Picking the perfect baby name is never easy, particularly for those with opinionated in-laws, but there's a lot more at stake than your mother-in-law's blessing.
“Names are at the core of our identity and are also related to important legal identities, how we are identified by states and governments,” says Jane Pilcher, a sociologist at the University of Leicester. “They are also part of our social-cultural identity. They mark who we are in gender terms, ethnic terms and other ways.”
No pressure, right? We're just giving them the name that society will judge them by, no biggie. I was always told to pick a name that would sound good (and roll off the tongue nicely) at a graduation ceremony, but studies show that millennials value original, unique names more than any other generation before them. But there has to be a balance, right? A name can be original without being overly quirky, and unique without being a tongue-twister.
Don't worry, parents can give their child a good "graduation name" and still avoid the top 100 baby names list (or even the top 1000). Yep, it's totally possible to slip an original name past your traditional in-laws without watching them cringe (believe it or not). Here are 25 original baby names that even the in-laws will approve of.
Again, this is a perfect name for any gender that is both dignified and distinctive. Monroe was originally used as a Scottish surname derived from the Gaelic elements moine (a morass, a marsh) and ruadh (red): hence, “dweller at the red morass.”
As a girl's name, it currently ranks at # 669 (and falls to #1912 for a boy). Another beautiful variation for a girl would be Monreau. Nicknames can include Mona, Mo, or Rae.
Surprisingly, this name hasn't made it higher up on the list, given its versatility!
The more I think about it the more I like it.
The name Elias is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Elijah, meaning "Lord is my God." Again, this is one of those names that can be used for both a boy and a girl but is far more common for a boy.
Be aware that there are two different ways to pronounce this name: some pronounce it with a long "ee" sound in the middle, while others pronounce it with an "eye" sound.
Neither is wrong, but El-eye-us tends to be more common with English speakers. Either way, you can shorten the name to "Eli" for both a boy and a girl and it still maintains that vintage vibe that the in-laws will approve of.
Willow is a beautiful, unique name that is still traditionally girly enough to please most mother-in-laws (and mothers). Willow trees are known to be flexible and graceful, hence the adjective willowy, which means "gracefully slender and lithe," qualities seen as desirable feminine attributes.
As I said, the in-laws will approve. Although this name is currently in the top 100, it's still hanging back at #66 for reasons unknown. If you're looking for a creative name that's not completely unheard of (but still not overused), then Willow might be right up your alley.
As a musician, I can't help but like the name Allegra, derived from the Latin word "allegro," which is often used in music to instruct the musician to perform with an upbeat and lively sound.
This would be a perfect name for a lively, spunky little girl who is always on-the-go.
It's certainly unique, ranking at #2,218 in 2018. I'm willing to bet that the only thing keeping this name off the top 100 list is the fact that Allegra is commonly known as a prescription allergy medication, but that's not something kids at school are going to think about! If you're a musical family, then this a fun, inventive name with special meaning.
The name Beckett is a boy's name of English origin meaning "bee cottage". Beckett is ranked #247 in the boy name popularity charts, so it can absolutely be considered original. Are you a fan of literature? Your child can share a name with the great Irish playwright, poet, and novelist, Samuel Beckett. Although undoubtedly a "hipster baby name," Beckett has a classic, brisk sound that the in-laws will totally tolerate (and might even like)! Worried it's becoming too popular? Use it as a girl's name, where it currently ranks at #2,984.
The name Elin (pronounced Ee-lynn) is the Swedish variation of Ellen, which means "bright, shining light." Although the name became more widely known in the 2000s, thanks to Tiger Woods' ex-wife Edin Nordegren, it's still sitting pretty low on the popularity scale at #1,496.
Despite it not being common in the United States, Elin is actually a pretty desirable name in Scandinavia, and it's easy to understand why.
It's short, simple, and has a beautiful meaning. The only downside I can see would be people mispronouncing it as Ellen, but that's easily corrected.
Rejoice Friends fans, now you can have a Chandler under your own roof!
The name Chandler arose as an occupational name for a maker or dealer of candles, and is derived from the Middle English chaundler. It is currently #452 on the baby name popularity list for 2018 for a boy, and #1386 for a girl. Honestly, it's the perfect name for any gender. Chandler is still unique but it also has a certain amount of gravitas, making it perfect for graduation day.
Obviously, the name peaked in the mid-nineties due to Chandler Bing's character in the hit TV series Friends, but even then its highest popularity ranking was only #151 in 1999 with 2,395 occurrences.
Rome isn't just the name of a city in Italy, it's also a biblical baby name meaning "strength and power." Although Rome is typically used as a boy's name, we love it for a girl. We need more girls in this world who are strong and powerful, amiright?! Currently ranked as a girl's name at #8,437, this powerful and unusual name isn't hitting the top 100 any time soon, but all the more reason to use it! Who wouldn't want a daughter whose name evokes images of a beautifully romantic, historically rich, and culturally diverse city (with great food)? The meaning is just the icing on the cake!
Redden is definitely an unusual name, but it's not a new one! I first discovered this name when I was looking far back in my family tree. As it turns out, my great-great-great grandfather was rocking a hipster name waaaaay before hipsters were a thing! The name Redden was originally a topographic name for someone who lived in a patch of cleared woodland, from the Middle English word reden, meaning ‘clearing’. There are many different ways to spell Redden, such as Redin, Readen, Reden, or Reddin, but I just chose the spelling my ancestor used (which I happen to like best).
This was on my top ten girl name list back in 2006 and I still love it now.
Amélie is the French version of Emily, made (a little more) famous to English speakers by the movie Amélie, starring French actress Audrey Tautou.
Despite it being a very common name in France, Amélie only ranks at #675 on Babycenter.com. Although it might sound a little exotic to the in-laws at first, just remind them that it's simply French for Emily, one of the most common, classic names in history.
Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, so who wouldn't want to be named after her?!
If your husband is having a hard time coming around to naming his daughter after a character in Greek mythology, just remind him that Athena was the daughter of Zeus himself! Athenians took her name for their city and dedicated a temple, the Parthenon, to her to show their ardor and devotion to this cunning, brave goddess. Although it's definitely unusual, it's higher on BabyCenter's popularity rankings than you might think, falling in at #85.
Devon is another perfectly unisex name meaning "defender." It can be spelled several different ways, but a good spelling for a girl might be Devyn (a "y" softens everything). Devon is also the name of a county in the Southwest of England, known for beautiful little seaside villages, wild moors, and rich history. My husband is British, and Devon is one of my favorite places on earth, so I'm kicking myself for not putting this on my top ten list back before my kids were born.
Learn from my mistakes!
A "haven" is a safe place, evoking feels of warmth, love, and security, so is there a better thing to name your daughter after?
Falling in at #296 on the 2018 popularity scale, Haven isn't a popular name, but it's not super eclectic or weird, either. Pair it with a more traditional middle name, like Haven Elizabeth, and even the most traditional of family members will rally behind it. Although rare enough to be used as a boy's name, I definitely think it works better for a girl due to its feminine sound.
I'm done having babies (hallelujah), but if I wasn't, this would definitely be at the very TOP of my girl name list!
I didn't even know about this name until I heard the song "The Middle," by Maren Morris, on a Target commercial. Maren is the German variant of Maria, but can also be spelled Marin, Merin, or Maryn. This name just sounds like it would belong to a strong, independent woman. Like Haven, it's simple and can be nicely paired with a more traditional middle name (Maren Grace, for example).
The name Cassia was adopted from the cassia spice, a variety of cinnamon, therefore you'd quite literally be naming your daughter after "sugar, and spice and everything nice." Much better than naming her Cinnamon, which sounds a little...showgirl-y. Although it's (very slowly) rising in popularity, Cassia still remains pretty far down the popularity totem poll at #2676. Honestly, I kind of love it, and I'm surprised that millennials haven't sent this name rocketing to the top of the list already. I guess it's still a "best-kept secret."
What traditional baby namer could take issue with a name like Mae?! Mae is soft, simple, and has a delightfully vintage quality to it. Originally used as a pet form of Mary and Margaret (meaning "pearl"), it is now more commonly associated with the month of May, but the baby definitely doesn't have to be born in May to use it! Mae is often bestowed as a middle name, or used as a name element in combination names such as Anna-Mae or May-Lynn, but Mae is beautiful all on its own.
The name Wren entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2012, but it's still very uncommon (and mainly used as a middle name).
Wren is an English name of a lilting little songbird, so it doesn't get much sweeter than that.
According to Nameberry.com, this petite bird was regarded in Ireland as the "magician of the birds" and the Druids considered it a bird of prophecy. Do you appreciate good architecture? The eighteenth century designer of London's St. Paul's Cathedral was named Sir Christopher Wren.
Byron is a French baby name meaning "from the cottage," but most people think of the poet Lord Byron, who inspired its use as a first name. Byron just seems so windswept and romantic, doesn't it? Byron has appeared in the Top 1000 every year since 1880, but despite the consistency, it's never once been considered "popular." Fans of literature (like me) tend to geek out at this name, which was also used by William Faulkner for characters in two of his novels--Light in August and The Town.
The name Sawyer is a Celtic baby name meaning "cuts timber," but most people think of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. Yes, I love the literary inspiration behind it, but honestly, you can't find a manlier name. It literally means "cut timber"!
All baby Sawyers probably come out rocking a full beard, a pipe, a checkered shirt, and fully formed opinions on the best kind of wood for cabinetry.
Sawyer is basically the newer, hipper version of Ron Swanson.
There are two different pronunciations of this name, but both are equally gentle on the ears. The Turkish version of the name Ayla means "halo of light around the moon," and is pronounced "Eye-la." The Hebrew version of the name, a variant of the Hebrew name Eilah (meaning oak tree), is pronounced Ay-la. Some girl names just sound pretty, and Ayla is one of them, regardless of how you say it. Keep in mind that Ayla can also be spelled "Aila," and is currently sitting at #152 on BabyCenter's popularity list.
The name Hugo reminds me of a titled Englishman in a historical romance novel, but it's actually a German name that means "mind" (the English version of the name is Hugh). Although Hugo has never been popular in the United States, it's one of the most popular given names in Europe, ranking as high as #9 in Spain and #8 in Belgium in 2006. There have been many notable Hugos throughout history, as both a first and a last name, so the in-laws certainly can't accuse you of "coming up with it."
Hold onto your butts, because Mira has a lot of different meanings in a lot of different languages (they're all cool, though). In the Romance languages, Mira means "wonder" and "wonderful." In South Slavic languages, it means "peace." In the Albanian language, it means "goodness" or "kindness." In Sanskrit, it means "ocean", "sea", "limit" or "boundary." In Hebrew, it is a derivative of Miriam, meaning "light."
Um, how can you beat that? Not only is it simple and sweet, but every single one of its meanings is absolutely beautiful!
According to Babynamewizard.com, Sloane (or Sloan) is used for both genders in England, but my British husband strongly disagrees and says he's only ever heard it used for girls. Even so, Sloane is the anglicized form of the Irish Gaelic O'Sluagháin, which is derived from sluagh (a multitude of people, warriors).
Brits also commonly use the word "Sloane" to describe young rich, upper/ middle-class people (the more you know). In North America, it might be recognized because of the name Sloane Peterson from the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Ferris Bueller's girlfriend). Yep, THAT's where you've heard it!
I've never actually met a Tamsin in the United States, but Britain is full of them. U.K. actress Tamsin Greig is a star of the show Episodes, and Tamsin Olivier is the daughter of Joan Plowright and Sir Laurence Olivier. The name Tamsin is a girl's name of English origin meaning "twin," and honestly, it's just waiting to be discovered across the pond (but is currently sitting at #6828 for 2018). Tamsyn is the alternative medieval Cornish spelling, but it's also frequently spelled with a z (Tamzin).
Yep, I've got another hot British name for you guys! Despite the fact that Imogen is consistently ranked in the top 50 girl names in Great Britain, it's still almost unheard of in the United States (sitting at #1217, according to BabyCenter).
Are you a Shakespeare fan? Imogen was first recorded as the name of the heroine in Shakespeare's play Cymbeline.
The name is thought to be a misprint of Innogen, a Celtic name supposedly derived from the Gaelic inghean (girl, maiden). Imogen is nice because it's neither common nor obscure and has deep, literary roots.