Baby Name Numerology: Number Names Count!
Baby name numerology holds that every letter of every name counts toward its significance, but number names count more than most.
Numerical names might reflect a child’s place in the birth order — if I had eight children I’d definitely consider Octavia for the youngest — or the day or month they were born, or a number that’s meaningful to you.
It might even be a spur-of-the-moment decision, as with Roald Dahl’s daughter Olivia Twenty, who was named for a $20 note in Dahl’s pocket (that, and her birthday on April 20).
In some countries you can even put a numeral in your child’s name, like the Samoan child named after a full rugby score: Wales Manu Samoa 9-34 Moamoa Gale. But in many places it’s not allowed, so number names have to be spelled out.
You could also consider baby name numerology, where the letters in a name add up to a significant number. Even if you don’t set much store by it, it could help if you need a tiebreaker between spellings. There’s a whole numerology series over at Nancy’s Baby Names: she calculated the value of hundreds of popular names so you don’t have to.
Here, we round up the options for number names, with spotlights on a few special categories.
English Number Names
These are a special category of word names. In theory you could use any number, but these are tried and tested in real life.
Five — The Novogratz design couple named their fifth child Five Beck (he’s joint fifth with his twin brother Holleder).
Seven — Best-known from David Beckham’s daughter Harper Seven, this name was already rising for boys and girls before she was born.
Nine — British footballer Andy Carroll took a leaf out of Beckham’s book and named his son Wolf Nine. It was his player number at the time, but — a word of warning — he has since changed team and number.
Eleven — Pre-Stranger Things, few of use would have thought of Eleven as a name. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so strange, and it’s started to appear on the charts for both sexes. The Swedish word, Elva, is even more namelike.
Million and Billion — fast-climbing boy names that belong to the same aspirational style as royal names.
Amillion and Trillion are also used occasionally.
International Number Names
Number names are plentiful in other languages and cultures. You can use number names the way they were used originally, to designate birth order or for some other reason having to do with the number itself. For this reason, it's no surprise that one is the most common numerical name!
Or you can consider the meaning of the name a fascinating sidelight.
Here, from 1 to 10, a range of number names from around the world, with their meanings.
Ensio — Finnish, from the word for “first”.
Hana — “One” in Korean, and a popular Anglo-Korean crossover.
Ilkin — “First” in Turkish and Azerbaijani.
Kensa — “First” in Cornish
Mona — One root of this international name is the Greek word for “one”.
Mosi — “First child” in Swahili.
Parvan — From the Bulgarian word for “first”.
Primo / Prima — “First” in Latin; this is the first part of Primrose.
Proteus — A Greek sea god, from a word meaning “first”.
Una — One possible origin is “one” in Latin.
Winona — “Firstborn daughter” in Dakota.
Deuce — Gaming term for the number two.
Malachy — By a slightly tenuous route, this Irish name may come from the Latin
Nessa — “Second” in Cornish.
Segundo — “Second” in Spanish.T
wain — Archaic word for two.
Terza — “Third” in Italian.
Trace, Trey, Tripp — Nicknames for a third namesake (the child of a junior).
Tressa — “Third” in Cornish.
Trinity — A three name with religious significance. International variants include
Trinidad, Troian, and Hirune.
Ivy — Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s clever adaptation of the Roman numerals IV
Quade — An Irish surname that is also associated with the Latin word for “fourth”.
Rabia — From Arabic Raabi’a, “fourth” (the Muslim saint Rabia of Basra was a fourth daughter).
Cinca — Nickname for a fifth namesake, used by Usher for his son Usher Raymond V.
Quentin — one of several names from the Latin for “fifth”; others include Quintus, Quintessa, and (from other dialects) Pompey and Pontius. Stem-cell scientist George Q. Daley’s middle name is Quentin: he’s a fifth sibling.
Quinn — A false friend from non-numerical Irish roots, but it’s enough of a soundalike to use as a number name.
Sia — “Six” in Scottish Gaelic.
Sixten — A false friend, from Scandinavian origins.
Sixtus and Sixtine — These are possibly more false friends, but have been connected with the number six for centuries, at least since the sixth Pope, Sixtus. The British Member of Parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg used it for his sixth child.
7, 8, 9, and 10
Septimus and Septima — “Seventh” in Latin.
Octavia and Octavius— “Eighth” in Latin, with derivatives including Octavian, Tavian, and Ottavia.Otto — By coincidence, this Germanic name also means “eight” in Italian.
Nona — “Nine” in Latin and the Roman goddess of pregnancy.Tara — “Nine” Hausa, among this name’s many roots.
Decima and Decimus — “Tenth” in Latin. A more modern Spanish/Italian variant is Decio.
Dixie — Possibly from a nickname for a ten-dollar bill. A controversial choice, but it sits right on the edge of the Top 1000.
Japanese Number Names
Japanese names get their own special mention, because there’s a whole group of numerical names for boys, all ending an element meaning “son”. Here they are together:
Ichiro — first son
Jiro — second son
Saburo — third son
Shiro — fourth son
Goro — fifth son
Rokuro — sixth son
Hachiro — eighth son
Kuro — ninth son
Juro — tenth son
Did you spot the missing number? There are a bunch of Japanese names with the number seven in them, but most are female or unisex, such as…
Nanaka — seven + summer
Nanako — seven + rainbow
Nanami — seven + sea
(Thanks to the blog Beyond Sakura and Hiroshi for these. You can find more info and number seven names there.)
Letter Names as Numbers
It’s the numerology principle again: you could use a letter to represent the number of its position in the alphabet, like Delta for a fourth child.
Alpha — first letter (Greek). The Turkish version, Elif, is one of the most popular girl names in Turkey.
Beta — second letter (Greek), or Bea in English, or Beth / Bet in Hebrew
Delta — fourth letter (Greek), or Dee in English
Zeta — sixth letter (Greek)
Eta — seventh letter (Greek)
Theta — eighth letter (Greek)
Jay — J, tenth letter
Kay — K, eleventh letter
Elle — L, twelfth letter
Emme — M, thirteenth letter
Pi — sixteenth letter (Greek), or it could mean the mathematical constant Pi, as in 3.14.
Omega — The 24th and last letter in the Greek alphabet, and a modern Christian name that is currently in style. Any name starting with Z would also be a subtle way to mark a final child.
Names Meaning Last
Naming a last baby brings its own challenges. If you’re sure the shop is closed after this child, you could reflect that in the meaning of their name. Besides Omega, there are…
Anele — Zulu, “enough”, or, figuratively, “last born”.
Canute / Knut / Knute — Meaning “knot”, which symbolizes ending and closing.
Coda — The final section of a piece of music.
Soner — Turkish, “the last”.
Ultima and Ultimus — Latin, “last”.