Hidden Nature Names for Earth Day

By John Kelly

On April 22nd, we observe Earth Day, celebrating—and fighting for the protection of—our wild and wonderful world. Nature has, no doubt, inspired many a majestic name, like Maple, River, or Meadow. But other potential baby names are less obvious, hiding nature in their roots. Here’s a mix from sea to sky and A to Z:


Albion transports us to ancient Great Britain, the oldest name for the island which may hail from Celtic roots meaning “world.” While a smattering of historic figures have borne the name, you’re not going to find it much elsewhere outside of poetry, making Albion an enchanting boy’s name for the literary-minded parent. It also conjures up Alban, closely associated with a Roman British saint, perhaps appealing to the more reverential.


If you’re a mythology buff, you’ll know Atlas is a powerful name. For the Ancient Greeks, Atlas was the primordial god who held up the whole universe on his back—like a mountain, which some think his name may originally mean. The Atlas name inspires the Atlantic Ocean, a road or world atlas, and an increasing number of newborn boys. Atlas skyrocketed from obscurity in 2012 to #403 in 2016 and 102 on Nameberry. Edward Norton, as one notable example, named his son Atlas in 2013.


As boy’s name, Caspian feels refreshing like a desert oasis and dreamy-eyed like the prince of a mystical land. And for good reason. The salty Caspian Sea stretches between Europe and Asia and Prince Caspian gallantly voyages in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. The name has charmed Berries, #94 on our site last year, and Neve Campbell, who christened her son Caspian in 2012. We’ll be keeping an eye on this seafarer.


The name Celeste sings to the heavens. Indeed, it means “heavenly” in Latin, from a deeper root for “sky.” It’s lyrical yet classic, charting in the Top 1000 since records have been kept. It climbed to a record #204 in 2004 and was 495 in 2016. And the celestial Celeste literally has star power, borne by women from the late Hollywood legend Celeste Holm to rising country music start Celeste Kellogg.


There’s something about H names, isn’t there? They have an unassuming dignity. Take Harlan, a handsome two-syllable boy’s name ending with that sought-after final N—and not to be confused with the trendy Harley. It literally means “hare’s land” or “rocky land.” The name knows a thing or two about ups and down, consistently ranking in the Top 300 in the 1910–30s before bottoming out by the 1970s. Is it seeing a comeback? Harlan sneaked up to #829 in 2016. Harlan Coben is a popular mystery writer.


Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System and Ancient Roman king of gods, is getting some favor as a boy’s name, joining Orion, Mars, Zeus, and Atlas as mythological monikers coming into vogue. Rocker Billy Corgan adopted it in 2015 as a middle name for his son, Augustus Juppiter, whose spelling resembles a form of the name in the pantheon of yore. Jupiter means god-father in Latin, related to deus, whose ancient root points to the “sky” or “heaven.” Jupiter definitely makes a statement. Or consider Jove, from another Roman name for Jupiter, if you want something a bit less audacious.


Muriel is an old Irish name meaning “bright sea”—and is associated by many with older generations, as it was a Top 200-er in the 1910–30s. Musty or mellifluous? Muriel may be due for a revival (it has seen the Top 1000 since 1964), with vintage names like Eleanor, Josephine and Beatrice dusting off the past century of disuse. She goes by Muireall in Scottish Gaelic, which may set it apart for folks on the fence.


From roasted reds to earthy oranges, sienna is a pigment and color word historically connected to the rolling Tuscan hillsides of Siena, Italy. It’s also an immensely popular girl’s name all around the English-speaking world. In 2016, it was #236 in the US, #71 in Ireland, #68 in Scotland and Canada, #53 in Northern Ireland, #32 in New Zealand, #28 in England and Wales, and #20 in Australia. Sienna Miller is the celebrity most associated with the name, while other celebs, including Kevin James, Ciara and Ellen Pompeo have chosen it for their daughters.


Trent, in contrast to Sienna, is like a single snap of a snare drum. It’s associated with the River Trent coursing through the West Midlands of England as well as former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott and Nine Inch Nails front man (Michael) Trent Reznor. Several noted America football players have the name—perhaps there’s something seen as super-masculine about Trent’s monosyllable. It is a strapping name for a boy, and more popular than we may realize, coming in at #642 in 2016.


Those Ancient Greeks couldn’t get enough of nature, and we can’t seem to get enough of mythological baby names. Zephyr was the personification of the west wind for Homer and Socrates, sometimes used a literary term for soft, gentle breezes. It’s a cool name for a girl or boy—and a high-scoring Scrabble word, to boot, with that dazzling letter Z. Actor Zephyr Benson rocks it, as does the inimitably named Zephyr Rain Teachout, two-time New York political candidate and law professor.

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5 Responses to “Hidden Nature Names for Earth Day”

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Kew Says:

April 17th, 2018 at 5:53 am

Muireall is lovely – so pretty and fresh.

crispy Says:

April 17th, 2018 at 6:29 am

I don’t think Muriel will be revived in Australia any time soon!

Thanks to the Toni Colette movie ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ any poor child with that name will constantly be told “you’re terrible Muriel” (as per the movie quote).

chelseyrs1991 Says:

April 17th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

I LOVE seeing Harlan on a list! It has such an old soul quality to it and fits our 2 year old perfectly!

lesliemarion Says:

April 17th, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Albion, Jupiter, Zephyr, and Muriel are gorgeous.

ceryle Says:

April 18th, 2018 at 12:07 am

Harlan is on my list! I did not know about its nature meaning, so thanks for that. I got it from the name of a red-tailed hawk subspecies, the Harlan’s hawk (named by Audubon after a naturalist). All kinds of nature connections with this one 🙂

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