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Film Noir Baby Names

Film Noir Baby Names
Baby names drawn from film noir, or "black film," the genre of Hollywood crime dramas that capture the suspenseful happenings of private eyes in distinct black and white form, tend to be dramatic and rooted in an earlier era. While some of these names, such as Della and Harvey, have begun to make a comeback in the US, many others are stuck in style limbo.

Along with Della and Harvey, other film noir names in the US Top 1000 include Axel, Bruno, Celia, Jules, Stella, Vivian, and Walter. Some of the most icon names from film noir include Gilda, Velma, Laura, and Dixon.

Names like Eunice and Barton don’t have the same Classic Hollywood glamour they once did, but there are many names in the noir style worth reviving. Here, our collection of film noir baby names.

CoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    In classical mythology, Cora—or Kore—was a euphemistic name of Persephone, goddess of fertility and the underworld. Kore was the name used when referencing her identity as the goddess of Spring, while Persephone referred to her role as queen of the Underworld. Cora gained popularity as a given name after James Fenimore Cooper used it as the name of his heroine, Cora Munro, in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

StellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "star"
  • Description:

    Stella was derived from stella, the Latin word for "star." It was coined by Sir Philip Sidney in 1590 for the protagonist of his poem collection Astrophel and Stella. The title literally means "the star lover and his star," but unlike Stella, Astrophel did not catch on as a given name.

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.

NoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • 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.

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.

PoppyHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "red flower"
  • Description:

    Poppy, unlike most floral names which are sweet and feminine, has a lot of spunk. Long popular in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #5 in 2014, Poppy is just starting to catch on in a big way in the US, where it entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2016 and – just three years later – the Top 500 in 2019.

LolaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish, diminutive of Dolores
  • Meaning:

    "lady of sorrows"
  • Description:

    A hot starbaby name – chosen by Kelly Ripa, Chris Rock, Lisa Bonet, Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen, Carnie Wilson, and Annie Lennox, and used as the nickname of Madonna's Lourdes – Lola manages to feel fun and sassy without going over the top. Be warned, though: "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets," to quote a song from the show Damn Yankees.

WillaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of William
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Willa has become increasingly fashionable, with its combination of Willa (born Wilella) Cather-like pioneer strength and the graceful beauty of the willow tree.

AxelHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    A classic in its native Scandinavia, Axel has a cool rock 'n' roll flavor in the US, thanks to Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose (born William). Axel is a popular Scandinavian form of the Biblical Absalom, who was a son of King David, and is the name of the title character of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom.

VeraHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian
  • Meaning:

    "faith"
  • Description:

    Vera was the height of fashion in 1910, then was for a long time difficult to picture embroidered on a baby blanket. Now, though, it has come back into style along with other old-fashioned simple names such as Ada and Iris.

MillieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mildred or Millicent
  • Meaning:

    "gentle strength; strong in work"
  • Description:

    Millie is back. It's a Top 100 name throughout much of the English-speaking world, though not yet in the US. Millicent would be an appealing long form, but many people are using Millie all by its cute self -- so many, in fact, that it returned to the Top 500 in 2015 for the first time since World War 2 and continues to climb.

EdenHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "place of pleasure, delight"
  • Description:

    Eden is an attractive, serene name with obvious intimations of Paradise, one of several place names drawn from the Bible by the Puritans in the seventeenth century.

AltheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "with healing power"
  • Description:

    Althea is a poetic, almost ethereal name found in Greek myth and pastoral poetry, associated in modern times with the great tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbleton.

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.

LuciaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, feminine variation of Lucius, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • Description:

    Lucia is derived from lux, the Latin word for light. It is considered to be the feminine form of Lucius as well as the Latinate spelling of Lucy. Due to its connection to light, Lucia was traditionally given to babies born as daylight was breaking.

MorganHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "sea-born, sea-song or sea-circle"
  • Description:

    Morgan has long been a traditional Welsh male name, a variant of the Old Welsh name Morcant, from the Welsh elements mor, meaning “sea” and cant, “circle.” The female Morgan is unrelated to the male version—it is a name from Arthurian legend created for Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's half-sister and famed sorceress. Her name comes from Morgen, an Old Welsh name meaning “sea-born,” and is related to the Irish name Muirgen.

VivianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Vivian, once an elderly lady name, is on the rise, along with all form of girl names that mean life -- from Zoe to Eva to those who share the vivid Viv syllable.

RexHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "king"
  • Description:

    Now that many dogs are named Max, it's safe to use this sleek, solid, regal name again for your child. And with the charm of its final x, its regal meaning, and its offbeat simplicity, Rex is definitely one to consider.

HarveyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "battle worthy"
  • Description:

    Two of the worst events of 2017 involved the name Harvey, the storm and accused sexual harasser Weinstein. And that's not good for the baby name Harvey's future.

LauraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bay laurel"
  • Description:

    Laura is a hauntingly evocative perennial, never trendy, never dated, feminine without being fussy, with literary links stretching back to Dante. All this makes Laura a more solid choice than any of its more decorative counterparts and one of the most classic girl names starting with L.

ZiggyHeart

  • Origin:

    German, diminutive of Siegfried and Sigmund
  • Description:

    The ultimate nicknamey name, à la Ziggy Stardust or the comic-strip character Ziggy. Then again, there's Ziggy Marley, and most anything Marley is cool. Originally named David, his father Bob Marley gave him the nickname "Ziggy" due to the soccer move of the same name.

CeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "heavenly"
  • Description:

    Celia, splendidly sleek and feminine, is a name that was scattered throughout Shakespeare and other Elizabethan literature, but still manages to feel totally modern.

WalterHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army ruler"
  • Description:

    Walter was seen as a noble name in the Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Scott era, but it then spent decades in baby name limbo. Now quite a few independent-minded parents are looking at it as a renewable, slightly quirky, classic, stronger and more distinctive than James or John, second only to William among the handsome classic boy baby names starting with W. The recent popularity of Breaking Bad has brought us Walter White, conferring on the name Walter a new kind of cool and prompting a fresh wave of popularity.

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.

EffieHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive of Euphemia, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pleasant speech"
  • Description:

    Effie is the old-fashioned short form for Euphemia. It shares a vintage charm with Hattie and Letty although is much rarer than either. Effie is a character in The Hunger Games and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

GuyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "guide, leader"
  • Description:

    The patron saint of comedians and dancers (also known as St Vitus) has a name that is both the ultimate everyman, and has a hint of British aristocracy. In the States, Guy was most popular in the 1950s. Now he hovers steadily below the Top 1000, in the sweet spot of familiar but not overused. With the meteoric rise of Kai, Guy may have potential with parents looking for a more classic name with a similar sound.

LilahHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Lila
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    Lilah may be a simple spelling variation of Lila—or you might think of it as a shortening of Delilah or an Anglicization of the Hebrew Lilach, which means lilac. Whatever the root, it's a beautiful and stylish name. The final h adds balance or creates needless complications, depending on your viewpoint.

CarmenHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish variation of Carmel
  • Meaning:

    "garden"
  • Description:

    Carmen has long been associated with the sensuous, tragic heroine of Bizet's opera, based on a novel by Prosper Merimee; more recently it has called to mind two other bombshells: Carmen Miranda (born Maria) and Carmen Electra (born Tara), as well as the great jazz singer Carmen McRae. In the celebrity baby name world, this classic Spanish name for girls was used by Hilaria and Alec Baldwin for their daughter.

JulesHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Latin Julius
  • Meaning:

    "youthful; soft, downy"
  • Description:

    Though Jules hasn't been on the US popularity list in fifty years, it is a current hit in its native France—where it's currently in the Top 10—and we can definitely see it making a comeback here, being far more romantic than, say, Jim.

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.

LeonoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Eleonora or Eleanor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Its mellifluous sound makes Leonora--which has a rich history and a tie to the popular Leo names-- a keen possibility for revival. Though it's been hiding below the Top 1000 since the 1940s, Leonora is being rediscovered by stylish parents in the US and Europe.
    Leonora has the distinction of being three major opera characters, including the heroines of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was also the name of two characters played by Elizabeth Taylor--in Secret Ceremony and Reflections in a Golden Eye.

VedaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "knowledge"
  • Description:

    A name with religious resonance, as the Vedas are the most sacred texts of Hinduism. Outside of that religious context, Veda has the makings of a modern popular name, with its sharp V initial, two syllables, and feminine a ending. This is evidenced by it reentry into the US Top 1000 in 2015, after fifty-five years off the list. Similar names on the rise are Vera and Vada.

LeonaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lioness"
  • Description:

    A Top 100 name from 1896 to 1921, Leona reached as high as Number 72. Since then, Leona had seemed to be one of the most unfashionable of the pride of lion names, but singer Leona Lewis has done a lot to rejuvenate it. Leona returned to the Top 1000 in 2009 after decades of being away.

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.

StormHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    The name of one of the most powerful Marvel superheroes — and the first major black female comic book heroine — is certainly a big one to live up to! Portrayed in the live-action X-Men movies first by Halle Berry and then by Alexandra Shipp, Storm is a mutant descended from a long line of African witch-priestesses, who can bend the weather and atmosphere to her will.

AlonzoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Alphonso
  • Meaning:

    "noble, ready"
  • Description:

    Alonzo is dashing and debonair, with a large measure of Latin flair.

CalderHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "rocky water"
  • Description:

    Artistic associations with the sculptor who invented the mobile make this one of the more creative surname choices.

DellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Adela
  • Description:

    One of the few ella names that's not on every other new mother's lips -- a definite plus.

MaximHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Maximus
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Although often connected to the men's magazine title, Maxim is a chic and powerful name for a little boy. It's proving moderately popular too, having been in the Top 1000 in the US since the year 2000.

FaeHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Faye
  • Description:

    Now that Faye is back on the Top 1000 after a decades-long absence, its spelling variations are being revived as well. Fae was given to nearly as many baby girls last year as Fay and may be especially attractive as a middle name option.

LeslieHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "garden of holly"
  • Description:

    A Scottish place and surname that was once adrogynous but now leans about 20 to 1 toward the girls' side, Leslie has a pleasant, heathery feel that kept it in or near the Top 100 for several decades; the Lesly and Lesley spellings are also frequently used, especially in Britain. While Leslie may not be the freshest name in the bunch, it's become a modern classic and is one of the surprising names always to have ranked among the US Top 1000 for girls.

MonteHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Montgomery, Norman
  • Meaning:

    "man power"
  • Description:

    Monte, pronounced with two syllables as brother Monty, is an old-fashioned nickname-name that's reclaiming a certain amount of dash and charm. It was recently chosen by actor Guy Pearce--which may signal a comeback.

LillyHeart

  • Origin:

    English flower name
  • Meaning:

    "lily"
  • Description:

    Lilly may contain one L too many for some people, though this secondary spelling of a name that's become wildly popular is still a popular choice. And the Lilly spelling does feel a bit less wispy, a bit more like a name as opposed to a mere flower, than the slender and delicate Lily. Lilly suggests the long-form Lillian, but it doesn't need to be an abbreviation for anything; Lilly can stand on its own.

WardHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "guard, watchman"
  • Description:

    Until recently Ward was, like Wally, a Cleaver name, but today's parents are seeing it as a cooler nickname for Edward than Eddie, and are also beginning to use it on its own.

BrigidHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish variation of Brighid
  • Meaning:

    "strength or exalted one"
  • Description:

    Brigid is the simpler Irish version of the name of the goddess of fire, which may also be spelled Brighid. Other variations include Bridget, the most usual spelling in the U.S., and the French Brigitte.

KasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Polish variation of Casper, form of Jasper, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    Jasper and its many international variations, from Kasper to Casper to Gaspard, is finding new popularity.

EuniceHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "good victory"
  • Description:

    Eunice is a New Testament name of the mother of Timothy, long associated with one of the Kennedy sisters, the founder of the Special Olympics. As high as Number 106 in the early 1900s, it lasted on the list until 1995. Eunice was the birth name of Nina Simone, which gives it a modicum of cool.

WhitHeart

  • Origin:

    Short form of Whitman or other Whit-starting names
  • Description:

    Whit is an uplifting short form of any number of surname-y full names, for Whitman to Whitford to Whitney. But Whit stands perfectly well on its own and makes for a humorous spin on modern virtue names.

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.
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