FROM ARNO TO ZEZERE: River Names That Really Flow
We think and talk a lot about place names–countries like China, states like Georgia, cities like Dallas, even boroughs like Brooklyn. And we also think and talk about nature names, of flowers and trees. Well there’s one category that merges the two together, and that’s river names.
I was planning to put together a list of interesting river names worldwide, but I came upon so many intriguing and unusual possibilities in Western Europe alone, that I decided to save our own country, England and Ireland and others farther afield for some time in the future. Some of those listed here are major waterways like the Seine, others are much smaller streams; and some run through more than one country. And I’m sure you’ll notice that there are those that sound decidedly masculine (Arno), while others could be possible girls’ names (Adaja).
Not surprisingly, some of the most appealing names come from the French countryside:
And here are some Latinate choices from Italy, Spain, and Portugal:
DANUBE (which is shown in the illustration)
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on March 16th, 2009 at 7:38 am
Brendan Fraser’s (former?) wife was named Afton, after a river in Scotland. In looking at a list of rivers in Scotland, I saw another good name: Deveron. I like the idea of naming someone after a river.
on March 16th, 2009 at 8:34 am
Great idea! I am so thrilled I found this web site! My husband and I have the HARDEST time finding names for our kids. We are expecting #3 in August and have no names that we like. I know for sure this site will offer something unique (but not obnoxiously so). I can’t wait to see what other ideas you come up with!!!! Have you ever investigated product names for babies? Our daughter is named Killian and I saw your article on beers. I was so excited to see her name here!
on March 16th, 2009 at 7:44 pm
I know an Orla! I think in her case, it’s an anglcisation (did I spell that right?) of Orfhlaith, it means “golden princess’ in Gaelic, Aint it gorgeous? 🙂
Ulla makes me think of “The Producers” and I would name a girl Vienne, no problem! Some of these don’t work for me though: Vliet, looks like Violet missing a vowel!
on March 16th, 2009 at 9:09 pm
Here are some more Portuguese rivers that i think would sound sweet for babies: Tâmega, Mondego, Tejo (or Tagus), Limia, Caio, Zêzere, Tua. All cute, huh? I like this idea…
Emmy Jo Said
on March 16th, 2009 at 9:16 pm
You’ve run across some lovely possibilities.
For girls, my favorites would be Aire, Vienne, Caia, Maira, Navia, Sella, Leda, Orla, and Senne.
For boys, I like the idea of Calavon, Aragon, Tiber, Isar, and Ardos.
A little voice in the back of my head is cautioning me that it would probably be a good idea to check into the etymology of these river names before bestowing one on a real child.
on March 18th, 2009 at 4:30 pm
Regen is the Dutch word for Rain 😀 I recently found out that there’s a Dutch river named Mark, I didn’t even know that. I thought of it when I read this article, as Mark is an actual name that’s being used 😀
on March 28th, 2009 at 9:12 pm
Diamantina is a River in Qld Australia that is pretty for a girl. Using a river, lake or place of significance is a really lovely idea 🙂
Ex Boyfriend Said
on April 9th, 2009 at 10:26 am
I read your posts for a long time and should tell that your articles are always valuable to readers.
on November 13th, 2009 at 2:06 am
We named our baby boy Cullen (which also means handsome), after a river not far from where we live. As both my partner and I were born in the Northern Territory of Australia, I wanted a name to link him to where he was born. We are now pregnant again, and I am on the hunt for another NT river name that i like and that is a bit different.
on December 2nd, 2009 at 9:35 am
we named my first child a boy jordan and our second a girl shannon both river ames although we didnt choose them because of that it just ended up that way! im lookin for another river name but nothing fancy or foreign sounding which is proving difficult i think i already have the top two names of rivers for babys lol
Pam Rivers Said
on March 26th, 2010 at 11:58 pm
My daughter’s name is Adele ( a river in Bougainville) near New Guinea. I only found that out today! Alice Springs is on the Todd River, NT, Australia. Murray is also another good name (the largest river in Aust), the border of the two states of New South Wales and Victoria.
on August 27th, 2010 at 9:04 am
I went with a British river naming theme for one of my Sim families, lol: Clyde, Trent, Don, Cam, Taff, all boys.
on August 8th, 2014 at 2:12 pm
Our son’s middle name is JORDAN; my mother loved that name and always regretted not using it to name one of my brothers. So, it was in her honor that we chose it for him. (She was dying). My paternal grandpa was Scottish/English and his name was Cyrus CLYDE; glad they are both coming back. Also, VLIET (pronounced as one word with Vleet) St is just a couple miles from where I live. Didn’t know it was Dutch!
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