Butterfly and other Nature Names from the Sky

butterfly baby names

Secret nature names are an intriguing category: baby names that reference animals or weather or some other aspect of nature in their meaning without being explicit about it the way names such as Lily and Fox are.

If you’re a nature lover but value subtlety in your name choices, these kinds of secret nature names may be perfect for you.  We’ve explored secret garden names in the past, but today we turn our attention to nature names from the sky: names that mean butterfly and bird, that relate to rain and clouds and the sky itself.

Here, a wide range of secret nature names from many cultures:

Girls’ Names

Alizeh – This Persian name meaning “wind” was used by actress Geena Davis for her daughter.

AmayaAmaia is a Basque name but its homonym Amaya is a Japanese name that means “night rain”.

Branwen — A Welsh name that might be thought of as Bronwen‘s lesser-known cousin, Branwen means “blessed raven.”

FarashaThis lovely Arabic names means “butterfly”.

Jarita – A legendary bird in Hindu mythology.

KimanaA Shoshone name meaning “butterfly”.

MariposaAnother butterfly name, long used as a first name in Spanish cultures.

Mavis – Another traditional first name, French for “songbird”.

Niley — This Aboriginal name meaning “shell” could be a fresh twist on Miley.

Palila – A rhythmic Hawaiian name that means “bird”.

SenaSena is a genus of moth and also an African name that means “bringing heaven to earth”.

Talia – The Hebrew Talia, as in Rocky actress Talia Shire, means “gentle dew from heaven”.

ToriTori may be famously short for Victoria, but it’s also a Japanese name that means “bird”.

VanessaThis literary classic invented by Jonathan Swift is also a species of butterfly.

YaraThis Arabic name meaning “small butterfly” is used in Brazil and Spain.

Boys’ Names

Branson — This patronymic means “son of the raven” — or owner of the airline.

Corbin — This name meaning “crow” was introduced in the 1980s by actor Corbin Bernsen but may just now be coming into its own via its trendy sound.

Dasan – Simple yet exotic, Dasan is a Native American name that means “son of bird clan leader”.

Dion – This 60s pop star name is Greek and means “child of heaven and earth”.

Efron – The handsome Efron is a Hebrew name that means “lark”.

Ingram — This unusual German name has the somewhat foreboding meaning “angel-raven”.

Kane or Keyne is a Celtic name meaning “man of the eastern sky.”

Lonan – This attractive Irish alternative to the overused Logan means “blackbird”.

Neal, Neil, or Niall – This Irish name and its variations mean “cloud”.

Zeru — A Basque name that means “sky”.


Halcyon – The fashionable Halcyon references the mythological kingfisher bird.

MerleLong used as a first name for both sexes, Merle is French for “blackbird”.

Zephyr or Zephyrine – Quirky and strong, these names are Greek for “west wind”.


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18 Responses to “Butterfly and other Nature Names from the Sky”

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Lia11 Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 12:20 am

Amaia is the basque form, there’s no y in Basque. The meaning is the end.

elrock13 Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 12:26 am

First commenter! I’m super excited that you mentioned Mariposa, one of my favorite guilty pleasure names. I’ve always loved its meaning and have a great nickname for it: Posy.

taliawhat Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 5:59 am

Judging by my username you MIGHT be able to tell that my name is Talia. Of course, not everyone pronounces it the way mine is (TAL-yuh, Tal as in talented). A lot of people say Tuh-LEE-uh or (ugh) TALL-ya.

Oh, and Thalia was the Greek muse of comedy! Pretty sweet. I love my name 🙂

How do you think Halcyon is supposed to be pronounced? It always looked so pretty to me.

Pam Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 6:11 am

Hi Talia — My understanding is that Halcyon is pronounced HAL-see-on, with the Hal sounding like, well, Tal in talent.

LilySong Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 6:53 am

Where did you find this meaning for Canada? In history class, we’re taught that it is an Iroquois word for “village”. This meaning is very pretty, but is it true????

Pam Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 6:59 am

Yikes! LilySong, you’re right! Too bad — wherever that meaning came from, it was very poetic, but alas, wrong. Thanks.

Mego0801 Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 7:15 am

I love this list so much!! Mariposa is a lovely name, I plan on using it as a reverse nn when I have a daughter named Posy 🙂 I also added Palila to my list, it’s beautiful! I don’t think there is a name on this list that I don’t like, i’m definitely bookmarking this page!!

nat108 Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

The Brazilian/Spanish Yara- a water nymph- is different from the Arabic Yara.

Hilary Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Love a lot of these–Sena, Mariposa (love nn Posy), Palila . . . But my favorite “sky” name is the Hawaiian Noelani, meaning “heavenly mist.”

calliewalker718 Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I quite like Lonan…

Goodkarmavt Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Love Sena made the list! Been talking it up a lot recently since its our daughters birth name and we’re working on middles 🙂

Aurra Says:

March 28th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

FYI, Amaya is properly pronounced uh-ma-ya *(uh as in law and ma as in Molly) in Japanese, not Ah-MY-uh.

tori101 Says:

March 30th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

My favourites:



Ysaline Says:

March 31st, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Mariposa is a pejorative slang term for gay men in several Spanish-speaking countries. The Spanish speakers I know consider Mariposa to be ridiculous as a given name. I can see the attraction just based on the literal meaning and the sound, but I think it’s worth considering how a name is currently perceived in the culture(s) it comes from before using it.

Also, Mavis comes from Old French ‘mauvis’ via English; it has no meaning in modern French. I apologize if this sounds nitpicky but it would be incorrect to inform people that Mavis means songbird in French; it does not.

So as not to end on a negative note, I absolutely love Zephyr and Zephyrine. 🙂

Poppy528 Says:

April 1st, 2013 at 4:57 pm

LOL you are killing me with Sena and Halcyon. First a laxative, then a sleeping pill? If a mom said, “I have to go pick up my little Sena,” I would think ew TMI.

nature names Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

May 21st, 2013 at 11:03 pm

[…] What are your favorite nature names?  Do you tend to like one group of names over another, prefer nature names that keep their source secret or those that come right out and say […]

Tucson_AZflower Says:

October 21st, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I really like Jarita, thanks for the list!

wickedjr89 Says:

October 31st, 2013 at 8:07 pm

I love Zephyr and Zephyrine! I also love Vanessa and didn’t know it was a species of butterfly, now I love it even more!

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