Please help! Need an uncommon boy name!

We have a two year old daughter named Ivyana Lena. Our last name starts with an O so we don't want anything that begins or ends with an O. We strongly want to avoid anything even remotely popular, trendy or traditional but we do want it to be masculine and not androgynous. The more unusual the better. I am not crazy about any of these names but this is our list so far:












We welcome any and all comments on these but really are looking for other suggestions as well. None of these are really jumping out as the best choice for us so I keep thinking we must not have found THE name yet.Please help!?!?


December 30, 2012 12:50 AM

I like Sterling very much. I've known a couple. I'm not sure How unusual you're after.

Valor is a bit much for me, but I like the sentiment, and it seems like a good fit for the romantic vibe I get from your daughter's name.

Riverton sounds like a place to me, possibly because I read a book for my book club called The House at Riverton recently. I think that was it.....It also just seems like you've mucked with River. Forgive me.

Lawson seems like a bit of a style departure. I get cowboy from it-a la Colton, Remington, etc...

Vaughn is fine. I'd like it more if it is was a family name, but it's nice.

I'm not a fan of Stone. Just seems like a name trying hard to be edgy, and I think of stoner, etc....

Huxley is interesting. I don't know that I'd use it, but it might be my 2nd fav. here.

Noven, Everton, and Dexfield....I just don't get. I generally like the surname/first name style, but these just seem very random to me. The former two also seem like they'd give rise to feminine nns-Novi, Ever...which you said you wanted to avoid. Dexfield would give you the cute, Dex, which makes me like it a bit better.

If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest getting out the family tree. You might stumble on something that would give you the unique surname sound you're after with the happy bonus of having a connection.

A few other thoughts: Noble, Royal, Shepard, Blaise/Blaze, Kipling,Pierce,Piers, Dashiell, Thayer,Granite, Hoyt,Brant,Lincoln,Lennox....There are regulars here much better with creative naming than I, so I'm sure they'll have some great suggestions for you.

December 30, 2012 2:21 AM

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, but your list of ideas gives me a fantasy hero vibe. Have you tried looking at Tolkein or Game of Thornes names? There's Rohan, Thorongil, Aragorn, Tyrion, Bran, Sandor, Theon...etc.


I also like Severin for you.

December 30, 2012 1:39 PM

Re Game of Thrones, I just this minute ran across a 7-month-old named Rhaegar....

December 31, 2012 1:31 PM

Oh my goodness!

EDIT: Sorry, that wasn't very constructive!  I suppose I wouldn't have picked it out as the most obvious name from the series to use, because of the unusual letter combinations.  Still, not the least obvious either.

December 30, 2012 12:30 PM

Nothinng popular, trendy or traditional kind of eliminates a lot of possible names!  However, I see several names on your list that I would place in one of these categories, so maybe what you really mean is just a name not used a lot right now.

Riverton-I honestly would just prefer River.  Riverton does sound very town-like to me, and it has a bit of a trying too hard kind of vibe.

Valor-I kind of like this one for you.  It's a very daring choice & it's very doubtful he'll ever need to be called Valor O. in class.  

Lawson-I think you'd be disappointed with this one in the long run.  It might not be getting a lot of use, but it fits in well with a lot of the trendy surname/tradesmen type names (Logan, Dylan, Carson, etc.)

Dexfield-I like Dex, but Dexfield has a bit of that trying too hard feel that I get from Riverton.  I think just Dex or Dexter would be better.  Or maye Rex?

Stone-Not a name I've ever cared for & honestly, it's starting to seem a little played out in my area.  I know of several Stones (including one girl) and most of them are middle school age.

Vaughn-I'd consider this a traditional name.  It's barely in the top 1000 names, but it feels like it gets more use than it actually does.  Maybe because of actor Vince Vaughn?

Sterling-Another name I consider very traditional, though not particularly common.  It does get some use though & I'm seeing it talked about a lot on baby names sites.  I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes more popular, but I doubt it'll be top 10.  FWIW, I am seeing it talked about for girls quite a bit.  I do really like it, but it doesn't feel as daring as other names on your list.

Everton-Sounds like it should be the name of an estate in Downtown Abbey or something.  A quick Google search tells me it's also the name of a British football team out of Liverpool.  As a firstname, it's not bad, but I'm not crazy about.

Huxley-makes me think of Aldous Huxley or biologitst Thomas Huxley.  Don't know how common these associations are, but you might get the occassional question.  Also makes me think of the Huxtable family from The Cosby Show.  As a firstname, I'm not crazy about it.

Noven-reminds me a lot of Nova & seems more feminine than your other names.  I'm also a bit bothered by the word "No" at the start.  I imagine constantly saying "No, no, Noven" to a toddler.

Riverton & Stone make me think you'd like some more unusual nature names-Birch, Wolf or Wolfgang, Lyndon.

Valor & Sterling make me think of other less common virtue names.  I'll second Loyal & will also add Hero.

If you have Laura's book, you might want to take a look at the Exotic Traditional & Why Not categories.  Maybe you'll find some inspiration there.

December 30, 2012 1:12 PM

Hero is a female name of ancient standing, and o.p. indicates that she wants a masculinae, non-androgynous name.

December 30, 2012 1:55 PM

Hero is a female name? That's funny, because "Hero" is not a androgynous word, (although I expect you already know that & are just pointing out that "Hero" is used as a girls' name.) "Hero" is the masculine word for protagonist. I don't doubt you, but... "Heroine" is the word for a female protagonist.

But then again, Hunter is androgynous, and the true female form is Huntress, so I suppose anything goes with names... 

December 30, 2012 2:34 PM

Google Hero and Leander.....

December 31, 2012 11:13 AM

I second Miriam and will also cite a female Hero in 'Much Ado About Nothing.' (Not "ancient," exactly, but you get the point)

January 10, 2013 3:28 AM

Hero is on the list of nicknames we might try out for a Hermione!

I believe Hero might also be used as the Latin form of the Greek Heron? Miriam surely knows better than I do, so I defer to her judgement, but I'd be comfortable with it as a boy's name as well.

Hiro, with an i, though, is less unambiguously male (and Japanese in origin), if you're willing to expand the fantasy inspirations for sci fi, you'd have a good namesake in Hiro Protagonist of Snowcrash, by Neil Stevenson. I believe it's being adapted as a movie right now!

By ozy
December 30, 2012 2:57 PM

Of your list I like Valor and Huxley. Valens would be a nice option too.

Other ideas...I would second Blaise, but it is androgynous. How about





December 30, 2012 3:00 PM

I think Adair is going girl.

It was on our list before I knew it was traditionally a male name, and the only ones I know (I admit I only know two) are both girls.

That makes me think of Alaric, though.



January 7, 2013 11:05 AM

I agree -- all the Adairs I know are female. 

December 30, 2012 3:33 PM

Perhaps one of the names I suggested for Lucubratix might suit.  They are all real, non-made-up names, all relatively to very unusual, and all masculine:

Tarquin, Alcuin, Alaric, Theodoric, Albin, Lothar, Clovis, Baldwin, Aelfric, Aldous, Bede, Eustace, Amaury, Everard, Gervase, Lionel, Arnaud, Ancel (Ansel), Warren, Clement, Piers, Cyrus, Erasmus, Guy, Humphrey, Barnaby, Leonard, Adrian, Oswyn, Neville, Kenelm, Swithin. Aelred, Harald, Dunstan, Felix, Cyril.

Also  Havelock, Wystan, Dorian, Arnulf, Ranulf, Launfal, Floris, Ivor, Basil, Constantine, Tancred, Urban, Godfrey, Otto.

January 10, 2013 3:30 AM

This is a good list! I am pleased to see it is getting some additional mileage... but you should know that it's been very very helpful to us!

January 10, 2013 11:50 AM

Happy to hear that my suggestions have been helpful.  Any sibling of Jolyon and Rupert deserves (and requires) a simply smashing name.

December 30, 2012 7:35 PM

I never knew Hero was used for girls.  My only association with the name on a real person would be Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, who played young Voldemort in one of the HP movies.  

December 30, 2012 8:29 PM

The myth of Hero and Leander goes back to ancient Greece and appears in the works of Ovid, and thereafter is alluded to in many other literary works.  Reference to Hero and Leander can be found in Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, Shakespeare. Keats,  Schiller, and Kipling, among others.  In the realm of music it served as the basis for works by Schumann, Liszt, and Handel.  It is not obscure.  Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, and Leander were lovers who lived on opposite sides of the Hellespont.  Leander was in the habit of swimming across the strait to meet with Hero.  One night, he lost his way and drwoned, whereupon Hero committed suicide to join Leander in death.  The story of Hero and Leander is similar to the Roman story of Pyramus and Thisbe and to the later Romeo and Juliet: two lovers kept apart by circumstance who nonetheless contrive to meet until one dies by some tragic mishap and the other commits suicide to continue their love after death.  Hero is as much a female name as are Thisbe and Juliet.

Out of curiosity I looked up Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.  As I suspected his mother is the sister of Joseph and Ralph and his father is also in the theatrical world.  His sister is Mercy and his brother Titan.  Given the name of Titan, these parents surely know their Greek mythology and given the family association with Shakespeare, surely they are aware of Hero and Leander as the story appears in Marlowe, Raleigh, Shakepeare, and Jonson.  While it is (regrettably IMO) common to give girls male names, it is not common to give a boy a female name.  So it strikes me as odd that they gave their son what they surely must have known is a female name.  Perhaps they will call their next son Thisbe or Juliet.  Of course, they could have been thinking of the English word (which is not a name), but they still must have realized that as a name Hero is famously female, and everyone in their theatrical circles would know that fact.

December 31, 2012 11:06 AM

I have somehow either missed all references to the Hero & Leander story, or have managed to forget them. 

Thank you Miriam! I learn so much on this site.  

December 30, 2012 8:16 PM

For what it's worth:

Riverton-No (How about Rivers?)





Vaughn-I like this, but do consider it "traditional"

Sterling-I really like this, but consider it trendy

Everton-no (maybe Evers? Ivyana and Evers O.)

Huxley-Possibly (Ivyana and Huxley; very unique sib set!)


I am kind of liking the suggestion of Eustace (Ivyana and Eustace; another unique sib set).

Ivyana is so feminine, I feel like a strong, one syllable masculine name is what you want, but can't think of any right now that are not "popular, trendy," etc.  Mack, Cole, Rhys, Dax come to mind...

December 30, 2012 10:10 PM


Riverton - Sounds like a town, I like River much better.

Valor- I like this for you.

Lawson- I like it, but I don't think it's THAT uncommon.

Dexfield- Not crazy about the 'field' part, I like Dex though.

Stone- Too tough, and you're basically naming your kid after a rock.

Vaughn- I like it, but it's more traditional to me.

Sterling- I like it, I know a couple Sterlings.

Everton- Sounds like a town again, what about Exton?

Huxley- I like it, and Hux or Huck as a nn is cute.

Noven- I like this too.


My favorites from your list are Valor, Huxley and Noven.

Additonal suggestions for you are:

Raiden, Tidus, Zidan, Cannon, Flint, Exton, Rogue, Ryker, Draven, Stellan, Talon........

By EVie
December 30, 2012 11:33 PM

I really love Valor, actually. It hits that perfect sweet spot between being super unusual (only 17 born last year), but also name-like enough that it isn't a stretch to imagine it as a given name—in addition to it being a word-as-name and a virtue name, it could be considered a variant of Valerius/Valeria/Valerie. It's pretty unambiguously masculine, and the -or ending makes it fit in with current styles (like Connor, or the common tradesman names ending in -er) without actually being part of the trend. If you like the modern virtue name style, you might be interested in checking out this thread here: One similar name that we discussed there that I really like a lot is Candor. 

Most of the other names you have on this list may not be very common themselves, but they are so similar to other very popular names that they sound kind of generic to me anyway. Riverton, Dexfield, Lawson, Everton and Huxley all just read "randomly selected surname" to me. There's a kind of mix-and-match quality to them—they could just as easily be Riverson, Dexton, Lawfield, Everley and Huxton. The style as a whole seems very trendy to me, so if you want to avoid trendy, I'd stay away from the surname/place name style altogether.

Sterling, Vaughn and Stone are ok. None of them are especially unusual, though, and Vaughn I would consider a traditional name. Sterling and Stone are both on the trendy side. Of these three, I would probably pick Sterling for you—Stone sounds rather blunt and unsophisticated to me, and Vaughn is pretty traditional. Noven just sounds made up to me, so I'm not a fan. Honestly, though, it's really hard to think of names that are neither trendy nor traditional. You might need to refine what you mean by "traditional"—is it just that you don't want well-used standards like William, Benjamin etc.? Because there are tons of names out there that are traditional but highly unusual or very obscure. Miriam has given you a nice list of them to start out with. 

December 31, 2012 2:07 AM

Thanks so much for all the feedback and the suggestions of course! Some of these really appeal to me and a lot of you pointed out the same misgivings I have about some of these names. I will definitely have to show all of these ideas to my wife so we can hash it out some more lol. Valor was the only one on the list that I came up with, my wife suggested the rest and while I don't love them I would at least consider them. I guess what I meant by traditional is the more overused names like William, Robert, Michael, etc. the kinds of names that end up recurring on the family tree over and over again. We are purposefully avoiding names on the family tree as we are a very non-traditional family without very close ties to our extended families so we don't want to honor ancestors through our children's names.

And regarding some of the names sounding like thrown together pieces of other names, they kind of are. We went to the hospital with a list of three or four potential names for our daughter and sort of concocted Ivyana by combining a few of them while i was in labor. When she was born we just picked it because it seemed to suit her best. I know we didn't actually invent it and she isn't the only one in the world of course but that's just how it happened for us so I think we were trying to recreate that for our son now by mixing and matching parts of names we kind of like but don't fit for some reason or another in the hopes of coming up with something we both love. I can point out at least a few things I don't like about every name on our list except for Valor but I still don't have that "this is the one" feeling about it. You've all been a great help and please if you have any other thoughts or suggestions, continue to share! You've already given us much to discuss!

December 31, 2012 1:59 PM

Fwiw, reading this makes me like Valor for you all the more.


December 31, 2012 3:03 AM

I vote Valor.  It's a great virtue name, and reads masculine to me.

January 6, 2013 3:35 PM

Of your list I like Valor best. Below are a few suggestions none of them have been in the top 1000 names for at least the past 13 years according to the website.







January 6, 2013 4:29 PM

DeForest? Seriously? This word is a verb meaning "to cut down or clear away trees." Why not name your child ClearCut? 

January 6, 2013 4:57 PM

I always think of the actor DeForest Kelley. So I never went to the verb.

January 7, 2013 11:09 AM

Same!  I've always liked his name.  I knew I'd never use it on my own kids so I used it for a pet instead -- a guinea pig named DeForest Spock.  [hi i'm a giant nerd]

January 8, 2013 11:16 PM

DeForest Spock is an awesome name for a guinea pig!

& yes, DeForest makes me think of the actor & "from the forest" as opposed to the verb.

By mk
January 8, 2013 3:15 PM

It's also Humphrey Bogart's middle name.

With that spelling, I think of the surname (of/near the forest).

January 6, 2013 4:32 PM

Check out the archives of the blog GirlsGoneChild. Boy names considered for twins (the twins were girls so the names were retired): Revere Blaze and Vox Shepherd. 


January 7, 2013 11:12 AM

Here's a random suggestion -- the person who listed "Forest" above made me think of it.  I know two brothers named Forest and Brighten; Brighten is both namelike and unusual, and it has a cheerful meaning.

Ivyana and Brighten sounds like a nice sibset to me; they have some of the same sounds.

January 8, 2013 2:29 PM

Maybe try calling him each name for a day or 2 to see if one seems to stick. We have some of those names on our list as well as:


Brannock or Branox









January 8, 2013 2:44 PM

















January 8, 2013 3:50 PM


January 8, 2013 4:49 PM

Congrats, laurenmgraf and family! A few more ideas...

Valerian is an ancient Roman name, used throughout history but not at all common today, now probably best known as the herb or sleep drug--a lot of the names on your wife's list end in 'n' so if you wanted to combine elements again you could do something like Valorian.

From my geek file (inspired by Huxley, my favorite of your names), Mandelbrot--I think in French the last syllable is probably pronounced bro, so two actual words for males in there, though I would probably use the ending like the nickname for brattwursts (which still sounds quite masculine to me). I love the fractal association, which I think is very much what most of us are looking for in our names: something infinitely similar, while simultaneously endlessly varied--the closer you look, the more detail, interest, and beauty you find.

My favorite music/literary name for a boy is Bard.

For a masculine name with a similar sound to your daughter's, there's Vinh, a Vietnamese boy name that sounds just like the nickname for Vincent, etc.

Good luck!

January 8, 2013 5:14 PM

While Mandelbrot is a very cool science reference, it's also a delicious dessert. Mandelbrot was a Polish-born Jew and his name actually means almond bread in Yiddish. Mandelbrot is basically Jewish biscotti. (And just for interest, in Yiddish it's pronounced something like mundel-broyt.)

January 9, 2013 10:42 PM

Thanks for the info, Karyn! I knew Mandelbrot was Jewish, but somewhere got the idea he was French-Polish. This actually makes me like the name more--if I had a son with this name, I'd have to figure out how to make the dessert for his birthday every year :).

January 10, 2013 1:50 AM

Any time :) And you were completely right - he was born in Poland and his family fled to France before the war, when he was a child. He spent most of his adult life in France and the US, but his name is Yiddish, the language of his ancestors. (I mean, it may also be some other language that I don't speak, but I speak both French and Yiddish and can with certainty discuss them in this context.)

January 10, 2013 12:04 PM

Depends on your particular dialect of Yiddish :-).  My lot pronounced it with roughly Standard German vowels.  Well, actually my parents used two different dialects, and as a child I said everything twice. I would say MAHndelbroat (rhyming with boat).  I just came back from a nice long visit with my son and grandson, and oddly we were talking about Mr. Mandelbrot, and I was explaning the almond bread business.  My son knows German and so could translate the word, but he was not familiar with the actual cookie.  I couldn't name a child Mandelbrot no matter how cool fractals are.  But now I have a whole family of cookie children running through my head:  Fig Newton, Oreo, Graham Cracker, Lorna Doone....

January 10, 2013 2:21 PM

You could go really wild and use Snickerdoodle, Snick for short.

January 10, 2013 3:15 PM

But of course! My grandparents joke that they are a mixed marriage because my grandma's parents were Polak while my grandpa's parents were Litvak and they said many words differently :)

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to write the first syllable but decided to go with the "u" to make sure that it wasn't said like "handle". As for the brot part, since his uncle spelled his name as Mandelbrojt, I figured that the broyt pronunciation, (the one that I would use,) was appropriate.

January 10, 2013 4:39 PM

Karyn, I didn't know about the uncle's spelling, so I am sure your pronunciation must be correct according to the Mandelbrot family usage.  If the subject is the cookie, then there will be dialectal variation.  No one in my families (Litvak and Ukrainian) would have said -broyt.  Personally that -oy diphthong as in 'toyrah' drives me up the wall.  I believe that pronuniciation is common in Ungarische Yiddish, and I don't know where all else.

Speaking of Yiddish dialects, my mother's name was Sussel ('sweetie').  According to the rest of her speech (e.g., she said 'gesind' instead of 'gesund' as in 'gesundheit'), the pronunciation should have been Zissel, but it wasn't.  I don't know why.  When I was expecting, I joked that I would name a daughter Candy after my (already deceased) mother, but I wouldn't have :-).  In the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for European Jewish women to be named after candies or other treats.  For example, there is a very well documented prominent business woman named Licorice of Winchester.  Licorice then is the same as licorice now.  So I can expand the cookie family children to include the candy family, introducing young Twizzler.

January 10, 2013 6:29 PM

Hmm, I don't think of broyt as being the same as toyrah (actually, probably toyreh,) because I learned the Yiddish word for bread as being ברויט, while Torah is a Hebrew word not containing the oy vowel.

Yiddish dialect is a funny thing. I would say gezunt, hunt (hmm, how to write dog in the way other than hint...?), zucker, klug, etc., but I would never say zuss. I say zis (zees? זיס) all the time! (Usually referring to a zis ponim.) It's like the opposite of your mother's speech. Maybe it's a counter-word to keep speakers on their toes :)

And let me just say that I got quite a good laugh out of the name Licorice of Winchester! Another example of a more lightweight name not holding someone back. I think the "of Winchester" is really what makes it special, though, because while amusing, a Licorice Jones isn't quite the same. I tried thinking of another candy name that would make a plausible child name and seriously, so many candy names would be horrible! (Whopper, Gobstopper, Nerds...) Pez could work, though :)

January 10, 2013 10:03 PM

Some dialects of Yiddish have oy instead of oh in all words no matter their source.  If you listen to tapes of Satmar (Hungarian) Yiddish speakers, you will hear it.  I cannot even understand Satmar Yiddish, although despite the passage of many years I can still understand the Litvak Yiddish I grew up with.

Licorice of Winchester's life is extraordinarily well documented for that of a thirteenth century woman.  She was the second wife and widow of David of Oxford (sometimes known as David of Lincoln), a major financier of the time.  Licorice carried on his business after his death with the help of some of her sons.  She was a very wealthy woman and was ultimately murdered along with her non-Jewish maid Alice in what was apparently a robbery, a mystery still unsolved (where is Nancy Grace when you need her?).  Licorice married David after he divorced his first wife Muriel--this divorce seems to have caused a scandal.  Licorice's sons from both her marriages included Benedict (almost certainly Baruch), Cokerel (!), Sweteman [Sweetman, cf. with the name Sus(s)kind which can be both a given name and a surname), Lumbard, Asher.  Licorice's story cries out for a nistorical mystery novel, and here is the website of someone who says she's working on one.  You may find the pictures of interest.  One of them is the jacket of a book about Licorice written by Suzanne Bartley.  Unfortunately Ms. Bartley was not a trained historian, and the book is poorly done with incomplete documentation and many factual errors, but it does give an idea of her life.

Here is a bit I wrote in the comments on one of Laura W.'s blog posts.  This comment was written before I read Bartley's book:

By MiriamJune 24, 2010 8:54 PM

Eo, funny you should mention licorice. I have been busy all day, but I had in mind to post some interesting medieval names for you. I just got a review in my mailbox of a new book about Licoricia of Winchester, a thirteenth century Anglo-Jewish woman who was a prominent businesswoman and banker in her own right. Despite two marriages she spent most of her quite adventurous life as a widow, finally ending as a murder victim. She had four sons and at least one daughter. The review named two of her sons, Asser and Cokerel (who names their kid Cokerel anyway? Or was it a nickname?). According to the review one of her husbands was named David, but the review doesn't mention the other. Licoricia was also part of a group of Jewish widows in Winchester who worked together in business and were apparently 13th century BFFs. Two of them were named Belia and Chera. There is an unusual amount of documentation extant about Licoricia's life because her business dealings were so prominent and because her name was so unusual that it is easy to pick her out in the various surviving manuscripts. Even though the review of the book was less than favorable (the author wrote the book whilst suffering from cancer and died before the text was completed, leaving a colleague to finish the work as best she could), I have arranged to see a copy, since Licoricia's life is clearly fascinating. And anyone who has a hankering to name a daughter Licorice/ia now has ample (or at least some) historical precedent. While Cokerel is certainly a macho name, very unlikely to cross over to the girls despite the -el ending, I can't say I recommend its revival. :-)

And plausible candy names:  Hershey (of course--lots of Jewish Hersheys), Charm, Reese, Peppermint Patty, Wilbur Bud (you have to be of a certain age to remember this superior version of the Hershey Kiss), Clark, Almond Joy, Cadbury, Taffy, Necco (well, if Nico works...), Kit Kat, Dove, Mike & Ike (twins of course), Junior Mint, Starburst, Baby Ruth, Oh Henry, Godiva, Whitman, Tootsie.  Well, that's enough to make me hungry for dinner.

January 11, 2013 2:15 PM

Karyn, I'm completely guessing here, but maybe your Yiddish pronunciation follows the lines of German pronunciation more closely? The words gezunt (gesund), hunt (Hund), zucker (Zucker), klug (same) are all written with a "u" in German, while zis must be the Yiddish form of the German word süß (or süss), written with an "ü", which is pronounced as a kind of mixture of the German "u" (as in the English word june) and "i" (like "ea" in English, as in east) sounds.

[Actually, that's how you can teach a student of German how to pronounce the "ü": Say the u-sound of june and without moving your lips, try switching to the the ea-sound of east. What you get as a result is our ü-sound.]

January 8, 2013 7:04 PM

how about: