Fierce Names That Mean Lion
by Pamela Redmond
Baby names meaning lion are among the most appealing of all the trendy new names with animal meanings. The reason has everything to do with the lion's majesty and ferocity as king of the beasts.
Names with lion meanings are particularly appropriate for babies born under the sign of Leo, which runs from late July until late August. Leonine names might also fit a child with tawny golden skin or hair, or one who simply has a loud roar!
The names on this list may literally mean lion, like Lionel, or may relate to famous lions such as Nala, or might have a more figurative relationship with lions, such as Daniel who in the bible entered the lion's den.
If you're looking for a name with a lion-related meaning for your baby boy or baby girl, this list includes a wide-ranging selection.
Description:Leo was derived from the Latin leo, meaning “lion.” Thirteen popes have carried the name, including St. Leo the Great. In Germanic languages, Leo has historically been used as a nickname for names including Leon and Leopold. In Latinate languages, Leonardo is considered a full form for Leo.
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.
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.
Description:Ellis is one of the less used names in the currently popular El-family. It is a popular Welsh name in its own right, sometimes spelled Elis, and also an English surname derived Elijah, by way of the Greek Elias.
Origin:French from German
Meaning:"man, free man"
Description:Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "man" or "freeman", and is a royal name in multiple European countries. A famous early bearer is Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and then Roman Emperor in the 8th-9th centuries. The word for “king” in several languages came from Charles, including Slavic, Russian, and Polish.
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.”
Meaning:"God is my judge"
Description:Daniel was derived from the Hebrew name Daniyyel, from the elements din, meaning “judge,” and ’el, “God.” The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament describes the Jewish prophet’s life of captivity in Babylon and visions of the last days of Earth. Dan and Danny are common short forms of Daniel.
Origin:Variation of the Italian Chiara or the Irish Ciara or Aboriginal Australian, Korean
Meaning:"light, clear; little dark one; cockatoo; first ray of sun"
Description:Kiara can be considered a variation of both the Italian name Chiara and the Irish name Ciara. Chiara is the Italian form of Clara, meaning “bright” or “clear,” while Ciara is the feminine form of male given name Ciar, derived from the old Irish cíar, meaning “dark.” Kiara is also an Australian name derived from an Aboriginal word for the white cockatoo, and has roots as a Korean name meaning “first ray of sun”.
Description:Nathan was derived from the name Natan, which came from Hebrew verb natan, meaning “gave.” In the Old Testament, Nathan was the name of a prophet and also that of one of King David's sons. Nathaniel and Jonathan are related names.
Origin:Greek variation of Leo
Description:Leon is one of the leonine names that is extremely hot in Europe right now. Although it peaked here in the 1920s, it is slowly making its way back, and it could climb further with parents wanting a more serious and studious alternative to Leo.
Origin:Welsh, variation of Griffith
Description:Griffin is one of the newer and most appealing of the two-syllable Celtic surnames. In English, griffin is the name of a mythological creature, half eagle, half lion. It re-entered the list in 1983 after an absence of 75+ years.
Meaning:"to tame, subdue"
Description:Damian has sidestepped its demonic horror movie overtones, leaving a basically friendly and charming Irish image. A well-used upper-class name in England, it is growing in popularity here.
Meaning:"lion of God"
Description:Ariel is a male Biblical name, seen there as the messenger of Ezra, and also used as a symbolic name for the city of Jerusalem, while Shakespeare used it for a (male) sprite in The Tempest.
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.
Origin:Latin, from ancient place name Lavinium
Description:Lavinia is a charmingly prim and proper Victorian-sounding name which actually dates back to classical mythology, where it was the name of the wife of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who was considered the mother of the Roman people.
Origin:German diminutive of Elisabeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Lost in limbo for decades and decades, Elsa now stands a good chance of following along in the progression from Emma to Ella to Etta, thanks to the ice queen heroine who "Let It Go" in the wildly popular Disney movie Frozen. The name shot all the up to Number 286 (its highest ranking since the 1890s) in the year after the release of the movie, though it's now dropped back down the list in the US.
Origin:Italian and Spanish form of Mark
Description:Simple and universal, Marco is a Latin classic that would make a much livelier namesake for an Uncle Mark. It was used for her son by actress Jill Hennessy and goes well with surnames of any nationality.
Description:This concise one-syllable name, Hebrew for heart or the Russian form of Leo, has definite potential, being more unusual than the increasingly popular Levi.
Description:This name of three early popes has been associated in recent years with a cocky cartoon cat ("Thufferin' thuccatash!") and the Italian Stallion hero of the Rocky and Rambo movies (who was born Michael) — and yet we think it just might be ready to move further back into the mainstream.
Origin:Spelling variation of Ariel
Meaning:"lion of God"
Description:This variation of Ariel, with the extra-feminine suffix, has been on the rise in recent years. It entered the Top 1000 in 2008.
Description:Leonidas is an ancient name that has started rising again along with centuries-old names such as Augustus and Cato. The original Leonidas was the most famous of Sparta's warriors, sacrificing his life at the Battle of Thermopylae; there is also a saint Leonidas.
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.
Description:Aslan, derived from the Old Turkic for "lion," is best known in the West as the name of the heroic lion in C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series, who serves as an allegorical stand-in for Jesus Christ. It was also used as a positive epithet for several Turkish emperors in the Middle Ages.
Description:A classic old Norman name popular for a thousand years and favored for kings (Richard Nixon was named for Richard the Lionhearted), as well as the hoi polloi (as in every Tom, Dick and Harry), Richard was the sixth most popular US boys’ name in 1925, and was still Number 8 in 1950, but is now much less popular.
Description:Lionel is one leonine name that hasn't taken off as cousins Leo and Leonardo have, though it did reenter the Top 1000 in 2010 after several years away; it was at its highest point in the 1920s and 1930s.
Origin:Various origins and meanings, including Portuguese
Description:Luan is a handsome, unusual boy's name with surprisingly diverse origins. It's a rare Portuguese name meaning "moon", an Albanian name meaning "lion", a Vietnamese name meaning "justice; ethics", and a Gaelic name meaning "hound; warrior".
Origin:Arabic or Scottish
Meaning:"lion or wet"
Description:Laith is a cross-cultural boys' name that's among the Top 1000 in the UK, with a leonine meaning in Arabic that is on trend right now. As a Scottish name, it derives from the name of the river Leith in Edinburgh.
Meaning:"the law; lion"
Description:Leya is a simple, attractive multicultural choice, but with some teasing peril. The "Star Wars" princess spelled her name Leia.
Origin:Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian variation of Leander
Description:Leandro is the Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish variant of the English name Leander. A blend of two Latin words (Leo "lion" and Andro "man"), Leandro is a name that suggests its bearer has strength and power. Despite this very masculine meaning, Leandro also has a long romantic history, beginning with the myth of Hero and Leander (Ero et Leandro in Latin) to being an important figure in the history of the beautiful Spanish city of Seville.
Description:Leonie is a chic French and German form of a name that exists in a range of variations from Leona to Leonia to Leon to Leo to Lionel, all newly fashionable after a couple of generations in style limbo.
Origin:Armenian, variation of Leon
Description:Levon, an unusual alternative to Levi. has two musical associations: it's the title of an Elton John song, inspired by late, great drummer for The Band, Levon Helm--whose birth name was Mark. Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke chose Levon for their son.
Origin:English occupational name
Description:Jagger is a swaggering Rolling Stone of a name that's been picked up by a number of fellow celebs, including Lindsay Davenport and Brett Scallions--while Soleil Moon Frye pulled a gender switch when she bestowed it on her daughter. It's edgy with a touch of danger.
Origin:African, meaning unknown
Description:A Disney name—Nala was the friend who became the wife of Simba, hero of The Lion King. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2015.
Description:Upbeat nickname-name that can't help but make you smile, along with its soundalike Sonny.
Meaning:"behold the sun"
Description:A pretty, if unusual choice for a summer baby, particularly a girl with an ancestor named Ida. An epithet of the goddess Aphrodite, Idalia is derived from the Greek place name Idalion
Meaning:"flood, peaceful, or hill"
Description:Tully is a relaxed, rarely used Irish surname possibility. Sources disagree on the meaning, depending on what root is used. The Irish tulach means hill or mound, while tuile means flood. Other sources relate it to the Roman Tullius, most notably the name of the philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, sometimes anglicized as Tully. Statesman Alexander Hamilton used the pen name Tully when he wrote editorials denouncing the instigators of the Whiskey Rebellion.
Description:Known for being the name of Simba's father in the Lion King.
Description:This is a Spanish variation of Maximilian that has begun to gain some popularity. It has a luxurious feel -- maybe it's the suggestion of "millions"? -- but this is one of those Spanish baby names that come with Anglicized nicknames that can make it work across cultures.
Meaning:"borne in pain"
Description:Jabez has a rare combo of three appealing elements: a Biblical heritage, a captivating Southern accent, and a jazzy feel. It was popular with the Pilgrims and on into the nineteenth century (there have been four U.S. Congressmen named Jabez), but it hasn't been in the Top 1000 since 1880.
Meaning:"lion or strong"
Description:Hamza was the legendary uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, hero of The Hamzanama, the Story of Hamza.
Description:This name has recently come on the radar via rising actor Dev Patel, who made his mark in Slumdog Millionaire and then in Lion and is also the name of the lead character played by Aziz Ansari in his sitcom Master of None. It could catch on here, at a time when parents are importing other three-letter names like Liv.
Description:The y makes it seem more like a name and less like an animal, but it's still not as appealing as several Leo choices.
Meaning:"she who is milk-white"
Description:This name's meaning derives from the material from which the mythical sculptor Pygmalion chiselled his ideal woman - she was carved from ivory. Pygmalion fell in love with his creation and Aphrodite, taking pity on him, brought the sculpture to life. The woman was named Galatea due to her incredibly pale skin. The Pygmalion myth was the inspiration behind the story of "My Fair Lady" starring Julie Andrews on stage and Audrey Hepburn on screen.
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.
Origin:English occupational name
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.
Origin:Swahili or Shona
Description:Traditional African name made cartoonish by the Disney character in The Lion King. In Shona it means "strength".
Meaning:"valley of the Welsh"
Description:Walden is a recent entrant to the en-ending boys' names trend, a name that summons up placid images of Thoreau's two-year stay contemplating nature near Walden Pond.
Origin:Variation of Lionel
Description:A variation of Lionel that has made slow but steady gains in recent years, perhaps helped by the resurgence of Leo.
Meaning:"lion of god, or strength of god"
Description:Othniel is mentioned in the Bible and Tanakh (in the Book of Judges) where he is the first of the biblical judges mentioned. Othniel was related to Caleb, which might make these two names a nice biblically themed sib-set.
Description:Leocadia marries a mix of sounds: the strength of a lion, with a rhythmic Latin ending.