Ismay- This name has murky origins, but could be related to sound-alike Esme or the ubiquitous Isabel. It’s a great, unexpected route to Izzy or May for parents tired of the more traditional options.
Inigo- This Spanish name is often associated with the name Ignatius, as it was St. Ignatius of Loyola’s birth name, but it actually derives from the Basque name Eneko. Well-known bearers include Inigo Jones, a 17th century English architect famous for his theatrical designs, and the fictional Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride, famous for the line “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Indio- It sounds like Inigo, but the two are not at all related. Indio is a Southern California city located in the Coachella Valley. Robert Downey Jr. brought it into the naming lexicon when he chose it for his son in 1993. It’s an upbeat and masculine choice with the great nickname possibility Indi, but beware: it’s the Spanish word for an indigenous person.
Ianthe- This vowel-rich I choice comes from Greek words meaning “violet” and “flower.” It’s unusual, but I don’t think it would be strange among more popular botanical choices like Lily and Violet.
Iris- Another flower name, but this one has a surprising etymology. It’s not from the flower, but instead the Greek word for “rainbow” (also the source for the iris of the eye). It’s been a top 1000 staple for decades, but has risen even higher in recent years.
Isa/Issa- For girls, it’s a short form of Isabel. For boys, it’s the Arabic form of Joshua or Jesus (the two names are related.) Janet Jackson used the name (spelled Eissa) for her son in January.
Ixion- Ixion, pronounced ik-SY-on, was an ill-fated character in Greek mythology. His name has the popular masculine -n ending and the very cool letter X, so although it remains very rare, it wouldn’t be an outrageous choice for modern parents.