Baby Names That Mean Red
by Pamela Redmond
Baby names that mean red are an elite group, and one that has a lot of personal meaning for me.
When I was having my first child, my then-husband and I 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.
We had very different ideas about style in girls’ names. Family names seem to create more problems than they solved. 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 means red. I love the color red, my hair is reddish, and my last name is Redmond, so red incorporated a lot of potent symbols for me. And a first name meaning red would help 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 boy and girl baby names that mean red. If red is a meaning that catches fire with you, consider these scarlet-hued options.
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.
Maple — Maple is an adorable new tree name, chosen by Jason Bateman for his daughter. Maple turns from green nature name to red name by virtue of its brilliant fall foliage. Though theoretically unisex, Maple was used only for girls in 2018, when the name was given to nearly 150 babies.
Poppy — This bright red flower name has been hotter in England and Australia for many years. Now it’s also finding lots of fans in the US. Poppy entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2016 and currently stands in at Number 592.
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.
Jasper — One of the few gem names for boys, Jasper is the name of a rusty-red stone and a fashion favorite. Jasper now ranks at Number 154, its highest point since the 1800s. Jasper doesn’t literally mean red, it means “bringer of treasure” and an alternate form is Casper.
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. A handful of baby boys were named Redmond in the US last year.
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 but has remained steady in this era at around its current Number 375. The name can also be spelled Reid, which is more confusing but oddly more popular.
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
Clancy — This Irish surname name meaning “red-haired warrior” can work for both boys and girls. It does have a masculine ring, perhaps thanks to the musical Clancy Brothers and author Tom. Clancy is an unusual baby name for either gender, used for only 20 boys and 10 girls in the US in 2018.
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, Flannery 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. Flynn entered the US Top 1000 for boys for the first time in 2011, where it now stands at Number 779.
Garnet — The name of this deep red stone, birthstone for January babies, has never been as well-used as some other jewel choices. Still, Garnet has a rich, serious feel that seems more stylish now than even a handful of years ago. Rare for both girls and boys, it’s nevertheless given near-evenly to both. Nine girls and eight boys were named Garnet in 2018.
Radley — Recently rising thanks to To Kill A Mockingbird mania, Radley means “red meadow” and fits in with the stylish -ley ending group of baby names. It was used in 2018 for about six times as boys as girls.
Rory — This Irish name meaning “red king” has had a meteoric rise since I chose it for my daughter in the 1980s. Now standing in the US Top 600 for girls and the Top 400 for boys, it’s gone from quirky import to stylish-but-not-overused unisex choice.
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. In the US Top 300 for both genders, Rowan means “little redhead.”
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 e-book, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names.
Need more options? Check out our master list of Names That Mean Red or Redhead (not for redheads only).
Photo by Georgia Brizuela.
Pamela Redmond is the cofounder and CEO of Nameberry. With Linda Rosenkrantz, she is the coauthor of ten landmark books about names, including Beyond Jennifer & Jason and The Baby Name Bible. She has been widely quoted as an expert on baby names by such media outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, and CNN. Along with Nameberry pieces analyzing baby name gender switches and predicting future name trends, Redmond is the author of the novel Younger, the basis for the hit TV show.
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on August 26th, 2013 at 11:39 pm
I ADORE Rohan. It has nothing to do with red (it means “ascending” as an Indian name and your site lists it as sandalwood) but I do love it.
I also really like Rowan (boy) and Radley (ah Boo!).
on August 26th, 2013 at 11:44 pm
So many of my favorite boy names are on this list Flynn, Jasper, Reed, Rufus and Rowan
on August 27th, 2013 at 12:33 am
I like Reed, Rowan (for a boy or a girl, it’s a rare unisex choice for me), Jasper, Ruby, and possibly Poppy for a middle name.
My SO surprised me the other day by saying he liked the name Maple. I’m liking it, but I don’t know if I’m crazy for liking it or if it’s actually usable or not. Hmm.
on August 27th, 2013 at 1:42 am
I love Rory (for a boy’s middle name), Maple, Radley, Redmond, Reed, and all forms of Rowan.
on August 27th, 2013 at 5:18 am
Here in France we also have the name Garance which means “madder”. It is a lovely name for a girl!
on August 27th, 2013 at 6:57 am
I really like Rowan (for a boy), Reed, Rufus, Maple and Garnet.
on August 27th, 2013 at 7:41 am
Greenpapaya — I love Garance and it would be an interesting “red” spin. Dantea, Rohan is in fact a spelling variation of Rowan; there’s a glitch in our database that sometimes hides a second meaning and/or origin of a name. Over time we’ve uncovered most of these but in Rohan’s case we hadn’t so only the Hindi origin and meaning were visible. That’s fixed now.
on August 27th, 2013 at 7:51 am
You could use the Rose-related names, too. Roisin is lovely for the girl with Irish ancestry. I also like mid-century combo names Rosemarie and Rosemary, though they are more related to the herb than ‘red.’ Fire-related names like Aidan (again, best in my opinion for the Irish-related) can be applied, as well.
on August 27th, 2013 at 8:02 am
Reese/Rhys is a good fire-related surname. I’ve often thought four girls named Rowan, Reese, Regan, and Reilly makes a nice sibset (I realize Regan and Reilly don’t have meanings related to ‘red,’ the purpose of this blog).
on August 27th, 2013 at 8:32 am
Oh, and I meant to add the lovely Rooney above to the sibset of girls, meaning “red-haired.”
There’s Russell, too, but this one hasn’t been revived yet.
Thanks for pointing out Radley. I like this one instantly.
I’m warming to Rufus.
on August 27th, 2013 at 8:47 am
Where is Russell?
Turns out I love red names.
on August 27th, 2013 at 8:48 am
LuMary, I think you mean 4 boys with those names… lol.
Anyway, I liked Ruby, Scarlet/Scarlett, Crimson (as a middle), Rowan & Rory (for boys only), and Flynn.
Adam is boring and dated imo.
on August 27th, 2013 at 9:35 am
Skizzo says: LuMary, I think you mean 4 boys with those names… lol.
No, actually, I do mean a sibset of girls named Rowan, Reese, Regan, Reilly, Rooney, and I’ll throw Radley in, too. 🙂 Most surname names are hijacked by girls, although there are a few exceptions that work for either, or tend to be exclusively male. That’s why I’d shy away from giving a boy a surname name.
I know a little Irish-American boy named Ruari. His mother’s surname is O’Connor, and I assume his name honors the last high king of Ireland. His brother is Connor/Conor.
on August 27th, 2013 at 10:53 am
What a great list of names!
For boys I absolutely love – Rufus, Jasper and Flynn.
For the girls, Poppy, Ruby and Scarlett are all beautiful choices. Poppy is especially starting to grow on me. It has so much spunk!
on August 27th, 2013 at 1:01 pm
To me, Edom is the ultimate red name. This was the name God gave Esau and his family after he willingly gave his Hebraic birthright over to twin-brother Jacob. The name Esau, although meaning “hairy” could also be considered a red name since the namesake was, from birth, burly with red hair. (Hence the strategy in which blind Isaac was deceived into bestowing the family blessing on Jacob as well.)
Although not listed above, Rowena is my favorite. I prefer it over the plain unisex Rowen; and I’ve always liked Jasper and Russell nn Russ. Over the years, I’ve known a few Rory’s, boys and girls – they’ve all been redheads.
My niece’s name is Ruby, named after my late grandmother; and although she was born in January and literally could have been a “Garnet”, both of her parents were born in July so Ruby was both an honoring and personal choice 🙂
on August 27th, 2013 at 1:33 pm
@pam – I would be curious to know if your daughter Rory actually turned out to be a redhead like her Mom. 🙂
on August 27th, 2013 at 7:47 pm
Love most of these! Rowan and Reid are favorites, I like sorrel but as an equestrian, I think people would find it weird for me to use! (though I’m actually a big fan of Winifred nicknamed winnie, which sounds quite horse related!)
on August 28th, 2013 at 7:28 am
A few more came to mind last night: Redford, Roosevelt (field of roses), Roy, and I learned of Rudyard and Roone.
on August 28th, 2013 at 9:35 am
Jasper and Scarlett… What a great twin combo!!!
Or Scarlett and Ruby for girl twins. Niiiice.
on August 28th, 2013 at 11:19 am
I love red names…
Poppy – so popular in the UK it’s almost stereotypical and predictable now
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