10 Unique Alternatives to Liam That Are Truly Rare

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10 alternatives to Liam

Love the name Liam but are worried about its popularity? If you don’t want your baby to be one of three Liam’s in their class, then this list of genuinely unique alternatives to Liam is for you.

You’ve probably found other lists touting names similar to Liam that are a mile long. This isn’t that type of list.

Instead, I handpicked 10 Liam alternatives to highlight names that are truly rare. None of the names are in the top 500 name list, and half of them have never even ranked in the top 1000.

I focused on names with similar softness and simplicity as Liam. These names have all the fashionable elements of Liam (looking at you, vowels and gentle consonants) without the overexposure of the #1 baby name in the country.

Liam Meaning and Popularity

Liam means “powerful protector” and is an Irish diminutive of the name William. An international name, Liam has been a favorite around the world topping charts in the U.K., Canada and the U.S.

Liam is the defining American boy name of the last decade. It began its rise to prominence in the early 1990’s and broke into the top 10 chart in 2012. It has spent the last eight years as either the #1 or #2 boy’s name in the United States.

Popularity graph of the name Liam

However, don’t let Liam’s #1 rank scare you too much. Names are more varied than they once were. Liam represented only 1.1% of male births in 2021. When John was at its peak, it accounted for over 5% of all boys born in the year.

Interestingly, some consider Liam to also be a girl’s name. However, there have never been enough girl Liam’s to break into the top 1000 list. Interested in seeing more baby name trends? Check out our baby name popularity visualizer.

Now let’s turn to 10 substitute names if Liam isn’t the one.

1. Eames

Popularity Ranking: Never Ranked

First on the list of Liam alternatives we have Eames. Eames is a soft and decidedly hip sounding name, pronounced EE-MZ. That ending -z sound instantly ups the cool factor of a name. Eames is a hidden treasure name. It has all the fashionable elements parents today love but it has yet to be discovered.

Like Liam, Eames means “wealthy protector” and comes from Irish origins. It has roots as a surname which is another popular trend with today’s parents.

2. Colm

Popularity Ranking: Never Ranked

Love Liam’s Irish roots? Than Colm may strike your fancy. Colm is pronounced COLLUM and means “dove.” Similar to Liam, it is said with two syllables and has that gentle ending -m sound.

It is also a much more unusual Irish pick than Liam. Only twice have there been enough Colms born to be included in the Social Security Administration yearly data (≥5 names). In 2000, Colm reached its peak popularity in the U.S., when a grand total of eight baby Colm’s were born.

3. Eliam

Popularity Ranking: #736

Eliam may be the most similar name to Liam on this list. Yet, the addition of the E somehow transforms the feel of the name. Pronounced EL-I-AM instead of E-LIAM, the name will sounds distinct amongst all the little Liam’s running around.

Eliam is a biblical Hebrew name that means “people of God.” It made its debut onto the top name chart in 2021, when 345 boys were named Eliam in the United States.

4. Lev

Popularity Ranking: Never Ranked

Lev makes a great substitute for Liam if you are looking for a pithy L-name. Where Liam is gentle and affable, Lev is strong and jaunty. In Russian, Lev means “lion” and in Hebrew it means “heart.

Given its proximity to other hot names Levi and Leo, it may come as a surprise that Lev has never made it into the top 1000 list. Future Lev’s will enjoy all the benefits of having a rare name while still fitting in easily among his contemporaries’ names.

5. Noam

Popularity Ranking: Never Ranked

Noam is a Hebrew name meaning “beautiful” and “pleasantness.” It is akin to popular Noah and hits the same soft notes as Liam. It is surprising that this name hasn’t broken into the U.S. naming mainstream, especially since it is a top 10 name in Israel.

Noam is thought to have originated as a masculinization of the name Naomi. While traditionally a boy’s name, Noam is sometimes used for girls and would make a great pick if you’re looking for a more gender neutral alternative to Liam.

6. Lionel

Popularity Ranking: #663

You may have not considered the name Lionel as an alternative to Liam before. Lionel doesn’t feel as “now” as Liam — and that’s exactly the point. Lionel hits that sweet spot of being unexpected, while also feeling timeless. Plus, it has great grandpa vibes that parents today love.

Not to be confused with more popular Leonel (pronounced LEE-O-NEL), Lionel comes from Latin and is a French diminutive of Leon, meaning “little lion.”

7. Amias

Popularity Ranking: #756

Like Liam, the name Amias is gentle and approachable. With soft, two-syllable sounds similar to Liam, Amias checks a lot of boxes for today’s fashionable baby names. Fortunately, it remains a rare pick that has yet to show signs of a future popularity spike.

Amias comes from Latin and means “beloved.”

8. Leif

Popularity Ranking: #992

Leif is L-name with a light touch, similar to Liam. This airy and sprightly pick is easily worn from babyhood into adulthood. Pronounced LAYF from its Scandinavian roots, some English speakers pronounce the name LEAF. Leif comes from the Old Norse word Leifr, which means “descendant.”

Leif is barely hanging on to its top 1000 name spot at #992. The highest it has ever ranked in the U.S. was #638 in 1979. You’re very unlikely to run into another baby Leif if you go with this Liam substitute.

9. Niam

Popularity Ranking: Never Ranked

Niam is another very close substitute for Liam. Rhyming with Liam, it shares the two-syllable break between two vowel sounds, which gives the name great flow. Niam comes from Hindi and Arabic origins, meaning “blessings” or “given by God.”

Given its proximity to Liam, it is a surprise that Niam hasn’t enjoyed a popularity bump. Niam remains unranked — great news for parents on the hunt for still unique alternatives to Liam.

10. Landry

Popularity Ranking: #989

Last on the list we have Landry, another L-name that hits the same two-syllable sweet spot as Liam. Landry has a similarly strong meaning as Liam, meaning “powerful ruler” from its French origins. Landry is also a great gender neutral alternative to Liam.

Landry has only been on the top 1000 charts a few times, and it barely squeaked by to make the list in 2021. The popularity has also waned in the last few years so this name is likely to stay a unique substitute for Liam in the coming years.

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