Name Lists

Sweet Spring Flower Names for Babies

Happy Spring! March 20th, 2023 is the equinox, marking the official start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere according to astronomy. Depending on where you live, you may have personally observed the oncoming season for a week or two! For many of us it was a mild winter, but mild weather feels a lot better when there are beautiful flowers blooming and birds prepping their nests. My philosophy is that if it’s going to be cold, let it snow!

Ah, the flowers. Each year, the sight of daffodils and blossoming trees brings me joy. Only autumn, with its warm quilt 0f scarlet, orange, and gold leaves comes close to recreating that same feeling. Spring and fall are truly the most lovely seasons if only for their sheer colorfulness.

Irises by Van Gogh.
Irises, by Vincent Van Gogh, gorgeously depicting the spring flower.

Inspired by the start of spring, here is a selection of sweet spring flower names for babies! If you love floral monikers, nature, and the season, this list is for you.

  • Alyssum – “Sweet Alyssum” is a cool-weather flower that prefers spring and autumn. Alyssum is a likely influence on the spelling of Alyssa, a variant of Alicia or Alice that makes for a lovely and subtle nod to the plant. Surprisingly, despite Alyssa’s now-longstanding popularity, parents rarely opt for floral Alyssum. I think it’s time to change that!
  • Anemone – I’d wager many people are familiar with anemone because of Finding Nemo, but it’s also a lovely flower that can bloom from the earliest springtime into the fall. Sweetly pronounced a-NEM-oh-nee, it was traditionally associated with the story of Aphrodite and her beloved Adonis. When Adonis died, the goddess transformed his blood into the anemone with her tears. By the Victorian era, the flower came to mean something like “lost love,” whether due to forgetting or a partner’s death. Do keep in mind that in some cultures, the anemone is considered bad luck (especially depending on the color).
  • Bluebell – With the trendiness of names like “Blue” and “Belle,” I’m surprised more parents aren’t choosing Bluebell. Nobody in the U.S. is using it, but it occasionally reaches into the England and Wales top 1000. I’m guessing the few children who are named Bluebell aren’t named after Ginger Spice’s daughter, but you never know. All in all, the Bluebell is a gorgeous flower with a name-friendly sound and it *should* be on more people’s radars. In Victorian flower language, the bluebell signifies “humility.”
  • Daffodil – Along with crocuses, daffodils are one of the first flowers that bloom to mark the end of winter. Daffodil is exceedingly rare as a baby name, but its bright and sunny yellow hues make it a sweet choice. It easily shortens to Daffy, which is a possible nickname for David (via the Welsh Dafydd – no relation to Daffodil), and Dil. Possible gender-neutral option? In floriography (the language of flowers), daffodils traditionally signify “regard.”
  • Eirlys – Pronounced like the word “air” with “liss” added to the end. Despite the wintry connotations of the name “Snowdrop,” that flower is popularly associated with the very early spring. Eirlys, which means “snowdrop” in Welsh, is a trending modern choice thanks to its “-s” ending and nature meaning. The name is still rather rare and unique, so it’s a great choice if you want your child to be the only one on the playground with that name. For an even equally distinctive choice meaning “snowdrop,” the Georgian language also offers Endzela.
  • Ffion – Most English-speakers wouldn’t think of using Foxglove as a baby name (it’s an excellent pet name!), but its Welsh-equivalent is an established (if modern) baby name. Ffion is beyond rare in the U.S., but it ranks #337 in England and Wales. Pronounced “FEE-on,” parents may like it as a unique floral alternative to Fiona (no relation, though).
  • Hyacinth – Most people probably now consider Hyacinth a girls’ name (especially in light of Bridgerton!), but its history as a men’s name gives it credence as a rare gender-neutral flower name. Greek Mythology explains the flower’s creation through the violent death of Hyakinthos (Latinized Hyacinthus), whose blood fed the flowers that bloomed in his wake. Hyacinth has many meanings in flower language, ranging a wide gamut of human emotions depending on the color; purple and white hyacinth, which are especially popular in the spring, can respectively mean “forgiveness” and “loveliness,” though other meanings are possible (purple also means “sorrow”). 16 girls were named Hyacinth in the U.S. in 2021, while Spanish forms Jacinta (f) and Jacinto (m) were respectively given to 28 girls and 19 boys. Fans of the nickname “Gia” and “Gio” may also consider the Italian versions, Giacinta and Giacinto.
  • Iris is a classic name with a history stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece, where she was the messenger goddess of the rainbow. Despite meaning “rainbow,” the flower is usually purple. Amazingly, Iris is one of just a few girls’ names that have remained in the top 1000 since the Social Security Administration started counting in 1880, giving it a truly timeless feel. More popular than ever, Iris currently ranks #107 and is almost certainly set to enter the top 1000 in the upcoming 2022 dataset.
  • Magnolia – This beautiful flowering tree was a mildly popular girls’ name from the late 19th century until 1940, but it’s really taken off in the last decade. Whether or not that’s because of its trendiness as a vintage plant name or pop culture references, this Southern lady is ready to seize the day. According to flower language, Magnolia symbolizes “nobility” and “love of nature.” Well eco-namers, with that second meaning I think you’ve found a winner! Current U.S. rank: #140.
  • Primrose is a rare floral name that’s growing more popular on the both sides of the pond. It’s still unusual in the U.S., where it was given to just 92 girls in 2021, but in England and Wales it ranks #162. Deriving from a Latin term which means “first rose,” the primrose is one of the earliest flowering plants to bloom in the spring. Besides the flower, the most popular association for many people (especially in the U.S.) is Primrose “Prim” Everdeen, a character in the Hunger Games. Two unique, stunning name alternatives to Primrose are the Welsh version Briallen and the flower’s Latin genus, Primula.
  • Sakura – While there are other possible meanings of this name in Japanese, Sakura is typically associated with the cherry blossom tree, which blooms in early spring and serves as Japan’s national flower. Some Americans may be familiar with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a massive Washington D.C. celebration of peak bloom each year. In 2021, 58 baby girls in the U.S. were named Sakura, which is supposed to be emphasized on the first syllable (SAH-kur-a).
  • Solomon – Generally blooming through late April or May into early summer, “Solomon’s Seal” is a lesser-known spring flower that gives us a rare and much coveted floral name for boys. Solomon is a classic name tracing to biblical King Solomon. At last count in 2021, Solomon ranked #422 in the U.S.
  • Tulip – After the daffodils come the tulips, a flower that was once so valuable that a single bulb could be more expensive than a house in an economic phenomenon known as tulip mania. According to floriography, a red tulip is a “declaration of love,” while yellow tulips signify a sunny smile. 25 girls were named Tulip in 2021.
  • Viola is the name of the genus that includes pansies and violets. While violets can bloom year-round depending on the type, pansies only bloom in the cooler temperatures and spring and fall. Unfortunately, “pansy” has become a gendered insult, so it’s going to be a long time before vintage Pansy makes a comeback. Not only is Viola a safer naming choice, but it’s just as old-fashioned. It’s also a lot more unusual than Violet, which now ranks #35 in the United States! Whereas Violet was given to almost 5,500 baby girls in 2021, Viola was only given to 208 and ranks below the top 1000.

Another interesting spring floral choice if you’re looking for a boys’ name is Clayton, as in Claytonia Perfoliata or “Miner’s Lettuce.”

Do you have a favorite spring flower or nature name? Let me know, and Happy Spring!

Sources for flower language:

American Names

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Boys)

Yesterday I singled out some of the many girls’ names that were used between 5 and 10 times in 2014.  Today, the boys’ names!  Although females’ names as a whole are more unique, I personally found more names I liked within the males’ names in this range.  Again, you may be shocked, and you may only use these for characters.  They would be fantastic to see on actual people, though. 

10: Adlai, Aldric, Ambrosio, Archimedes, Ashe, Aureliano, Barnaby, Bartholomew, Colm, Constantin, Devereaux, Horatio, Inigo, Issachar, Ivo, Kipling, Kratos, Maurizio, Midas, Parke, Philopater, Prosper, Psalm, Ramesses, Romulo, Socrates, Spiro, Thorne, Thorsten, Woody, Yitzhak, Zeal

9: Adagio, Alcides, Anubis, Aodhan, Apollos, Aristides, Calogero, Chaos, Dionysios, Dom, Edgard, Eldridge, Finnbar, Isadore, Macarius, Norbert, Owain, Ruairi, Tesla, Yves

8: Acheron, Adonias, Alban, Albion, Alfie, Algernon, Anselm, Chiron, Colman, Doyle, Dudley, Gustaf, Hamlet, Jago, Meshach, Nicanor, Oberon, Prometheus, Riordan, Samwise, Sherlock, Sigmund, Stanislaw, Taliesin, Whitfield, Zaccheus, Zebedee, Zeph

7: Alastor, Artemus, Asahel, Baptiste, Bertram, Bran, Chamberlain, Deucalion, Eleazer, Elishua, Eustace, Grantham, Ingram, Ivor, Justinian, Livingston, Llewellyn, Ludwig, Naaman, Pius, Triumph, Tudor

6: Absalom, Acamas, Ademar, Benedikt, Bertrand, Carroll, Cicero, Constantinos, Desiderio, Dionysus, Drago, Ezekiah, Fitzwilliam, Gershom, Granville, Grisham, Hades, Hawthorn, Iago, Kenaniah, Naphtali, Ollivander, Osborne, Osric, Ossian, Peregrine, Phinneas, Severiano, Sylvanus, Temujin, Thackery, Thales, Torstein, Willoughby, Zed

5: Abednego, Alvar, Aristotelis, Athanasius, Bayard, Bela, Blessed, BonifacioCayetano, Cosimo, Cosmas, Decimus, Denys, Destined, Donal, Edsel, Emmeric, Frasier, Gerhard, Hannes, Harald, Harvest, Heathcliff, Hermann, Hirsch, Icarus, Jerzy, Ludovic, Manfred, Marcellino, Melquisedec, Remus, Rolf, Sascha, Severus, Seymour, Spartacus, Spyridon, Tarquin, Umberto, Valdemar, Valiant, Waldemar, Waldo, Wolfram

So, what do you think of these names?  A few of these are my all-time favorites, like Horatio, Severus, and Absalom.   Biblical, Ancient Mediterranean, surnames, literature…these kind of lists show there is an infinite range of names one can use!

American Names

Unique Baby Names with 10 Uses or Fewer (Girls)

“Unique” names are less unique than ever.  The top American names now constitute a much smaller percentage of babies born in a year than they did a century ago.  In the last 10 years alone, the percentage of children whose names are in the American top 1000 has dropped from about 75% to 73%, meaning that children are increasingly likely to have an uncommon name.  Considering that the Social Security Administration produces an extended list beyond the top 1000, I wonder what the percentage is of children whose names are common enough to make that compilation.

In order to be shown on the extended list, a name has to be used at least 5 times in a year for that given gender.  Being used 5 times does not make a name popular or even common, since the bottom names of the top 1000 tend to register a couple hundred uses in a year.  Below the top 1000, one finds all the rare or semi-rare names that are in use.  Some of these names are even trendy, and might hit the top 1000 in short order.

Today I’ve mined the American data for some of my favorite girls’ names with 10 or fewer uses in 2014.  Some of you will think: “Wait, people actually use these?”  Some of you will hardly be able to contain your excitement, some will be dumbfounded.  For many, it will be all of the above.

10: Amadea, Artemisia, Djuna, Hedy, Hephzibah, Lilac, Linnaea, Lior, Lucilla, Macaria, Markia, Pooja, Raphaela, Socorro, Tansy, Tilda, Venezia

9: Agape, Ambrosia, Anthea, Apphia, Astraea, Avis, Bellatrix, Cressida, Donatella, Rosamund, Sibylla, Tulip, Tulsi, Zoraida

8: Adamina, Amabella, Asmara, Binah, Blessed, Circe, Constantina, Coretta, Edeline, Eugenie, Ginevra, Giuseppina, Nefertari, Prosperity, Radiance, Sincerity, Tryphena, Veronique

7: Arista, Bathsheba, Christiane, Clarabella, Dulcinea, Elisheba, Fionnuala, Hyacinth, Oceane, Parthenia, Peregrine, Rejoice, Sophronia, Trillium, Yehudit

6: Agnieszka, Alejandrina, Anwen, Benedicta, Blanche, Bronwen, Calixta, Caoilinn, Damiana, Eleftheria, Euphemia, Gardenia, Gwendoline, Heloise, Hildegard, Hypatia, Joyful, Niobe, Perpetua, Tullia, Vesta

5: Alfreda, Amabel, Amandine, Corabella, Hagar, Helia, Ignacia, Morticia, Naamah, Nefertiti, Nerys, Petunia, Prisca, Rahab, Sebastiana, Theophilia, Xanthe, Zoja

As you can tell, there’s quite a mix with this set.  Mythological, Biblical, Flowers, Virtues…there are so many kinds of names here.  Now, since these names are ultra-rare, don’t expect them to suddenly enter the top 1000 in the next year or even decade.  But maybe they’ll become characters in the stories you write.  Maybe, seeing them in use will give you the courage to use one of these lovelies or an equally unique appellation on your child! 

What do you think of these names? 


Ancient and Classical Names

Ancient Greek Names and Nicknames (Boys)

Mosaic of Alexander the Great
Mosaic depiction of Alexander the Great

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on nicknames I derived from Ancient Greek girls’ names, and later I wrote one about potential nicknames for feminine Roman appellations.  Yet, I’ve not written about nicknames for the boys, and since most of the posts on my site have been oriented more towards feminine names I feel I’ve been leaving the boys out.

I had more difficulty shortening the masculine than feminine names.  Still, I think there’s a potential for creativity here!

Heliodorus/Heliodoros: Eli, Elio, Leo, Helios, Sunny, Odo

Alexander: Alex, Andy, Xander, Lex, Sasha…but you already know these. 🙂

Theodosius/Theodosios: Theo, Ted, Teddy, Odo

Achilles: Ace, Lee, Hill

Aristodemos: Ari, Todd, Ares

Patroclus/Patroklos: Pat, Rock, Rocco

Evander: Evan, Andy, Van

Apollo: Paul, Ollie

Damocles: Dan, Lee

Ajax: AJ, Jax

Athanasius/Athanasios: Hans, Han

Draco: Drake, Ace

Leonidas: Leo, Leon

Nicanor: Nick

Perseus: Percy (actually, I think this is the case for Percy Jackson)


On Celtic Names

Many Americans have Celtic ancestry.  In a modern sense, we usually think of “Celtic” as referring to Irish, Scottish, or Welsh.  However, it also can encompass Cornish, Breton, and Manx. 

Growing up, I knew plenty of Ryans, Kevins, and Caitlins I also can say I knew of an Aidan and an EilidhMackenzie was another I would sometimes hear, along with the once extremely popular Cornish name Jennifer (cognate of the literary names Guinevere and Ginevra).  Celtic-derived names were everywhere.

You may have noticed that all the boys’ names I mentioned are basically Irish in origin.  Irish and Scottish Gaelic (Eilidh falling in the latter category) are notoriously difficult for most English speakers to spell and pronounce.  If you can figure them out, however, you’re potentially looking at an incredibly unique and distinctive name.

I plan on posting more on Celtic names in the future.  For now, here are just a few of my favorites:

Briallen – Welsh.  I’ve read it’s supposed to be pronounced “Brie-AHSH-en” but I think the phonetic “Brie-ah-len” will work just fine (and indeed, better) for American ears.

Blodwen – Welsh

Bronwen – Welsh.  Pronounce it as you see it.  From my research Bronwyn is more commonly used in the U.S.  However, in Welsh, names ending in “-wyn” are considered masculine, and “-wen” are feminine.  Americans mostly view Bronwyn as feminine. 

Caoimhe (pr. like Keeva) – Irish and Scottish

Ceridwen – Welsh.  Pronounced with a hard “c” sound, as in “care.”

Fionnuala, Fionnuaghla – Irish and Scottish.  I’m personally not sure about pronunciation, but Finola and Fenella are English forms. 

Kerensa – Cornish

Niamh (rhymes with Eve) – Irish

Nolwenn – Breton

Rhiannon – Welsh mythology.  Americans started using this name in the 1970s because of  the Fleetwood Mac song.

Saoirse (pr. Seer-sha) – Irish name.  Namesake-wise, there’s actress Saoirse Ronan, who was recently an Academy Award nominee.

Alasdair/Alastair – Scottish forms of Greek Alexander.

Cadwalader – Welsh

Cadwgan/Cadogan – Welsh, and as in “Sir Cadogan” from Harry Potter. 

Caradoc – Welsh.  Caradoc Dearborn is a very minor Harry Potter character.

Ciarán (pronounced like Kieran) – Irish.  Namesake Ciaran Hinds.

Cormac – Irish.  Cormac McLaggen is a character in the Harry Potter series.

Duncan – Scottish

Emrys – Welsh.  I’ve been seeing a lot more of this name lately, actually.

Gawain – Welsh, cognate of GavinThink “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and King Arthur.

Riordan – Irish

Ancient and Classical Names

Cute Nicknames for Roman Names (Girls)

Just as there are some gorgeous Greek names out there, there are also some great Roman names too.  Several of the following are already very popular – especially Aurora and Julia – while others are very rare, like Hadriana and Saturnina.  I’ve brainstormed to find some nicknames that could make some of these names more usable for parents, but also because this is simply a fun exercise!

Aurelia: Aura, Goldie, Lia, Ellie, Relia, Elia

Camilla: Millie, Cam, Amy, Mila, Cami

Cornelia: Nellie, Ellie, Cora, Lia, Cori

Lucretia: Lucy, Lucky, Rettie, Tia, Lux

Severina: Vera, Erin, Erina, Ever, Verina

Valentina: Vale, Tina, Ina, Valley

Hadriana: Hattie, Ana, Ria, Addie

Petronia: Ronnie, Pet, Petra, Nia

Antonia: Toni, Annie, Nia

Aurora: Aura, Rory

Virginia: Ginny, Nia

Lucia: Lucy, Lux

Julia: Jools, Lea

Livia: Liv, Via

Saturnina: Nina, Ina

Juno: June, Junie

Salacia: Sally, Lacy (okay, maybe this one sounds too much like “salacious.”  Great nickname potential though!)

Mildly edited May 5, 2017

Articles · Opinions

The Importance of Memorable Names

I saw this blurb in the Guardian a couple of days ago.  All the students mentioned have distinctive names, and although some (like the person named Fragile) have run into problems like having to constantly explain or even change their names, others (looking at you Xanthe) have noticed benefits.  Having a name that helps people remember you is awesome.

For some people like me, we remember people more easily through their names than their faces.  And, there’s something to be said about a unique name.  Where there’s a unique name, there’s often a really interesting story about that person.  And, as much as I may love names like Emma or William, I’m far more likely to ask about Mariel or Annalene.

Lately I’ve been remembering some actors because of their unusual names.  I started watching House of Cards last week and two of the actors have such distinguished names as Sakina and Mahershala – the latter originally being short for Mahershalalhashbaz, considered by some to be the longest name in the Bible.  Considering that I think they’re also rather minor actors right now, I definitely wouldn’t remember who they were without the those names.  (Side note: Seriously, how cool a name is Mahershalalhashbaz?!)

More generic names do have their benefits though, I’m sure.  Just as someone can be remembered for their great deeds, they may also be remembered by their misdeeds. And if privacy is an issue, I imagine a John Smith could much more-easily disappear into the crowd than an Apollodorus Smith.  But if memorability is what you want, who will indeed remember John Smith?