The Most International Names
There are some names that manage to find wide international popularity, hitting the top baby name lists in a range of countries. We mean English-speaking and European countries, for the most part, though there are a few names that are so culturally flexible they're also popular in some Asian, Middle Eastern, and African locales.
These super-flexible international names and work well for the children of parents hoping to bridge two or more diverse cultures. Or they might appeal to citizens of the world, literal or in spirit. You can seamlessly move from one country to the next and everyone will recognize your name.
Some of these names are classics that exist in the lexicons of many countries, like Anna and Alexander. Some are popular names that caught on at the same time in several different countries: Emma and Noah might be good examples from this group.
More fascinating are the names that at some point were ethnically distinct, largely confined to the culture of one country, but then found massive international popularity. The Irish Liam is a prime example of this, ranking among the Top 100 boy names in no fewer than 19 countries: US, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Israel.
Also included here are some names that might not be super-popular in this many countries, but that have roots and are used in a diverse range of cultures. Hana and Kai might be examples from this group.
Click through for specific data on each name's standings internationally. This list is ranked according to popularity among Nameberry's visitors.
Description:Alice was derived from the Old French name Aalis, a diminutive of Adelais that itself came from the Germanic name Adalhaidis. Adalhaidis, from which the name Adelaide is also derived, is composed of the Proto-Germanic elements aþala, meaning "noble," and haidu, "kind, appearance, type." Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland popularized the name in modern times.
Description:Felix was originally a Roman surname but was adopted as a nickname by the ancient Roman Sulla, who believed that he was especially blessed with luck by the gods. It is the name of four popes and sixty-seven saints; in the Bible, Felix is a Roman procurator of Judea.
Description:The name of the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna is derived straight from the Latin word for moon, luna. Luna’s divine complement is Sol, the god of the Sun. In Roman art, Luna is often depicted driving a chariot.
Description:Oliver derives from Olivier, the Norman French variation of the Ancient Germanic name Alfihar ("elf army") or the Old Norse Áleifr ("ancestor's relic"), from which comes Olaf. Olivier emerged as the dominant spelling for its associations with the Latin word oliva, meaning "olive tree." Oliver was used as a given name in medieval England after the spread of the French epic poem ‘La Chanson de Roland,’ which features a character named Olivier.
Origin:English or Irish
Meaning:"God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior"
Description:Oscar has Irish and Norse roots—Norse Oscar comes from the Old English Osgar, a variation of the Old Norse name Ásgeirr. The Irish form was derived from the Gaelic elements os, meaning “deer,” and car, “loving.” In Irish legend, Oscar was one of the mightiest warriors of his generation, the son of Ossian and the grandson of Finn Mac Cumhaill (MacCool).
Description:Aurora is the name of the Roman goddess of sunrise whose tears turned into the morning dew. She was said to renew herself by traveling from East to West across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun each dawn. Aurora is also associated with the scientific term for the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis.
Origin:Latinized form of Hugh
Description:Hugo, the Latin form of Hugh, has more heft and energy than the original -- and of course we love names that end (or begin, for that matter) with an o. This one is especially appealing because it's backed up by lots of solid history and European style.
Origin:Latin and Old German
Meaning:"soldier or merciful"
Description:Milo is most commonly considered to be Germanic name derived from the Latin word miles, meaning "soldier." However, there is evidence to suggest it also may have independently spawned from the Slavic root milu, meaning "merciful." Milo predates brother name Miles, a variation that evolved when the name immigrated to the British Isles in the Middle Ages. Mylo is an alternate spelling.
Origin:Hebrew, Latin or Germanic
Meaning:"life; bird; water, island"
Description:In medieval times, Ava was a diminutive of Germanic names beginning in Av-, in particular Aveline, from which the name Evelyn would eventually arise. It may derive from a Proto-Germanic root meaning "island" or "water". However, the medieval name eventually fell out of use entirely, only to resurface in contemporary times. This suggests that today’s Ava may be a modern variation of Eva. Alternatively, Ava could also derive from the Latin avis, meaning "bird." Ava has separate Persian roots as a name meaning "voice" or "sound."
Description:Long relegated to an Olde World backwater, the European-flavored Clara has been speeding up the charts on sleeker sister Claire's coattails for the past few decades. Now, many would say the vintage chic Clara is the more stylish of the two names. Actor Ewan McGregor was an early celebrity adopter of the name for one of his daughters.
Description:Kai has many origins and meanings. What does the name Kai mean? That depends on which Kai you're referring to.
Meaning:"fair or white"
Description:Finn is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn MacCool (aka Fionn mac Cuumhaill), an intrepid warrior with mystical supernatural powers, noted as well for his wisdom and generosity.
Origin:French, feminine diminutive of Charles
Description:Charlotte is the feminine form of the male given name Charles. It derived from Charlot, a French diminutive of Charles meaning "little Charles," and the name of Charlemagne’s son in French literature and legend. The name was popularized by England's Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III.
Origin:Diminutive of Theodore
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:Many modern parents use Theo as the short form for Theodore rather than the dated Ted--including some celebs, such as Dallas Bryce Howard-- but others bypass the Grandpa name Theodore entirely and skip right to the hip nickname Theo. Short and ultra-chic, Theo's a cool, contemporary baby name choice.
Origin:English variation of Lucia, Latin
Description:Lucy is the English form of the Roman Lucia, which derives from the Latin word "lux" meaning "light." Lucy and Lucia were at one time given to girls born at dawn. Lucy can alternatively be spelled Luci or Lucie.
Description:Amelia is derived from the German name Amalia, which in turn is a variation of Amalberga. The root, amal, is a Germanic word meaning "work," and in the context of female given names suggests themes of fertility as well as productivity. Aemilia, the name from which Emily is derived, is unrelated to Amelia.
Origin:Latin from Greek
Meaning:"person from ancient city of Sebastia"
Description:Sebastian is derived from the Greek Sebastianos, meaning “from Sebastia.” Sebastia was a city in Asia Minor—modern day Sivas, Turkey. Sebastian is a name with a substantial history, first as the third-century martyr whose sufferings were a favorite subject of medieval artists, then as the name of memorable characters in such varied works as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
Description:Nora has two separate origin stories, as a derivative of both Honora and Eleanor. The Irish and Anglo-Norman version derives from Honora, based on the Latin word honor. The Hungarians spawned Nora as a short form of Eleonora, a variation of Eleanor.
Origin:English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
Description:James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.
Description:Noah was derived from the Hebrew name Noach, which itself came from the root nuach, meaning "rest." In the bible, Noah was deemed the only righteous man of his time, singled out by God to survive the great flood sent to punish the world. Noa is generally a separate feminine Hebrew name, although it's also found as a variant spelling of the male name Noah.