I find so many names fascinating- be they undiscovered and wearable or extravagantly odd, many unusual names are just interesting to me. So I’m starting a 26-part series detailing some of the names I find most fascinating. Here’s part 1, the A names:
Aleydis- This unusual Dutch variant of Adelaide (meaning “noble kind”) is an intriguing possibility for a daughter. It’s the rare name that feels both highly unusual and easily wearable, with friendly nickname possibilities Allie and Addie. Although uncommon throughout history, its etymology goes back centuries; Empress Aleydis of the Holy Roman Empire was the wife of Emperor Otto the Great and also a saint in the Catholic church.
Alecto- This name, used by J.K. Rowling for a character in Harry Potter, means “unceasing.” In Greek mythology, Alecto was one of the furies. The furies, or Erinyes, were tasked with punishing insolence among mortals. Despite the bad associations, Alecto is an attractive and unusual name with an upbeat –o ending, rare for feminine names.
Ayelet- Ayelet comes from a Hebrew phrase meaning “gazelle of the dawn,” a reference to the morning star. It’s pronounced more or less the way it’s spelled, something like eye-yeh-let. While it’s popular in Israel, it’s not in the top 1000 in the US.
Alienor- It looks like a variant of Eleanor, but it’s actually older. Eleanor came from Alienor, not the other way round. Legend has it that a French Queen Eleanor was the first bearer of the name- she was named Aenor after her mother but called alia Aenor (“other Aenor”) to distinguish the two. Alia Aenor became Alienor and later Eleanor.
Aberdeen- Aberdeen, the third largest city in Scotland, got its name from a phrase meaning “mouth of the river Don.” Eighteen girls received the name in 2015. It could be an unusual alternative to Abigail for parents who like Abby but want something less popular.
Adair- This surname variant of Edgar could make a great first name choice and a nice way to update grandpa Edgar’s name. It’s derived from Old English elements meaning “wealth” and “spear.” Although this name, on the rare occasion it was used, was usually used for boys, it could cross over to the girl’s side.
Aizan- I stumbled upon Aizan looking at unusual saint’s names. St. Aizan was a Christian king of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). I’ve also seen sources claiming that Aizan is a Malaysian or Japanese surname. Unfortunately, this name is so rare that I haven’t been able to find a definitive pronunciation- does it sound like Aidan? Ayes-on? Eyes-in? Your guess is as good as mine.
Amor- Yes, it’s the Spanish word for love. But it also has a long history of use as a name, starting as an alternate name for the Roman god Cupid. Like Aizan and Aleydis, Amor is a Saint name.
Auden- From a surname meaning “old friend,” Auden makes a great possible alternative to the more popular Aiden. It’s strongly associated with 20th century poet W.H. Auden. Spelled Audunn, it’s a unisex Norwegian name.