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Names That Mean Strong, Brave, or Powerful

Names that mean brave, strong, or powerful are newly interesting to parents who realize those positive qualities are gender neutral and desirable for all children, whether they're embodied in the meaning of a name or not. Traditionally, there are fewer girls' names that mean brave or powerful than there are boys' names with strong meanings. But they're not unknown and several stylish contemporary girls' names—Audrey, Matilda, and Imara, for instance—mean brave or powerful, along with a big group of brave and powerful names for boys.

Along with Audrey and Matilda, other girl names that mean brave, strong, or powerful in the US Top 500 include Gabriella, Valentina, and Valerie. For boys, Andrew, Everett, Ezekiel Harvey, and Zane are among the most common.

If you're searching for names for girls and boys with strong meanings that might empower and inspire your child, browse this selection.
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EthanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong, firm"
  • Description:

    Ethan derives from the Hebrew name Eitan. There are several Ethans in the Old Testament, the most prominent of whom, Ethan the Ezrahite, is praised for his wisdom. International variations include Etan and Izan.

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.

EverettHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of the German Eberhard
  • Meaning:

    "brave as a wild boar"
  • Description:

    Everett is a statesmanlike, wintry New England name whose recent leap in popularity can be credited to its similarity to trendy girls’ names such as Eva and Ava. Its high point was about a century ago, when Everett was a Top 100 name.

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.

EzekielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God strengthens"
  • Description:

    Ezekiel is derived from the Hebrew name Yechezqel, composed of the elements chazaq, meaning “to strengthen,” and ’el, referring to God. Ezekiel is a prominent prophet in the Old Testament and the author of the Book of Ezekiel, predicting the fall of Jerusalem and eventual rehabilitation of Israel.
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AndrewHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrew is a variant of the Greek name Andreas, ultimately derived from the element aner, meaning “man.” In the New Testament, Andrew was one of the twelve apostles and the first disciple to be called by Jesus. Although the origins of the name are Greek, Andrew is the patron saint of both Scotland and Russia, as well as Greece. It has associations with two of America's most famous artists, Wyeth and Warhol.

AudreyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "noble strength"
  • Description:

    Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Ethelred. St. Audrey was a seventh century saint who was particularly revered in the Middle Ages. Her name led to the term tawdry, as cheap lace necklaces were sold at the St. Audrey fair. Shakespeare bestowed her name on a character in As You Like It.

ZaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Possible variation of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Western novelist Zane (born Pearl!) Grey made this name famous. Now, it's in tune with the style of our times, retaining that appealing cowboy image.

EvanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish; Greek
  • Meaning:

    "bow warrior; strong man"
  • Description:

    Evander is a name that could build on the popularity of shorter form Evan, and could work and play well with schoolmates like Zander and Xander.

GabrielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my strength"
  • Description:

    Gabriel was derived from the Hebrew name Gavri’el, taken from the elements gever, meaning “strong,” and ’el, in reference to God. In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is the archangel who heralded the news of Jesus' birth, and appears in Christian, Jewish and Muslim texts. He presides over Paradise, serving as the angel of mercy, life, joy, judgment, truth and dreams.
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GriffinHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh, variation of Griffith
  • Meaning:

    "strong lord"
  • 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.

AltheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "with healing power"
  • Description:

    Althea is a poetic, almost ethereal name found in Greek myth and pastoral poetry, associated in modern times with the great tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbleton.

ValentinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, Feminine variation of Valentine
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    Valentina is a more exotic and artistic ballerina-type successor to Valerie; a pretty, recommended choice. Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault named their daughter Valentina Paloma.

HarveyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "battle worthy"
  • Description:

    Two of the worst events of 2017 involved the name Harvey, the storm and accused sexual harasser Weinstein. And that's not good for the baby name Harvey's future.

OsirisHeart

  • Origin:

    Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "with strong eyesight"
  • Description:

    Osiris is the name of Egyptian mythology god-king who died and was reborn every year. Emerging from centuries of obscurity, Osiris has several ingredients for success in the modern world: Roots in ancient myth, an uplifting meaning, an s ending and the cute nickname Os or Oz.
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AzielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is my strength"
  • Description:

    Aziel is a rarely used name that connotes zeal and may become more familiar thanks to its fashionable initial A and z in the middle.

GabriellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian feminine variation of Gabriel
  • Meaning:

    "God is my strength"
  • Description:

    Gabriella is the feminine form of Gabriel, a name derived from the Hebrew Gavri’el. Gavri’el is composed of the elements gever, meaning “strong,” and ’el, referring to God. Gabriella is used among a variety of cultures in the US, including Italian Americans, Latinos, and in the Jewish community. Gabriela is the Spanish spelling.

AngusHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized form of Aonghus, Aonghas, Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "one strength"
  • Description:

    Angus is a traditional yet stylish choice in the UK, especially in Scotland. And it's a cool choice for US parents too, particularly those whose roots go back to Glasgow. The ancient Celtic form Oenghus has important historical overtones in Scotland, and the Gaelic form Aonghas is associated with two distinguished modern poets. In Irish folklore, Angus Og is a chieftain-lord who used his magical powers for the pleasure and prosperity of mankind--and in Irish myth, Aonghus was the god of love and youth.

AlaricHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "all-powerful ruler"
  • Description:

    Alaric is an ancient regal name that sounds modern enough to be considered. Alaric was a traditional name for the kings of the Ostrogoths, the most famous of whom was Alaric I, the King of the West Goths who sacked Rome in 410.

AlfredHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "wise counselor"
  • Description:

    Alfred is up off his recliner! If you're looking for a path to Fred, you can go directly to Frederick or take the long way around with the so-out-it's-in-again Alfred. Alfred is quite popular in several European countries, especially England and Wales, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
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ZekeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Ezekiel
  • Meaning:

    "God strengthens"
  • Description:

    Zeke is a casual form of the name Ezekiel, an important prophet from the Old Testament. How well Zeke holds up depends on the boy: it could be a cooler alternative of Zack, or it could prove too close to "geek." Both Zeke and Ezekiel lag behind in popularity on the UK charts.

ValerieHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Valeria
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    The name of a martyred medieval saint, Valerie has been on the popularity list since its earliest publication in 1880. Though it peaked in the 1960s, remaining in the Top 100 until 1988, it still doesn't sound terminally dated; the association with the word valor gives it a sense of boldness and makes it one of the special group of girl names that mean strong.

AndreaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Andrew, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andrea -- a feminine form of Andrew (and a male name in several European cultures)-- comes with a good selection of pronunciations-- ANN-dree-a, AHN-dree-a, or ahn-DRAY-a--each with a slightly different image: girl next door/slightly affected/downright exotic

RagnarHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "warrior or judgment"
  • Description:

    An fearsome old Norse name with a long history in Scandinavia. It's gotten a boost in the States from popularity of the History Channel drama "Vikings," in which the protagonist is named Ragnar. Ragnar Lodbrok (meaning "shaggy pants") was a legendary warrior whose story was told in the Viking sagas. Ragnar also recalls name of the Norse Judgment Day, Ragnarök.

FergusHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish and Irish
  • Meaning:

    "man of force"
  • Description:

    In Celtic lore, Fergus was the ideal of manly courage; Fergus is a charming, slightly quirky Scottish and Irish favorite.
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BridgetHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized variation of Gaelic Brighid
  • Meaning:

    "strength or exalted one"
  • Description:

    Bridget is the Anglicized form of Brigid, an Irish-Gaelic name that was derived from the word brígh, which means “strength.”

GarrettHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish variation of Gerard
  • Meaning:

    "spear strength"
  • Description:

    Garrett, also spelled with one 't', is an Irish-inflected name that was in the Top 100 in the nineties, but has now slipped in popularity.

MerrickHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglo-Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "fame, power"
  • Description:

    A strong, attractive surname name with a mix of possible origins: either from the Welsh first name Meuric,which is a form of Maurice, and contains Germanic elements meaning fame and power, or from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning a fork in a river or a road, which led to the name of several places named Merrick in Scotland. The Supreme Court saga of Justice Merrick Garland almost certainly caused the bump in popularity that propelled Merrick to its US Top 1000 debut in 2016.

    Despite its ancient history, Merrick these days sounds more modern than the somewhat tired Derek.

DenzelHeart

  • Origin:

    Cornish
  • Meaning:

    "from the high stronghold"
  • Description:

    This old Cornish name took on a whole new identity via Denzel Washington, who has inspired several thousand namesakes. The actor was named after his father, who was named for a Dr. Denzel, who delivered him.

KenzoHeart

  • Origin:

    Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "strong and healthy"
  • Description:

    Kenzo is a common Japanese name with several creative bearers: the single-named fashion designer, prizewinning architect Kenzo Takada, and painter Kenzo Okada, which makes it internationally recognizable.
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MarcellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "warlike"
  • Description:

    Marcella has been in mothballs for so long it's starting to feel stylish again. Depicted as the world's most beautiful woman in Don Quixote (where it's spelled Marcela), this long neglected name seemed dated for decades but just might be ready for restoration. Another so-old-it's-new-again relative: Marcellina. Saint Marcella was a Roman matron of strength and intellect who organized a religious sisterhood at her mansion, which St. Jerome guided in religion and learning.

BrianHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "strong, virtuous, and honorable"
  • Description:

    The origins of the name Brian are not entirely clear, but it is suspected that it evolved from an Old Celtic word related to nobility. In Ireland the name is associated with Brian Boru, the most famous of all Irish warrior-kings, credited with driving the Vikings out of Ireland. Bryan is a common alternative spelling.

ValentineHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    Valentine is an attractive Shakespearean name with romantic associations, but those very ties to the saint and the sentimental holiday have sent it into a decline, one which we think may be about to turn around.

ArchibaldHeart

  • Origin:

    Teutonic
  • Meaning:

    "truly brave"
  • Description:

    The short form Archie is so open and friendly --and very trendy in the British Isles--that some parents are now beginning to consider the formerly fusty Archibald as well. SNL comedians Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are one couple who made this breakthrough choice.

DrewHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Andrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Drew, which projects a polished, somewhat intellectual impression, is rapidly becoming the Andrew nickname of choice, replacing the past favorite, Andy. It is fully capable of standing on its own, which it has for many decades, non-stop since 1942.
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AndersHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Andrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Friendly, unusual, but a decidedly Old Country version of Andrew and one of the classic Scandinavian names. It made a brief appearance in the US Top 1000 in 2006 and then reentered in 2010. Its rising popularity could be attributed to the interest in Anderson, which has been gaining steadily over the last fifteen years.

    Trivia tidbits: The patronymic Andersson is the second most popular surname in Sweden, and in Denmark, Donald Duck is called Anders.

BarrettHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "bear strength"
  • Description:

    Pleasing sound and literary association with poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, though little girls may associate it with the word barrette.

BreeHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, from Brid, Brigh, Brigid
  • Meaning:

    "strength or exalted one"
  • Description:

    A short, breezy name with a sophisticated yet upbeat image, that doesn't betray its Irish roots. Bree first came to notice here in 1971 via the complex prostitute character in the movie Klute, which earned Jane Fonda an Oscar. More recently, it was tied to the character of Bree Van de Kamp on Desperate Housewives.

AndreasHeart

  • Origin:

    Original New Testament Greek variation of Andrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong and manly"
  • Description:

    Andreas is a beautiful name, with the patina of an Old Master painting, one that could make an exotic namesake for an Uncle Andrew.

StoneHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Though some may find such names rather harsh and severe, increasing numbers of parents are gravitating toward this kind of flinty, steely, stony single-syllable name.
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MaudeHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Matilda
  • Meaning:

    "battle-mighty"
  • Description:

    Maude, also spelled Maud, is a lacy, mauve-tinted name that was wildly popular a hundred years ago, but has been rarely heard in the past fifty. Some stylish parents are starting to choose it again, especially as a middle.

    Maud's early popularity was influenced by the Tennyson poem that included the oft-quoted line, "Come into the garden, Maude." Then, in the 1970's, along came the sitcom Maude, featuring the vociferous and opinionated character Maude Finlay, putting a very different spin on the name. But enough decades have now passed for the name to have settled back into its soft, sweet pastel image.

HezekiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God gives strength"
  • Description:

    This name of an influential Old Testament king of Judah is one that would challenge even the most adventurous biblical name-seeker, but it does have the modernizing short forms Zeke or Kiah.

MontgomeryHeart

  • Origin:

    Norman
  • Meaning:

    "man power"
  • Description:

    This image of this distinguished Anglo-Scottish surname, drawn from the French place name of the ancient castle of Saint Foi de Montgomery, is rapidly shifting from fusty and formal to cool. And dashing short form Monty (or Monte) nudges it to cute.

AdiraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "strong"
  • Description:

    Adira is one of those rare names that's both exotic and simple. Pronounced ah-DEER-ah, Adira is given to only a handful of girls in the U.S. each year and could make a worthy substitute for such overexposed favorites as Ava and Ariana.

AilaHeart

  • Origin:

    Finnish variation of Helga or Scottish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "from the strong place"
  • Description:

    Now that Isla Fisher has pushed her once-obscure name into the Top 150, some parents are looking for similar-sounding Scottish names for girls that are further off the beaten path. This one is especially promising, with its cross-cultural appeal. Ayla, a common name in Turkey, is also worth considering.
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ValeriaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    Valeria -- the original form of the name, used by early Christians -- is now more popular than the Franco-American Valerie.

GabrielleHeart

  • Origin:

    French, feminine variation of Gabriel
  • Meaning:

    "God is my Strength"
  • Description:

    The quintessentially elegant and worldly Gabrielle -- designer Coco Chanel's real name -- is on its descent after years on the rise.

PhilomenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "lover of strength"
  • Description:

    Philomena is an earthy Greek name now used in various Latin countries. While it has felt simply clunky for many years, it's starting -- along with such sister names as Wilhelmina and Frederica -- to sound so clunky it's cool.

BernadetteHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brave as a bear"
  • Description:

    Although feminizations ending in "ette" are not particularly popular now, Bernadette is a pleasant, feminine, but strong name that doesn't feel prohibitively dated. And though strongly associated with the saint who saw visions of the Virgin Mary—Saint Bernadette of Lourdes—it is now no longer strictly inhabiting the Catholic diocese.

IsaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "strong-willed"
  • Description:

    Isa is a name unto itself but might also be a short form of Isabel or Isadora. With the new popularity of Isabel and Isabella and even Bella, Isa may become more familiar.
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