Word Baby Names: New Noun names from Haven to Holiday

Out-of-the-box word  baby names are highlighted in the Nameberry 9 this week, unearthed as always, by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain.

It’s been another big week for noun names.  They were all over Hollywood gossip blogs, and appeared in plenty of workaday birth announcements, too.

There’s no doubt that this is a rich category.  Flower names make us consider trees – meet my daughter, Lily, and my son, Cedar.  Weather and birds feel like inexhaustible sources of inspiration.  There are the old school, Puritan-era virtue names, but also more recent innovations, rich with meaning.

Sometimes the influence is more subtle.  Surname Brooks is preppier than River, but both bring to mind the great outdoors.  Clementine and Olive have been used for so long we consider them names, but they’re both on the upswing today, lifted by the trend.

May, June, and August are mainstream, but I’m not so sure about January, and it is always surprising to hear September, October, or NovemberApril is definitely a noun name, but Avril is cooler.  And if Avril is an option, how about Janvier?

Alicia Silverstone’s Bear Blu is widely dismissed as outlandish, but we’re fine with Leo.

Violet leads to Lilac and Lavender and maybe even Plum … which takes us right back to Clementine.

Where will it end?

Noun names just plain work.  They’re familiar, easy to spell and pronounce, but many of them are relatively rare.  If you’re hoping for a name that fits in and stands out, a noun name is a promising choice.

Noun names were all over this week’s baby name news:

North – Word is that Kim and Kanye are considering this name for their baby on the way.  North Kardashian sounds like an explorer from an earlier time – and a Hollywood baby name, too.  Better yet, a high profile newborn North could start a trend.  Only trouble?  Kanye’s last name is WestNorth West?  I think this one is a joke.

BaronIf you’re after a pitch perfect hipster name, Earl’s your best bet.  And Bill and Giuliana Rancic’s son could give Duke a boost.  But Baron has always been the title name that fascinates me.  He turned up in birth announcements from New Jersey this week.  Only trouble?  Baron plus any surname still sounds an awful lot like a title.  Donald Trump’s youngest son answers to Barron – more evidence that this is a truly royal choice.

FrostWinter, Rain, Summer, Sunny.  Why not Frost?  With its surname status and links to the poet Robert Frost, there’s more than one reason to consider this crisp nature name.  I love it in the middle spot, as in this recently seen combination: Mason Frost.

LyricEver since Jada Pinkett Smith answered to his name in 1994’s Jason’s Lyric, the musical appellation has captured our attention.  Few names sound like Lyric – she stands out while fitting right in with Harmony and Aria.  Or maybe with Chord and Drummer.  Actor Jeremy London gave the name to a son, re-spelled Lyrik.

HavenJessica Alba’s older daughter answers to the virtue name HonorLittle sis wears a more modern, but equally meaningful pick.  Other possibilities with a similar vibe:  Harbor, Shelter or maybe Reef or Bay.  Chapel comes to mind, too.  Paired with a conventional first name, it makes for a stunning combination, like Cecilia Haven.

WolfAnother daring nature name that could be a surname, he works nicely in the middle spot, like in this birth announcement for Rohan Wolf.  But he’s also a potential first name, somehow less outrageous than Wolfgang, unless your last name is Mozart or Van Halen.

Ridge – While we’re talking about nature names with a tough guy vibe, how about the rugged Ridge?  He’s not one I’d ever thought about, but a Pennsylvania birth announcement for Ridge Asher has me intrigued.  It is sometimes a surname, as in Pennsylvania’s former governor Tom Ridge.  Fans of the politician, perhaps?

Passion – This one comes from Australia via Waltzing More than Matilda.  Better yet, she’s the youngest of a dozen children.  Her siblings include Diammond and Indigo, Shania and Jenaya.  (Let’s hope those two don’t actually rhyme.)  Is Passion too much?  I’ve come to appreciate choices like Divine, Glow, and Justice, and yet I think this one might go too far.

Holiday – Actor Harold Perrineau and wife Brittany have embraced noun names, but their third daughter’s appellation is the most different yet.  Holiday Grace joins Wynter and Aurora at home.  With ties to Breakfast at Tiffany’s – in the book, it is Holly Golightly’s full name – and an upbeat sound, Holiday is quirky cool.

Have you spotted any interesting noun names?  Are there choices that you think could become more popular?  Or are noun names not your style?

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33 Responses to “Word Baby Names: New Noun names from Haven to Holiday”

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sarahmezz Says:

March 24th, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I love nature names! Not all noun names are my style, but flowery natury names are definitely up my alley. From your list, I love Frost, Lyric, Haven, Wolf and Holiday. But I’m not so sure about Passion. “Title” names can get you into trouble sometimes. There’s a couple in Australia who was banned from naming their son Duke because it’s a title. I think they eventually were allowed to name him that, though.

magicpotato Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 1:20 am

Am I wrong to not consider Clementine a word name? I know that they are the name of a fruit, but wasn’t it a name first? Either way, I’m a big proponent of word names.

makeupbyjanine Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 1:23 am

I bet Ridge is after Ridge Forrester, a long-standing character on the Bold and the Beautiful (an American soap opera). He has a brother named Thorn, and his daughter Bridget was names after him and Brooke, his wife. Interesting names on that show. Not that I watch it or anything… 😉

pderosier Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 2:15 am

My son’s name is a noun name. His name is Cross, and we live it. I love unusual names, and noun names. Others I have been considering are Honor, Serenity, Clay, Justice, and Hero. Yup, I try to give them a more normal middle name that they can go by in case they hate it. For example, Cross’ middle name is Alexander, and together, his first and middle names mean, “the cross is mankind’s defender”

Arlina Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 2:58 am

I think Honor is the worst! Ever since it was mentioned in a scrubs episode – I cant unhear this “did you get on her, yeah I got honor, everyone got Honor coz she’s easy!”

Abby Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 5:30 am

@magicpotato – I know what you mean about Clementine. I think most people would put her closer to name than noun, but there’s still the citrus fruit …

stripedsocks Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 6:19 am

Ivy, Opal, Hazel / Heath, Peregrine, Fox – Lots of favourites among nature names. Could go on forever here. Girls especially, I like probably fifty flower names and I won’t list them all because then I’ll get banned, ha.

Virtues? Much harder for me. I think my favourite there is easily Verity. Sounds terrible to say… but I don’t care for Hope or Joy. xD

I’m inconsistent: I love August for a boy but don’t like any month for a girl, only Winter and Autumn. I like Calico but not Lacy.

I keep hearing that gemstones are the new flower name but I don’t think that’s true – branch out beyond Ruby at ALL and people think you’re insane. I like Opal and Emerald as first names and Peridot and Topaz as middles and even on NB people are like “stripedsocks, you’re weird.”

larkub101 Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 6:55 am

Haven and Holiday are both on my absolute favorite list! Now I’m a little peeved that celebs got to them first…lol

I like North and Baron. Not a fan of Frost – too snowman-y. Also appreciate Wolf, Ridge, and Lyric. Passion is too fruity.

UselessKitty Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 9:17 am

I think it is funny that they recommend Wolf because it is “less outrageous” than Wolfgang. We actually have Wolfgang on our list over Wolf because we considered it more normal and more usable.

Flick Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 9:47 am

I think there is a very fine line to walk with using word names. I admit to loving quite a large number of them, but there are some things(like Passion)that just come off as tacky and inappropriate. I get the whole “Well if THIS is ok, then why not THIS”, but there really does need to be a line – these children have to grow up and function as an adult and be able to be taken seriously as professionals.

blush Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 10:27 am

Word names are my favourite genre. I like unusual, barely known word names, too, which always leave me wondering if I’m pushing it too far. Plum is the perfect example. I love it and I want to use it, but does it really work? Is it wearable? Would she hate her name forever? I’m never sure.

alphabetdem Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 11:14 am

blush, I think you’re just better going with what you really want. I read so many stories of people with namer’s remorse and that’s sad. Also, I have a super normal name and I’ve always disliked it because it’s so dull and normal. So if your kid hates it their whole life, it could be for any number of reasons.

I’m on board with the flowery/nature names… virtue names leave me cold. And there does seem to be some invisible line where it starts to get tacky and tasteless. It’s like comparing the names “Joy” and “Chastity.” Both have very different pictures of girls attached to them… especially as adults.

I do like the Winter, North names though. I think we can call them “seasonal.” 🙂

Divine1 Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 11:18 am

I like the name Lyric BUT ONLY for a girl!
I knew a girl named Passion and I thought that wat a great name & still do.
I don’t like Ridge at all, although I thouht DD Briget was a nice way to honor dad & mom Brooke. (I know sisters Britney, Brooke, & Bridget).

Bear Blu is outrageous 🙁 and I wouldn’t take him seriously at all!
Holiday is nice & different. Reminds me of the movie Holday’s Heart (such a good heart, warming movie)!
I could get used to North.

skizzo Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 11:58 am

I like Lyric but only for a boy…

tori101 Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I love North so cool and collective. Frost is cute in combination like Eleanor Frost even though I’ve had a enough of snow, ice and frost!! Please warm up UK! Haha. I also like Lyric she’s rather delicate. I like Ridge too. But I’m more of a traditionalist like Clementine and Violet over something outrageous like Bear Blu.


tori101 Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I also like Holiday!!

maggiemary Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 3:01 pm

There is an English actress named Holliday Granger. The name is growing on me.

misskendra Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I love word names paired with classic middles…. Peace Lilly Marie, Ocean Eston Allen, Graham Jacob Michael. Options for next babies Amour or Reign for girls. Any ideas for boys?

MeleriHaf Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I love noun names, and I’m a big fan of the virtue names. (When I was ten, I wanted to name my daughters Faith, Hope, Charity, Harmony, and Paige. Don’t ask where Paige came from.) I do like Jessica Alba’s daughters’ names, but they bug me as a set because although they both are spelled with an H at the beginning, the h isn’t pronounced in Honor. But when it’s paired with Haven, I want to say the h sound in Honor. Anyway…just wanted to get that off my chest. 🙂

shanbrownie Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I have fallen in love with Holiday nn Holly! I think it would be the perfect name for a December baby. Also loving Frost as a middle name.

Passion is too much. Ridge is too soap opera.

I was thinking of word names the other day and thought of ‘Feather’ and ‘Navy’ as cool options.

peach25 Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 4:09 pm

I’ve always liked Haven ever since I found it inscribed in a very old copy of Winnie-the-Pooh. Wondered who that child was. Of the virtue names, I like Comfort and Mercy. Had a great-aunt Charity.

spinfairy Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

You never know – if Haven becomes too popular people might start spelling it backwards!! Nevah, no never 😉

Abby Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 6:44 pm

@peach25 – what a GREAT story! And my favorite virtue name is Constance, which definitely feels like a name. I like the idea of Constancy and Clarity, too. They’re a little more out there.

@shanbrownie – Love the idea of Navy!

@MeleriHaf – Funny, you’re right about Onor/Honor when said with Haven.

@UselessKitty – I might be wrong … my gut is that Wolf would be perceived as more wearable. But I’m going over to Facebook to ask …

encore Says:

March 25th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I like Holiday. And Lyric.

Kanye West threatens to name his baby North : DELLA RUSSEL'S JOURNAL Says:

March 26th, 2013 at 4:41 am

[…] the statement was likely a ploy to keep fans guessing, Nameberry reports that nouns are indeed a baby-naming trend these days, with Ridge and Holiday some of the […]

librarybooks Says:

March 26th, 2013 at 10:06 am

CTRL+F ‘rainbow’
search string not found.


Scrambledmegs Says:

March 27th, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Met a 20-something named Bright the other day. Simply shining with potential!

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

March 27th, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Passion could be a virtue name, as in the Passion of Christ, or a holiday name, as in Passion Sunday.

This article explains that Brinessa Martin chose her younger daughters’ names using poetry, an iPhone app and adding extra letters.


chan Says:

August 9th, 2013 at 7:31 am

I love the name Honor

lexical Says:

November 9th, 2013 at 1:15 am

I just finished reading Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I am fairly certain that it does not say anywhere in there that Holly’s full first name is Holiday. Can you verify this? I’m okay with being proven wrong! 🙂 I just want to see some evidence!

Abby Says:

November 9th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

@lexical – I don’t think anyone actually calls her Holiday. But in the very beginning, Paul reads it on the mailbox:

“I’d been living in the house about a week when I noticed that the mailbox belonging to Apt. 2 had a name-slot fitted with a curious card. Printed, rather Cartier-formal, it read: Miss Holiday Golightly; and, underneath, in the corner, Traveling. It nagged me like a tune: Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling.”

KjStormy Says:

January 21st, 2014 at 2:31 am

One word name i cant stand is Blue, i also don’t really like Holiday or Passion. There is definitelt a line to be drawn, i feel really sorry for the girl who was apparently named Hashtag, that is way to far. But on the other hand mnay word names are very pretty. For instance I love, Lyric, North, Frost and Haven. I also like Snow, Winter, Autumn, Sky, Cherry, Wolf, Fox, Bear aswell as all the pretty flower names. I love Clementine. 🙂

paperheart21 Says:

April 8th, 2014 at 11:10 am

I gave my 2 year old daughter a noun + virtue name (Lyric and Hope), but with a regular name thrown in that is also my middle name (Miranda). She goes by Lyric, but has two good alternatives should she grow to dislike having a name that is considered quirky (and we definitely hear our share and then some of rude comments when we tell people her name). I don’t know what the years will bring for the name Lyric, but for now, the reactions we receive are that people either really love it or really hate it. I’ll never understand some people’s inclination to arbitrarily weigh in on someone else’s child’s name.

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