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Olympic Baby Names

Olympic Baby Names
Take a peek at these Olympic baby names dating from the 1896 games until now. The Olympics spotlights global choices that might not otherwise attract our attention. Olympians are to thank for introducing names such as Bode, Usain, and Picabo into public consciousness.

Along with Bode, other Olympic baby names in the US Top 1000 include Anais, Bruno, Duke, Florence, Harry, Jules, Madden, and Thiago. Among the most distinctive Olympic names with strong ties to Olympians are Babe, Commodore, English, and Knute.

Names of Olympians range from trendy and well-used to never-before-seen picks, but we’ve chosen to feature some of more unique Olympian names here. These gold medal baby names show real promise:
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FlorenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flourishing, prosperous"
  • Description:

    Florence, which has been neglected for decades, has a lot going for it, both for its floral feel and as a place name connection to the lovely Italian city (after which Florence Nightingale was named—it was her birthplace). The association to the city seems to be helping Florence stir back to life, along with cousin Flora.

CloverHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name, from Old English
  • Meaning:

    "key"
  • Description:

    Clover is a charming, perky choice if you want to move beyond hothouse blooms like Rose and Lily, and it's recently become a new celeb favorite, chosen by both Neal McDonough and Natasha Gregson Wagner, who used it to honor her mother, Natalie Wood, one of whose most iconic films was Inside Daisy Clover.

DelphineHeart

  • Origin:

    French from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "dolphin"
  • Description:

    Delphine is a sleek, chic French name with two nature associations—the dolphin and the delphinium, a bluebell-like flower, a well as to the ancient city of Delphi, which the Greeks believed to be the womb of the earth. It is definitely a fresher choice than over-the-hill Danielle.

FleurHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "flower"
  • Description:

    Fleur is a generic, delicate flower name that emigrated into the English-speaking world when John Galsworthy bestowed it on one of the Forsytes in his celebrated saga. More recently, there was Fleur Delacour, a French witch and the Beauxbatons champion for the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter.

SeamusHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish variation of James
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Parents who have tired of Sean are now contemplating Seamus, the Irish form of James, which has a lot more substance and verve.
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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 Number 10—and we can definitely see it making a comeback here, being far more romantic than, say, Jim.

LinusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "flax"
  • Description:

    Can Linus lose its metaphorical security blanket and move from the Peanuts page onto the birth certificate? We think it has enough charm and other positive elements going for it for the answer to be yes.

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.

LeifHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "heir, descendant"
  • Description:

    Leif is one of the most recognizable Scandinavian names, thanks to Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson, and is still one of the best, with a pleasant aural association with the word leaf.

HarryHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Henry
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Harry is the medieval English form of Henry, which derived from the Germanic name Heimrich, meaning “estate ruler.” Harry was the nickname of all eight King Henrys; it is also a diminutive of Harold and Harrison.
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SaskiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch
  • Meaning:

    "Saxon"
  • Description:

    From the first time we saw the name Saskia attached to a portrait of Rembrandt's wife (her full name was Saakje van Uylenburgh, but she was always called Saskia), we have found it utterly charming and wondered why it hasn't attracted more fans In this country--she's appreciated by the Brits, who have moved her to Number 392. Saskia is one of those names that's been used in Europe since the Middle Ages, but has never crossed the ocean.

AnaisHeart

  • Origin:

    Catalan and Provencal pet form of Hebrew Anna
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anais is an unusual, exotic 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.

ThiagoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Tiago, diminutive of Santiago
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Some high-profile soccer stars, such as Thiago Silva, have contributed to its success. The correct Portuguese pronunciation is chee-AH-go.

PetraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine variation of Peter
  • Meaning:

    "rock, stone"
  • Description:

    An exotic Greek name with something of a Slavic feel, Petra is a relatively recent feminization of Peter, though it relates back to an incredible ancient city in Jordan that was rediscovered in the early nineteenth century.

WolfgangHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "traveling wolf"
  • Description:

    Chef Wolfgang Puck has helped soften this thunderous Germanic name; music-lovers will appreciate its association with Mozart, though the composer's middle name Amadeus is more appealing.
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RhiannonHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "divine queen"
  • Description:

    Most of us had never heard this lovely Welsh name with links to the moon until we heard the 1976 smash hit Fleetwood Mac song of that name, with lyrics by Stevie Nicks. That same year it popped onto the U.S. Top 1000 at Number 593.

CorneliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Cornelius, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "horn"
  • Description:

    In ancient Rome, Cornelia was considered the paragon of womanly virtue, making it a handsome name with an excellent pedigree. It's rare today, so if you want a name no one else is using, somewhat reminiscent of Amelia and the Shakespearean Cordelia, Cornelia should be on your list. Cornelia's short forms might include Cora, Nelia or Nell--anything but Corny.

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.

CorinneHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Greek Korinna
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    Corinne is one of the names that, it might surprise you to learn, has never been off the US popularity charts. Its most popular year was 1926, when it ranked Number 249. Corinna is another pretty ancient form of the name, technically a diminutive.

SabinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "Sabine"
  • Description:

    Sabina is a sleek but neglected name (possibly due to The Rape of the Sabine Women) from an ancient Roman tribal name that's well worth consideration. The equally alluring Sabine is heard in France. Related names include the more popular Sabrina or Serena. All are equally lovely. There have been characters named Sabina in Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of Our Teeth and the Milan Kudera novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
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BernadetteHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brave as a bear"
  • Description:

    Although feminizations ending in "ette" are not particularly popular now, Bernadette is a pleasant, feminine, but strong name that doesn't feel prohibitively dated. And though strongly associated with the saint who saw visions of the Virgin Mary—Saint Bernadette of Lourdes—it is now no longer strictly inhabiting the Catholic diocese.

AntonellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "first born"
  • Description:

    Antonella is an Italian version more feminine and exotic than Antonia. Antonina is a similarly appealing possibility, heard in Poland and Russia.

MaddenHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dog"
  • Description:

    Madden is an Irish surname relative of Madigan rising through the charts thanks to its trendy two-syllable, -en ending sound along with its appeal to Madden Football video game-playing dads. John Madden is a former pro football player who went on to coach the Oakland Raiders and become a popular NFL commentator. Madden is also the surname of groovy Nicole Richie baby daddy Joel Madden.

CoralineHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Coral
  • Description:

    Coraline may not be original to Neil Gaiman's wonderful book of the same name, but it might as well be. Gaiman's young heroine Coraline Jones is constantly called Caroline but as a name Coraline is more distinctive and has a more mysterious feel. The 2002 novel Coraline was made into a 2009 animated film voiced by Dakota Fanning and nominated for an Academy Award.

LowellHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "young wolf"
  • Description:

    Lowell is an upstanding and somewhat conservative name that calls to mind the genteel patrician families of nineteenth century New England, such as the one poet Robert Lowell was born into. Two other Lowell-surnamed poets are Amy and James Russell.
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EspenHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "god bear"
  • Description:

    Strong and unusual Scandinavian name, but with two possible pitfalls: people might mis-hear it as Aspen, or associate it with sports network ESPN.

NikitaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian or Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "victor; house"
  • Description:

    Nikita – a masculine Russian name deriving from the Greek name Niketas, meaning "victory" – has come a long way from portly post-Stalin Soviet leader Khrushchev to the female spy/assassin in the movie and TV series La Femme Nikita.

KailaniHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "sea and sky"
  • Description:

    This name's similarity to Kalani and pretty Hawaiian origin helped catapult it into the Top 1000 for the first time in 2013.

EeroHeart

  • Origin:

    Finnish variation of Eric
  • Meaning:

    "eternal ruler"
  • Description:

    Creative gem perfect for an architect's son, in tribute to modern Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.

XeniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "hospitable, welcoming"
  • Description:

    The name of a Christian saint and a city in Ohio, Xenia is one of the more accessible and intriguing x names. It is the name of one of the Bond Girls--played by Famke Janssen in the film "GoldenEye."
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GiadaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "jade"
  • Description:

    Giada is a fresh spin on Jade, which has been quietly and stylishly used in English-speaking countries for several years now. Popular cook Giada De Laurentiis made this a possibility, then semi-subtly self-referenced when she named her daughter Jade.

DukeHeart

  • Origin:

    English rank of nobility
  • Description:

    While John Wayne and Duke Ellington are worthy role models, the reason Duke is currently enjoying a revival and returned to the Top 1000 in 2013 as one of the year's fastest-rising boys’ names is more likely due to the name given to high-profile TV couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic. Christened Edward Duke, he has always been called by his middle name, just as Edward Duke Ellington was. Duke is just one of several aristocratic titles being increasingly used by ordinary citizens.

EnglishHeart

  • Origin:

    Surname name
  • Description:

    A surname not often heard as a first, except in the case of English Gardner, the American track and field Olympian.

WilmaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Wilhelmina
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    In the US, Wilma is appears to be eternally fossilized in Bedrock as Fred Flintstone's wife, but in Sweden it's a Top 10 hottie. It did have its moment in the US--from 1912 to 1940 it was a Top 100 name. One notable namesake: track and field star Wilma Rudolph.

SeverinHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Severus; Latin
  • Meaning:

    "stern, serious"
  • Description:

    Severin is an ancient Roman family name borne by several early saints. It's still alive throughout Europe, and could be ready for import here. Severin Winter is a wrestling prodigy character in John Irving's The 158-Pound Marriage and, in its original Latin form, Severus Snape appears in Harry Potter.
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BodeHeart

  • Origin:

    Possible diminutive of Bodhi
  • Description:

    Bode is a short and sharp name that re-entered the Top 1000 in 2014 after a few years off the list. However, with its flat sound and omen-related meaning, we do not think naming your son Bode bodes very well.

PavelHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian variation of Paul
  • Meaning:

    "small"
  • Description:

    Pavel may be widespread in the former Soviet Union, but it has a somewhat impoverished image here.

TenleyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "burnt clearing"
  • Description:

    This name is currently best known on The Bachelorette's Tenley Molzahn. In the 1950s, it was attached to the Olympic figure skating champion Tenley Albright, and Jessica Biel played a Tenley in the movie Summer Catch. For our part, even with its trendy "ley" ending we think there are far better options.

ThaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "clan chieftain"
  • Description:

    This early Scottish title -- known to us via Shakespeare's Macbeth -- has recently surfaced as a baby name possibility, familiar sounding through its similarity to names like Zane and Wayne.

GastonHeart

  • Origin:

    French from German
  • Meaning:

    "the foreigner, the guest"
  • Description:

    Depending on your cultural references, you may think of Phantom of the Opera author Gaston Leroux, or the macho villain of Beauty and the Beast. While he's hardly a role model (unless you too use antlers in all of your decorating), his name was likely chosen because it's a classic in France. It's been used there since the middle ages, partly in honor of the Frankish bishop St Gaston. It went out of style in France mid-century, but now it's having a revival, entering the Top 300 in 2017.
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LotteHeart

  • Origin:

    German, Scandinavian diminutive of Charlotte
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Lotte is a short form of Charlotte and a name used in its own right in Scandinavia as well as Dutch- and German-speaking countries. It’s unlikely to catch on in the US, where even Lottie hasn’t reached its full potential. Unisex Charlie will remain Charlotte’s nickname of choice for the foreseeable future.

GregorHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish form of Gregory
  • Meaning:

    "vigilant, a watchman"
  • Description:

    Two prominent literary namesakes make Gregor a somewhat risky choice. On the highbrow side, there's Gregor Samsa, the Kafka character who woke up one day to find himself turned into a cockroach. And then there's Gregor Clegane, one of the most feared and purely evil characters in the world of Game of Thrones.

FitzroyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of the king"
  • Description:

    An English surname originally given to the illegitimate sons of a monarch. Might be a nice middle name choice to honor an ancestral Roy.

ShivaHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "charming and eloquent"
  • Description:

    In India, Shiva is an unambiguously male name; but in the middle east, Shiva derives from the Persian words for charm and eloquence, and is usually used as a female name.

NinoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, diminutive of Giannino and of Gianni
  • Description:

    Old-time Italian pet name, now mostly seen on pizzeria signs.
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OksanaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "praise to God"
  • Description:

    Ukrainian figure-skating champion Oksana Baiul made it known here.

TeodoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Polish variation of Theodora
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Teodora is an extremely attractive and exotic choice, with several equally attractive, user-friendly nicknames and more edge and sheer phonic appeal than the English form, Theodora. Appealing short forms might include Tea, Dora, or Dory.

EkaterinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Slavic variation of Catherine
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    This exotic variation was publicized by Olympic skater Ekaterina Gordeeva. Though it's intriguing, it's sure to cause confusion in any English speaking country and in the U.S., all Katrina-sounding names are off the table since the devastating hurricane. Better to go with one of the Katherine variations or another Slavic or Russian name.

FannyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Frances
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    As this word is less often used to mean derriere, it becomes more possible to view Fanny as the kind of appealingly quaint nickname name, like Josie and Nellie, that many parents are favoring now.

RafaellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Raphaela, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God has healed"
  • Description:

    Oh, the many spellings of Rafaella. Those with Fs and double-Ls denote Italian origins, while an F and a single L is Spanish and Portuguese. The original Hebrew form is Raphaela.
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