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How to Make Traditional Names Unique and Exotic

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Written by Monica Beyer   

Do you love a traditional name -- but wish to make it sound a little more unique and a little less common? Maybe you'd like your daughter to be known as Avigail (a Hebrew name) instead of Abigail, or Laurelle (a variation in spelling) instead of Laurel. We show you how you can easily take a boy or a girl name and turn it into something exotic and fun!

baby feetChanging the spelling

One of the easiest things to do when making a name more unique is to change the spelling. This can be done by substituting the letter "y" for the letter "i," for instance, and this practice in particular has been wildly popular for decades. Brian becomes Bryan, Riley becomes Ryley and Michelle becomes Mychelle.

Another spelling-change idea is substituting -eigh (a long E sound) for a name that contains or ends with a "y." For example, Hayley becomes Hayleigh and Shirley becomes Shirleigh. This seems to work the best when an "l" precedes the ending! You can also easily switch a "z" for an "x," a "c" for a "k" or a "j" for a "g."

Alternative spelling practices have been going on for decades. This practice is looked down upon by some but often the alternative spellings eventually establish themselves as popular names. The name Christina is a good example -- it can also be spelled Cristina or Kristina, and the nicknames are even more popular than the long name (Kristi, Christy, Cristy, Christi).

Get more tips here for finding a unique spelling for a traditional baby name.

Names from other cultures

Another Names from other cultures are often quite exotic-sounding and many are similar to traditional English or American names, either in meaning or in spelling. This makes it fairly easy to transition names from a traditional, classic-sounding name into something that is memorable and fun.

Get more exotic baby names here!

Some unique baby names to get you started

We've selected 20 traditional names and given you a unique alternative for each as well as an exotic version.

Girl names:

Abigail:  Abygail  Avigail (Hebrew)
Laurel:  Laurelle Lorelei (German)
Michelle: Mychelle Michella (French)
Mary:  Mari  Moriah (Hebrew)
Sarah:  Saira  Zarah (Arabic)
Sophia:  Sofia  Ophria (Hebrew)
Rebecca:  Rebekah  Reveka (Hebrew)
Joanna:  Johannah Jovana (Spanish)
Nicole:  Nykole  Nichole (French)

Get more baby girl name ideas here.

Boy names:

Brian:  Bryan  Briano (Celtic)
John:  Jhon  Iain (Scottish)
David:  Davyd  Davi (Hebrew)
Robert:  Rhobert  Roban (German)
Nicholas: Nicklas  Nicolai (Greek)
Adam:  Addam  Adham (Arabic)
Edward:  Edwhard  Edouard (English)
Geoffery: Jeffereigh Geoffroi (German)
Thomas:  Tomas  Tomasso (Aramaic)
William:  Wylliam  Willem (German)

Get more baby boy names here!

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