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What new names have you heard lately?

I first thought of the subject of undiscovered baby names last September at a Labor Day picnic, when I was introduced to a man named Hanan (it rhymes with cannon).

I was struck, as I always am in this situation, that even after writing ten books on names, after being professionally immersed in the subject for two decades, and after virtually a lifetime of name nuttery, I can still come across names that I've never heard before.

Hanan, as it turned out, was actually in the nameberry database: It's an Old Testament name of a member of the tribe of Benjamin, just waiting to be rediscovered.

I started jotting down other names that were new ones on me and looking up their origins. Other recent selections from my personal undiscovered baby names list:

JARA or YARA — A German friend who lives in Madrid and is expecting recently told me that, if she has a girl, she plans to name her Jara or Yara, a name that works in both Spanish and German. This was a new one on me, and when I looked it up I discovered that Yara is an Arabic name meaning butterfly and also the name of a Brazilian goddess, while Jara (which can be pronounced with the Y or the J sound at the beginning) might be a variation of Yara or may be an unrelated Slovakian name that's also the name of the Hindu goddess of the household and happiness.

DARIEL — I met a woman recently who told me her grownup daughter's name was the very pretty Dariel, a name she invented. She was torn, she said, between Dara and Mariel, so she combined the two to make Dariel. Many such hybrid attempts are dismal, but this one is a success.

KESTER — I discovered Kester in my guilty pleasure reading of the London Telegraph birth announcements. It is, I discovered in nameberry's very own database, the Scottish form of Christopher. Very cute.

Nameberry ( is a baby-naming site produced by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, co-authors of 10 bestselling baby name guides, including the newest, "Beyond Ave and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby."