Menu

Modern Hero Baby Names

Modern Hero Baby Names
Modern hero baby names send a powerful message about your values and the qualities you hope your child will one day embody. They might be inspired by stars of screen or sports or literature or politics. Modern hero names may also honor heroes and heroines of the past who still inspire us today, such as Eleanor Roosevelt or Duke Ellington.

The particular challenge of hero names is that they honor figures with complicated histories, just like the rest of us. Even among heroes who are long gone or even fictional, there remains the risk of their image becoming spotted after the baby has been named. This isn’t always a death knell — Atticus has remained in good standing despite the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird revealing him as a less progressive character.

Along with Eleanor and Atticus, other modern hero names in the US Top 1000 include Audrey, Baker, Ford, Iker, Kenzo, Marley, Simone, and Stevie. Distinctive first names that would make cool modern hero names include Indira, Kehinde, Malala, and Noam.

A modern hero name gives your child an inspirational figure to look up to from the very beginning. Search our favorite modern hero baby names below.

AtticusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from Attica"
  • Description:

    Atticus derives from the Greek Attikos, meaning "from Attica," the Ancient Greek region that contained Athens. Atticus is a literary name in more ways than one. Before it became synonymous with Atticus Finch, the name Atticus was associated with Titus Pomponius Atticus, a Roman literary figure.

SorenHeart

  • Origin:

    Danish and Norwegian variation of Severus
  • Meaning:

    "stern"
  • Description:

    This gentle Scandinavian name, soft and sensitive, is being discovered in a major way by parents in the US. It's most closely identified with the nineteenth century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, but there have been modern fictional Sorens as well, in The Matrix Reloaded and the book series Guardians of Ga'Hook, Charlie and Lola, and Underworld.

EleanorHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of French Provencal Alienor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    While some think Eleanor is a variation of Helen via Ellen, it actually derives from the Provencal name Aliénor, of highly-debated meaning. It may come from the Germanic name Adenorde, meaning "ancient north" or "noble north". Another theory is that it derives from the Latin phrase alia Aenor, meaning "other Aenor," used to distinguish some original Eleanor, who was named after her mother Aenor. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine brought it from France to England in the twelfth century. Other spellings include Elinor and Eleanore.

CassiusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • Description:

    Cassius, a Shakespearean name rooted in antiquity, is coming into fashion in a major way. There were two notable Ancient Roman figures named Cassius. Cassius Dio wrote an 80-volume history of Rome. Gaius Cassius Longinus, a senator who led the assassination plot against Julius Caesar, is the main figure in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. In more modern times, Cassius Clay was an abolitionist and also the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali. It was chosen for their sons by singer Bobby Brown and Getty heir/actor Balthazar Getty. Vanessa Marcil and Brian Austin Green used the nouveau Kassius spelling for theirs. With these namesakes, it's no surprise this name has become popular in recent years.

AmeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "work"
  • 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.

MilesHeart

  • 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.

FlorenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flourishing, prosperous"
  • Description:

    Florence is back, returning to the US Top 1000 girl names in 2017 after a nearly 40 year absence. Other English-speaking countries have been quicker to welcome Florence back into fashion.

AudreyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "noble strength"
  • Description:

    Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Ethelred. St. Audrey was a seventh century saint who was particularly revered in the Middle Ages. Her name led to the term tawdry, as cheap lace necklaces were sold at the St. Audrey fair. Shakespeare bestowed her name on a character in As You Like It.

HarperHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "harp player"
  • Description:

    Harper is a red hot name for girls, having jumped from obscurity to near the top of the popularity list in less than a decade; it entered the Top 10 for the first time in 2015, and has stayed near there since. Harper is a prime example of the trend of surnames that turn into boys' names and then become girls' names. Harper was rarely heard for either sex before the mid-2000s, entering the girls' list in 2004. (For boys, it was in use until 1906 when it dropped off the scope and didn't reappear until a full century later.)

BeckettHeart

  • Origin:

    English and Irish
  • Meaning:

    "bee hive, little brook or bee cottage"
  • Description:

    Beckett is one of the big baby name hits of the decade.

HarlowHeart

  • Origin:

    English surname
  • Meaning:

    "rock hill or army hill"
  • Description:

    Jean Harlow (born Harlean Carpenter), the original platinum blonde bombshell, was a symbol of 1930s glamour, a factor that first Patricia Arquette and then Nicole Richie and Joel Madden probably had in mind when they gave their daughters the distinctive surname name Harlow.

ScarlettHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "scarlet, red"
  • Description:

    Scarlett originated as an occupation surname, designating a person who sold scarlet, a luxury wool cloth produced in Medieval Europe. The word is thought to derive from the Arabic siklāt, referring to silks dyed with kermes. The fanciest, favorited color was scarlet red.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

EmmelineHeart

  • Origin:

    Old French form of archaic German Amal
  • Meaning:

    "work"
  • Description:

    Emmeline is an Emma relative and Emily cousin that is destined for greater use in the wake of the megapopularity of those two names. A recommended Nameberry fave, Emmeline hopped onto the US Top 1000 in 2014 for the first time ever. While it is genuinely an old name, it was rarely used a century ago; only 17 baby girls were named Emmeline in 1915, the same number as were named Ernie!

NashHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "by the ash tree"
  • Description:

    Nash is an English surname whose sound puts it right in step with currently trendy names like Cash, Dash and Ash. It first came to prominence via TV character Nash Bridges, portrayed by Don Johnson in the late nineties, and also via mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe in the acclaimed film A Beautiful Mind.

EmersonHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "son of Emery"
  • Description:

    Emerson is a dignified, somewhat serious name associated with transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. Much more popular now for girls since Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher used it for her daughter, it is definitely still a viable boys name.

HoldenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "hollow valley"
  • Description:

    Holden is a classic case of a name that jumped out of a book and onto birth certificates--though it took quite a while. Parents who loved J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye are flocking to the name of its hero, Holden Caulfield -- not coincidentally in tune with the Hudson-Hayden-Colton field of names. (Trivia note: Salinger supposedly came up with the name while looking at a movie poster promoting a film starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, though other sources say he was named after Salinger's friend Holden Bowler.) Another impetus was provided by a soap opera character introduced in 1985.

TallulahHeart

  • Origin:

    Choctaw, Irish
  • Meaning:

    "leaping water, lady of abundance"
  • Description:

    As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)

EverlyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wild boar in woodland clearing"
  • Description:

    Everly originated as a toponymic surname derived from the Old English roots eofor, meaning "boar," and leah, "clearing." It is related to the Germanic name Eberhard, meaning "brave as a wild boar," from which popular name Everett also derived. Wild boars represented strength and courage to ancient Germanic peoples, who often took on names with animal meanings.

ScoutHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real-life possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now grown middle daughter, followed by Tom Berenger a few years later. A unisex choice that is growing in popularity for both genders -- but given to girls about four times more often than to boys -- it was picked by skater Tai Babilonia for her son and Kerri Walsh for her daughter Scout Margery.

MalcolmHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "devotee of St. Colomba"
  • Description:

    Malcolm is a warm and welcoming Scottish appellation (originally Mael-Colium) that fits into that golden circle of names that are distinctive but not at all odd. A royal name in Scotland, Malcolm is also a hero name for many via radical civil rights activist Malcolm X.

RomeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "pilgrim to Rome, Roman"
  • Description:

    It wasn't so long ago that Romeo was considered as outre for an American baby as Casanova or Cupid. But that really changed when David and Victoria Beckham chose it for their second son in 2002, a path followed by Jon Bon Jovi.

LincolnHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "town by the pool"
  • Description:

    Lincoln cracked the Top 50 for boys' names for the first time in 2016, more than 150 years after the death of its most famous bearer. This is especially remarkable because, as crazy as it seems now, Lincoln was deeply out of fashion as recently as the late 90s, consistently hovering near the bottom of the Top 1000. This admirable presidential choice with a stylish two-syllable sound projects the tall, rangy, upright, image of Honest Abe. Bill Murray is father to a son named Lincoln, and Kathryn Erbe's boy Carson has Lincoln for his middle name. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard gender-bent it for their daughter.

OrsonHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin and English
  • Meaning:

    "bear cub"
  • Description:

    Orson has had in the past a rotund teddy-bear image, a la Orson Welles, who early on dropped his common given name of George in favor of his more distinctive middle one, and who seemed to own it during his lifetime. No longer a single-person signature, it's now an interesting possibility for any parent seeking an unusual yet solid name. It's started to appear to the celeb set--both Paz Vega and Lauren Ambrose have little Orsons.

BrooksHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "of the brook"
  • Description:

    Surname name, nature name, and word name, with a more masculine slant than Brook or Brooklyn. Brooks Robinson was one of the greatest third basemen ever, playing for the Baltimore Orioles from 1955 until 1977. Brooks might be considered one of the new wave of stylish English names for boys.

JacksonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Jack"
  • Description:

    Cool name Jackson is one of the celebrisphere's top favorite boy names, having been chosen by, among others, Spike Lee, Poppy Montgomery, Carson Daly, Maria Bello, Natalie Maines, Scott Wolf, Maya Rudolph, and Katey Sagal. After a spectacular rise, this stylish presidential name has been in the Top 25 since 2010, overtaking John as one of the most popular boy names starting with J.

CashHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name; also diminutive of Cassius
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • Description:

    Whether it's due to its economic connotations, or its link to American legend Johnny Cash, this name is widely used, and has been used by several celebrities including Annabeth Gish and Joshua Morrow.

WinstonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wine's town"
  • Description:

    Long associated with the Churchill family and common in the West Indies, the distinguished Winston has tended to be neglected here. The exception was during the World War II period, when Winston Churchill was a towering figure and his name reached Number 234. It's now enjoying something of a renaissance.

CocoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and French pet name
  • Description:

    Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.

JoaquinHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish variation of Joachim
  • Meaning:

    "God will judge"
  • Description:

    Actor Joaquin Phoenix (brother of River, Rain, Liberty and Summer) highlighted this one, then Kelly Ripa began talking about younger son Joaquin on her daily TV show, and presto—it's now one of the hottest and most appealing multicultural baby boy names.

SerenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "tranquil, serene"
  • Description:

    Serena, a name used since Roman times, was given fresh life by tennis star Williams, and then again with the leading character on Gossip Girl, Serena van der Woodsen. There have also been Serenas on soap operas and other shows from Bewitched to Law & Order.

DianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "divine"
  • Description:

    Diana, the tragic British princess, inspired many fashions, but strangely, not one for her name. For us, Diana is a gorgeous and still-underused choice.

LennonHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "lover"
  • Description:

    A growing number of high-profile (and other) parents are choosing to honor their musical idols, such as Hendrix, Presley, Jagger, and now Lennon. Lennon first came to notice when Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit used it for their son in 1999, and singer-musician Adam Pascal followed their lead in two years later. Thanks in part to female singer and actress Lennon Stella, it's now more popular for girls than for boys.

BillieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Wilhelmina, Wilma
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • 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.

MariahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is my teacher; or drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved"
  • Description:

    Thanks to Mariah Carey, everyone now knows this name – and is aware that Mariah's pronounced with a long i – just as Maria was in the Jane Austen era. And though Mariah now sounds modern, it was heard as far back as 1550 in Great Britain.

ZeldaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Griselda
  • Meaning:

    "gray fighting maid"
  • Description:

    Classified as an early beauty, Zelda has long and often been used as such for characters in books and films. Since 1986, Zelda has been a prime Nintendo name, as in the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

ForestHeart

  • Origin:

    French occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "woodsman or woods"
  • Description:

    The Forest variation of Forrest, used by actor Whitaker, nudges the meaning more toward the woods and away from the woodsman.

DamonHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Damian
  • Description:

    Damon is a name with a strong, pleasing aura (much like the persona of Matt D.) and extremely positive ancient associations. From the classical myth, Damon and Pythias have become symbols of true friendship, as Damon risked his life to save his friend from execution. And Damon of Athens was the fifth century philosopher who taught both Pericles and Socrates.

ZoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Serbo-Croatian
  • Meaning:

    "dawn"
  • Description:

    Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

BowieHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "blond"
  • Description:

    Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn put this name in play as a first name, but David Bowie (born with the considerably less marketable moniker of David Robert Jones) dyed it blond and gave it charisma. He changed his surname in 1965 to avoid confusion with the then popular Davy Jones of The Monkees, and especially since his death, his admirers have seen it as an increasingly viable baby name namesake.

DorothyHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Greek Dorothea
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    In the 1930s, Dorothy left Kansas and landed in the Land of Oz; by the '80s she had become a Golden Girl, living in Miami with roommates Blanche and Rose, giving her a decidedly older image. But parents today seeking a quiet classic are bringing Dorothy back—she reentered the Top 1000 in 2011 after almost completely disappearing.

HendrixHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch and German, from first name Hendrik
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Hendrix is one of those hip rock and roll names, like Lennon, Jagger and Presley, that have been used by fellow celebs and others, to honor the seminal guitarist/singer/songwriter Jimi. And this one has the trendy 'x' ending, as well, helping to propel it up the charts and into the spotlight.

KingHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "monarch"
  • Description:

    King is a name that sends a mixed message. While some might think of it as more fitting for a canine, others see it as a strong name with offbeat style and a full court of rich associations, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Elvis. King Vidor was an important early Hollywood director; King Camp Gillette invented the safety razor.

KeanuHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "cool breeze over the mountains"
  • Description:

    An evocative name brought from Hawaii to the mainland by Keanu Reeves, who was born in Beirut to a part-Hawaiian, part-Chinese father. It moved into the Top 1000 for the first time in over a decade in 2016.

AnaisHeart

  • Origin:

    Catalan and Provencal pet form of Hebrew Anna
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anais is an unusual, alluring name forever attached to the daring French-born American novelist and diarist Anais Nin (born Angela, with Anais as one of her middle names), who became the inspiration for the naming of the daughter of musician Noel Gallagher. Anais is also the name of a popular perfume.

LegendHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Legend joins cousins Story, Saga and Fable in the baby name pantheon of narrative words. Unlike Story and Fable, however, Legend comes with additional weight, being used for fame ("living legend") and to denote a person who is fantastic "what a legend"). Who can live up to that?

KenzoHeart

  • Origin:

    Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "strong and healthy"
  • Description:

    Kenzo is a common Japanese name with several creative bearers: the single-named fashion designer, prizewinning architect Kenzo Takada, and painter Kenzo Okada, which makes it internationally recognizable.

FordHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "dweller at the ford"
  • Description:

    The long association to the Ford Motor Company doesn't stand in the way of this being a strong, independent, single-syllable name.

VenusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, Roman mythology name
  • Description:

    The name of a heavenly planet and the Roman goddess of beauty and love was an intimidating no-no until tennis champ Venus Williams put an athletic, modern spin on it.

GretaHeart

  • Origin:

    German, diminutive of Margarethe
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Greta is an Old World name long tied to the iconic Garbo. Along with other Old Hollywood glamour names, Greta seems to be showing slight signs of a comeback; it was chosen by David Caruso and by Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline for their daughters.
Loading ...