12 Brilliant Baby Names

12 Brilliant Baby Names

If you believe that baby names are destiny and are hoping for a kid who will ace their SATs and go on to have a brilliant career and exhibit great wisdom in life, then a good strategy would be to choose a name that embodies intelligence and wisdom. And these are the smartest baby names that do all that.


Originally a lively o-ending German name meaning ‘old and wise’, Aldo has long been among the most popular baby names in Italy, where it’s Number 175, and is beginning to catch on here: it is now Number 617 in the US. Aldo Moro was an intellectual  prime minister of Italy and Aldo Raine (aka Aldo the Apache) is a main character in the film Inglourious Bastards.


The realm of the Greek goddess Athena included wisdom as well as mathematics and courage. At its most popular point ever in the US, the appealing Athena is now Number 157. Tina Fey, looked to her Greek heritage when she chose Athena as the middle name of daughter Penelope.


The meaning of Latin name Cato is ‘all-knowing’—it was given to the Roman statesman Cato the Elder for his sagacity and wisdom. A modernized Cato appeared in The Hunger Games, making it seem a more viable option, especially with its on-trend o-ending.


The mighty Quinn derives from the Irish conn, meaning wisdom and intelligence. One of the few popular Q names, Quinn was once strictly blue but is now in the girls’ Top 100, thanks in part to cute cheerleader Quinn Fabray in Glee and now Quinn Perkins in Scandal.


Minerva is the Roman equivalent of the Greek wisdom goddess and, with adorable nickname Minnie, is more than ripe for reconsideration. A classic Harry Potter moniker, Minerva factored in the Top 55 through the early 1920s, dropping off the list in 1973. But our Berries place her at Number 417.


Odin, supreme Norse god of culture and wisdom, seems like a perfect choice for a 2016 baby boy—strong, solid and accessible. In Norse mythology (and Marvel comics), he is the father of Thor and Loki. Now a Top 500 name in the US, Netherlands and Norway, Odin makes a cool international cousin to Aiden and Auden. Nick Carter recently chose it for his son.


This unusual baby boy name, meaning ‘wise man’, that comes all the way from Madagascar would make a strikingly distinctive namesake tribute for a Grandpa Ken. Cuban-born first baseman Kendry Morales (born Kendrys) has played for several American teams. Kendry is also a Scottish surname.


This sleek but fragrant herbal name, and word name meaning wise, is a unisex hit baby name, though more for girls leading  boys  370 to 649. Derived from the fact that the ancients believed burning sage leaves imparted wisdom, Sage was used by Toni Collette and Jack Huston for their daughters and is a character on Vampire Diaries.


Two names that mean ‘mind, intellect’ and are both seeing renewed interest. The patrician, single-syllable Hugh boasts several attractive bearers—Hughs Jackman, Grant, Dancy and Laurie. The livelier o-ending Hugo now ranks at Number 432, and was used by actress Ginnifer Goodwin for her son, and by Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.


Sophia, which means ‘wisdom’ in Greek, needs no introduction, being the third most popular baby name in the US and a worldwide smash. But how about considering one of its other-culture variations, such as Sonia/Sonja, Zofia or Zosia?


A name that connotes wisdom from its biblical story, Solomon is now back among the Top 400 baby names for the first time since the 1920s, so a lot more Sols (which also has he nice sun connection) will soon be joining buds Ben, Jake and Sam.


The Irish variation of Raymond—they both mean ‘wise protector’. Redmond first drew attention as a baby name via Redmond O’Neal, the now grown son of Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal. And if you don’t want to nickname your Redmond Red, in Ireland Mundy is sometimes used.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.