Word Baby Names: Pro or con?

Question of the Week: How do you feel about word names?

Of course the category of word names encompasses a lot of different types: nature names, color names, virtue names and other nouns (and the line between words and names sometimes blurs).

Which kinds do you and do you not like?

How about spiritual names such as Trinity, Serenity, Journey?

Musical names like Cadence, Harmony, Lyric?

Newer names like Dream, Story, Fable?

Would you use one?

Did you use one?

Do you have a favorite?

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

comments

42 Responses to “Word Baby Names: Pro or con?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Noetje Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 1:46 am

I love these as middle names, like Georgiana Snow and Lorien Sonnet Louise. But for some reason I only like them for girls.

Nyx Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 2:51 am

There are a lot of word names that I don’t mind, and some I even find cute (like Paisley). However, I once met a mother named Tree (yep, that was actually the name on her driver’s license) who had a son named Leaf. I always wondered what would happen if she had any more children (maybe a little Apple?). IMO, that was just too many word-names in one family 🙂

Mary Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 2:54 am

I think some are little odd, like Tree or Apple. But I like Serenity and Constance. More old-fashioned names.

BasicSand Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 4:18 am

Despite the current popularity of certain names like Grace, I feel that word names will always be unusual.

One of my favorite names out there is Verity. I too like the virtue/Puritan names like mercy and Unity as well in the Mitford sisters style.

This parallels for me time names. Months like May are especially common and I like the variation of Augusta.

Flower names get a tendency to be overused like Rose or Daisy. Tree names like Birch would work better in the middle.

Celestial names like Star seemed more sci-fi and fantasy based. It’s more likely to be the name of fictional character than an actual person.

The only fruit name that I’d actually use would be Plum. When it comes to spices, Cinnamon sounds more like a stripper. I’d actually use Basil.

I feel bird names are a yet to be discovered territory. Wren’s gorgeous for a girl while Peregrine and Crane would be cool either as first if not middle names.

Mineral names are more common with boys. They just sound to soap opera-ish like Ridge or Slate. Precious stones like Opal seem more for girls.

In the end, place names are probably the most likely of word names to be used. The trendy Austin and Paris don’t seem to decline.

ycw Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 7:22 am

I like them. My niece’s middle name is Autumn.

Joy, Ruby, and Maranatha are special names to me.

On my list:
Rose, May, Trinity, Faith, Bonnie, Charity, Eden, Virginia “Ginger,” John, Mark, Selah

Used to be on my list:
Christian, Grace, Glory, Victory, Jewel, Lily, Olive

Like and probably won’t use:
Amity, Constance, Lee, Laurel, Matthew “Math,” Georgia, Sue, Teodora or Dorotea “Tea”

Like but won’t use:
Bliss, Chastity, Clemence, Dare, Dove, Divine, Felicity, Honor, Holly, Haven, Hazel, Indy, Jo, Jay, Liberty, Link, Melody, Raven, Rowan, Saffron, Sage, Verity, Violet, Valentine, Win, Ward

Do words still in uncommon usage, like Hart, Kirk, Lex, Pax, and Ruth, count?
What about foreign words like Cruz, Luz, Paz, Paloma, and Renee?
Place names like Charlton, Camden, Shiloh, Zion, Calvary, or Nazareth?

Erin Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 7:44 am

I love word names. I think I have a favorite or two from every category. Nature names are my favorite though: Wren, Oriole, Azalea, Winter, Peregrine, Maple, Juniper, etc

tarynkay Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 8:07 am

I think this works best with virtue-words, or words that are either not in super-common usage, or words that more specifically describe a thing.

I generally do not like place names, but prefer mythical place names to actual place names. When I hear Austin, I think of traffic, but when I hear Olympia, I think of Greek Gods. The downside of this is that mythical place names are often taken for actual places- like the lovely Arcadia is also a small town with lots of poverty and social unrest in South Florida.

I like Lark and Wren better than Birdie, and I like Camellia and Rose better than Flower. I like Sojourner better than Traveler, because we tend not to use the word Sojourner in everyday speech. Along the same lines, I prefer Fable over Story, just because we use the word Fable less often.

I also like for word-names to only describe “good” things- for instance, I met a little Wisteria, which is pretty in theory, but is a beautiful but can be parasitic. So that’s all I could think of. Similarly, I like virtue names to be of actual virtues, like Temperance or Mercy, not like Rogue or Rebel.

Roseate Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 8:32 am

I’ve always thought Theory would be a nice name.

Tara Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 9:00 am

I love 50% and hate 50% of these types of names. It is just hit or miss for me.

I currently love Bird names Like Lark, Heron, Crane, Wren, Birdie.

Month names generally feel boring and overused except for January and August.

Flower names I adore some, such as Lilac, Marigold, Azalea, but I am bored to death with Rose & Lily.

Lyric, Story, Sonnet, Fable: Interesting & cute, but names I would never use.

The whole Patience/Prudence/Joy set of names I generally would never use and dislike some like Chastity, Mercy, Faith… For me, Grace seems like the only classic of the bunch.

Place names: I generally dislike, especially city names. Brooklyn, London, Paris, Savannah, Austin. Sydney and it’s variations is an exception.

Jenna H Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 9:25 am

I like nature names. River, Bay, Wren, and Day are my favorites for middles, and I like Juniper, June, Briony, and January as first names.

Lola Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 9:36 am

I like the traditional word names, the ones that have been used forever; flowers, colors, other nature names & virtues but I really dislike the new ones. The fake spiritual Serenity (isn’t that an adult diaper?), etc. Call me ultra-traditional.

Emily Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 10:05 am

Fable and Ever are my word names crushes.

corsue Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 10:23 am

I cringe when I hear names like Star, Skye, Raven, Story, etc. The new generation of word names are not appealing to me. The child will always be associated to that word and it takes away from their identity, IMO.

That being said, give them 50 years, they’ll be more common, and maybe I won’t notcie so much. I don’t mind some more used names like Heather, Christian, Grace, Daisy, etc. They’ve just become names to me and not the word.

However, others like Trinity, Charity, River, Forrest, etc that have been around a while are still words to me.

Obviously, I’m conflicted with many of these names, but as general rule I would not use a word name for my kids.

Stella Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:07 am

I like a lot of word names that encompass African-American history or culture (but I’m not A-A, so confusing). Sojourner, Jubilee, Cameo, Searcher, Story.

Some word names I grew out of liking was Tassel, Rhapsody, Liberty, and Ronin.

There are loads of Spanish word names for girls that are wonderful: Paloma, Estrella, Mariposa, etc.

Myka Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:10 am

I am terrified of birds, however, I love the name Wren. Would it be incredibly strange if I named my child after my phobia?

E-Claire Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:25 am

One I recently heard and liked for a boy is Quest. Not sure if I’d use it though. Maybe for a middle.

Jonathan Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:48 am

Panda is cute

Other Carolyn Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:56 am

I guess all names were word names way back when, and we’ve just forgotten the words or the language they come from. Eira (meaning snow in welsh) is commonly used in its home country, so why not Snow here?

I think it depends on how commonly the word is used as itself, and how positive of a meaning you ascribe to it. Faith or Grace I couldn’t use even if they weren’t popular, because they are so often tied to religion in this country and I am not. I’ve seen “Ever” recommended as a girl’s name around here a few times, and I just can’t wrap my head around it. I use the word ever all of the time. Apart from anything else, people are always able to hear when their names are being said, and that child is going to tune in to a lot of conversations for no reason. Fable I could use, Story I could not, etc, etc.

I’ve become a fan of slightly sweet words names as a second mn. But I am inclined to use words in another language (ones I speak at least a little bit) rather than English (or French, which a fair number of people speak here). That way it’s sort of a sweet secret. One of my favourite names at the moment literally translates to “immortal defender adventure”, with adventure being an actual word in translation. How cool is that?

Olivia Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I like about half, I think. I adore most flower and plant names – Magnolia, Rose, Iris, Daisy, Juniper, Azalea. I also like really cute or vintage sounding word names for nicknames. Kitty from Katherine, Story from Astoria, Rosie from Ambrosia, Bunny/Birdie from Bridget, Pearl from Margaret but I would never use them as stand alone names (with the exeption of Pearl).

However, what I DON’T like the tacky ones. Lyric? Angel? Savannah? No. Never. Ever. I know a little girl named Lyric Savannah (fn and mn, also has sister Autumn which is OK). And another – get ready to throw up… Tiara-Angel. It makes me cringe just thinking of it. I don’t like most day/month/season names either (with the exceptions of August and June for girls). Winter? December? No thanks.

Doodle Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Aside from more classic ones (like flower names: Lily, which started as a nickname for Elizabeth, Rose, and Violet), I’m not a fan. I dislike Puritan virtue names (Temperance, Constance, Silence, Chastisty, et al). The examples listed are all rather trashy and low-rent. I will pass on those labels.

Pilar Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Hi! I have a Soanish word name, and I really like it. I usually think that Spanish word names are better that English ones, thougth I like many of them: Probably my favourites ones are the mayority of flower names, some months names, and some colour names. For example: May, Lily and Violet or Green. I think that some virtues names are so cute! I think that Grace is wonderful, but it`s really popular

In Spanish: Amparo, Esperanza, Milagros and Libertad are my favourites ones, and I really like Paz, Cielo, and Vida -OMG, I love this one- And one of my top names is India -another word name, apart from the place, it`s a Spanish word that represante the original poblation of America…

I don`t know if you consider places names like word names -I suppouse you do- but I like many of them: from Java to Santiago to China to Asia to Africa!

Faith Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I love them, for the most part, but there are some that sound tacky. (Crystal, Diamond, Danger as a middle name…)

NameGoddess Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Virtue names I don’t even really consider word names most of the time, since they have been long cultivated. Same with a lot of nature/seasonal and food names. Actually, last night I was looking around in our herbs & spices cabinet, and probably 70% of the stuff in there has been used as a name (Pepper, Rosemary, Coriander, Basil, etc.) and another 20% could be. I think word names are especially great as mn’s (I’d LOVE for my mn to be something cool like Story or Hero or Echo or Snowdrop!), but it really just depends for fn’s.

For me to really like a word name, it has to have the balance of sound and meaning. For example, Chlamydia might have a pretty ring, but it would be such a cruel thing to name a child! And Happy might have a nice meaning, but it would look a tad silly on a child.

Also, I think that words in other languages are a great source to draw names from! (Example: I like Esperanza more than I like Hope.)

daisy451 Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 5:44 pm

It’s a definite con for me. Some of my favorite names, such as Felicity, Dahlia, and Rose, are words, but that fact does bother me. I’m not sure I’d actually use any of them. I just think it’s weird to have a name that’s used for things other than people.

QuirkFlower Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I love word names! My favorites are time names (Sunday, June), virtue names, and place names. I’m not into nature names that much, probably because my own name is Lily. That being said, my favorite girl name is Poppy, but the rest don’t appeal to me. I’ve always enjoyed having a name that was also a word. It seemed fun to me as a kid.

kashed22 Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I love Saffron

*person* Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Virtue names aren’t my favourite. OK I hate them, especially Chastity, but nature names like Flower, Apple, Ash, Elm, Oak or Tiger are nice enough, if you were brave enough LOL.
And names like Sonnet and Never are good for middle names.

Ashleigh Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I absolutely LOVE word names! My favorites for a girl are Faith and Hope, and my favorites for a boy are Lucky and True.

Madi Says:

June 22nd, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I absolutely love word names. Some of my favorites:
Story, January, Alaska, Nevada, Paisley, Rainey

Brighton Says:

June 25th, 2011 at 2:58 am

I don’t mind many of these. The ones that are kinda too are True, Verity, Purity, Freedom, and Democracy.

Sunday Summary: 6/26/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

June 26th, 2011 at 10:18 am

[…] This Nameberry post asking Word Names: Pro or Con? […]

Mishada17 Says:

June 27th, 2011 at 3:03 am

About 90% con on word names. Verity, Georgia, Felicity, June, etc. are ok.

Katie Ann Says:

June 27th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

LOVE and might use: Poet (g), Jagger (b), Bryony, Wren, June, Mae, Paisley, Archer, Bay, and Rainier

I actually know twins named Alaska and Seattle Sperry 🙂

Molly Says:

June 27th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I am absolutely in love with word names as middle names. Having a classically, usable first name with an interesting word name just sounds so much more dealably cool than a fully common name or an off-the-charts weird one.

My favorites:
GIRLS: Hollyhock, Bluebelle, Ireland, Bryony
BOYS: Poseidon, Kodiak, Knot

Brighton Says:

July 4th, 2011 at 4:28 am

I like some word names. My best friends name is Trinity but she goes by Trin. And I really like the name Ever for a girl but some people are like What if Ever is ever asked a question? I still think its cute as a name

bootsy Says:

July 5th, 2011 at 8:36 am

I like some but find others to be a little tacky, like Dream, River, Destiny, or Story. I like Lotus for a girl and Field for a boy. I’ve toyed with possibilities like Cayenne and Blossom. I’m not really sure what would make those any different from any other word name though, so I guess it’s really in the eye of the beholder.

Sylvr Says:

July 5th, 2011 at 8:55 am

I’ve liked Idea for a girl for a while. Probably not usable though.

Lucky*Clover Says:

July 29th, 2011 at 12:32 am

I like quite a few word names, not sure if I’d actually use one but some are ok. I like Cadence and Ivy and I met a girl named Haven and I kind of like it now. I seem to know a lot of little boys with word names like Cash, Case, Ridge, Blaze and Wrecker. Naming a child Ever seems harmless enough but I can’t honestly say that I would want my name to be Ever, so I could never name a child a name I would hate to have.

jjmonkey Says:

June 1st, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Lyric and Blaze r 2 of the most beautiful names on the planet

word baby namesBaby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

March 24th, 2013 at 10:59 pm

[…] word  baby names are highlighted in the Nameberry 9 this week, unearthed as always, by Abby Sandel of Appellation […]

Haili73 Says:

May 8th, 2013 at 9:30 am

I would totally use word names as a middle name. I’ve always liked Theory and Mercy, Lyric, Cadence, anything to do with music, Lark, Story, Snow, Wren… I think word names make wonderful middle names because most of the time they’re very short.

There was a time I liked Viola and Violyn for twins and Genuine and True for girl/boy twins (Gen and True) but I knew I’d never use them.

But with the uprising of fairy tales in shows like Once Upon a Time, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman and more, I feel like Snow is becoming less and less out there and more and more accepted as a nickname. No, I’d never name my child Snow White, but I could see naming her something like Bianca Snow, which means the same thing, but reversed.

Most of the time, I let my crazy names go loose in my stories. Once I use a very unique name on a character, I can’t see myself using it on a child. (For example, one story had characters named a girl named Halyn, Esteban, Shepherd, Orion, Astrea, and Garrett in it. The only name I could see using in real life would be Garrett, possibly Orion, since he was a smaller character. I also named Esteban’s mother Mercedes, and entertained the idea of a sequel where Halyn and Esteban had children named Peter, Mercy, and Clements [Mercy and Clements were twins] and now Mercy has lost some of its appeal as a real name, even though I never actually wrote the story)

However, sometimes there are variants of words that are very close that are real names. For example, Theory can become Thierry, which is a french boy’s name meaning “royal” or something like that.

SammieBug Says:

May 8th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I have been in love with the name Story for a while now. I would never actually use it on a child (although who knows 😉 ) because I wouldn’t want them to get teased or made fun of at school. I only really like it on a girl though, I don’t know it just seems girly to me.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.