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Names that mean dark

Expecting a baby with dark hair, or eyes, or skin, or simply looking for a name that means (or suggests) darkness? You could search for names that literally mean black, dark, or night. Or you might prefer to browse for names that suggest dark things, such as Jett or Raven.

Along with Jett and Raven, other dark baby names in the US Top 1000 include Blake, Colton, Delaney, Kiera, Layla, Melanie, Phoenix, and Sullivan. Many word names conjure images of darkness, such as Ebony, Mahogany, Sable, and Midnight itself.

The names here either mean dark or reference dark things or nighttime and would be perfect for a brown-eyed baby girl or dark-haired baby boy.
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LilithHeart

  • Origin:

    Assyrian, Sumerian
  • Meaning:

    "ghost, night monster"
  • Description:

    Lilith is derived from the Akkadian word lilitu meaning “of the night.” In Jewish folklore she is portrayed as Adam's rejected first wife, who was turned into a night demon for refusing to obey him. Lilith is unrelated to most other Lil- names, with the exception of Lilita, which is the Latvian variation.

LilaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic, Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "night; play"
  • Description:

    Lila was derived from the Arabic word laylah, meaning “night.” It has separate roots in Sanskrit with the meaning “play.” In Hinduism, Lila is a conceptualism of the universe as a playground of the gods. Lilah and Lyla are variant spellings.

KieranHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dark one"
  • Description:

    Long popular in Ireland and England, Kieran, the name of Ireland's first-born saint and twenty-five other saints, has been building its U.S. fan base thanks to its strong and attractive sound, and its fashionable Irish brogue. While Ciaran is the more authentic Irish spelling, Kieran is more popular this side of the Atlantic.

AmayaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish version of Amaia or Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "mother city; the end; night rain"
  • Description:

    The Spanish form of Amaya is both a given name and a surname, originating from the Spanish mountain and village of Amaya. In this context it means “mother city” or “the capital.” Amaya can also be considered a derivation of Amaia, a Basque name meaning “the end.” In Japan, Amaya is a surname.

BlakeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fair-haired, dark"
  • Description:

    Blake -- an early unisex option -- dropped out of the Top 100 in 2017 for the first time since 1988, but remains a sophisticated choice. And yes, both conflicting meanings of Blake are accurate. It originated as a surname in England derived from a nickname. Much of its masculine image was influenced by the wealthy, silver-haired character Blake Carrington in the massively popular 80s TV series Dynasty. Rosie O'Donnell has a son named Blake.
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ColeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • 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.

LaylaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Leila, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    Layla is derived from the Semitic element layl, meaning “night.” It has roots in the Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian languages. In the Arabic story Qays and Layla, Layla is the subject of the poet’s unrequited love. Among the many alternate spellings are Leila, Laila, Laela, Laelah, Laylah, Leyla, Lejla, and Leighla.

RavenHeart

  • Origin:

    Word and animal name
  • Description:

    Bird name Raven, once a symbol of pride for both African-American and Wiccan parents, is finding new life as a superhero name. Raven Darkholme is the real name of Mystique, heroine of the X-Men films played by Jennifer Lawrence. And there is another Raven superheroine in Teen Titans. Some parents may still choose Raven to signal black pride or mystical powers or maybe even Edgar Allan Poe fandom, but we are guessing most inspiration is coming from the comics.

JettHeart

  • Origin:

    Mineral name
  • Description:

    Aviation enthusiast John Travolta put this fast-paced name in the lexicon when he used it for his late son, and George Lucas followed suit.

DarcyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish or French
  • Meaning:

    "dark one, or from Arcy, or from the fortress"
  • Description:

    Delicate ballerina name with grace, charm, and heft courtesy of Jane Austen's Mr.
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SullivanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish surname
  • Meaning:

    "black-eyed one"
  • Description:

    Sullivan is a jaunty Celtic three-syllable name, with a real twinkle in its eye. It was immortalized in the 1930s classic film Sullivan's Travels and was chosen for one of Patrick Dempsey's twin boys. Nickname Sully is equally jaunty.

LeilaHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    Leila was popularized in the West by the poet Byron, who used it in his poem Don Juan for a ten-year-old Turkish girl. Leila also appears as a fairy in the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera Iolanthe.

ColtonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "from the coal or dark town"
  • Description:

    Colton is a trendy two-syllable choice, with the popular 'on/en' ending.

KeirHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark, black"
  • Description:

    Keir is a single-syllable name that packs a lot of punch, might suggest -- thanks to its similarity to the word care -- a caring person. Sir Keir Rodney Starmer is a British politician and head of the Labour Party in 2020. Keir Dullea is an American actor who starred in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

PhoenixHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "dark red"
  • Description:

    Phoenix is a New Age name symbolizing rebirth and immortality; Scary Spice chose Phoenix for her daughter.
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DelaneyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark challenger"
  • Description:

    Delaney has been a popular Irish surname name for a couple of decades, projecting buoyant enthusiasm plus a feminine feel.

DuncanHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "dark warrior"
  • Description:

    Duncan is jaunty, confident, and open, a Scottish royal name that's brimming with friendly charm and makes it into our golden circle of names that are neither too popular nor too strange. Popularity aside, Duncan is one of the most classic Scottish names for boys.

KaliHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "black one"
  • Description:

    Cute name but be warned: Kali is the Hindu goddess of destruction, the fierce side of the goddess Devi.

OrpheusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "the darkness of the night"
  • Description:

    Name of the legendary ancient Greek poet and musician — whose music was so beautiful it made trees dance and rivers stop to listen — would provide a child with a challenging but indelible identity.

KieraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dark one"
  • Description:

    Kiera entered the American popularity list in 1988, though it lags behind the alternate spelling Keira, largely due to the fame of actress Keira Knightley.
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BrunoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brown"
  • Description:

    Bruno is a popular name throughout Europe and South America that deserves more attention here. Its color meaning makes it one of the perfect names for November babies, or really a boy born in any of the autumn months.

MelanieHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "black, dark"
  • Description:

    Gone with the Wind inspired a generation of girls named Melanie, though it looks as though Scarlett will triumph in the end.

CiaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dark one"
  • Description:

    Ciara is very popular in Ireland, more familiar here as the Anglicized Kiera or Keira. The uninitiated will tend to pronounce Ciara as the Italian Chiara, a form of Claire—kee-AHR-a or even see-AHR-a, like the American singer-songwriter Ciara. In the US, Ciara peaked in 2005, when it was the Number 150 name; it's since fallen down to Number 882.

EbonyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "deeply black wood"
  • Description:

    Word name favored by African-American parents because of its connotations of blackness and beauty, trending down since the eighties.

DonovanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark"
  • Description:

    One of the first of the appealing Irish surnames to take off in this country, this boys’ name has long outgrown its "Mellow Yellow" association, which came via the single from a sixties singer-songwriter named Donovan.
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TynanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark, dusty"
  • Description:

    A much fresher Ty name than Tyler or Tyson.

CalibanHeart

  • Origin:

    Romanian
  • Meaning:

    "black"
  • Description:

    In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Caliban is the name of the deformed son of a witch: not the greatest literary reference for a child. But Caliban does have an appealing exotic-yet-accessible feel and a rhythmic sound. As long as nobody knows its origin, it might make a great name for a boy or even a girl.

HadrianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "dark-haired"
  • Description:

    Most parents would find this old Roman name pretentious compared to the more accessible Adrian, but some history buffs just might want to commemorate the enlightened emperor.

DouglasHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "black water"
  • Description:

    Douglas, and more particularly its nickname, Doug, had a real romantic swagger in the 1950s and 1960s dating back to swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, but today is more likely to conjure up your mom's prom date. Originally a Celtic river name, it became attached to a powerful Scottish clan, renowned for their strength and courage. In its earliest incarnation, Douglas was used equally for girls and boys.

CorbinHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "crow"
  • Description:

    Corbin, the name of the castle where the Holy Grail was said to be hidden, came to the fore in the 1980s via actor Corbin Bernsen when he was the high profile star of LA Law, but its use is only now escalating as part of the mania for two-syllable names starting with c or k, as well as from the more youthful image of Corbin Bleu, the attractive actor-model-dancer-singer who was one of the stars of the Disney hit High School Musical.
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ManuHeart

  • Origin:

    Finnish variation of Magnus; Polynesian; Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "greatest; bird of the night; man"
  • Description:

    An international name that, although short and simple, sounds exotic to American ears.

SableHeart

  • Origin:

    Animal name
  • Description:

    Sable is often associated with the Dynsaty soap opera, but it is actually a type of animal historically hunted for its fur. Sable is also used as a word for a warm, rich black color. Both associations carry hints of luxury.

MorrisHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Maurice
  • Meaning:

    "dark-skinned"
  • Description:

    Morris is as quiet and comfortable as a Morris chair, and has the same vintage feel. Once a Top 100 name in the early 1900s, Morris fell completely off the roster in 1995, probably due to lingering fallout from his identification with Morris the cat's ("the world's most finicky cat") 9 Lives cat food commercials.

LonanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "blackbird"
  • Description:

    This name of several early Irish saints makes a nice Logan/Conan alternative.

NishaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    Pretty name that hit the popularity charts in England in the late 1990s.
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NigelHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark, black-haired"
  • Description:

    A name that Yanks might see as overly British, but combined with the right surname, it does have a measure of Sherlock Holmesian dash via Nigel Bruce, who played the original Dr. Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes.

SmithHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "blacksmith"
  • Description:

    Even if it is the Number one surname in the U.S.--with more than 2.5 million bearers--we still think that Smith would make a cool first or middle name, whether or not it has family history.

MerleHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "blackbird"
  • Description:

    Originally a nickname for someone who loved to sing or whistle, Merle is even less masculine than Meredith.

DougalHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "dark stranger"
  • Description:

    Heard in the Scottish highlands, and much more in tune with the present times than the dated Douglas — for which it could make a perfect tribute name.
Dougal was the Scottish nickname for invading dark-haired Danish Vikings, just as Fingal was given to the blonder Norwegians.

MauriceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "dark-skinned"
  • Description:

    In the USA, Maurice was in the Top 200 for most of the 20th century; since 1990, however, it has been on a slow and steady decline. This name has the potential for some old-school cute nicknames such as Mo as well as the more trendy Reece.
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MidnightHeart

  • Origin:

    English, word name
  • Description:

    Nicole Richie and Joel Madden added this rocking name to the lexicon of day names, which have their roots in the African tradition of naming a child after the day of the week, time of day, or season in which he or she was born. But they wisely used it as a middle name.

KrishnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "dark, black"
  • Description:

    Krishna, in Hindu tradition, was the human incarnation of the god Vishnu, a heroic figure representing love and joy--the familiar "Hare Krishna" is a chant to this deity.

MelaniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Greek variation of Melanie
  • Meaning:

    "black"
  • Description:

    The current Mrs. Donald Trump, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, brought this pretty version to the fore. Saint Melania was an heiress who freed thousands of slaves.

ShyamHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "dark, black, blue"
  • Description:

    Shyam is one of the alternate names of Hindu God Krishna.

BrunaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "brown"
  • Description:

    Possibility for a dark-haired babe.
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MahoganyHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "rich, strong"
  • Description:

    Dark, woody name that's brings to mind rich panelling, beautiful colors and luxury.

NightHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    An ubercool and mysterious name, brought to you by director M. Night Shyamalan.

DonahueHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dark fighter"
  • Description:

    This genial Irish surname feels much more current than Donald.

PetaHeart

  • Origin:

    Native American, Blackfoot,or Greek, "golden eagle, or rock, stone"
  • Meaning:

    "golden eagle, or rock, stone"
  • Description:

    Too tightly tied to the acronym for the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

HariHeart

  • Origin:

    Hindu
  • Meaning:

    "dark, tawny"
  • Description:

    Familiar via Harry, but much more exotic.
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