Menu
ADVERTISEMENT

Names with Inspirational Meanings

Names with Inspirational Meanings
Baby names with inspirational meanings or from spiritual sources strike an uplifting chord. Inspirational baby names are virtuous in nature, with meanings like comfort, generous, and bliss. This list includes classic virtue names like Justice and Grace, as well as names with subtler inspirational meanings, such as Grady and Veronique.

Along with Grace and Grady, other names with inspirational meanings in the US Top 500 include Amara, Audrey, Bodhi, Chance, Freya, Nadia, Solomon, and Vera. Rare and fashionable names to inspire include Anouk, Ever, Pax, and Verity.

Names with inspiring meanings might encourage your child to embody the virtue behind their name. Consider these names if you want to set your child up for a lifetime of inspiration.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

FreyaHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "a noble woman"
  • Description:

    Freya is derived from the Old Norse name Freyja, meaning “Lady, noble woman.” It is the name of the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Freya can be considered a feminization of Frey or Freyr, the name of the goddess’s brother.

AdelaideHeart

  • Origin:

    Variant of Adelheidis, German
  • Meaning:

    "noble, nobility"
  • Description:

    Adelaide is now heading straight uphill on the coattails of such newly popular sisters as Ava, Ada, and Audrey, and in the company of Adeline and Amelia. It was chosen by actress Katherine Heigl for the name of her second daughter.

GraceHeart

  • Origin:

    English, virtue name
  • Description:

    Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for “grace.” It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace—the love and kindness of God.

BodhiHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "awakening, enlightenment"
  • Description:

    Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as "enlightenment" or "awakening" which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. The Bodhi tree is a large fig tree under which the founder of Buddhism received enlightenment. Spelling variations include Bodie and Bode.

AmaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Igbo or Latin
  • Meaning:

    "grace or bitter"
  • Description:

    Amara is the Italian word for bitter, from the same root as Mary and Miriam. It has separate roots in West Africa as a name that means “grace” in the Igbo language. These two meanings are the best-known, but Amara is also a Sanskrit name meaning immortal and a Mongolian name meaning peaceful.
ADVERTISEMENT

CelesteHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "heavenly"
  • Description:

    Celeste is a softly pretty and somewhat quaint name with heavenly overtones, which kids might associate with Queen Celeste of Babar's elephant kingdom. She's a light and lovely choice that's finally getting noticed.

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.

VeraHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian
  • Meaning:

    "faith"
  • Description:

    Vera was the height of exotic fashion in 1910, then was for a long time difficult to picture embroidered on a baby blanket. Now, though, some hip parents are beginning to quietly revive it along with other old-fashioned simple names such as Ada and Iris.

AaronHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "high mountain; exalted, enlightened"
  • Description:

    The origin of the name Aaron is debated—some say it was derived from Hebrew, while others claim it originated in Ancient Egypt. In the Old Testament, Aaron, the older brother of Moses who was appointed by God to be his brother's spokesman, was the first High Priest of the Israelites. The Hebrew version is Aharon—in Yiddish it can be Aaran—and the name appears in Arabic as Haroun or Harun.

ElianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my God has answered"
  • Description:

    The Hebrew variation of Eliana was taken from the elements el, meaning “God” and ana, meaning “answered.” Eliana also has roots as a variation of the Late Latin name Aeliana, a feminization of the male given name Aelianus, itself derived from the Roman family name Aelius. Aelius is related to the Greek word helios, which refers to the Sun.
ADVERTISEMENT

AlyssaHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Alicia
  • Meaning:

    "noble"
  • Description:

    Alyssa was in the Top 20 from 1997-2010 and peaked as the 11th most popular girls’ name in 1998 and 1999 but has become less popular in recent years. It's related to the flower alyssum as well as to the classic Alice and variants. Alyssa Milano helped give it a bounce back when she was still a child sitcom star.

FrederickHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful ruler"
  • Description:

    Frederick, and friendlier nickname Fred, seemed almost to have disappeared, leaving just the memory of Freds past such as Astaire, Mr. Rogers and Flintstone. But today's parents are beginning to recognize it as a strong classic and one of the top royal baby boy names.

ArwenHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "noble maiden"
  • Description:

    Arwen is well known as princess of the Elves in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: a lovely name with an authentic Welsh ring. She was played in the film by Liv Tyler.

PatrickHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "noble, patrician"
  • Description:

    Patrick, long tied to a hyper-Irish image, is enjoying something of a renaissance as a stylish classic, as it has long been considered in England. Along with such choices as Charles and George, Patrick has escaped overuse in recent decades.

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.
ADVERTISEMENT

WinifredHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "blessed peacemaking"
  • Description:

    One of the few remaining unrestored vintage gems, with a choice of two winning nicknames--the girlish Winnie and the tomboyish Freddie--as well as the slight stretch Freda. Winifred, the name of a legendary Welsh saint, was a Top 200 name into the mid-1920's.

AryaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit; Modern variation of Aria
  • Meaning:

    "noble; air/song"
  • Description:

    Arya was derived from an Indo-Iranian word meaning “Aryan” or “noble.” It is a masculine given name in Iran, Indonesia, Bali, and Sanskrit-speaking regions of India. In Hindu- and English-speaking parts of the world, Arya is more often a feminine name, the latter influenced by the similar Italian name Aria, meaning “air” or “song.”

SolomonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "peace"
  • Description:

    Solomon, a name that evokes wisdom and peace, is an Old Testament name that, along with other patriarchal classics, is finally beginning to shed its long white beard and step from the pages of the Old Testament into modern nurseries.

DionHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "child of heaven and earth"
  • Description:

    In ancient Greece, a student of Plato; in modern America, a cool guy.

VerityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    If you love Puritan virtue names and want to move beyond Hope and Faith and Grace, this is a wonderful choice, both for its meaning and its sound. A rare find here, though occasionally heard in England. It was used in Winston Graham's Poldark novels, was Madonna's name as James Bond's fencing instructor in Die Another Day, and made a brief appearance in Harry Potter. Not to mention being a fixture on British and Australian soaps. Verity also appears in one of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries.
ADVERTISEMENT

NancyHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive of Ann
  • Description:

    Nancy originated as a contraction of “mine Ancy,” with Ancy being a nickname for Annis, a Medieval English variation of Agnes. In the 18th century it began being used in its own right, as well as a nickname for Ann. Related names include Nan, Nance, Nanette, Nanny, and Nanou.

AlbertHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "noble, bright"
  • Description:

    Albert has acquired a new gloss as one of the top royal baby boy names, a serious upgrade from its serious, studious image (think Einstein, Schweitzer). Albert remained popular for 80 years, and though it's far less fashionable today, it's still a widely used choice. Still, along with such stalwarts as Walter and George, it could now make an unusual yet classic choice. It became especially popular in Britain following the 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria to the German Prince Albert. Enlivening nickname Bertie is popular on its own in England.

HopeHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Can a name as virtuous as Hope be cool and trendy? Strangely enough -- yes. But though this optimistic Puritan favorite is experiencing substantial popularity, Hope is too pure and elegant to be corrupted, a lovely classic that deserves all the attention it's getting.

AaliyahHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Aliya, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "heavens, highborn, exalted"
  • Description:

    Aaliyah is the feminine variation of Aali, a masculine Arabic name meaning “high” or “exalted.” There are many additional spellings of the name, including Alia, Aliyah, Aleah, and Aleia. In Hebrew, aliyah (pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable) means “rising,” and refers to Jewish immigration to Israel.

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.
ADVERTISEMENT

NehemiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "comforted by God"
  • Description:

    Nehemiah is an Old Testament name used by the Puritans, whose white-bearded image kept it out of favor for centuries, until it suddenly reappeared in 1998, along with the more user-friendly Josiah and Isaiah.

NadiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian and Slavic
  • Meaning:

    "hope"
  • Description:

    Nadia, an exotic but accessible Slavic favorite, has a strong run of popularity in the US in the early 2000s, partially thanks to the character on Lost called Nadia but actually named Noor, but it's since slumped down the rankings. An earlier inspiration was Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who won the 1976 Olympics.

AlanaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, feminine variation of Alan
  • Meaning:

    "handsome, cheerful"
  • Description:

    Alana, in all its various spellings, was at one time reserved for daughters of dads named Alan, but is now much more widespread. It came into prominence via model/actress/celeb spouse Alana Hamilton Stewart.

AshaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit; Swahili
  • Meaning:

    "hope; life"
  • Description:

    Asha is an Indian name that comes from the Sanskrit word for hope or desire, but it is also a Swahili name derived from Aisha, meaning life. Since the ascendance of Ashley through the 1980s and 90s, all baby names Ash-related have been used in the U.S. for both girls and boys, from Ashlyn to Ashby, Ashton to Asher. Despite its exotic roots, Asha is part of this group. Asha is finding new life through its Game of Thrones connections.

BrianHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "strong, virtuous, and honorable"
  • Description:

    The origins of the name Brian are not entirely clear, but it is suspected that it evolved from an Old Celtic word related to nobility. In Ireland the name is associated with Brian Boru, the most famous of all Irish warrior-kings, credited with driving the Vikings out of Ireland. Bryan is a common alternative spelling.
ADVERTISEMENT

JoyHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "joy"
  • Description:

    Joy is from an older generation of word names, which also included Merry, Bliss, and Glory -- all of which exert a certain amount of personality pressure on a child. One interesting name that means the same thing: Chara.

ShreyaHeart

  • Origin:

    Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "fortunate, auspicious"
  • Description:

    Shreya is an Indian name with several positive meanings--beautiful, fortunate, auspicious, favorable--and ties to the goddess Lakshmi.

TimothyHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "honoring God"
  • Description:

    A second-tier classic, the New Testament Timothy moves in and out of fashion more than John and James. But though it peaked in the 1960s, many modern parents still appreciate its familiarity and lively rhythm. And the short form Tim feels eternally boyish.

AllegraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "joyous"
  • Description:

    In music, the term allegro means "quickly, lively tempo," which makes this quintessential Bohemian ballet dancer's name all the more appealing. Allegra is one of the most distinctive yet accessible girl names starting with A.

AnnikaHeart

  • Origin:

    Swedish diminutive of Anna
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Annika is a surprise hit of recent years, inspired by golfer Sorenstam; for Trekkies, it was also the name of a 'Star Trek:Voyager' character. Some people's first memory of it might be as Pippi Longstocking's friend. A nice namesake for an ancestral Ann.
ADVERTISEMENT

SerenityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    Serenity's a pretty virtue choice, having risen quickly since entering the Social Security list in 1997. It was also the title of the 2005 movie spinoff of the Joss Whedon TV show Firefly.

AletheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    Alethea, the name of the Greek goddess of truth, came into fashion in England in the 16th century, in tandem with the virtue names. Alethea may find new favor now as one of the goddess names stylish for baby girls.

WilfredHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "desires peace"
  • Description:

    Wilfred is one of those Old Man Names that still sounds fusty in the US but is fashionable in the UK. It comes with readymade short forms Will or Fred and might make an adventurous alternative to the ubiquitous William. The central character of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe is the knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Wilfred Owens was a well-known British poet.

SkyHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    Sky is an ambigender nature name that was first legitimized as the character of Sky Masterson in the 1950 musical Guys and Dolls, played in the film version by Marlon Brando. It's a name we appreciate for its clear, wide-open feel, less hippyish than others like Rainbow and Starlight, and makes an appealing middle name possibility.

ZenHeart

  • Origin:

    Japanese, form of Buddhism
  • Description:

    A spiritual word name used by actor Zoe Saldana for her son.
ADVERTISEMENT

KiaanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hindi
  • Meaning:

    "grace of God"
  • Description:

    One of the many South Asian names skyrocketing up the U.S. popularity charts. This one, with its user-friendly similarity to Ryan, was brought to the fore when Bollywood superstar Karisma Kapoor used it for her son in 2010.

PatriciaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "noble, patrician"
  • Description:

    Patricia still sounds patrician, though its scores of nicknames definitely don't. Wildly popular from the forties (alternately Number 3 and 4 throughout the decade) to the sixties, Patricia has been fading ever since. But a comeback in its full form is definitely conceivable—just look at Penelope.

FaithHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Faith is one of the most straightforward of the virtue names popularized by the Puritans in the seventeenth century, many parents still choosing it as an indicator of their religious conviction. Faith peaked in 2002 at Number 48.

MilenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Czech
  • Meaning:

    "love, warmth, grace"
  • Description:

    This popular name in various Slavic countries and in Italy holds considerable Continental appeal. It is the full name of Ukranian-born actress Mila Kunis, most noted for her award-winning role in the film Black Swan. Another actress bearing the name is Milena Govitch, of Law & Order.

PaxHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    Pax, one of the variations of names meaning peace that are newly popular in these less-than-peaceful times, got a lot of publicity when chosen by Brad & Angelina for their Vietnamese-born son. Parents attracted to Pax may also want to consider Paz, the unisex Spanish version, or Paxton, a growing-in-popularity surname choice that shares that magical X-factor.
ADVERTISEMENT

AlisonHeart

  • Origin:

    Norman French, diminutive of Alice
  • Description:

    Alison has been long popular in Scotland and widely used here since the fifties; this more feminine medieval derivative of Alice had long surpassed the original in popularity. But now sounds a tad dated in the U.S., with Alice having leapfrogged back over Alison, Alicia and other variations. Allison is the only variant still ahead of the stylish Alice.

AnoukHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch and French variation of Anna
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anouk, made famous by French actress Anouk Aimée, is a singular name with a lovely sound and a Bohemian feel. Anouk Aimée was born as Francoise, but adopted the first name of the character she played in her debut film.

ArchibaldHeart

  • Origin:

    Teutonic
  • Meaning:

    "truly brave"
  • Description:

    The short form Archie is so open and friendly --and very trendy in the British Isles--that some parents are now beginning to consider the formerly fusty Archibald as well. SNL comedians Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are one couple who made this breakthrough choice.

EverHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Ever's timeless quality would make this evocative word a positive middle name choice for a boy or girl. Alanis Morissette and Souleye named their son Ever Imre.

    Ever also seems to have ties to a Scandinavian name meaning "wild as a boar" and a Hebrew name meaning "beyond,"-- a variation of the name Eber.

HavenHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name, English
  • Description:

    Haven is a recently invented safe-harbor name that appeals to an increasing number of parents who don't want to voyage quite as far as Heaven.
ADVERTISEMENT
Loading ...