If you’re looking for a rare baby name for your little love on the way, there are so many gorgeous options to sift through. Pulling inspiration from all over the world, with a heavy emphasis on exceptional meanings, we’ve assembled a list of some very rare baby names with lovely sounds and great potential.

Choosing a unique baby name for your child is all about personal preferences, cultural ties, and often fitting in with the names of your other children. We encourage you to consider branching out from the top 100 (or in many of these cases, the top 1,000!) names into unchartered baby name territory. Our list of the best rare names is a great place to start! 

Rare Baby Boy Names

Argo: A handsome and cute rare baby boy name that comes from Greek mythology, belonging to a ship. It ranks only within the top 1,300 names for baby boys born in the US today.

Baldwin: It’s a grand-sounding and unique baby boy name from the German meaning “brave friend,” and while you recognize it from the author James and the Hollywood brothers Alec et al., chances are you haven’t heard this one used for a first name among neighborhood children.

Banyan: The Indian name translating to “the god tree” is steeped in history and meaning, and very rarely given to American babies.  

Benedict: Love Ben or Benny but want something less popular than Benjamin (#7 in 2021) or Benedict (#90 in 2021)? Benedict is your guy. This rare name means “blessed” (it’s also a fun nod to actor Benedict Cumberbatch). See more baby names that mean blessed!

Booker: It’s adjacent in sound to more popular picks like Brooks and Baker, but we love this rarer name for boys—it’s an English occupational surname meaning “scribe.”

Breccan: This cheerful Irish name for boys means “freckled” or “speckled” and is reminiscent of the name of a popular Colorado ski town, Breckenridge.

Coltrane: The jazzy name you probably hadn’t considered will definitely remind people of John Coltrane, the famed American saxophonist. Aside from being a jaunty music name, it’s also a rarely heard Irish surname. (See more music-inspired baby names!)

Dune: Your little beach babe will grow beautifully into this cute nature name from the natural peaks that occur in the sand by the ocean.

Falconer: An occupational name meaning “falcon trainer,” this rare baby name is profound and strong, yet definitely not often heard.  

Gannon: It sounds comfortable and familiar in a way, but this rare baby name has been given to just over 1,000 boys total since 1880. It’s an Irish name meaning “fair-haired” or “fair-skinned.” 

Hale: The English baby name meaning “someone who lives in a hollow” is a unique rare baby boy name. 

Jericho: A strong and storied biblical name you won’t hear often, which could make it the perfect pick for your little guy.

Leander: We love this name from Greek mythology meaning “lion man.” It’s in the top 400 in Norway, and its French version Leandre is popular in that country, but here in the States Leander hasn’t been in the top 1,000 baby names for boys since 1960… which is why it has great potential as a rare baby name choice for you!

Oberon: A gorgeous Shakespearean name with power and drive meaning “noble, bearlike.” Only five babies out of every million born last year were given this rare gem. 

Pippin: This sweet-sounding boy name meaning “awe-inspiring” with German roots also belongs to a type of apple. Between 1944 and 2019, only 24 Pippins were born throughout the US and Europe.

Rhodes: A rare baby name for boys with mixed European roots meaning “where roses grow” that carries a scholarly feel and didn’t make the US charts until 2012. Rhodes was only given to 45 babies in its most popular recent year.

Rare Baby Girl Names

Ambrosia: It’s as sweet as the little girl you might consider it for; the Greek mythology name meaning “immortal” has dessert-y connotations to Americans. Only one dozen baby girls received this precious name in the most recent year it charted. 

Breeze: The English word name for a soft or more powerful gust of wind creates a lovely feel for a little one.

Caledonia: A cute rare baby girl name from the Latin meaning “rocky or hard land,” it’s as strong as the gritty girl you plan to raise and carries with it a slew of nickname options including Callie, Leddie, and Nia.  

Clea: This one might get some attention thanks to Clea Shearer, Netflix’s The Home Edit breakout star, but it’s still very low ranking in terms of popularity and many find it unfamiliar. Clea is a literary name thought to be invented by Lawrence Durrell for his Alexandria Quartet. It means “glory of the father.”  

Delta: The fourth letter of the Greek alphabet also makes for a unique place name for baby girls as it belongs to the historical Mississippi Delta. The rare girl name meaning “mouth of a river” from the Hebrew has not ranked in the top 100 in any country ever, and recently has only been given to a dozen or less babies each year in the US.

Eleanora: While Eleanora made the top 15 in 2021, this variation is all the way down at 997 on the list. Like its more popular counterpart, this rare name means “shining light”— fitting for your bright new bundle!

Ezlynn: A Sri Lankan name with possible shared Hebrew roots meaning “lake of help” or “one who resides by the river.” The watery baby girl name did enter the top 3,000 in the US this past year, but that still makes it quite rare.

Fauna: Disney fans will adore this quirky pick after one of Sleeping Beauty’s favorite fairies. It’s more heard in conversation as part of a pair with Flora (relating to plants and animals), but is far less popular as a name choice than the other. Fauna was actually the Roman god of nature and animals, giving this rare pick something truly special for your little girl.

Glynnis: While Gwyneth and Gwen are slowly rising, this cuteness is in the old-fashioned camp that could be headed for a comeback but hasn’t gotten there yet. Glynnis is an Irish name meaning “glen” or narrow valley, with unexpected nature vibes and the adorable nickname options Glynnie or Lynnie.

Imara: The beautiful rare Swahili name meaning “firm” is a perfect metaphor for your little girl: tough on the inside with a beautiful exterior. We love it, but it hasn’t caught on in a big way yet. You’d definitely get ahead of the trend with this unique choice! (See more African baby names!)

Jessamy: The Jessica trend faded in the 90’s, and Jasmine and Juniper are having a bit of a hayday, but this adjacent floral “J” name for girls that means “jasmine flower” is hardly ever used here in the States.

Lavinia: It’s another old-school pick that we couldn’t resist; with potential like Charlotte and Harper for softness and classic appeal but still distinctly unique, the ancient Latin place name could be a perfect rare baby name for your little girl.  

Orla: An Irish name meaning “golden princess,” this one is picking up a tiny bit of speed in the UK but is virtually unknown in the States.

Persephone: The Greek mythology name is laden with lore, belonging to a daughter of Zeus. Its length and complexity offer up multiple nicknames including Pers, Persy, and Sepha, but in its own right it’s a solid and pretty choice. Luckily for those who like it and want to go with a cute rare baby name, Persephone is just barely in the top 1,000 for US babies.

Riella: Unlike Brielle and Raina, this trendy-sounding baby girl name is virtually unheard of. Yet, with contemporary appeal and the meaning “God is my strength,” it should definitely be a contender for those who like royal-sounding names that are not heard every day.  

Sabine: A French-sounding name that actually stems from an ancient tribe of Italians called Sabines, it has the same sort of short, chic, to-the-point feeling as Celeste or Simone but has never ranked in or near the top 1,000 in the US for girls.

Soleil: Give your little ray of sunshine a rare name that means sun in French! In 2021 it barely squeaked into the top 1000 names at 999.

Zosia: About as rare—and gorgeous!—as they come, the Polish name meaning “wisdom” is actually a take on Sophia and is not currently ranked in US popularity charts or births.

Rare Gender-Neutral Baby Names

Addax: This rare nature name for boys and girls also belongs to a white antelope in Africa, makes a beautiful choice for a little one.   

Blaise: This unique baby name would make a fine alternative to the more popular Blair or Blaze. Even though the name technically means “to stammer or stutter,” for most it will bring to mind both the famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal and the fiery sound-alike word Blaze (apt for your spirited tot!).

Bramble: A cute rare baby name with natural roots meaning “blackberry shrub” is less heard than many in the same camp but makes a smart pick for a little boy or girl.

Cotton: Not popular by any means, but certainly familiar as a word, this rare gender-neutral baby name has softness and charm to consider.

Gable: Another word name, this one from the French, it’s an architectural structure and also a solid yet rare gender-neutral baby name. 

Lapis: Hipster parents might reach for this Persian baby name referring to the blue stone; it’s on trend for color and gem names but not nearly as heard as Onyx or Pearl.  

Marble: We had to throw another stone in; like Lapis, it’s got the natural meaning and visual connotation without the overused feeling.

Sea: Nature names are in, but some are more heard than others. If you’re beach people, consider this lovely one-syllable choice for your baby boy or girl.

Tierney: The Irish gender-neutral name meaning “descendant of a lord” has promise. Currently not ranked for US babies, it’s got both aristocratic vibes and a cute sound.

Winsome: Unlike Winston or Winnie, the English word name meaning “agreeable” or “lighthearted” is very rare for both boys and girls, but could be perfect for yours.

Zev: Zev is traditionally a Hebrew name for boys, but this snappy one-syllable name would work just as well for a little girl! The name means wolf, lending major gravitas to your pup.

Less Rare Baby Names…

Want something more mainstream? Check out our other favorite baby names:

Planning for Baby? Be sure to check out SNOO Smart Sleeper and learn how it could add hours of sleep for the whole family!

About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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