By Abby Sandel
We’ve always loved word names. Just ask the Pilgrim parents who chose Faith and Hope, the early twentieth century Opals and Earls, or the children of the 80s named Amber and Crystal.
Word names have boomed in the 21st century. Some are revived from the past – welcome back, Ruby and Jasper. Others have some history of use but have never enjoyed so much popularity. Even more word names feel brand new.
Over the last week, word names were in the air. The WWE’s Brie Bella shared that she plans to name her new daughter Birdy. Expectant ESPN reporter Samantha Ponder’s older daughter is called Scout. And Names for Real spotted a baby Pepper in New York.
Let’s take a look at word names that are popular on Nameberry – far more popular than in the US. None of these appear in the current Top 1000, but every one of them could crack the list soon. Given the popularity of choices like River and Chase, Autumn and Lily, any one of these could be the next big thing.
Arrow – Arrow picks up on multiple trends. It shares the –o ending of Leo and Milo. Arrow fits with hunting-themed choices like Archer and Hunter. But it also feels like a modern virtue name. After all, arrows hit their target. It ranks Number 437 for boys on Nameberry, but actor Jensen Ackles recently gave the name to a daughter.
Aster – As floral as Lily or Rose, with the –r ending of Harper and Piper, Aster succeeds for several reasons. It’s one of many unconventional flower names on the rise today. Aster currently ranks Number 361 for girls on Nameberry.
Basil – Basil feels British, and edible, too. The English rhyme Basil with dazzle; Americans pronounce it with a long ‘a’ instead. The herbal appellation actually comes from an ancient name meaning king. It currently ranks Number 399 for boys.
Clover – Clovers symbolize good fortune, making Clover an upbeat, positive name for a child. Like Aster, Clover fits with those –r ending girls’ names on the rise., as well as auspicious boys’ names, like Asher and Felix. Clover ranks Number 325 for girls on our list.
Fox – Fox is fast becoming a favorite name for stylish parents. It feels like conventional choices Alex and Max, but remains outside of the mainstream. Today’s generation of parents grew up with The X-Files’ Fox Mulder. Today, Fox stands at Number 131 for boys on Nameberry, comfortably ahead of Wolf and Bear.
Marigold – Boosted by Downton Abbey and an appealing, unconventional sound, vintage Marigold is also on the rise. Every year seems to bring a new class of flower names, like last year’s Magnolia and Briar. Marigold stands at Number 448.
Opal – A century ago, gemstone names for girls Pearl, Opal, and Ruby were near their zenith. Now Ruby has returned, and Pearl shows signs of revival. Opal, however, remains relatively undiscovered. It fits with sophisticated, nickname-proof word names like Iris. Opal currently ranks Number 533 for girls on our list.
Shepherd – Occupational surname names show no signs of slowing down. Some, like Mason or Miller, feel divorced from their working roots, while others still conjure up a specific job. Gentle Shepherd benefits from a spiritual meaning, too – in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd. Berries put this name at Number 288.
Stone – Not so long ago, Stone might have felt like a soap opera character’s name, a little too much for a real boy. But journalist Stone Phillips – yes, it’s his real name – has spent decades anchoring the evening news, and lending the name a certain gravitas. Stone comes in at Number 361 for boys.
What are your favorite word names? Are there any that you’re hearing more in recent years?