Niall- Brought to fame by teen heartthrob Niall Horan from the boy band One Direction, Niall is the long-neglected original form of Nigel and Neil. Its pronunciation is tricky-Horan pronounces it like the Nile river, but some Gaelic speakers pronounce it closer to “Neil.” Niall’s origins are also murky; it could mean “champion” or “cloud,” but its true origin remains a mystery.
Naama(h)- This Hebrew name, and its male cognate Naaman, sounds exotic and lovely. It’s as beautiful as it is rare- in 2016, only 6 girls were named Naama and 15 boys were named Naaman.
Noam- Another rare Hebrew name, though this one isn’t nearly as rare as Naamah-103 boys were given the name in 2016. Although Noam looks a lot like Noah, it’s not related; Noam shares a root with the feminine Naomi and both names mean “pleasantness.” Noam could be a great choice for parents who like Noah, but don’t want something so popular.
Nashua- This name, taken from the name of a river and city in New Hampshire, is ultra-rare. Only 6 boys received the name in 2016 and that was more than received it in 2015. Nash, however, is steadily increasing in popularity, so I think there’s hope for the soft and lovely Nashua. Its similarity to the common but somewhat dated Joshua may help Nashua continue to rise.
Nacho- It was used as a punch line in the Jack Black movie Nacho Libre, but Nacho is a legitimate short form of Ignacio. Nacho could be fun and fitting for a guy with a big personality, but an awkward or quiet boy probably couldn’t pull it off- I’d only recommend it for a nickname.
Nephthys- Egyptian mythology is just as rich and fascinating as Greek mythology, and that’s where this name comes from. The goddess Nephthys was associated with beer, darkness, and childbirth. Like most Egyptian mythology names, Nephthys is only used very rarely in the US.
Nefertiti- Another Egyptian name, this time belonging to a real person. Queen Nefertiti ruled Egypt in the 14th century BCE along with her husband, Akhenaten. Akhenaten was also the father of King Tut. Although Nefertiti has a wonderful meaning-“the beautiful one has come”- it’s quite a big name to live up to. Only 17 girls were given the name in 2016, though 32 were given the related name Nefertari.
Nicanor- This ancient Greek name shares a root with Nicholas. Both mean “victory.” Eight boys received the name in 2016, but I would actually nominate this name as a candidate for crossover. I think it could work for either gender, especially given its rarity. Nicknames could make this name more gender-specific- Nick or Nico for a boy and Nica or Nora for girl.