Unique Twists on Popular Baby Names

Bummed your favorite names have all been nabbed? We've got your backup plan.
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Updated August 26, 2021
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If you fell in love with a baby name that’s turning out to be everyone else’s new fave too, you’re not alone. Even after scouring the web for hours and thumbing through mountains of baby name books, it can be easy to fall for a name and then discover it’s been on the most popular list for the last few years–especially as a first-time parent. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.) We asked Jennifer Moss, baby names expert and co-founder of, to give parents-to-be some advice when everyone else has stolen your baby name thunder, and offer some unique alternatives you’ll love too.

Tip #1: Identify what you love about the name

Take what you love about Sophia or Ethan and apply it to other names. Is it the way it sounds with your last name? Is it the impression you feel it leaves on a person? Or does the name have some significance in your family that you’d like to hang on to? You don’t have to completely abandon everything about a name just because it’s popular—depending on what you love most, stick with a similar theme, the same kinds of sounds, the number of syllables, or even the first letter when switching to an alternative. Use The Bump Baby Name Finder to find name alternatives for some of your faves.

Tip #2: Get out the family tree

Parents should be open to new avenues when looking for an alternative. First stop? “Look in your family tree,” says Moss. “At both first names and last. Last names are a great way to honor a whole branch of the family tree instead of just one person.”

Tip #3: Think outside the box

Still haven’t found a good alternative? Moss suggests you and your partner look to people you’ve admired in your lives and start there. “Look to the people who have influenced you, like teachers, mentors and coaches,” she says. Another tip: Consider place names—the city you met in, the towns you grew up in, where you honeymooned. Even street names can offer some inspiration.

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Still no luck? Don’t stress. With the help of Moss, we rounded up the top 20 baby names and similar—but unique—alternatives to them.

Top 10 Girls’ Names

If you’re stuck on: Isabella
Try: Annabelle, Ariel, or Bella

If you’re stuck on: Sophia
Try: Sonia, Sarah, Josephine

If you’re stuck on: Emma
Try: Grace, Adriana, or Mia

If you’re stuck on: Olivia
Try: Emilia, Amelia, or Elise

If you’re stuck on: Ava
Try: Ana, Erin, or Victoria

If you’re stuck on: Emily
Try: Ella, Matilda, or Eden

If you’re stuck on: Abigail
Try: Adelaide, Elizabeth, or Gillian

If you’re stuck on: Madison
Try: Addison, Madeline, or Miranda

If you’re stuck on: Chloe
Try: Zoey, Charlotte, or Oriana

If you’re stuck on: Mia
Try: Maya, Mikayla, or Amelia

Top 10 Boys’ Names

If you’re stuck on: Jacob
Try: Jerod, Nathaniel, or Jonathan

If you’re stuck on: Ethan
Try: Nathan, Nathaniel, or Benjamin

If you’re stuck on: Michael
Try: Morgan, Mickey, Ryan

If you’re stuck on: Jayden
Try: Jordan, Jonathan, or Jason

If you’re stuck on: William
Try: Wynn, Charles, or Willem

If you’re stuck on: Alexander
Try: Aldon, Xander, or Alec

If you’re stuck on: Noah
Try: Noel, Isaiah, or Aaron

If you’re stuck on: Daniel
Try: Dante, Donovan, or David

If you’re stuck on: Aiden
Try: Adrian, Declan, or Austin

If you’re stuck on: Anthony
Try: Alexander, Trevor, or Andrew

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