When I was having my first child, we had a boys’ name (Henry) picked out from the very beginning. But when it began to occur to us eight months into the pregnancy that this baby might be a girl, we were stumped for a name.
My husband and I had very different ideas about stye in girls’ names. Family names seem to create more problems than they solved, and so when we found a way to focus our search that we could both agree on, we were delighted.
Our mission: To find a name that meant red. I loved the color red, my hair is reddish, and my last name is Redmond, so red incorporated a lot of potent symbols for me and helped balance the fact that our child would carry my husband’s surname.
We ended up naming our daughter Rory, but there are a lot of other wonderful names that mean red for both girls and boys. If red is a meaning that catches fire with you, consider these scarlet-hued options:
Adam — Adam stands out on this list as a true classic boys’ name — Adam‘s meaning is “son of the red earth.” Though a bit overused in recent years, Adam is still and forever a solid choice that remains in the Top 100.
Clancy — This Irish surname name meaning “red-haired warrior” can work for both boys and girls, but it’s got a masculine ring to us, perhaps thanks to the musical Clancy Brothers and author Tom. Clancy is an unusual baby name for either gender, used for only 17 boys and five girls in the US in 2012.
Crimson — Love Scarlett but want a more distinctive alternative? Then crisp and luscious Crimson might be the choice for you. The word comes from the Old Spanish kermes, an insect whose shell created deep red dye.
Flannery — Interesting that Harper Lee‘s first name has become so popular while sister name Flannery — related by being the androgynous surname-name of a celebrated midcentury female author — is still waiting in the wings. But Flannery O’Connor was arguably the greater writer and her name is more appealing on many levels too: energetic and distinctive, it means red-haired and relates to other Irish Flann names.
Flynn — Flynn is rising fast behind Finn after being chosen by beautiful couple Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom for their adorable son. For Breaking Bad fans, Flynn is the dashing name that Walter White Jr. tries to claim for himself. It means “son of the red-haired one” so could make a perfect honorific for the child or grandchild of a redhead.
Garnet — The name of this deep red stone, birthstone for January babies, has never been as well-used as some other jewel choices, but it’s got a rich, serious feel that seems more stylish now than even a handful of years ago.
Jasper — One of the few gem names for boys, Jasper is the name of a rusty-red stone and a fashion favorite, now at Number 264, its highest point in 100 years. Jasper doesn’t literally mean red, it means “bringer of treasure” and an alternate form is Casper.
Poppy – This bright red flower name has been hotter in England and Australia for many years now than in the US: It’s at an all time high in the UK, a Top 20 name, yet has never ranked in the US Top 1000.
Redmond – We have a soft spot for this strong Irish surname, which was taken not-so-attractively from French invader Raymond Le Gros — yes, that means Raymond The Fat, and I blame all my weight struggles on his genetic legacy.
Reed — Sleek, sophisticated Reed strikes the Golden Mean between being familiar and stylish but not too popular: It has always remained in the Top 1000 without ever climbing higher than Number 368, which it reached in 2011. The name can also be spelled Reid, which is more confusing but oddly more popular.
Rowan — Rowan and Rowen and Rohan and even Roan work well for either gender, though after a swing toward the girls’ side in the 1990s, Rowan is becoming more boyish again, used two-thirds of the time for boys. Rowan means “little redhead.”
Rufus — The ancient Roman Rufus has new cool thanks to musician Rufus Wainwright along with the hot dad on Gossip Girl. Rufus was a Biblical name, the name of several saints, and the nickname of red-haired King William
Sorrell — Sorrell is another unisex name that has a literal color meaning: It’s the signifier of a reddish-brown-hued horse. Like other choices here, Sorrell has never been in the US Top 1000 and so is included in our new e-book, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names.
Need more options? Check out our list of Redhead Baby Names (not for redheads only).
Photo by Georgia Brizuela.