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Baby Names Headed for Harvard

Some baby names sound so intelligent, so serious, so destined for success that we can just see them on the Harvard acceptance letter. These are conservative cool baby names — popular among suburban yuppies and private school parents. These parents give their children smart baby names such as Helen and Holden that carry with them presumptions of intellect and work ethic.

Along with Helen and Holden, other baby names headed for Harvard in the US Top 500 include Arthur, Barrett, Colette, Dante, Esther, Fernanda, Solomon, and Willa. Many smart-sounding baby names are connected to intellectuals or noted thinkers of history, such as Alcott, Langston, Isaac, and Marie.

You could always name your child Harvard, or choose a name inspired by another upper-echelon institution, such as Yale, Carleton, or Reed. Not all college names qualify — one rising name you won’t see on this list is Princeton, which is too trendy to fall into the conservative cool category. Besides, he’s hopefully headed for, well, Princeton.

If you’re looking for a studious and intelligent name for your child, browse our list of baby names headed for Harvard, here.
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TheodoreHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Theodore is a derivative of the Latin Theodorus, a variation of the Greek name Theodōros. The components are from the Greek words theos, meaning “God,” and dōron, meaning “gift,” giving Theodore the meaning “God-given” or “gift of God.” Names with similar origins include Theodora, Dorothy, and Dorothea.

ArthurHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    " bear"
  • Description:

    Arthur, once the shining head of the Knights of the Round Table, is, after decades of neglect, now being polished up and restored by some stylish parents, emerging as a top contender among names for the new royal prince.

EleanorHeart

  • 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 phrase alia Aenor, meaning "other Aenor," used to distinguish the 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.

AtlasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology
  • Meaning:

    "bearer of the heavens"
  • Description:

    Previously thought too powerful for a baby boy – who would have to be strong enough to carry the world on his shoulders – Atlas has joined the pantheon of Greek and Roman god and goddess names now in the realm of possibility, along with Mars, Zeus and Apollo. It was one of the fast-rising names on the list in recent years in the USA, jumping from oblivion in 2012 into the Top 500 in 2015, and climbing several hundred places higher since then. Anne Heche was one of the first to make this audacious choice, but several celebrity parents have followed suit.

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.
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OrionHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Orion is a rising star, with both mythical and celestial overtones.

JasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    Jasper originated as a variation of the Latin Gaspar, which ultimately derived from the Persian word ganzabara, meaning “bringer of treasure.” As a given name, Jasper’s etymology is unrelated to that of the gemstone, which comes from a Semitic word meaning “speckled stone.” Jasper is the usual English form for one of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the infant Christ according to medieval tradition and appears in the Bible as a reference to the stone itself in Revelations 4:3.

PhoebeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "radiant, shining one"
  • Description:

    Phoebe is the Latin variation of the Greek name Phoibe, which derived from phoibos, meaning “bright.” In classical mythology, Phoebe is the by-name of Artemis, goddess of the moon and of hunting. The masculine version of Phoebe is Phoebus.

EmmettHeart

  • Origin:

    English masculine variation of Emma, German
  • Meaning:

    "universal"
  • Description:

    Emmett, honest and sincere, laid-back and creative, is on the rise as a male cognate of the megapopular Emma and Emily, not to mention being a character in the popular Twilight series.

ArchieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Archibald, Teutonic
  • Meaning:

    "truly brave"
  • Description:

    Archie made global news as the surprise first name of the newborn royal baby, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aka Harry and Meghan. Archie has now officially transcended Archie Bunker and Riverdale's Archie to take the, um, throne as the quintessential retro nickname name.
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TobiasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is good"
  • Description:

    Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Tobiah, which was derived from the name Toviyah. Toviyah was created from the elements tov, meaning “good” and yah, representing the Hebrew God. Tobias is the name of several biblical figures but is primarily associated with the story of Tobias and the Angel.

CyrusHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "sun"
  • Description:

    Very popular in the Iranian community, this name of the founder of the Persian Empire has had a more down-home, corncob pipe-smoking image for most Americans in the past, but this has begun to change.

RonanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little seal"
  • Description:

    Ronan is the compelling legendary name of twelve Irish and Scottish saints that is now drawing some deserved attention; this cousin of the ascending Roman and Rowan was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller in 1998, and more recently by actress Catherine Bell.

ClaireHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Clara
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Claire is the French form of Clara, a feminine derivation of the Latin masculine name Clarus. The French word for “clear,” Claire’s meaning, is clair, and was traditionally a male name. Now the spelling is used mainly for girls, along with Clare, and occasionally Klaire or Klare.

RomanHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "citizen of Rome"
  • Description:

    Roman -- a surprise hit name of recent years -- owes much of its popularity to Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing, who almost simultaneously chose Roman for their sons, as Molly Ringwald did later.

    In fact, several relatives of Roman are also newly stylish, from Romy to Romilly to Romeo. Definitely a romantic name, however you use it.

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CeciliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine form of Cecil, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "blind"
  • Description:

    Cecilia is a feminine form of Cecil, which was derived from a Roman clan name related to the Latin caecus, meaning “blind.” The martyred Saint Cecilia was designated the patron of musicians, either because she supposedly sang directly to God while the musicians played at her wedding, or because she sang to God as she was dying. The name was popularized in the Middle Ages as an homage to the Saint.

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.

JosiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God supports, heals"
  • Description:

    Josiah is derived from Yoshiyahu, a Hebrew name from the components yoshi, meaning “support,” and Yahu, referring to the Hebrew god. In the Old Testament, Josiah was an upright king of Judah from the age of eight, after his father Amon was murdered. Josias is a related Latin variation that is found in some biblical translations.

MatildaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "battle-mighty"
  • Description:

    The comeback of this sweet vintage name, one of the most stylish girls' names starting with M, has been prompted by a boomlet of starbaby Matildas, beginning with chef Gordon Ramsey's in 2002 and Moon Unit Zappa's two years later. But the renaissance of this name of the charming Roald Dahl heroine was assured when Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger chose Matilda for their daughter.

JaneHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    No, we don't consider Jane too plain. In fact, for a venerable and short one-syllable name, we think it packs a surprising amount of punch, as compared to the related Jean and Joan.
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AnnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Hannah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Anna is the Latin form of Hannah, a Hebrew name that derived from root chanan, meaning “grace.” European Christians embraced the name for its associations with the Virgin Mary’s mother, Saint Anna—known in English as Saint Anne. While Hannah and Anna are the most common forms of the name, variations including Annie, Annalise, Anya, Anika, Nancy, and Anais also rank in the US Top 1000.

MagnusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.

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.

ElizaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Eliza originated as a diminutive of Elizabeth and eventually became used as a name in its own right. Despite its similarity to the Hebrew name Aliza, meaning “joyful,” the two are unrelated. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton was the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, recognizable today as one of the lead characters in the musical “Hamilton.”

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.
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BeatriceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness; blessed"
  • Description:

    Beatrice is derived from Beatrix, a Latin name meaning “she who brings happiness.” Beatrice was the name of Queen Victoria's youngest child. And in Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Beatrice is his guide through Paradise and is idealized as the embodiment of the spirit of love. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is the witty, high-spirited heroine. Other variants of the name include the French Béatrice and the Spanish and Portuguese Beatriz.

IsaacHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "laughter"
  • Description:

    Isaac evolved from the name Yitzchaq, derived from the Hebrew word tzachaq, meaning “to laugh.” In the Old Testament, Isaac was the long-awaited son of the elderly Sarah and 100-year-old Abraham, so old that their news provoked laughter, giving the name its meaning. Isaac is used as a given name among Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

ElliotHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicization of Elijah or Elias
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah is God"
  • Description:

    Elliot (which boasts several spellings depending upon how many 'l's or 't's you want to use) is a winner -- it has the ideal quality of being neither too common nor weirdly unique. Elliot had a style boost back in the early 1980s via the young hero of the movie E.T. , who was named Elliot. Since then there have been Elliots on Law & Order: SVU and Mad Men.

EstherHeart

  • Origin:

    Persian
  • Meaning:

    "star"
  • Description:

    Esther was derived from the Old Persian word stāra, meaning “star.” In the Old Testament, Esther, originally named Hadassah, was the captured Jewish wife of the King of Persia who risked her life to save her exiled people from annihilation. This story is celebrated by Jews on the holiday of Purim, so that it has traditionally been given to girls around that time.

JonahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "dove"
  • Description:

    Jonah, the name of the Old Testament prophet who was swallowed by the whale, only to emerge unharmed three days later, is increasingly appreciated by parents looking for a biblical name less common than Jacob or Joshua, yet not too obscure. Plus, Jonah comes with a ready-made nursery-decorating motif.
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SimonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the listener"
  • Description:

    Simon is pure and simple (not in the nursery rhyme sense), and an appealingly genuine Old and New Testament name that's not overused -- making Simon a stylish choice. In the Bible, Simon was the second son of Jacob and Leah and the original name of Saint Peter, as well as the name of several New Testament figures. Historically, Simon Bolivar is known as The Liberator of Latin America.

WesleyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "western meadow"
  • Description:

    Wesley is one of a group of W-starting surname names reminiscent of the Old West that are making a comeback -- though it's not as well used as it was in the 1970s, when he ranked as high as Number 66.

MargotHeart

  • Origin:

    French, diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Margot originated as a French pet form of Marguerite, a name that ultimately derived from the Greek margarites, meaning “pearl.” Other spellings include Margo and Margaux. Margaux Hemingway was originally Margot but changed the spelling to honor the wine from the French village of Margaux that was drunk by her parents on the night she was conceived.

AlexandraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine form of Alexander
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexandra is the feminine form of Alexander, which ultimately derived from the Greek components alexein, meaning “to defend,” and anēr, “man.” In Greek mythology, Alexandra was an epithet of the goddess Hera. International variations include Alessandra and Alejandra.

MalachiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my messenger"
  • Description:

    An Old Testament name with a Gaelic lilt, Malachi entered the list in 1987.
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MargaretHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Margaret is derived from the French Marguerite, which in turn came from Margarita, the Latin form of the Greek Margarites. Margarites was based on the Old Persian word margārīta, meaning “pearl.”

GrahamHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "gravelly homestead"
  • Description:

    Well used in England and Scotland since the fifties, the smooth and sophisticated Graham is catching on here.

CalvinHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bald, hairless"
  • Description:

    Calvin is a slightly quirky but cozy name that has a fashion edge thanks to Calvin Klein. It has been steadily on the popularity list since records were kept, never lower than Number 250, peaking in the 1920s, the era of the Calvin (originally John Calvin ) Coolidge presidency.

CarolineHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine variation of Charles
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Caroline is a perennial classic, in the Top 100 since 1994. Caroline is elegant, calling to mind the Kennedy Camelot years and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

DanteHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin diminutive of Durant
  • Meaning:

    "enduring"
  • Description:

    Though closely associated with the great medieval Florentine poet Dante Alighieri -- who's so famous most people skip the last name -- it's not as much of a one-man name as you might think. Heck, it's not even a one-poet name, thanks to British pre-Rapahaelite Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Though especially well used in the Italian-American community, it would make a striking name for any little boy.
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RachelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "ewe"
  • Description:

    Rachel was derived from the Hebrew word rāchēl, meaning “ewe.” In the Old Testament, Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. International variations include the Spanish Raquel and Israeli Rahel.

DianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "divine"
  • Description:

    Diana, the tragic British princess, inspired many fashions, but strangely, not one for her name. For us, Diana is a gorgeous and still-underused choice.

VincentHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "conquering"
  • Description:

    Vincent is a name with a complex image. After being quietly used for centuries, it is suddenly seeming stylish, along wih other V names. Even the nickname Vince has been given a reprieve via actor Vince Vaughn and country singer Vince Gill. Vin Diesel was born with the more prosaic name Mark Vincent.

HoldenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "hollow valley"
  • 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.

FrancesHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from France; free man"
  • Description:

    Frances is the feminine form of Francis, the English variation of the Latin name Franciscus. Franciscus, meaning “Frenchman,” was taken from the Germanic tribe the Franks, which got its name from the francisca, the axe they used in battle. Until the seventeenth century, the spellings Frances and Francis were used interchangeably for both sexes.
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ParkerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "park-keeper"
  • Description:

    One of the first generation of surname names, along with Porter and Morgan, Parker's still one of the most appealing and remains firmly in the Top 100 for boys. About three times as many boys as girls get this occupational name. The association with Charlie Parker gives Parker itself a jazzy edge, and it also has a nature-related meaning. Rosie O'Donnell has a son named Parker.

RuthHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "compassionate friend"
  • Description:

    Ruth, with its air of calm and compassion, was the third most popular name in the 1890s, remaining in the Top 10 through the 1920s. It's still in use today as some parents tiring of Rachel and Rebecca are giving Ruth a second thought. Some see such Old Testament girls’ names as Ruth and Esther rising on the heels of boy equivalents Abel and Moses.

EdwardHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy guardian"
  • Description:

    Unlike perennials William, John and James, Edward is a classic that moves in and out of fashion. This royal Anglo-Saxon standard has benefited in recent years from the popularity of the hot hero of the vampire sensation Twilight -- Edward Cullen -- who has given his name a new infusion of cool.

SantiagoHeart

  • Origin:

    Place-name or Latin
  • Meaning:

    "Saint James"
  • Description:

    Santiago is a spirited Spanish name with great crossover potential: a place-name (it's a city in Chile), a surname, and the patron saint of Spain. It's a name on the rise in the charts.

JuneHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, month named for goddess Juno
  • Description:

    June, a sweetly old-fashioned month name derived from the goddess Juno, was long locked in a time capsule with June Allyson (born Ella) and June Cleaver, but is rising again especially as a middle name.
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