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Unique baby names - How do I choose one?

Let's face it. Except for a few lucky parents, most of us experience some level of difficulty when choosing a name for our baby. This is because we naturally want to pick a special or unique baby name for our little darlings. We want a name that will help our children stand out from the crowd. We want a name that the child can cling to, and identify as his or her own. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But where do I start looking? - you might ask. There are virtually thousands of names to choose from - so where exactly should you start? Well, here are a few useful tips to help you go about choosing that perfect, unique name for your baby. You might want a name that is consistent with your religious beliefs or family tradition. For some of us, naming our child according to religious beliefs is an absolute must-do. Many Christians, for example, love to name their children after bible characters (eg. Aaron, Joshua, Ruth, Naomi). Others follow family traditions - an obvious example? Paul Hastings Senior begets Paul Hastings Junior. If you're one of these parents, congratulations - your job just became a whole lot simpler as you've narrowed your search to a more definite category or criteria. For the rest of us, choosing a unique baby name involves just a little bit more work and research.

Start with an alphabet

One very common method used by parents to narrow the selection of names, is to decide on a few beginning alphabets for your kid's name. For example, you might be like some parents who prefer baby girl names beginning with "A" (Ariel, Ashley, Anna), "C" (Christine, Claire) or "M" (Melanie, Michelle), instead of the more traditional sounding "Y" names such as Yolanda or Yvette. Browse through popularity statistics, and you'll notice that certain alphabets are more popular for girls, and others for boys. This is obvious from the number of different available names that begin with that alphabet, and the popularity ranking of some of these names. Many parents feel that certain alphabets give names a special "sound" or "feel" - even an air of classiness or mystique. That said, it really doesn't matter what others think - only you would know which alphabets strike a special chord in your heart, and which don't.

To start browsing through all baby boy names by alphabet, go here or to browse for baby girls names by alphabet, go here

Check on the popularity of the name - less popular means more unique

I've briefly touched on this already - but it's worth mentioning again that there are popularity statistics available for many boy and girl baby names, especially in their original form (more on this later). For example, the United States Social Security Online releases yearly statistics on the top 1000 names, in terms of frequency-of-use/popularity based on birth registration data. Similarly, governments of some other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom also regularly release name data. Does this mean that we should all go for the most popular names? No way! If that were the case, every baby boy will be named Jacob, Michael or Joshua, and every girl would be either an Emily, Emma or Madison! Popularity statistics are useful because they give us an idea of what everyone else is naming their kid. This helps us choose more unique baby names (ie: unusual names) or perhaps come up with variations of the more popular mainstream baby names.

If you'd like to start your search by looking for the top 100 baby names go here.

Choose a name style

Every name possesses its own unique style.

For example, most folks would agree that three syllable names like Alexander, Bartholomew and Harrington possess a traditional or aristocratic style. Then there's place names, eg. Paris, Phoenix, Washington. Mythical names like Isadore, Scandinavian names like Olaf, Ladylike names such as Alana and Lily, Everlasting names such as Carroll, or William, and the list goes on and on! Pick a style that you like and narrow your search accordingly. At Quickbabynames, we categorize all names which are available on our site according to the style to which they belong.

To browse through all baby names according to style, go here

Know the meaning

Emily means "One who is hardworking and industrious".
Emma means "Embracing everything".
Jacob means "He who supplants", and Joshua means "God is salvation".

Every name is unique in that it has its own meaning, which in turn depends on its etymology and origin. Wouldn't you like to be in the position to explain to your child the meaning of her name, when she eventually asks you about it? All the better if you are able to find a name that possesses a special meaning for you, or your family. Sometimes, the meaning of the chosen name might represent what you want your child to grow up to become. Take for example, Faith ("trusting in God", or "loyalty") or Iliana ("a shining light"). However, some parents tend not to choose names on this basis, just in case their children don't live up to their aspirations. I personally think its OK to give my child a name which I hope my child will live up to, and I won't mind even if she eventually doesn't. But, as the saying goes "To each his own!"

Tip:

We've got a nifty little search filter that allows you to search for name suggestions by entering the meaning of names. For example, if you're looking for a name that means "strong", all you need to do is enter this keyword in the search box and you'll be presented with many interesting suggestions!

Know the origins of the name

Another way to start selecting a unique name for your baby, is to choose a name based on its language of origin. Every name originates from a particular geographical region/country and may therefore be said to have its own language of origin (the language most spoken in that region, at the time of origination). The name Helen originates from Greece. Emily originates from the Latin language. Jacob, from the Hebrew bible. Aliyah from Arabic. And Trevor and Cedric from the Welsh. If you prefer an elegant French name for your baby, you could then go with the likes of Anastasia, Belle or Claire. Do take note that many names are in fact geographical variants of other names. For example, Annabelle is a popular French name derived from the name Anna, which is in turn a Hebrew name.

To select a baby name according to its language of origin, go here

Use foreign names

If uniqueness ranks high on your list of requirements for choosing your baby name, you might want to pick a name that originates from a foreign language, or at least a language which is not commonly spoken in your country of residence. If you live in America, you would know that names from many different languages have made it to the top 1000 list. But your chances of picking a unique baby name are still higher if you go with say, a Japanese, or Scandinavian name. I'm sure you catch my drift! But you might want to be careful that you don't drift too far off, to the extent that the name becomes way too difficult to pronounce. In general, I try to stay away from foreign names with more than 3 syllables. Seldom do I come across any Nebuchadnezzar's or Victoriano's - thankfully, because these names would be a mouthful to pronounce!

Use spelling variations

Since we're on the topic of spelling, I should mention that an increasingly popular way of choosing a baby name, is to create spelling variations of already-popular names. For names starting with "C" (Christine), you can start with a "K" (Kristine). Similarly, names ending with "C" (Roderic) can be ended off with a "K" (Roderik or Roderick). Brendon, Brendan and Brenden are spelling variations of the same name. So are Mackenzie, Mackenzey, Mckinsey and Mackenzi. Add alphabets to the name (Sarrah), or subtract from it (Jon). The possibilities are endless and there's simply no right or wrong spelling - as long as the name sounds phonetically correct.

Useful tip: When using our baby name search tool, you will see a "Refine Search" box on the left of your screen. Under "Is Variant", you will see how many names are variant forms (which includes spelling variations) and how many name are original/non-variant names. If you only want to see the variants, click on the "Yes" link and your search results will show only the variant forms.

Remember that this works only when searching for male names or female names, but not both.

Check on the pronunciation of the name

Once you've managed to come up with a short-list of names for your baby, you should check on the pronunciation of the name. Some names are inherently difficult to pronounce (case on point - Nebuchadnezzar), whilst others might sound or look a little clumsy or strange when put together with your middle name or last name. Eg. Charlton Carlson, Moe Hawkings (Mohawk?), and if your surname is Keyton, you really don't want to be naming your son Don. He might be teased to no end by his classmates calling him "DonKey". It always helps to make sure you say the name aloud many times over, to be certain that it's a name that you and your spouse can live with - remember, you'll be uttering that name thousands of times before your kid moves out of the house!

For every name listed on Quickbabynames, you can listen to its pronunciation by clicking on the "play" button found near the top-right of the screen.

Have a standby name

One simple rule - always have an alternative name on standby. Even if you already know your baby's gender, the ultrasound scans are sometimes not 100% accurate (especially if it's supposed to be a girl), unless you've tested your baby's DNA. And then, there's always the potential problem of finding out just days before your delivery, that your best friend or relative (or perhaps your boss?) has chosen the same name for her baby, and you then feel compelled to go with a different name. Always start early, take your time to explore the hundreds and thousands of alternatives and remember, it's always, always safer to have a backup!

Choosing a name for baby is meant to be fun and exciting, and an experience which you can enjoy with your spouse. In the end, the name you choose for your baby will be the right one, because every child is unique and special in his or her own way. Very soon into the life of your child, the name that you select will take on his or her personality and begin to sound and feel perfectly natural. Good luck and have loads of fun!



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