10 clever ways to choose an unusual baby name

We can't guarantee yours will be the ONLY baby out there with a totally-off-the-wall name but we can definitely help...

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Not everyone’s up for an out-there baby name: lots of you love the ‘classics’ or popular names (which we think are great, too).

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But we know lots of mums-to-be are looking for a unique moniker – just check out this forum thread from one of our users, who’s been desperately trying to figure out how to have an original name for her baby girl.

If you do want to bring a more unusual baby name into the mix, look no further. Take some tips from us – and from some of the mums who post on our MadeForMums Facebook page

1. Know which names are most popular right now

OK, we know it sounds obvious, but if you really want to make sure you find a name that won’t have 20 kids turning their heads in nursery, it’s worth knowing exactly what the popular names are, right?

The Office of National Statistics produces a list every year which lets you know which names are right at the top of the nations’ popularity stakes, so it’s worth checking out before you even start stencilling your current favourite baby name on the nursery wall.

Oh, and if you were toying with Jack Harry, Olivia or Isla, you might want to think again…

2. Sometimes ‘unusual’ isn’t actually all that out-there

Here at MFM, we’ve probably clocked EVERY single celeb baby name that’s been given in the last 18 months, and, of all the ones we’ve seen recently, it was Sam Faiers’ choice – she’s called her little boy Paul Tony – that surprised us most.

Why? Because it’s so NOT unusual. We’re used to all sorts of celeb flights of baby-name fancy, like Wild Flower Tiger Lily Rosa Fire Artemesia James. Not Paul Tony.

So, you see, by going for something that’s actually kinda quite regular but not what’s expected, you might just surprise people.

3. Use a baby-name generator

There are loads of these out there and they’re pretty fun to use. One of our favourites, created by tech whizz Andrew Karpathy last year, features a database of 8,000 ‘regular’ names which it then scrambles to create a totally unique babyname for anyone who wants one

Be warned: you WILL end up with something totally, wackily original: we got Netiny Edida and Marli Sand when we had a go!

4. Name your baby after someone a bit ‘niche’

We wouldn’t suggest going down the route of naming your little one after someone super-famous – though a little Elvis, Madonna or, er, Gaga could be cute. But if there’s perhaps a dancer, an old movie star or a character from a (relatively unknown) book that you like, you could use their name for inspiration.

“Our youngest is called Ayrton, pronounced air-tun,” says Kirsty M on our Facebook page. “He is named after the legendary Ayrton Senna, a Formula 1 driver who was famous in the early 90s. I am a bit F1-mad; my hubby picked the name and I loved it!”

5. Go for a name from a different culture

It can be lovely to celebrate your own heritage, or simply a culture you love, by going for a baby name that represents it.

“My husband and I are into Buddhism,” says Tanya on our Facebook page, “so I really wanted to go for a name that signified how important that is to us. We went for Bodhi, the name of the tree the Buddha found enlightenment under. We love it.”

And Vanessa M says: “My one-year old is Cailean and my 8-day old is Lachlann. Both not very common Gaelic Scottish names, as their daddy is Scottish.”

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6. Go clever with initials

If you want to go one step further than just an unusual name, how’s this for a set of inventive forenames? Nanu C tells us: “We called our boy Otis. As our surname ends in ‘S’ we decided to give him middle names that made his initials spell out his name:

  • Otis
  • Tré
  • Isaiah
  • Stanley”

Oooh, we like that!

7. Google it

Sometimes, a good old Google trawl can bring up suggestions you’d never have thought of. Yep, type in ‘unusual baby names’ and you’ll get a while host of articles vying for your attention. The World Wide Web is an amazing resource, so why not use it, right?

“We named our baby boy Zayden,” says Sara M. “Never heard it until I read it in a baby book online. Not too different; just different enough.”

And Lana-Jane T says: “Our daughter is called Nyla-Jane. I found it trawling sites for baby names. Totally love it and so unusual.”

8. Hyphenate it

You could go for two names that aren’t unusual on their own but, in combo with one another, are way less likely to be shared by another 74 kids at nursery or school.

“I have twins called Harley-James and Jasmine-Emma,”  says Melanie R, by way of example. Other mums who have gone for hyphenated names include Lisa S, who went for “Carol-Ann named after my mother and my hubby’s mother” and Sara L who chose Eveanna-Rose.

9. Change a letter

This is a cute little trick that can make a whole new name from an existing one. Spelling a name a different way can make it stand out, especially if you change the first letter.

Beth L tells us she’s going for “Zennon for the next one due in 5 weeks”. Like Lennon but with a Z? Oooh, cool.

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10. Go for something traditional that’s not quite back in fashion

Vintage names are totally making a comeback: there’s been a proper surge recently in names such as Stanley, Arthur, Alfie, Ada and Evie. So the way to be unusual here is to find an old-fashioned name that hasn’t resurfaced as a ‘vintage’ choice yet.

That was certainly Rachel T’s tactic: “My 2 boys are Rupert Oscar and Ernest Falcon. Both oldie names but I haven’t heard anyone else called those names yet. My partner thought of both and I loved them. Everyone always comments at how different and how old-fashioned their names are.”

Or you could forget unusual and just go for what you like…

If going for something a bit out-there ends up being too much like hard work, you could just plump for a ‘popular’ name you like, and decide not to care how many other kids have the same one.

Besides, you can tell yourself, a name that was super-unusual a few months ago could be all the rage next week: we give you Neveah, people (though we still love it).

“I would never go [the unusual] route,” says Pearl S. “It can get a bit cringe-worthy. I chose Henry for my son. I’ve stuck with the classic-name tradition that seems to be going in my family.”

Well, there you go…

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