Category: animal baby names
By Abby Sandel
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Zooey Deschanel made us wait to learn the name of her firstborn. The indie darling turned sitcom star and producer husband Jacob Pechenik welcomed a daughter named back in July. We expected something quirky-cool from Zooey, and she didn’t disappoint – though she didn’t share the name Elsie Otter until last week.
Zooey also made it clear that Otter referred to the playful animal, calling them “wonderful” and noting that she and Jacob just plain love ‘em. I half expected Otter to be his grandmother’s maiden name, or maybe borrowed from some obscure novel.
But why not Otter? Plenty of birth announcements feature creatures.
Animal and bird names seem a lot less strange as given names than they once did. But what if you want an animal inspired name that is a little less literal? Maybe something a little more traditional. Or maybe something a little more light hearted and whimsical. So here’s a look at a select group of daring names that reference animals and are full of quirky charm – all with the benefit of a cute, inbuilt animal nickname, but carrying less of an aggressive edge.
This variant of the Old French/German name Bernard has the bear reference but is still a legitimate name with history. It means ‘strong, brave bear’, which is hard to go past if you’re looking for names related to fierce animals. Bearnard has never charted in the U.S. but Bernard was a top 100 for many years and only dropped out of the top 1000 in recent years.
Perusing through the Nameberry database, it occurred to me that all the nature names are pretty straightforward, normal names. So, in my never-ending search for unheard of names, I discovered these nature names that aren’t to be found there that I think are ripe for the picking. Since they’re nature names, I won’t separate them into gender categories since technically, all nature names should be unisex, but I will express my preference.
Aletris – Otherwise known as Colic Root, Blazing Star, Unicorn Root, and Stargrass, this is a flowering plant whose roots are used to make medicine. The flowers are tiny, delicate wide bells. The root is used for digestive problems (including colic), muscle problems, and some women use it to prevent miscarriage, though I wouldn’t recommend it without a doctor’s permission. As a name, I think it’s very cool. It sounds like it could fit into the ‘ancient name’ revival trend, or the ‘boyish names on girls’ trend as it does have a sort of masculine sound. For boys, it’s got the nickname Al and for girls there’s Allie and Lettie.
Animal baby names are a new group in the lexicon.
Would you use an animal name for your child? Why or why not?
But there is also a – well, can we say herd? pack? – of names that are much more subtle about their animal connections.
These names have animal meanings but you’d only know that if you read a name dictionary. Discovering their secret animal connection is likely to prove delightful for a child given one of these attractive names.
While the list of names with animal meanings is longer than this – here’s a full list of animal names for boys and one of animal names for girls – we’ve picked some of our favorites.
Arthur – bear
This classic Celtic name has, after hitting a low in 2010, turned upward and may be heading back to the Top 20 status it enjoyed a century ago. Cited as a possibility for the upcoming royal baby, Arthur is a kingly choice with the bonus creative nickname Art.