Why we chose a unique name

Nov 15, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Ever wondered “what were they thinking?” when you heard a unique baby name? Hear the stories behind unique and unusual baby names, direct from the source.

Unique baby names aren’t just for celebrities. When it comes to families living outside of the spotlight, many unique names have deep personal meaning and a story behind them. Discover true stories from parents who went off the beaten path when it came to picking a baby name.

Isla Ruth

Diane is mom to three kids. “I've never been particularly drawn to unusual names,” she says. “All that matters for me is that the name means something. When I was poring over name lists for my second baby, I saw the name Isla listed as a diminutive for Isabel. The baby was already set to have one of my grandmother's names for her middle name (Ruth), and Isabel was my other grandmother's middle name. It seemed too perfect a way to honor them both to pass it up, even though the name wasn't even in the top 1000 the year I named her. (It's since become a lot more common!)”


Charlotte shares the story behind her son’s unique name. “After my husband was born, the nurse asked what his name was, and his mom gave him two middle names,” she says. “But the names wouldn't fit in the space on the birth certificate so she left one off! But she still calls him by all the names. Sullivan is most normally used as a last name but fits him perfectly as his first name. We call it ‘Daddy's Secret Name.’”

Find more tough baby names for boys >>

Nova Lee

“Tradition is very important to me,” says Stephanie. “When I met my husband, we found that our families shared some delightfully atypical traditions. On my father’s side of his family, the first-born child has always had the middle name of Lee. On my husband’s father’s side of his family, each child was given the middle name of Lee. Growing up, the one constant in my life was my great grandmother Nova. She was such a strong person with such a great attitude about life. My husband and I knew that if we ever had a girl, we would name her after my great grandma. As we looked through the baby books, we found a delightful name, Nova, meaning, ‘small stars with bright bursts of energy.’ With our second child our family traditions took on a life of their own, Nova Lee.”

Rylan Isobel

Jennifer, mom to three, shares her story. “After having two sons, my husband and I were pretty confident that our third baby would be another boy. We were shocked and unprepared when our daughter was born. I quickly came up with the name Charlotte Grace (off the top of my post-labor and delivery brain), but when we brought her home my husband insisted she just ‘wasn't’ a Charlotte. We spent a couple of days searching baby books before we found Rylan (in the boys section... I don't even know why we were looking there) and settled on it. I always thought we'd end up calling her Rylie, but seven years later, she's our Rylan Isobel.”

Find inspiration in these whimsical baby names >>

Ava Scarlett

Tracey, mom of two, wanted to give her daughter a strong name. “I just liked the sharpness of Scarlett, which felt bold and proud and present, if you know what I mean,” she says. “But, that's a lot for a baby to wear around in life, and I didn't want her to be a siren, or a stripper. ‘Ava’ out in front just made it sing better. And there are no more syllables than in, say, the name ‘Theodora’ so I don't find it too long at all. And if she decides to be called one of her names in the future, I wouldn't mind. I love them both equally.“

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