As a kid, I kept long lists of what I wanted to name my theoretical future daughter. I was drawn to
fancy, beautiful baby names — I definitely remember that Adelaide and Cecilia were on the list. But boy’s names? They just weren’t as interesting to me. Some soon-to-be boy moms might feel the same way, particularly if you’re looking for an unusual or rare boy’s name. It can feel like the options are either too familiar (another John?), or too out there (hello, Oberon). Picking a letter you love — perhaps you like the sound of it, or it goes nicely with your last name — and finding lots of great names that start with that letter can be a way to get some great names on your baby names list. If you want an off-the-beaten track name for boys, looking at boy’s names that start with “I” might get you thinking creatively. Of the top hundred most popular boy names in the United States, only three start with “I,” and even the most popular “I” name comes in at number 40.
If you want to go even more unusual, look at “
U” names, and if you want to go more common, considering looking at “ A” boy names. Whether you wait until he gets here to name him, or have the name all picked out months before he arrives, one this is certain: Whatever name you choose will be absolutely perfect for your baby. 1 Isaac
This is one of the most popular “I” names. It was the 40th most popular boy’s name in 2021 and has consistently been in the top hundred names during the past 20 years. You might have a cheerful little guy if you choose this name: it comes from Hebrew and means “one who laughs” or “one who rejoices.”
You might get some
Moby Dick jokes, but this name is a classic for a reason. In the bible, Ishmael is Abraham’s firstborn son. The name means “God will hear.” 3 Ivan
You’ll have to get a Russian fairy tale book if you choose this name because there are tons of Ivans in Russian literature and history. That’s fitting, since the name has Russian origins and means “God is great.”
This name comes from the Arabic form of “Abraham,” and the two names share the meaning “father of many.” If you’re hoping for lots of grandkids, this name might be the one for you.
Ian is a simple and cute “I” name that never goes out of style. It’s one of the three “I” names on the top hundred names, but still isn’t super common. The name has both Hebrew and Scottish origins, and means “God is gracious.”
Sometimes spelled with a Y, and also spelled “Ioannes,” this name might be perfect if you have Greek ancestry and like the simple name “John” but want something more unusual. It has the same meaning as Ian: “God is gracious.”
This name has an awesome meaning: fiery. It has Spanish, Basque origins. Whether you’re a
Princess Bride fan or not, this name is worth considering. 8 Isaiah
Some of the most famous Bible verses come from the book of Isaiah, including “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” It means “Yahweh is salvation.”
Once only a nickname, this cute name is now a given name in its own right. It means “laughter.” If you choose to go with Isaac or Isaiah, you could always keep this in your pocket as a great nickname.
Also spelled “Imron” this Arabic name means “prosperity.” It’s still quite rare in the United States, though it squeaked into the top thousand most popular names in 2018.
11 Israel ruizluquepaz/E+/Getty Images
This unisex name works just as well for a boy as a girl. Unsurprisingly, it has Hebrew origins and means “triumphant with God.”
Ichabod is the rare combination of being both an unusual name and a Biblical/literary name: There’s an Ichabod in the Old Testament and in Washington Irving’s stories. It means “without glory.”
Most famously belonging to the ridiculously handsome actor Idris Elba, this name means “studious” or “smart.” In Islam, it’s the name of the prophet who was the first one to ever write.
The most famous Ignatius is Ignatius of Loyola, a Jesuit saint, well known for valuing both education and charitable works. Like Idris, it means “fiery” or “ardent.”
A Russian variant of the name Elijah, meaning “the Lord is my God,” this name has been held by many great thinkers and writers, including the Ukranian poet Ilya Kaminsky and the writer Ilya Ehrenburg.
This Basque name has an interesting meaning: Visitation. If you like the nickname Ike, but want something a little more formal for the birth certificate, this might be the perfect choice.
Williams are everywhere, but knocking off the “W” makes it a much more rare name. It comes from the Manx people, who live on the Isle of Man off the coast of Ireland, and means “strong willed warrior.”
If you have Scandinavian roots, or are just an admirer of Scandinavian countries, you might want to go with this Old Norse name, meaning “bow warrior.” The most legendary bearer of the name is a Viking from the 800’s, “Ivar the Boneless.”
19 Ira Ariel Skelley/Photodisc/Getty Images
You’ll have an observant little one if you choose this name: It means “watchful.” From Ira Gershwin to Ira Glass, there will be many famous Ira’s for your son to look up to.
Your little one is sure to be your sun and stars, so why not name them after the sun itself? This Indian name means “the sun.” Though it’s an unusual name in the United States, it’s likely to not give any teacher too much trouble with pronunciation.
This name is a little more common with an “E,” but it can also be spelled with an I, and means “God with us.” And maybe you’ll have a philosopher on your hands: The most famous Immanuel is Immanuel Kant.
Any of these names will give your little boy a great start in life. Happy naming!