Winter Baby Names: From Amethyst to Zohara

December 21, 2011 Linda Rosenkrantz

It’s the first day of winter–and plummeting temperatures and shorter days mean just one thing at Nameberry: it’s time to revisit  and update our annual survey of winter baby names. Just a few years ago, we might have said that Winter was the season least friendly to names, whereas now it seems to offer the newest choices for the adventurous baby namer.

Why?  Two reasons:  Nicole Richie choosing Winter as one of the middle names for her high-profile little girl Harlow and then Gretchen Mol using it as her daughter’s first, plus January Jones, beauteous star of the hit show Mad Men.

Winter is the season name that’s seen the least amount of use over the years, yet one that holds the most potential for boys as well as girls.  Translations of the seasonal name include the French Hiver (pronounced ee-vair), Italian Inverno, and in Spanish, Invierno.   In Dutch and German, it’s still Winter and and in Swedish, the comical-sounding (to the English speaker’s ear) Vinter. In mythology, winter was said to be caused by Demeter in grief over the loss of her daughter Persephone, consigned forever to the underworld (but rising again as a baby name, with or without the pronunciation of the final long e).

December, still a highly unusual month name yet certainly a usable one, means ten.  Other versions you may want to consider: Decima, name of the Roman goddess of childbirth; DecembraDecimus, or DecioDecember’s flower is the narcissus or holly, suggesting the names Narcissa (difficult at best) and Holly (definitely worn at the edges).  December gem Turquoise can work as a name, as can Aqua or its Turkish equivalent Fairuza.  Red, however, seems more suitable as December’s color, which leads you to a whole spectrum of great names, from Scarlett to Crimson to Rufus and Rory.

January is named after Janus, god of beginnings.  January Wayne was the lead character of Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough, and the inspiration for January Jones’ parents.  The Saxons called January the Wolf Month.  A few other names related to wolf: Conan, Lowell, GuadalupePhelan, Fillin, Ralph, Raoul, Rollo, Ulric and Zev.

In Finland, it’s called the Month of the Oak. Names with meanings related to Oak: Adair, Oak, DarraghIlana,OakleyOgden, and QuennelGarnetis the month’s gem and in Japan, the flower is the name-worthy Camellia.

February is from a Latin word meaning purification, unlikely to inspire many baby-namers.  It’s also called the Mud month and the Kale month.  More promising: Finns call it the Month of the Pearl.  Viola and Primrose are February’s flowers; its stone is Amethyst and so Violet – or Iolanthe or Yolanda — would be other appropriate choices. Jack and Frost are both good winter baby names; we’ve even heard of a chic little Parisian Frostine.  Snow is lovely, and can be turned into Neve or NevaNevada, or Yuki.  Crystal fits the theme, though at this point is not so sparkly.

And what is snow but white?  Nameberry highlights a long list of names that mean white. Some of our favorites:

Several seasonal holidays might inspire a name for your winter baby.  We’ll be saying a lot more about Christmas names later this week, so we won’t cover those here.  But you might want to consider Kwanzaa names such as Nia (for purpose) and Imani (meaning faith); Bodhi, for the Buddhist day of enlightenment in December; Soyala – Hopi for the Winter Solstice; Epiphany, Valentine, and King, along with Presidents’ Day hero names George, Washington, Abraham, or Lincoln.

And then of course there’s Hanukkah, suggesting the eternal winter celebration of light.  There are dozens of wonderful names whose meanings relate to light. A few great ideas:


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