Baby Names That Mean Red

by Pamela Redmond Satran

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.

Maple — Maple is an adorable new tree name, chosen by Jason Bateman for his young daughter, that turns from green nature name to red name by virtue of its brilliant fall foliage.

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.

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.

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.”

Ruby — Ruby is a sassy, sparkling favorite, approaching the Top 100 for the first time since the late 1940s.  A perfect themed twin name for Poppy!

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

ScarlettColor name Scarlett oddly languished for years after the huge popularity of Gone With The Wind, until actress Scarlett Johansson made it a megastar.

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.

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20 Responses to “Baby Names That Mean Red”

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Dantea Says:

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!).

kacl Says:

August 26th, 2013 at 11:44 pm

So many of my favorite boy names are on this list Flynn, Jasper, Reed, Rufus and Rowan

alphabetdem Says:

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.

MFBerry Says:

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.

Greenpapaya Says:

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!

maggiemary Says:

August 27th, 2013 at 6:57 am

I really like Rowan (for a boy), Reed, Rufus, Maple and Garnet.

Pam Says:

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.

LuMary Says:

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.

LuMary Says:

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).

LuMary Says:

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.

stormy8881 Says:

August 27th, 2013 at 8:47 am

Where is Russell?
Turns out I love red names.

skizzo Says:

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.

LuMary Says:

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.

jtucker Says:

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!

iwillpraise Says:

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 🙂

Mischa Says:

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. 🙂

Anotherkate Says:

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!)

LuMary Says:

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.

Erinm Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 9:35 am

Jasper and Scarlett… What a great twin combo!!!

Or Scarlett and Ruby for girl twins. Niiiice.

tori101 Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 11:19 am

I love red names…
Adam
Flynn
Jasper
Maple
Poppy – so popular in the UK it’s almost stereotypical and predictable now
Reed
Rowan
Scarlett

: )

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