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Names That Mean Mother or Father

Names That Mean Mother or Father
Names that mean mother or father exist in many cultures and range from the familiar and popular to the unique and rare.

The top names meaning father are Abigail and Abraham and their many variations. Along with Abigail and Abraham, other names meaning father or mother in the US Top 1000 include Axl and Maia

A name meaning mother or father can be a fresh way to honor a parent or other ancestor. Look to specific meanings for one that might work for you.

AxelHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    A classic in its native Scandinavia, Axel has a cool rock 'n' roll flavor in the US, thanks to Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose (born William). Axel is a popular Scandinavian form of the Biblical Absalom, who was a son of King David, and is the name of the title character of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom.

MaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "mother"
  • Description:

    Maia was derived from the Greek word maia, meaning "mother." In Greek legend, she was the fair-haired daughter of Atlas who mothered Zeus's favorite illegitimate son, Hermes. To the Romans, Maia was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring, after whom they named the month of May. Maya is the more common spelling.

AbigailHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is joyful"
  • Description:

    Abigail comes from the Hebrew name Avigail and is derived from the Hebrew elements ab, meaning "father," and g-y-l, meaning "to rejoice." In the Old Testament, Abigail was the wife of David, said to be beautiful, wise, and prophetic. In the early nineteenth century, Abigail became a term for a maid.

GaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "earth mother"
  • Description:

    The name of the Greek mythological earth goddess and universal mother; actress Emma Thompson stated that she was attracted by its ecological element, so other "green" parents may want to follow her lead.

AbnerHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of light."
  • Description:

    This neglected Biblical name--it was the name of the commander of Saul's army and appears twice in the New Testament--is ready to flee Dogpatch. It was regularly used in the nineteenth century, but was pretty much demolished by the long-running hillbilly comic strip L'il Abner, which began in 1934 and ran through 1977. A more respectable namesake is Abner Doubleday, who has been credited with inventing baseball.

AbrahamHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    Abraham is among the most classic baby names that's still widely-used today, popular for its references to both the Bible and American history. The Biblical Abraham was the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and is considered the founding father of the Jewish people. He was originally named Abram, until, according to Genesis, he was told, "No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."

BramHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch variation of Abraham
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    Bram has an unusual measure of character and charm for a one-syllable name; it started as a hipper-than-Abe diminutive of the biblical Abraham, but is also an independent Irish and Dutch name, made famous by Irish-born Dracula creator Bram (nee Abraham) Stoker. Bram is currently Number 16 in the Netherlands; Bram Howard was a character on The West Wing.

AviHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father"
  • Description:

    Avi, the short form of many Hebrew names, is often used on its own in Israel. It entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2015.

AbramHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    Abram was Abraham's original name in the Bible; it's more user-friendly but with a bit less gravitas. And it does offer that cool nickname Bram, as well as the friendly Abe. After some early American usage, in 1936 Abram completely disappeared for nearly forty years, until its return in the 1970s.

CleopatraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "glory of the father"
  • Description:

    A royal name in ancient Egypt that's never quite made it to the modern world, though nickname Cleo is widely used. Other now-extinct Cleopatra diminutives, including Cleora and Cleola, achieved some popularity in the early 20th century when there was a crazy for all things Egypt-related as the ancient tombs were opened and artifacts displayed. In the US, Cleopatra became a popular silent film in 1917 starring Theda Bara.

AbbyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Abigail, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is joyful"
  • Description:

    Gently old-fashioned stand-alone nickname that owes its popularity to mega popular Abigail.

AkselHeart

  • Origin:

    Danish, version of Hebrew Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "the father is peace"
  • Description:

    Most American parents would choose to use the more commonly seen variant, AXEL.

AxlHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Axel, Scandinavian version of Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    Guns 'n' Roses musician Axl (born William) Rose created this name by dropping a vowel, a la Barbra Streisand. The traditional Axel is more popular, though celebrity parents Fergie and Josh Duhamel deliberately chose the Axl spelling to honor her rock hero.

CybeleHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "the mother of all gods"
  • Description:

    Cybele, the name of a Greek goddess of fertility, health, and nature, would unfortunately and undoubtedly be confused with Sybil.

AttilaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hungarian
  • Meaning:

    "little father"
  • Description:

    Stun-gunned by the fifth-century Hun, though still well-used in contemporary Hungary and Turkey. Some sources also suggest Turkish origins for the name.

AbielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Abiel is a biblical name (he was the grandfather of Saul) that was used by Puritans, particularly in Massachusetts, so it has a long pedigree. Parents are increasingly looking for underused traditional names, and this name, with the great nickname option of Abe, is ripe for more use!

GailHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, short form of Abigail
  • Meaning:

    "my father rejoices"
  • Description:

    Gail was a mid-twentieth century favorite, which has been far surpassed by its original form, Abigail and nickname Abby. Spelling variations include Gale and Gayle, the latter represented by TV journalist and Oprah bestie Gayle King. Gail was most popular in the 1950s, when it was in the Top 40, and could rise again, possibly as a middle.

DemeterHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythological name
  • Meaning:

    "earth mother"
  • Description:

    Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain, agriculture, and the harvest, growth and nourishment, was Zeus's sister and Persephone's mother. Variation Demetria is the full name of actress Demi Moore. Though familiar, Demeter is not one of the Greek goddess namesthat's finding widespread modern favor.

NeithHeart

  • Origin:

    Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "divine mother"
  • Description:

    One of the more unusual mythology names for girls, Neith is the name of the Egyptian goddess of home and femininity.

AbraHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Abraham, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    Abra is soft, sensitive feminine form of Abraham that was the name of a soft, sensitive character in the John Steinbeck book and movie, "East of Eden." In the bible, Abra was a favorite of King Solomon and it was a popular name in seventeenth century England. Abra is also a West African name used for girls born on Tuesday. The magical 'abracadabra' is thought to have originated in the Aramaic language.

CleopasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "glory to the father"
  • Description:

    Sharing an etymology with Cleopatra, this masculine form of the name also has biblical ties. Cleopas was one of the men who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection. As a child's name, it has been a rare sight. While it does have an interesting history, it's connection to Cleopatra and obvious nickname Cleo could make it seem too feminine for some.

AmmaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hindi or African, Akan
  • Meaning:

    "mother, or born on a Saturday"
  • Description:

    An anagram of Mama, in tune with its Hindi meaning.

AbsalomHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    Absalom, because of its biblical and literary associations, just might appeal to the daring namegiver.

AvielleHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Variation of Aviela/Abiela, feminine forms of the Biblical Aviel/Abiel “God is my father”. The modernized/anglicized double-l spellings are popular now in English-speaking countries.

AbbottHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "father"
  • Description:

    Abbott is a neglected masculine surname with religious overtones as the head of a monastery. Though the feminine nickname Abby could be a slight drawback, Abbott is still an attractive offbeat possibility.

AbiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Abiah is a Biblical name that appears for both female and male figures. It may be considered the same as the name Abijah in the Bible; one female Abijah was a queen and ancestor of Christ. Abiah may also be considered a relative of the Arabic name Abia. However you spell or pronounce it -- a - BY -a or a - BEE - a -- this name can be an original way to the nickname Abi.

IkennaHeart

  • Origin:

    Igbo
  • Meaning:

    "father's power"
  • Description:

    Ikenna's meaning makes it a subtle way to honor a father or grandfather. Ikenna is the name of a popular YouTube star.

AbbaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father"
  • Description:

    Double exposure: 1970s rock sensation (Mamma Mia) and scholar/diplomat name in Israel.

AbrianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian feminine variation of Abraham
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    This lovely name is all but unknown outside Italy but fits perfectly in with the fashions for vowel-starting names that are elaborately feminine. Might make a distinctive alternative to Angelina or Arianna. Downside: People will inevitably mistake it for Adriana.

AbimaelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is God"
  • Description:

    Colonial Americans used many Biblical names forgotten by modern baby namers; this is an Old Testament descendant of Shem. If Moses and Noah can come back, why not Abimael and brethren?

AviellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Variation of Aviela/Abiela, feminine forms of the Biblical Aviel/Abiel “God is my father”, and related to Avielle.

AbidanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is judge"
  • Description:

    In the Old Testament, Abidan was indeed a judge, head of the tribe of Benjamin and a leader at the time of the Exodus. Dan and Ab could work as nicknames. In 2015, there were only five boys in the US given the name.

AbbieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Abigail
  • Meaning:

    "my father is joyful"
  • Description:

    Abbie is a gently old-fashioned nickname name that owes its rising popularity to Top 10 Abigail. Abby may be the more usual spelling today.

AxelleHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine form of Axel
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    Putting the emphasis on the "elle" softens a name that seems at once futuristic and medieval.

AbiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Abiah is a gentle, rarely used Old Testament name belonging to Samuel's second son. This makes a good choice for the parent who wants a traditional biblical name that is not overly familiar.

AdelioHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "the father of the noble prince"
  • Description:

    Appealing, upbeat name used mainly in Spanish-speaking countries.

MoaHeart

  • Origin:

    Swedish
  • Meaning:

    "mother"
  • Description:

    Moa is among the Top 100 Swedish baby names but virtually unknown in the US. Might Moa be a substitute for Mia or Maya? An intriguing idea. There is a Swedish author named Moa Martinson.

NnamdiHeart

  • Origin:

    Igbo
  • Meaning:

    "my father is alive"
  • Description:

    In the Igbo culture of Nigeria, the name Nnamdi is given to baby boys who are thought to be reincarnations of their grandfathers. The name is familiar via Nnamdi Asomugha, a former NFL player married to Kerry Washington.

EliabHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is father"
  • Description:

    Prince of the tribe of Zebulon in the Exodus, everyone will misunderstand this as Elias, with a stuffed nose.

LillemorHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavia
  • Meaning:

    "little mother"
  • Description:

    Lillemor is a relatively recent coinage in Scandinavia, where it was most popular in the 1930s and '40s, especially in Sweden. As such, it is considered rather dated in Scandinavia, but it would certainly make a fresh choice for lovers of “Lily” names abroad — although the “Lil” in this case actually comes from lille “little”.

AbbasHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "lion, stern"
  • Description:

    Not one of the five hundred names of Muhammad, but that of his uncle.

BarabbasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "son of the father"
  • Description:

    In the Christian bible, Barabbas was a murderer that Pontius Pilate freed while condemning Jesus to die. The name is ironic, given that Christian belief promotes Jesus as the son of the Father. The name is difficult for this reason, as well as the fact that in Spain it is used as slang for a bad person.

AbijahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Abijah, which you might think of as Abigail with rhythm, is the name of both female and male personages in the Bible. A biblical Queen Abijah was the daughter, wife, and mother of kings. The name is pronounced with a long i, to rhyme with Elijah.

AstarteHeart

  • Origin:

    Phonecian
  • Meaning:

    "mother goddess"
  • Description:

    Astarte is the ancient goddess of sexuality, fertility, and war, associated with Ishtar as well as Venus.

AbbigailHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Abigail, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is joyful"
  • Description:

    A fast-rising variation of Abigail that was shooting up the popularity charts a few years ago, but whose star is now falling now that Abigail is not quite as hot as she once was.

AbbottHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father"
  • Description:

    This traditionally male surname name could find new life for girls thanks to its similarity to the popular Abby and Abigail.

AbitalHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "my father is dew"
  • Description:

    Abital is popular for boys as well as girls in Israel, but we rarely hear it here. In the Old Testament, Abital was one of King David's wives and the mother of his fifth son.

AbielaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    More than the sum of Abby and Ella.

JaritaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hindi-Sanskrit
  • Meaning:

    "mother or legendary bird"
  • Description:

    Delicate and lacy, with less emphasis on the jar syllable.

AbijahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my father"
  • Description:

    Abijah is a truly unusual, truly unisex, truly appealing biblical name. There were several male Abijahs in the Bible, one of them, known as Abijah of Judah, was the fourth king of the House of David, and also a couple of females.
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