The Rarest Baby Names In The U.S., According To The Most Recent Data
Both Dua and Lipa made the cut.
You can learn a lot about what's going on in the world based on what people are naming their babies. For example, after relative obscurity, the name “Khaleesi” was among the 1,000 most popular baby girl names in 2018 thanks to Game of Thrones. The rarest baby names in the U.S. also tell an interesting story, from names seeing a small resurgence a century after their initial heyday to names just starting to gain popularity for the first time.
There’s something special about finding uncommon names for babies. Maybe you are looking for a way to make your baby-to-be stand out, or the typical roundup of common names just isn’t resonating with your bundle of joy. (Or, maybe you’re just curious to find some especially rare, long, or wacky names that you didn’t know existed.) The history of baby name statistics in itself is fascinating — with different historical figures, movies, or cultural moments often inspiring parents to (consciously or subconsciously) pay homage to their likeness. And a lot of baby names statistics are readily available to browse online.
Most of our names are actually pretty unique. In 2021, for the third year in a row, Olivia was the most popular girl name, with 17,728 babies being given the title. (Guess it’s not so brutal out here after all.) Liam, the most popular boy name also for the third year in a row, was given to 20,272 babies. Each name, however, makes up less than 1% of the over 3.6 million babies born in 2020, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).
What’s more, with the rise of people purposefully seeking out unique baby names, there are some interesting baby name statistics about how rare certain conventional names are becoming. A 2021 analysis of the SSA’s 2020 data by HuffPost found that the girl’s name Nova is more popular than Hannah, Julia, or Marissa. For boys, Maverick and Ezekiel are more popular than Robert or George. In 2021, the five names that rose in popularity the fastest were Raya, Wrenley, Angelique, Vida, and Emberlynn for girls, while for boys, Amiri, Eliam, Colter, Ozzy, and Loyal grew in popularity most quickly.
“When we pick names for our children, we are often trying to select something unique but not too crazy, different enough to be interesting but where a child will not be picked on, something timeless, something traditional or grounded in family meaning, yet fun,” Deborah J. Cohan, associate professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the author of Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving, and Redemption, previously told Romper. “This also explains why we see spelling variations on names to try to mix things up and to be clever.”
In an effort to find rare and interesting names, parenting site BabyCenter regularly puts together a list of the most unique baby names in the U.S. based on a survey of their users. Their most recent survey, from 2019, collected nearly 600,000 names, and their list of unique names includes 100 names each given to fewer than 100 babies in their survey. To further look into the frequency of these uncommon baby names, we’ve used the most recent data available from the SSA, from 2021, to see just how many babies were given these rare names. (To be included in the SSA's data, at least five babies must be given the same name with the same spelling)
Hit it, babies with uncommon names!
Rare Girl Names
- Amal: This name has seen an understandable spike in the years since human rights lawyer Amal Clooney married George Clooney.
- Amelie: When the beloved French film Amelie premiered in 2001, only 35 babies born that year were given the same name. In 2021, 329 babies were named Amelie.
- Calliope: 492 babies born in 2021 share a name with the greek muse associated with music, poetry, and Disney's Hercules.
- Clementine: 552 babies born in 2021 were named for the orange fruit, while only 13 were given the name Apple.
- Coraline: Unfortunately, "Wybie" isn't on the SSA's list at all.
- Dua: 99 girl babies were given the name Dua in 2021, while 50 male babies were named Lipa. (No word yet on how many were named Duo or Lingo.)
- Faye: The name Faye peaked in popularity in 1934. In 2021, 489 girls were given the name.
- Iman: 82 girls and 81 boys born in 2021 share a name with supermodel Iman, who likely gave a boost to the name in the mid-90s.
- Livia: While Olivia was the most popular baby name for girls in 2021, just 336 babies were given the abbreviated name Livia.
- Miley: The name Miley spiked in popularity in 2008, two years after Hannah Montana premiered on Disney Channel.
- Navy: This name is more commonly given to baby girls, as just 74 male babies born in 2021 were named Navy.
- Pearl: The name Pearl peaked in popularity in 1890 as the number 24 most popular girl's name. In 2021, just 377 babies were given this name.
- Rhiannon: 221 babies were given this name, which means "great queen." And because you were curious, 132 babies born in 2021 share a name with Rihanna.
- Sia: After the 2014 hit single Chandelier, the name Sia saw a significant spike. In 2021, 165 babies were given the name.
- Vienna: When Billy Joel released his hit “Vienna” in 1980, only five female babies were given the name that year. Perhaps we have the New York songbird to thank for the 324 babies named Vienna in 2021.
- Waverly: When Wizards of Waverly Place debuted in 2007, just 40 girls were named Waverly. In 2021, 378 babies were given the name.
- Zoya: A Muslim word meaning loving, 262 girls were named Zoya in 2020.
Rare Boy Names
- Ares: Though more commonly a male name — 565 boys were named Ares in 2020 — 27 girls were also given the name in the same year.
- Benji: While over 12,000 newborn babies in 2021 were named Benjamin, just 82 were named Benji. (Adriene Mishler’s dog surely had nothing to do with it.)
- Bruno: Long before Encanto graced the small screen, the name Bruno peaked in popularity in 1915.
- Cesar: According to Baby Center, children named Cesar tend to have siblings named Julian, Angel, and Daniel.
- Dennis: Clearly the early ‘90s hijinks of Dennis the Menace didn’t scare off parents from the name too much, as almost 2,000 babies were named Dennis that year. However, in 2021, only 380 babies were named Dennis.
- Drake: 494 babies born in 2021 were given the first name Drake.
- Edwin: This is the more common spelling of the name, as in 2021, 913 babies were named Edwin while 13 were named Edwyn.
- Forrest: Gump trumps Whitaker with 763 babies being given the name Forrest in 2021, while 359 have their name spelled with just one 'r'.
- Hezekiah: If you're going for biblical names, babies named Hezekiah commonly have siblings named Josiah, Elijah, Nehemiah, Ezekiel, Ezra, or Jeremiah.
- Lance: While there was a teeny bump during the *NSYNC era, the name Lance was most popular in 1970.
- Marcel: Though technically a derivative of Marc, which means "warlike," it's hard not to picture a shell with shoes on when you hear the name Marcel.
- Onyx: The name Onyx has doubled in popularity among Baby Center users, though only 759 boys were given the name in 2021.
- Remy: The number of Ratatouille stans increased in 2021, with 901 baby boys sharing a name with the protagonist.
- Sincere: 460 boys were named Sincere in 2021.
- Tate: Among boys, the name Tate is more common than Tatum.
- Warren: 939 babies were named Warren in 2021, sharing a name with 10 girls born the same year.
This article was originally published on