Modern Hero Names
Modern hero 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, other modern hero girl names in the US Top 1000 include Audrey, Marley, Simone, and Stevie. In addition to Atticus, other modern hero boy names in the US Top 1000 include Baker, Ford, Iker, and Kenzo.
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. You may also be interested in our list of Black Hero Names.
Origin:Danish and Norwegian variation of Severus
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.
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.
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.
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: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.
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.
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.
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.
Description:Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Etheldred or Etheldreda. 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.
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.
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.)
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.
Origin:Old French form of archaic German Amal
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.