Modern Christian Baby Names
These names step away from traditional biblical and saints' names, and draw on Christian symbols and concepts. They include meaningful word names like Amen and Hosanna, and place names from the Bible, like Jericho and Galilee. Some are more subtle and can also be secular, like River and Shepherd. Many of these names are unisex, and many have only been in use since the end of the twentieth century or even later, which gives them a fresh and lesser-known feel. We've also added a few more established names with a particularly evangelical flavor.
Meaning:"bearer of good news"
Description:Evangeline is a romantic old name enjoying a major comeback, thanks to its religious overtones, Eva's popularity, and the star of the TV megahit Lost, Evangeline Lilly. Evangelia and Evangelina — two variants of Evangeline — are sure to tag along for the ride.
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.
Description:Zion has taken off in recent years, especially after singer Lauryn Hill used it for her son in 1997 and incorporated the name into a hit song. It combines a user-friendly Ryan-Brian sound with the gravitas of religious significance. The Hebrew pronunciation is 'tzeeyon'.
Origin:Biblical place-name, Hebrew
Description:Cool meets Born Again meets Brad and Angelina, who made Shiloh an instant star when they chose it for their daughter. While Shiloh has risen from obscurity thanks to its celebrity baby use, it hasn't become a star the way brother names Maddox and Pax have. It entered the Top 1000 in 2007, one year after the birth of Ms. Jolie-Pitt.
Meaning:"God is with us"
Description:Emmanuel--spelled with one or two 'm's'-- was popular with early Jewish immigrants, until overused nickname Manny caused it to fade. Now, this important biblical name is being revived in its full glory.
Description:Shepherd is an occupational surname with a pleasant pastoral feel. It was chosen for their son by the Jerry Seinfelds, which might inspire others to follow their lead.
Description:Haunting biblical and Civil War place-name; now unisex—especially after the mega-high-profile Brangelina couple picked it for their daughter. It debuted in the Top 1000 for boys in 2015.
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.
Description:The name is derived from the term commonly used in the Book of Psalms, which has a many Hebrew scholars in confusion over its meaning. Given its context in the Bible, Selah is likely to mean “to praise” or “pause and reflect upon what has just been said." Lauryn Hill used this name for her daughter. It is the last word in Anita Diamant's novel The Red Tent.
Description:Most of the notable Rivers have been male, but this nature name certainly flows as well for a girl. Kelly Clarkson's choice of River for her newborn daughter further raised the profile of the name for girls.
Description:This Latin word used for evening spiritual services was introduced to baby namers by the Eva Greene character Vesper Lynd in the modern James Bond film Casino Royale in 2006, based on the Ian Fleming novel, and is just now beginning to provoke interest among namers, with its spiritual reference and soft, whispery sound.
Origin:Biblical place-name or Arabic
Description:Salem is a Biblical place name in Canaan, believed to be the same as Jerusalem, as well as the Massachusetts town famous for its late 17th century witch trials. Salem is also a popular first name in its own right throughout the Arabic world.
Description:A biblical place name with trumpeting verve and strength.
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.
Description:Ransom may be rakish and handsome, but it carries an unavoidable association with holding someone for ransom. But that kind of bad boy image might be exactly what attracts you to Ransom in the first place. While Ransom feels like a modern appellation ala Breaker or Ranger, it's interesting to note on the popularity chart that it was actually quite popular at the end of the 19th century but fell off the Top 1000 around 1930.
Description:For a single-syllable Latino surname, this new popular kid on the block packs a lot of energy and charm and is one of the most stylish Spanish names for boys in general use today. Victoria and David Beckham named their third son Cruz, following Brooklyn and Romeo, and it was also picked up on by tennis star Lleyton Hewitt for his son. Other parents may prize its Christian associations.
Description:The quality of mercy makes this lovely Puritan virtue name a quiet favorite today. Although it was most popular in the late nineteenth century, Mercy is on its way to a comeback -- it rose 143 spots between 2012 and 2013, making it one of the year's fastest-rising names. Right now, it's still stylish and distinctive, a rare and wonderful combination.
Origin:Biblical place-name or Arabic
Description:Salem is a biblical place-name in Canaan, believed to be the same as Jerusalem. Americans may be more familiar with Salem as the name of the Massachusetts town famous for its witch trials in the late 1600s. It's also a popular Arabic name widely-used for both genders.
Description:Trinity bounded up the charts after the release of The Matrix, whose heroine was named Trinity. Country singer Trace Adkins used it for his daughter.