Baby Names That Mean Peace: Axel, Callum & Frida
Late September is a time of peace: The United Nations observes the International Day of Peace each September 21, followed by the International Day of Radiant Peace the next day. Here on the blog, we, too, want to give peace—and some unique baby names meaning “peace”—a chance:
Consider Axel for your baby boy if you’re a diehard rock ’n’ roller—and pacifist? Axl Rose, leader of the hard-rocking Guns N’ Roses, was born William Bruce Rose, but changed his name to W. Axl Rose in the 1980s in honor of his early band, AXL.
The actual given name Axel, meanwhile, is an old Scandinavian variant of Absalom, son of Kind David in the Old Testament, whose name means “father of peace.” The –salom portion of the name is related to the Jewish and Muslim greetings shalom and salaam, respectively, as well as the sage and kingly name Solomon.
You might also consider Axel, surprisingly, if you love figure skating. By the 1930s, legendary Norwegian ice-skater Axel Paulsen had given his name to the skating jump he mastered: the axel. Axel is now#116 in the US and an impressive 17 on Nameberry.
Callum is a Scottish rendering of the Latin Columba, meaning “dove.” Thanks to the bird’s prominent figuring in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, it symbolizes peace for many Jews and Christians. This name, spread in the Hebrides by the influential sixth-century Celtic St. Columba, remains popular in Scotland, ranking 28th there for 2016—as well as in the Top 100 for neighboring England and Ireland, where Colm is a common variant. As the 701st most popular name in the US, though, Callum makes for a distinctive choice, joined by the likes of Callum Lyon MacLachlan, son of actor Kyle MacLachlan, who indeed has Scottish ancestry.
The name Frida, meaning “peace,” comes from an old Germanic root that is also related to the English word “free.” The root appears in a host of staid names of yesteryear, including Frederick, Geoffrey, Humphrey, and Winifred. As for Frida itself, the name was notably borne by celebrated Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
As the US’s 816th most popular girl’s name for 2016, Frida has a ways to go to compete with its stylishness in Europe, especially Scandinavia. In 2015, Frida reached #18 in Norway and #24 in Denmark while several renowned Swedes, from ABBA singer Frida Lyngstad to emerging supermodel Frida Gustavsson, carry the name.
The ancient Greek goddess Eirene, who gives us the divine name Irene, was the personification of peace, depicted as a beautiful young woman and associated also with symbols of wealth and abundance. While hovering in the 600s on the US list in recent years, Irene was a Top 20 choice in the US between 1915 and 1925—around the same time English novelist John Galsworthy featured an Irene in his acclaimed series, the Forsyte Saga, and Hollywood luminary Irene Dunne was making her name on screen and stage.
Another famed Irene, Irene Morgan, provided a powerful namesake in 1944, when she engaged in a form of peaceful protest by refusing to sit in a segregated section of a bus, leading the US Supreme Court to rule a Virginia segregated transportation law unconstitutional.
The Ancient Roman counterpart of the Greek Eirene was Pax, meaning and source of the word “peace.” The Latin word forms the heart of Paxton, or “peace town,” a fairly common English place name and surname. As such, Paxton makes for a compelling—though increasingly popular—baby name for boys. Since it cracked the Top 1000 in 1997, Paxton has been steadily climbing in the US rankings, reaching an all-time high of 203 last year. The name’s strong X apparently makes athletes of newborn boys. Paxton Lynch is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos while Terry Paxton Bradshaw, now a sports broadcaster, was an NFL star. Several hockey players—or their sons—have put Paxton on the ice.
Seeking inner peace in your baby name? Sanskrit—the ancient sacred language of nirvana-bound Hinduism and Buddhism—has you covered. Shanta, and its close cousins Shantha and Shanti, go back to a Sanskrit word meaning “peace” and “tranquility.” It’s a fairly popular female, and occasionally male, name in India. In the ancient Hindu epic poem the Ramayana, for instance. Shanta is the daughter of a prominent king. Shanta has enjoyed some popularity in the US, too, breaking into the Top 1000 from 1971 to 1987. Perhaps its calming sound and sense will prompt a comeback.
Ancient Israelite holy city, Civil War battle, award-winning 1990s YA novel and film…and trendy baby name? It’s Shiloh, a name thought to be from the Hebrew meaning “to be peaceful,” which would make it related to Absalom and Solomon, as we previously saw.
In 2007, Shiloh cracked the Top 1000 girl names in the US for the first time, coming in at 788. What happened? In 2006, then-supercouple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose Shiloh for their first biological daughter. (The following year, they adopted a three-year-old Vietnamese boy who they renamed—speaking—of peace, Pax.) Shiloh has since crept up to 611 for girls and, for the first time in 2015, made it into the Top 1000 for boys.