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English Word Names

English Word Names
English names might be easiest to define when they're actual word names drawn from the English languages and transformed into baby names. This genre has grown tremendously in the past decade, to the point that now parents are creating names from words they love or that have a symbolic meaning in English along with other languages such as Spanish, French, or Italian.

Of course, there is also a long tradition of English names that were originally flower or place or inspirational or other word names, most notably practiced by the Puritans. At this point, words like Iris or Mercy or Christian have been used so long as names that they are solid entries in the name lexicon apart from their original connection to the words that inspired them.

Today, celebrities are often coining names from English words — think North, Saint, Bear — and so helping to popularize not just the specific names but the whole concept. And stars from Drake to Rebel Wilson have driven the word name idea home. Now, almost any English word is fair game for transformation to a baby name. And if you're not adventurous enough to use these new word names as first names, you might want to consider them as middle names to add uniqueness and meaning. Newer English word names finding wide favor include the following.

DangerHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Description:

    Prime example of the aggressive word names that are an off-the-grid branch of the new macho names. Makes Cannon, Maverick, and Ranger feel almost soft and sensitive by comparison.

RiverHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    River shares the tranquil feeling of all the water names, and seems to have pretty much escaped its past strong association with River Phoenix and his unfortunate fate. Keri Russell and the Taylor Hansons both have sons named River, Natasha Henstridge used it as the middle name of her boy Tristan, and Jason Schwartzman pluralized it for daughter Marlowe Rivers.

WrenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "small bird"
  • Description:

    Wren, a lilting songbird name, could be the next Robin. It makes a particularly pleasing middle name choice, as does her newly discovered cousin Lark. Wren entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2012 and is among the new wave of popular English names for girls.

ClementineHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine version of Clement, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "mild, merciful"
  • Description:

    Clementine is a Nameberry favorite that has finally broken back into the US Top 1000 after more than half a century off the list. Still, its style value may mean there are more Clementines than you might guess in your neighborhood—it may be a name that raises Mom's eyebrows, but it won't surprise your friends.

MaverickHeart

  • Origin:

    American
  • Meaning:

    "independent, nonconformist"
  • Description:

    At the rate it's growing, Maverick soon won't seem like such a maverick anymore. Heard first in a 1950s James Garner western TV series, and then as the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, Maverick symbolizes an unfettered, free spirit.

WilderHeart

  • Origin:

    Surname or word name
  • Description:

    New to the US Top 1000 in 2015, Wilder is on many parents' possibility lists, one of the new generation of bad boy names growing in popularity. Wilder got a big boost in interest through Goldie Hawn's grandson, born in 2007, via son Oliver.

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.

BriarHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "a thorny patch"
  • Description:

    Fairy-tale memories of Sleeping Beauty inspire some parents—such as Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen—to call their daughters Briar Rose. But Briar plus a different middle name might work even better. It's one of the newly popular nature-word names, charting in the US for the first time in 2015 for both genders.

BearHeart

  • Origin:

    Animal name
  • Meaning:

    "bear"
  • Description:

    Bear has suddenly lumbered onto the baby name landscape. Perhaps inspired by British adventurer Bear Grylls (born Edward Michael), first celebrity chef Jamie Oliver used it as the middle name for his boy Buddy, and more recently Alicia Silverstone called her son Bear Blu., followed by Kate Winslet's Bear Blaize. It's part of a current trend normalizing once aggressive animal names like Wolf and Fox. Bear is now Number 218 on Nameberry and in the Top 900 in England.

ScoutHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real-life possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now grown middle daughter, followed by Tom Berenger a few years later. A unisex choice that is growing in popularity for both genders -- but given to girls about four times more often than to boys -- it was picked by skater Tai Babilonia for her son and Kerri Walsh for her daughter Scout Margery.

OnyxHeart

  • Origin:

    Gem name
  • Description:

    Unlike Pearl and Ruby, this is one gem name suited for boys, the final x making it sound strong and virile. Musician Iggy Azalea chose the name Onyx for her son.

BirdieHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "bird"
  • Description:

    Birdie was until recently a middle-aged Ladies' Club member wearing a bird-decorated hat --but now it's just the kind of vintage nickname (think Hattie, Josie, Mamie, Millie) that's coming back into style in a big way. Actress Busy Philipps named her baby Birdie (inspired by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson), as did soap star Maura West.

CashHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name; also diminutive of Cassius
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • Description:

    Whether it's due to its economic connotations, or its link to American legend Johnny Cash, this name is widely used, and has been used by several celebrities including Annabeth Gish and Joshua Morrow.

WinterHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Fresher, brisker and, yes, cooler than Summer or Autumn or Spring, Winter is now a full-fledged female choice, especially since Nicole Richie and Joel Madden used it for daughter Harlow's middle name, and Gretchen Mol picked it as her daughter's first, as did media mogul Sean Parker. Winter continues to be the preferred spelling and has risen in popularity significantly over the past few years.

AzaleaHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "azalea, a flower"
  • Description:

    Azalea is one of the fresher flower names, along with Zinnia and Lilac, that are new to the name bouquet — in fact, it entered the Social Security list for the first time in 2012. So if Lily and Rose are too tame for you, consider this brilliant pink springtime blossom with a touch of the unusual that has been growing in popularity.

EchoHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Echo, the pretty, resonant name of a legendary nymph, was the heroine of Joss Whedon's sci-fi series Dollhouse. Nick Hexum, of the band 311, named his daughter Echo Love.

DeaconHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "messenger, servant"
  • Description:

    This name was transposed from the word for a church officer to a baby name when Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe chose it for their son, after a baseball player ancestor, and Don Johnson followed suit. Its popularity also got a boost from Nashville character Deacon Claybourne -- only to fall a bit in recent years.

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.

BlueHeart

  • Origin:

    Color name
  • Description:

    Blue suddenly came into the spotlight, as the unusual color name chosen by Beyonce and Jay-Z for their baby girl Blue Ivy. Blue is also a starbaby middle name du jour, used for both sexes in different spellings and forms, from John Travolta and Kelly Preston's Ella Bleu to Alicia Silverstone's Bear Blu. Dave 'The Edge' Evans named his daughter Blue Angel back in 1989.

SaintHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Meaning:

    "saint"
  • Description:

    Saint as a descriptive word name was first chosen by rocker Pete Wentz for his younger son (baby brother is Bronx), and now Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have catapulted the name into the celebrity stratosphere by choosing it for their baby boy. The couple called their baby "Saint" throughout the pregnancy because his conception had been so difficult. Saint was named in our predictions for the top baby name trends of 2015, on descriptive word names which also include Royal and Noble, King and Rogue. Saint is moving beyond the group of names that are only celebrity baby names and into the general lexicon.

OakHeart

  • Origin:

    English tree name
  • Meaning:

    "tree from the genus Quercus"
  • Description:

    Oak, a symbol of solidity, strength, and longevity, is joining Cedar and Pine as a viable name, one that would work especially well in the middle.

QuillHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, diminutive of Quillan or Quiller; also English word name
  • Description:

    Quill is a unique possibility for the child of writers -- even if they do use computers rather than pens; could also serve as a rhyming tribute to an ancestor named Gil, Phil, or Bill (or Jill).

DrakeHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "dragon; or, male duck"
  • Description:

    A simple one-syllable name that has been on the popularity list since the mid-1980s, Drake is most associated today with the single-named rapper (born Aubrey). The name peaked at Number 197 in 2010 and has since been on a slow decline, but it still can be counted among the stylish contemporary boy names starting with D.

ArrowHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Words are not always easy to translate into baby names, but the implications of being straight and swift lend this one great potential as a name. It also has the popular o-sound ending, which brings it further into the realm of possibility. Rising rock star Aja Volkman pulled a gender switch when she named her daughter Arrow Eve.

StoryHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    An imaginative choice with an uptempo Cory/Rory/Tori sound, perfect for the child of a writer — or anyone with a good story to tell. Story has been finding some appreciation among celebs like Minnie Driver and others as a middle name. This is just one of the literary word names that have recently entered the realm of possibility, such as Fable, Sonnet and Poem.

JetHeart

  • Origin:

    Mineral and word name
  • Description:

    This super-charged variation of Jett is on the rise -- along with the unlikely newcomer Jetson.

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.

PixieHeart

  • Origin:

    Swedish or Cornish
  • Meaning:

    "fairy"
  • Description:

    Pixie is a cute -- quite possibly too cute -- name that suddenly feels possible thanks to the craze for names that contain the letter x. Though its origin may be uncertain, a pixie is internationally recognized as a sprite or fairy: tiny, sometimes green, usually pointy-eared.

TripHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    This began as a nickname, usually for someone who was a "third," as in William III. But in an age where any noun goes, this could be thought of as representing a little voyager -- hopefully not into psychedelic realms.

SundayHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Sunday is among the most usable of the day names, with its sunny opening syllable, made famous when Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban chose it for their newborn daughter. Although it had been widely written that Kidman and Urban named their baby after art patron Sunday Reed, Kidman recently was quoted saying that was a myth, they just liked the name. There were 34 baby girls named Sunday last year, but perhaps more parents will be inspired by the Kidman-Urban choice.

SnowHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    There's definitely a cold front of names for winter babies moving in, with Summer, Spring and Autumn giving way to Winter--plus North, January, Frost--and Snow. This name feels brisk, fresh, pure, evocative -- and magical. A haunting middle name choice.

LakeHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    This body of water runs deep; the best of a group of new possibilities that includes Bay, Ocean, River, and the more established Brook. It has received attention via the actress Lake Bell. Lake would make a particularly cool and refreshing middle name, as Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady did for daughter Vivian.

LeafHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    The nature boy version of the Scandinavian Leif, which actually means "heir". In the creative-naming Phoenix family, Leaf is the former name of the actor we know as Joaquin.

ValorHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Honor and bravery are certainly virtues any parent would want to encourage, and this word itself is obscure enough that it manages to sound like a real name.

OceanHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    Ocean is a nature name that comes right out and states its meaning and association. Full of power and depth, Ocean is rising in usage as a baby name, given to 116 baby girls and 166 baby boys in 2018. Oceane, the version that's trendy in France, was used for only nine baby girls in the US in the same year. Ocean-lovers who want to be less obvious can choose such subtler names that mean ocean as Jennifer or Marissa, but coming right out and using Ocean is a perfectly valid way to go.

TempestHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Meaning:

    "turbulent, stormy"
  • Description:

    Tempest is one of those names that could go either way. Cool, evocative modern word name? Or asking for trouble? Your call, but if you decide the former image is dominant, be warned that some people will see it as the latter.

RowdyHeart

  • Origin:

    American word name
  • Description:

    Rowdy was first famously used as a given name in the television series Rawhide, with the young Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates. More recently, competitive swimmer Rowdy Gaines has been featured in a series of TV commercials, and a new badass baby name is gaining notice. The word Rowdy originated in the U.S. in the early 19th century, used to describe a rough or lawless backwoodsman. It's one of the distinctly American names.

BridgerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "lives near the bridge"
  • Description:

    A recent addition to the Most Popular list, Bridger has the trendy two-syllables and 'er' ending, and a historical reference to Jim Bridger, a foremost nineteenth-century frontiersman, explorer, trapper, scout, and teller of tall tales.

WestHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    West is the most fashionable of what you might call the direction names, with North and East (or Easton and Easter) coming up behind, and South not yet on the map.

LyricHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "lyre"
  • Description:

    A musical name with Greek roots, appealing to parents who like such other names as Harmony, Melody, and Cadence.

CrimsonHeart

  • Origin:

    Color name
  • Meaning:

    "rich deep red"
  • Description:

    Crimson could be a possible competitor for Scarlett's success, though it's lacking that Gone With the Wind charm.

JusticeHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Justice, one of the rare virtue names for boys, entered the popularity ranks in 1992, and has remained on the list ever since. Parents' search for names implying virtue has led to a mini-revival of this long-neglected name in both its German homonymic form, Justus, and as the word itself. Steven Seagal was ahead of the curve when he used it back in 1976.

JusticeHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Justice, one of the rare virtue names for boys, entered the popularity ranks in 1992, and has remained on the list ever since. Parents' search for names implying virtue has led to a mini-revival of this long-neglected name in both its German homonymic form, Justus, and as the word itself. Steven Seagal was ahead of the curve when he used it back in 1976.

MoxieHeart

  • Origin:

    English slang
  • Meaning:

    "aggressive energy, know-how"
  • Description:

    Like Penn Jillette, you can have your own little brash babe.

RebelHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Meaning:

    "rebel"
  • Description:

    Asking for trouble. Rebel Wilson is a hilarious Australian actress who puts a female spin on this contemporary badass baby name. Still, we think this name is truly gender neutral – though hardly neutral in any other way. Rebel is undoubtedly one of the edgiest girls' names starting with the letter R.

SteelHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Hard and shiny, Steel projects an image that's smooth, macho...and cold to the touch.

CannonHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Cannon sits amongst other weapon names like Colt, Pistol, Lance, and Remington. Definitely a name that offers bombast.

SayerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "woodcutter or reciter"
  • Description:

    One of the more subtle occupational surnames, Sayer is a pleasant, open, last-name-first name, particularly apt for a family of woodworkers -- or writers. Some parents are beginning to consider Sayer as a less popular alternative to Sawyer, which it may be a variation of, or a separate occupational name for someone who recited poetry and news, or even another occupational name an for assayer, who tested metals or tasted food.

SayerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "woodcutter or reciter"
  • Description:

    One of the more subtle occupational surnames, Sayer is a pleasant, open, last-name-first name, particularly apt for a family of woodworkers -- or writers. Some parents are beginning to consider Sayer as a less popular alternative to Sawyer, which it may be a variation of, or a separate occupational name for someone who recited poetry and news, or even another occupational name an for assayer, who tested metals or tasted food.

SonnetHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Italian
  • Meaning:

    "little song"
  • Description:

    Could there be a more poetic name than Sonnet? Actor Forest Whitaker was inspired to choose it for his daughter.
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