s quite rare. Larisa is even less common.
Originally short for Laurence, surname Larkin brings to mind bird name Lark, another rarity.
A minor Harry Potter character, and a great alternative to Violet.
Another tree name, and an update to mid-century favorite Lynn/e. Rarer than Lennon or Rowan, but with a similar sound.
A lovely Scandi flower name, from the surname of famous botanist Carl Linnaeus.
Among the more exotic of the floral possibilities, now that Poppy and Marigold are Top 1000 favorites.
A French place name associated with the Virgin Mary. Also, the name of pop legend Madonna’s now grown-up firstborn, which lends it a certain edge. That Lourdes went by Lola for short.
Take Lucy, add a few syllables, and this is Cervantes’ elegant, literary invention.
A vintage Louise nickname that might work independently today.
The Latin word for light, pronounced both lukes and luxe. Short, unisex, and powerful in sound. While it still makes the list of rare girl names, note that Lux has now entered the US Top 1000 for boys.
Madeline’s predecessor, with the original place name – Magdala – preserved.
A Scandi short form of Magdalena.
A tree name that brings to mind Canada, and the rich colors of autumn. It’s just one sound removed from vintage Mabel, too.
Pretty feminine form of Marcellus, cousin to 70s favorite Mark.
The French form of classic Margaret, or a name that turns Margot up to eleven.
Marianna makes the Top 1000, but Marian – and Marion – remain nicely uncommon girl names.
A lovely smoosh of Maria and Isabel.
Mary remains the classic, but Maria elaboration Mariella has promise as one of the unique girl names of our time.
A mix of medieval Margery and the spice marjoram.
Sweet, innocent, and traditional, with the energetic nickname Millie.
Place name reminiscent of Biblical classic Naomi.
Like Noelle, a Christmas-inspired name for a daughter, but one that belongs with unique girl names. Every bit as wearable as Amelia or Aurelia.
Sure, it’s a type of short novel. But the -ella ending makes it feel feminine, and Nova is among the newest of white hot choices.
A rare borrowing from ballet. With Olivia at the top of the popularity charts, and Octavia and Ophelia trending, maybe any O name is worth watching.
Sparky spice name.
Spanish form of Pearl, just slightly different.
A feminine spin on Peter, as well as the name of an ancient city.
Pippa Middleton may have been the world’s most famous bridesmaid, but the royal relation has yet to see her name spike in use – at least in the US.
A twist on classic Rose that feels fresh and springlike.
Old school virtue name with a built-in Beatles lullaby.
Stevie Nicks took inspiration from a 1972 novel about a witch; the song became a smash hit and plenty of girls received the name. While the song remains a classic, Rhiannon has faded into unique name status.
Either serves as a last name a little edgier than Riley or Presley.
Contract Rosemary, and you’ll have this short name, forever tied to German-French screen legend Romy Schneider. It feels a little like an alternative to Josie or Rory.
A mini nature name boosted by pop culture.
The name of an ancient tribe, long used as a girl’s name in Europe, but consistently rare in the US.
A Biblical bad guy, but a gorgeous name.
The world’s largest desert, and a captivating sound.
The Japanese name for cherry blossoms, richly symbolic and harbingers of spring.
Arizona place name, borrowed from an early resident of the future city.
Fiery and elaborate, and only a little more dramatic than Serena or Sienna.
An Irish surname forever tied to New York sports.
All Susan names are out of favor, but Susanna and Susannah feel like on-trend options.
From Downton Abbey to Vampire Diaries, pop culture keeps pushing this name into the public view. Parents haven’t embraced it … yet.
Harmony and Melody suggest there’s plenty of interest in musical girls’ names.
A New Testament name with a bewitching backstory.
An Aramaic name heard in the New Testament.
A rarity with roots in Gaelic and Choctaw.
More tailored than Tammy, a Hebrew name meaning palm tree. It was in use for girls long before parents embraced Parker and Harper for their daughters.
Another virtue name that feels broadly appealing, and quite unexpected, despite the long-running television drama Bones, featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan.
An unusual surname boosted by an Olympic gold medal-winning figure skating in the 1960s, Tenley Albright.
A Spanish city and a famous orange.
From the Latin word for life. Vida is a related option.
An underused virtue name with universal appeal. It comes from the Latin verus – truth.
Sometimes said to mean friendship, as Peter Pan author JM Barrie based the name on fwendy, a playful nickname given to the author by a friend. Wendy Darling puts the name in the same category as storybook girls like Alice and Madeline.
A vintage name overdue for revival.
Invented for manga series Full Metal Alchemist, and surprisingly wearable.
Another -o ending name in the key of Harlow and Monroe.
Pretty French import, briefly big in the 1960s – but maybe wearable again thanks to our love of -ette ending names.
Ella with a Z, but also a name with several possible meanings, including happy, zealous, and shadow.
A New Mexico heritage name that fits perfectly with Mia, Lia, and Gia, as well as our affection for high value Scrabble letters.
Another seldom-heard botanical possibility, at least as wearable as the more popular Azalea. And the flower symbolizes some lovely ideas: constancy, lasting love, and remembrance of fond memories.
Do you have any favorites? What would you add to this list of unique girl names?
First published on October 21, 2019, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on August 2, 2023.