Jazz Baby Names
Jazz names which feature in the US Top 300 include sweet, funky choices like Ella and Nina for girls, and Charlie and Cole for boys. Along with Ella and Charlie, other stylish jazz names which are gaining more attention with new parents include charming vintage picks like Louis, Miles, Etta and Billie.
If rare baby names are more your jam, unique jazz-inspired names outside of the US Top 1000 include cool choices like Django, Calloway, Fitzgerald and Holiday.
Browse our extensive list of jazz baby names below, or check out this blog post on great Black jazz musicians for more information about some of these names.
Jazz Baby Names
Origin:English form of Milo
Meaning:"soldier or merciful"
Description:Miles, which took on a permanent veneer of cool thanks to jazz great Miles Davis, is a confident and polished boy name starting with M that has been appreciated in particular by celebrity baby namers, including Elisabeth Shue, Mayim Bialik, Larenz Tate, Joan Cusack and Lionel Ritchie.
Origin:English and German diminutive of Maximilian or Maxwell
Description:Max was derived from Maximilian, a Latin name that originated from the Roman family name Maximus. The character name Max in the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are had an impact on baby namers. Max is a widely used name internationally.
Origin:German and French
Description:Kate and William shocked the world when they announced that they'd named their third child Louis -- Prince Louis Arthur Charles, to be more precise. But we've been predicting a comeback for this classic name for a long time.
Origin:English and Scottish, feminine diminutive suffix of Henry
Description:Etta, once a short form of Henrietta, has long been used on its own, and we wonder if it could follow the progression of Emma to Ella to...Etta.
Meaning:"all, completely; fairy maiden"
Description:Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, "goddess." In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.
Origin:English, diminutive of Charles
Description:Charlie derives, of course, from the classic name Charles which, in turn, comes from a German word meaning "free man." Charles became very popular in France during the Middle Ages due to the fame of Charles the Great, also known as Charlemagne. Charley is an alternate spelling.
Meaning:"swarthy, coal black"
Description:Cole -- a short name that embodies a lot of richness and depth -- has long been associated with the great songwriter Cole Porter. It's quite popular in Scotland.
Origin:Diminutive of Raymond
Origin:Short form of names that end in -nina
Description:Nina is as multiethnic as you can get: Nina is a common nickname name in Spain and Russia, a Babylonian goddess of the oceans, and an Incan goddess of fire. Here and now, it's a stylish possibility that's been underused. "Weird Al" Yankovic chose this decidedly nonweird name for his daughter.
Meaning:"shining or excelling man"
Description:The name of the tragic mythological Trojan princess who was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but was condemned never to be believed, Cassandra has been used for striking characters in movies and soap operas. Ethereal and delicate, Cassandra was in the Top 70 throughout the 1990s but is now descending in popularity.
Origin:English occupational name
Description:Fletcher is a common surname with a touch of quirkiness; it definitely fits into the So Far Out It's In category--and moving further in all the time along with other occupational names from Parker to Forester.
Origin:Nickname for "son"
Description:Sonny is one of the generic boy nickname names making a surprise reappearance, and it was recently used by actor Jason Lee. Another surprise: It's been on the US Top 1000 list every year since 1927, reaching a peak in 1975, when it hit Number 428.
Origin:English, diminutive of Wilhelmina, Wilma
Description:Billie is a tomboy nickname name, part of the growing trend for using boyish nicknames for girls and now destined for stardom along with its most famous contemporary bearer, music sensation Billie Eilish.
Origin:French from German
Meaning:"man, free man"
Description:Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.
Description:Django — the D is silent as most everyone now knows — the nickname of the great Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django (originally Jean Baptiste) Reinhardt, makes a dynamic musical choice for any jazz aficionado. Reinhardt's nickname "Django" is Romani for "I awake." The name has become more familiar with the release of and acclaim for the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.
Origin:French, feminine variation of Hebrew Simon
Description:Simone, the elegant French feminization of Simon, strikes that all-important balance between unusual and familiar, and it's oozing with Gallic sophistication. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has a daughter named Simone; Chris Rock used it in the middle place for his daughter, as did Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates
Description:This image of this distinguished Anglo-Scottish surname, drawn from the French place name of the ancient castle of Saint Foi de Montgomery, is rapidly shifting from fusty and formal to cool. And dashing short form Monty (or Monte) nudges it to cute.
Meaning:"estate of the fifth son"
Description:Quirky in the way that all Q names are quirky, Quincy was once a buttoned-up, patrician New England name, an image countered in recent years by the talented and ultracool musician Quincy Jones (middle name: Delight; nickname: Q).
Origin:Diminutive of Arthur
Meaning:"noble one; bear man"
Description:Though short and brisk, no nickname name could have a more creative image. Comic actor Chris O'Dowd named his son Art, as in his native Ireland it's used as a name on its own, separate from Arthur., coming from an ancient word for “”a bear,”” and used in the sense of “”outstanding warrior”” or “”champion.”” A pagan High King of Ireland, Art’s rule was so honest that two angels hovered over him in battle.
Origin:English occupational name
Description:Indie actress Parker Posey put a female imprint on this sophisticated surname that's still about three times as common for boys but rising for both sexes. Parker has the advantage of its nature connection, relating it to such occupational names as Gardener and Forester.
Origin:English rank of nobility
Description:While John Wayne and Duke Ellington are worthy role models, the reason Duke is currently enjoying a revival and returned to the Top 1000 in 2013 as one of the year's fastest-rising boys’ names is more likely due to the name given to high-profile TV couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic. Christened Edward Duke, he has always been called by his middle name, just as Edward Duke Ellington was. Duke is just one of several aristocratic titles being increasingly used by ordinary citizens.
Description:Tatum is one of the rare examples of a name that was exclusively female, as in Tatum O'Neal, but now is used for boys too, entering the male Top 1000 in 2010. Jazz legend Art Tatum and actor Channing Tatum are two notable male bearers, albeit as a surname. And country singer Luke Bryan recently named his son Tatum Christopher, to be called Tate. We also recommend the cool and crisp Tate as a standalone name.
Meaning:"God will judge"
Description:As the song says, "Dinah, is there anyone finer?" Dinah is a charming, underused Old Testament name, long shunned for its old slave-name stereotype--Dinah was the family cook in Uncle Tom's Cabin--but it has a rich literary and musical resume and would make a vivid, southern-accented name for a contemporary girl.
Origin:French occupational name
Description:Mercer is an attractive possibility which is an occupational name that doesn't sound like one. Mercer and its cool, sophisticated short form Merce project a super creative image via their artistic namesakes.
Johnny Mercer was a talented and charming songwriter-singer who wrote the lyrics for more than 1,500 songs, including Moon River. Jazz great Duke Ellington named his son Mercer, and he in turn became a respected musician in his own right. Stone Temple Pilot's Scott Weiland used Mercer as the middle name of his son Noah.
Origin:English occupational surname
Description:One of the most appealing of the newly hip occupational names, evoking sweet smells emanating from the oven. Much fresher sounding than than others that have been around for awhile, like Cooper, and Carter.
Origin:Surname derived from David, Hebrew
Description:Davis is a fresh way to say David. Some sources define it as "son of David," but we see it as a surname spin on the original. While David is an everyman name, Davis has some creative edge -- and still gets you to the classic guy nickname Dave.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Calloway is one of those irresistibly jaunty, animated three-syllable surnames, like Sullivan and Finnegan — but this one has the added attraction of jazzy ties to the immortal "Dean of American Jive," Cab Calloway.
Origin:Latinized variation of Tillo
Description:One of the coolest of names, thanks to legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk, who inherited it from his father. It has been used very sparingly since the 1960s--just a sprinkling of baby boys receive the name each year. Monk's middle name Sphere is pretty unique too--a cousin of Cosmos and Cosmo. Some other jazz names to consider: Bix, Ellington, Ella, Etta, Mingus, Dexter and Calloway. :
Origin:Irish and Scottish
Meaning:"son of Gerald"
Description:Made famous by F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Fitzgerald Kennedy; still works best as a middle name.
Origin:Diminutive of Chester
Meaning:"fortress, walled town"
Description:Chet is an old-fashioned short form that, ala Ned and Joe, is starting to sound cool again.
Origin:Scottish, variation of Menzies
Meaning:"tenants of a manor"
Description:Supermodel Helena Christensen named her son in honor of jazz great Charles Mingus, opening up a whole category of jazzy possibilities: Kenton, Calloway, Ellington, Gillespie, Mulligan, Tatum, and Thelonius.
Origin:Diminutive of Elizabeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:After a century of association with horses and cows, this name just could be ready for revival by a fearless baby namer -- after all, it did happen to Jessie and Becky.
Origin:English place-name and surname
Description:Ellington is a swinging musical name, evoking the jazzy and elegant persona of the Duke (born Edward Kennedy Ellington). While that reference may seem to make Ellington a male name, it is also occasionally used for girls.
Origin:English place-name; phonetic form of Leicester
Description:Lester is one of the British surname names that were popular in the US in the early decades of the twentieth century: it was in the Top 100 through 1931, reaching a high of Number 52 in 1906. But dropping of the list in the late 1990s, along with Hester and Sylvester, we don't see much hope for a return visit.
Description:Jazz as a full name is used slightly more often for boys than girls and has a distinctive, well, jazzy feel. Jazz is also occasionally used as a nickname for Jasper, much more often for Jasmine or Jazlyn. Could work as a middle name.
Meaning:"servant of Nicholas"
Description:The name of three hundred saints, a mustard, and your own baby boy. Coleman was off the US Top 1000 list for much of the 1960s and 1970s, but it was a mainstay before and has been since. It makes for an easy family name due to its status as common surname and its modern nickname Cole.
Origin:Short form of Stanley
Meaning:"near the stony meadow"
Description:One of the old-school nicknames -- think Ray, Vince, Frank -- that's on the brink of coming back into style. Name him Stanislav or Constantine and he'll have a groovier long form to fall back on.
Description:Elvin had his peak in the 1920s - which was when jazz musician Elvin Jones was born - but parents are still using it for over 100 boys a year. That's less than Kelvin, but more than Delvin.
Meaning:"descendant of Coltarán"
Description:The great sax player John Coltrane could be a cool naming inspiration for a jazz fan.
Origin:English word name
Description:Free and fun name if you don't want to be pinned down to Noelle, Pasqua, or Valentine.
Origin:English aristocratic title
Description:Earl is a title name - brought to England by the vikings - that's out of fashion right now, unlike King and Duke. Its peak popularity was in the 1920s, which gives it a dusty great-grandpa feel, but there are also younger Earls in pop culture, like the reformed criminal in "My Name is Earl".
Description:Bix is a cool and jazzy nickname name, thanks to that final x. It's largely associated with the legendary and influential cornet player (and inspiration for the novel Young Man With a Horn), Bix Beiderbecke. He was born Leon Bismark Beiderbecke and his nickname derived from his middle name.
Origin:English, diminutive of Nathan or Nathaniel
Description:Just the kind of old-fashioned nickname coming back into style.
Meaning:"the royal settlement"
Description:Although Kenton has the trendy K beginning and on ending, and a jazz reference to Stan Kenton, it still manages to sound stiff and old-fashioned.
Description:Hundreds of families have adopted this Scottish name, attracted by its trendy Ty beginning and upbeat second syllable. (Tyrell and Tyrese are also increasing in popularity. ) Tyree Glenn was a great jazz trombonist.
Origin:English surname related to Job
Description:Used as a first name for a handful of girls every year, Joplin could be seen as a distant cousin of other -lin names, like Caitlin, Brooklyn and Braelynn. We think it works even better as a musical middle name possibility for fans of Janis... or Scott. Both great connections -- albeit very different from one another.
Origin:English, diminutive of Jasmine or Jasper
Description:Unisex variation of Jazz or Jasper that couldn't say it more plainly. Used for their daughter by tennis couple Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.