Choosing a baby name is a big decision all parents must grapple with. In fact, it's a good thing couples have a full nine months typically to decide; anything less could be impossible! Picking out a name from the endless possibilities can be a lot to deal with, and oftentimes new moms and dads don't see eye to eye. If the mom and dad agree, then they may get flak from the grandparents or other friends or family members. Some couples keep the decided name secret until the baby's birth to thwart attempts to change their mind on the name choice.
Some folks want a strong masculine name for a son, others a traditional one, and still, others may want to honor a relative. One option for compromise would be settling on a place name that is less likely to fall into disapproval than say a name. Imagine naming your child after a person who later is revealed to be someone completely different than originally thought. Think of those who named a child after a historical figure once revered, who is now reviled. Place names are a much safer bet.
Austin is, of course, a place name familiar to virtually all of us in the US as the capital of Texas, and as such it has a western, country feel to it. Austin actually is a Latin name meaning, "majestic dignity; great" according to babycenter.com Should the couple not know the gender, Austin could work for either a girl or boy. If they'd like, they could give the girl version an alternate spelling such as Austyn, or in honor of that great writer, (Jane) Austen. Austin ranked at #88 for baby boys in 2018 in the US.
Dakota is a name of Native roots, specifically referring to the Plains tribes of Lakota and Sioux, according to babynamewizard.com. It comes from the Siouxan word, dakóta meaning "friend; ally." Dakota, like Austin can also be bestowed on baby girls, so for those seeking one name to work for either gender, Dakota will work. For instance, according to babycenter.com in 2018 Dakota topped out at #357 for boys, and #218 for girls. Nicknames could include Kota, Koda or Kody, or Koty or Dak.
Israel is both a person and a nation/place name. Israel was the name given to Jacob in the Old Testament after he wrestled with an angel. The name comes from the Hebrew, Yisra'el. Israel ranked at #260 last year for US baby boys. Israel was popular with Puritans in the 1500s according to nameberry.com, even though Israel wasn't declared a nation until 1948. Izzy, Issy or Isa. Israel is popular among people from different religious backgrounds and has an Old World appeal.
While most people immediately think of stylish Milan, Italy with the mention of Milan, it is actually a Slavic name meaning "gracious; dear," according to behindthename.com. Today it is most popular in Europe in places such as the Czech Republic, Russia, and Slovakia, as well as Bulgaria and Macedonia. It ranked #429 for US boys in 2018. Its numbers seemed to rise after singer Shakira named her son Milan. Of course, those who are fans of the Italian city have their own reasons for naming a son this moniker.
Cairo is, of course, a famed ancient city in Egypt, which comes from the Arabic word, al-Qahirah which means, "the victorious." Cairo is used today for both boys and girls, but in 2018 Cairo ranked #462 for boys, according to babycenter.comwhich works out to 321 per million births. Cairo has a decidedly exotic sound to US ears and may be preferable to some parents for that reason. Nicknames for Cairo would include Cai, Cairy or Ro. It's also possible to change the spelling to Kairo if that works better for the family's taste.
Jordan is a place name, identifying both a country and a river, the river Jesus was baptized in, specifically. Jordan was used until the Middle Ages, according to behindthename.com, and came back up the charts like a rocket with the rise of basketball phenom Michael Jordan. It's one of the most popular unisex names to this day. It means, "descending," which refers to the flow of the river. Jordan ranked at #78 for boys in 2018 in the US. Another famous Jordan is Jordan Peele, comic actor and award-winning director.
Amman is the capital of Jordan, a city that has ancient origins and a skyline that includes high-rise modern buildings as well as a 2nd-century Roman theater. Amman is a pretty rare name in the US, however, coming in at number #19,084 in 2018, according to babycenter.com. That works out to 2 in a million per baby boys born that year, so rare indeed. Amman could also be spelled Aman, and means, "peaceful." Other meanings include, "trust; trustworthy," and has come to us from the Middle East.
Dublin is a place name based on the capital city of the Republic of Ireland on the country's east coast at the mouth of the River Liffey. According to dublin.info, the history of the city goes back to Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, becoming a part of the UK in the 14th century. It would be a favored choice with families with roots in Ireland. It is a rare name here, averaging once in a million last year. Dub, Linny or Lin would be nicknames that would work.
Camden is a place name. Perhaps to most US folks, it is familiar as a city in New Jersey, but an older place source is in England, specifically a neighborhood in London that dates back to at least 1086. It means, "winding valley," and the area was home to notable writers like Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, George Orwell, and Dylan Thomas. Sports fans may note Camden Yards is where the Baltimore Orioles play. According to babycenter.com, Camden rated #159 in 2018.
Charleston is a place name based on the South Carolina city founded in 1670, known for cobblestone streets, and antebellum homes. The name means, "Charles' son," or "Charles' town." According to thenamemeaning.com, in 2017, 58 baby boys in the US were named Charleston. The name may be an alternative to Charles and could be shortened to Charles or Charlie. For parents from the South, this may be an attractive option, and it can work as a girls' name as well.
Denver, Colorado, my longtime home as an adult, has its origins from its territorial mayor, James W. Denver. The name Denver however, has its beginnings in France and means, "from Anvers," "Valley," or "Dane crossing," depending on whom you consult. Denver as a boys' name ranked at #804 in 2018 according to babycenter.com. While used as a girls' name as well, it is much more popular for boys. Some would lean towards this moniker if they were looking for an Old West feeling name or a cowboy-type name.
Logan is a place name in Scotland and from that source means, "little hollow." However, in America, there are other sources, such as the small Ohio city I grew up in. Here the name comes from Chief Logan the Orator of the Iroquois tribe who was an important leader. Logan is a very popular name in the US, coming in at #7 for boys in 2018. Logan has a long history in films, such as X-men, Logan's Run and a character on "Gilmore Girls."
Zaire was the name of the current country in Africa now named the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has its beginnings in the Kongo language as nzere, meaning, "river that swallows all rivers." Zaire, according to babycenter.com there were 241 baby boys given this name in the US per million. It is mostly used as a boy name, but it could be used for a daughter, as well. Indeed, Voltaire's play of the same name featured a heroine named Zaire.
Paris is a renowned world capital, nicknamed "The City of Lights." Paris was the legendary handsome son of the King of Troy who eloped with beautiful Helen of Sparta, sparking the Trojan War. While it's used for both boys and girls, it did rank at #2194 for boys in the US in 2018, according to babycenter.com. For girls, it ranked #302. However, the historical context still resonates as a boy name despite current popularity with girls. Parry would be a logical nickname.
According to britannica.com Aragon was a medieval kingdom in Spain, now an autonomous community in that country. The kingdom took its name from the river Aragón, which likely means, "high valley." Louis Aragon was a French poet associated with the surrealist movement. Aragon is a rarely used name in the US, showing up only 5 times per million boy births in 2015, and not charting since. For those seeking a rare name, perhaps with roots in Spain or with a magical sound, this may fit the bill.
The Caspian Sea, according to worldatlas.com, is the world's largest lake. So why is it called a sea? Because the Romans named it after noting its saltiness, and it has remained a Sea ever since. The Caspian is located between Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. For those lovers of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Caspian is a noble, handsome prince and the title of one of the books in the series is Prince Caspian. It ranked at #826 in 2018 for boys.
Harlem, according to britannica.com, is a district of New York City, specifically in the northern part of Manhattan. It was the center of a literary and art movement, the Harlem Renaissance, following WWI involving preeminent African-American writers. Harlem is currently most popular in the state of Louisiana, and it ranked at #1108 in 2018 in the US. Rapper, The Game, has a son named Harlem, while the Harlem Shake was a dance craze. Nicknames could include Harley, Harl or Harry.
Everest is the highest mountain in the world, located in the Himalayas, and as such represents an apex of achievement in mountain-climbing. Everest has the unique traits of being both rarely used as a name (according to babycenter.com, it ranked #1385 in 2018), yet quite familiar to the ear. Everest works well with many types of surnames and could be shortened to nicknames such as Ever, Evers or Ev. Mount Everest could make for a unique theme for a baby nursery as well, with some creativity.
Memphis is both an ancient city in Egypt as well as a major Southern city in Tennessee. It means, "enduring and beautiful." Memphis is most popular in Idaho and least popular in Florida, according to babynamescience.com, and ranked #529 in 2018 in the US. Singer Bono from U2 named his daughter Memphis, while country singer Jason Aldean named his son Memphis. Memphis Bleek is a rapper. So, clearly, musicians are strongly attracted to the name. Nicknames could be Memph, Mem or Memphy.
Nairobi is the capital of the east African country of Kenya. It comes from the Masai word, enairobe, meaning "stream of cold water." It's a rare name, whether speaking of usage for girls or boys and ranked at 1 in a million for US boys according to babycenter.com. Nairobi is a popular tourist destination particularly for the Nairobi National park and its safaris. Nairobi could be shortened to Nair, Nairi or even Rob. Perhaps a good pick for nature and wildlife lovers.
York, according to babycenter.com, placed at 3 baby boys in the US per million getting this moniker. It comes from England and means, "from the yew tree farm." York is a place in England founded by the Romans in 71 AD, and today the ancient remains can still be seen. York is the name model/TV personality Tyra Banks gave her son. York is both a surname and place name. It has been used as both a surname and first name, but less so as a first name.
Jericho is an ancient city, still in existence, dating back to 9000 BC according to britannica.com, located in the Middle East in the West Bank area. In the Old Testament, there's a famous Battle of Jericho where its walls come down. It's believed to come from the word, yareak, meaning, "month; moon." Jericho ranked in the US for baby boys in 2018 at #1146, meaning 99 per million. Jericho also has a little bit of a Wild West feel/cowboy vibe to it as well, oddly enough. Jeri, Richo or Jer are all possible nicknames.
Kent, according to travelaboutbritain.com, is, supposedly, the oldest county in England, and nicknamed "The Garden of England," by none other than Henry VIII. Kent ranked #1683 in 2018 for US boys, which works out to 58 per million. The word itself most likely means, "edge; rim." Some comic lovers may think of Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent. Kent is a modern sounding name with very old roots, and its one syllable structure makes it blend well with a variety of middle and surnames.
According to dictionary.com, Zion is the name of a Canaanite hill fortress in Jerusalem, mentioned in the Bible. Indeed, the word Zion occurs 157 times in the Bible. It means, "highest point." It ranked at number 138 in the US in 2018 for baby boys, so it's not exactly unusual for a name. It's most popular in Washington D.C. at #71. Famous folks with sons named Zion include Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley (Bob's son), and NBA great Dwyane Wade.
According to babycenter.com, Egypt occurred 33 times per million births in the US in 2018. It is, of course, a country name, with ancient roots. It most likely means, "country." The most famous couple to name a son Egypt is Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz. It is not easily shortened into a nickname, so the most likely one would be "E." Egypt should appeal to those who want to invoke an ancient name, love history or desire a different African source name.