Many popular baby names hail from mother nature and earth, such as Rose, Lily, Daisy, Ivy, Sage. But there’s also the elements of air, water, and fire — all of which have provided us with beautiful mythological or naturalistic monikers to draw from.
Some of the below names are already well known, others are slowly starting to creep onto the popularity charts. A few are so obscure that you can bet you’re never going to run across anyone who has them — unless you happen to stumble across some faerie or Pagan goddess on some dark, enchanted woodland night. But all of these monikers are options worth considering, if you want to honor the wildness, stateliness, or just flat out majestic vitality of nature.
So whether your’e looking to name your little girl after a climbing vine, the snow, the sea, or the sun and/or the moon, read on. There’s something for every climate (and every green-thumb) here.
With its its meaning of “vine,” this great baby name, Greek in origin, also means “to sprout” or “to grow luxuriantly,” and it can be pronounced bree-ON-ee or BRY-an-ee, according to preference.
Famous literary Brionys include Briony Tallis of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, who was played by Saoirse Ronan in the film adaptation of the same name. Then there’s the late, great ballerina Bryony Brind, who spelled her name with a Y, actress Briony Glassco, and 1970s cult film actress Briony Behets.
Baby Center charts indicate that Briony was very rarely used in the U.S., circa 1980-2008, but in 2012 it started to climb (like ivy or another species of vine, if you will) a bit higher. It is, however, quite popular overseas, to the tune of being one of the top 100 female names in Britain. Which makes it unlikely to belong to any other child on the (American) block.
The Inuit may have umpteenth words for snow, but the Welsh have some pretty spectacular names for it, as well. Eira (meaning, of course, the downy white stuff) may only be the 1,549th most popular girl’s name in the U.S. thus far this year, but charts show it beginning to ascend from about 2007 on up. Pronounced EYE-ra or AY-ra, according to preference, the name is both delicately beautiful and utterly unique — much like the composition of the individual snowflake.
Nameberry also indicates that the moniker may be a variation on the Norse word Eir, which translates to “help or mercy;” Eir is also the Norse goddess of medicine, which gives the name a wonderful contrast of meanings.
In Eira famedom, there’s Finnish poet and playwright Eira Stenberg. Too, Eira is a beautiful neighborhood in Helsinki, as well as a mountain and a town in Greece that was mentioned by the poet Homer.
Cinnamon is an iconic holiday spice, and one that’s widely used. But it’s Cassia — otherwise known as Chinese cinnamon — that makes the prettiest name.
Cassia hails from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, and has a Biblical equivalent in the form of the Hebrew name Keziah, who was one of the beautiful daughters of Job. According to Baby Center, though, the name also means “champion” — a juxtaposition that gives Cassia connotations of fireside coziness and intrepid independence.
The name also has an unmistakably exotic sound — one can easily envision a Cassia being an artist’s muse, for example. Or better yet, an artist herself.
Cassia is also associated with the Greek Saint Kassiani, a celebrated composer of hymns, which gives the moniker a bit of a musical aspect, as well. The name can also be pronounced KA-sha, if one prefers, though it’s nowhere near as cool sounding without those lovely three syllables.
From flamboyant and beautiful actress Tallulah Bankhead to Tori Amos’ exhilarating, piano-driven masterpiece Talula, this American Indian (and specifically Chocktaw) moniker, which means “leaping water,” is starting to catch on like — well, a roaring stream. Though stats indicate that the baby name was rarely used circa 1920-the late ’90s, it suddenly started to “leap” up in popularity around the year 2000, and it’s been climbing ever since.
According to Nameberry, Tallulah also means “lady of abundance.” Too, there’s Tallulah from the popular children’s book series Maisy Mouse, and Tallulah Robinson of Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. Tallulah is also the name of the daughter of director and producer Mimi O’Donnell and the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Then there’s Tallulah Willis, daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
So if you’re looking for a name that sounds beautiful and exuberant all at once, Tallulah might just be the ideal moniker.
Derived from the Calla lily, this elegant name shares a sisterhood with its more common incarnations, like Lily, Liliana, and Lillian. However, it’s more unique than any of its pretty handmaidens.
Calla is a baby name that appears to have enjoyed a good amount of popularity down through the generations. According to Baby Center charts, it was quite fashionable in the late 1800s and, though it more or less flatlined circa about 1911 through the late 1970s, it picked up a lively-ish pulse again in the late ’80s.
There’s also an Arabic variation of the name that means “fortress.” But that, of course, doesn’t have anything to do with nature. In the art world, Calla lilies have been interpreted by the likes of Georgia O’Keefe and Robert Mapplethorpe. And they look beautiful on any table, or in any garden where your little Calla might be expected to play on idyllic spring days.
With its meaning of “the wind’s daughter,” this wonderful baby name, Sanskrit in origin, is not a moniker that’s likely to be a staple in the average kindergarten class. Which makes it a perfect choice for parents who are looking for a name that no one (or almost no one) else is likely to have.
According to Parenting Nation, the name is mostly used in Hindi-speaking countries. There’s also the legend of Abadir and Iraja, the child saints who are celebrated with great pomp and devotion in the Coptic Church of Alexandria, the largest Christian church in its region.
Even with historical references aside, however, Iraja is a name that almost looks, and sounds, like the wind, and it’s easy to imagine a little girl frolicking in the breezes that refer to her own name. If you opt for this moniker, there might just be a lot of kite flying in your future.
Named for an extravagant fuchsia-flower sprouting herb, Amaranth is a wonderful moniker that’s bound to be as unique as the baby who’s lucky enough to have it. After all, the plant is beautiful to look at and it tastes great as a seasoning, so what’s not to love? If you can name your baby something like Candy, you might as well consider this exotic (yet wholesome) alternative.
Baby Center charts don’t indicate that Amaranth is a particularly widely used name, but originality trumps fashion. Even if there’s no doubt that other plant names (like the now hugely popular Willow and the crowd-pleaser Juniper) are equally lovely.
The amaranth plant’s flowers can also be a vivid purple, red, or gold, and the moniker has a double-meaning that derives from the Greek word amarantos, which means “the never-fading” or “one that does not wither.” Who wouldn’t want to aspire to that?
Let’s face it — the tender and nostalgic appeal of this moniker is primarily about E.B. White’s beloved novel Charlotte’s Web. As the savior of the tender-hearted piglet Wilbur, eight-year-old Fern Arable (who actually pulls a slaughtering-season axe out of her father’s hands) is as much of a heroine as the iconic spider who (also) later delivers one of America’s most cherished pigs from trouble.
Baby Center charts show Fern peaking in popularity circa the late 1800s to the late 1930s. It hasn’t been as popular in recent years, but its appeal is pretty much permanent. As plants, ferns are widely varied and luxurious in foliage, and they’re really fun for children to play amongst.
Plus, there’s always the film FernGully, or the character Fern the Green Fairy from the children’s book series Rainbow Magic. Who knows? if it catches on, Fern might just become this generation’s Heather (that is, a household name).
With its meaning of “wave,” or “little wave,” this charming baby name is perfect for a little mermaid — or even just a joyfully splashing baby. Though this sea-rich moniker wasn’t very popular from the mid 1960s through the early 2000s, it started to spike slightly in 2005.
In mythology, Ondine (altered to Undine) is a water nymph who, much like the aforementioned little mermaid, falls in love with a mortal man; the story of the Undine has been explored and celebrated in librettos, plays, and literature. In 2009, director Neil Jordan (of The Company of Wolves fame) directed a fantasy film called Ondine.
Undine is also the name of the heroine in Edith Wharton’s celebrated novel The Custom of the Country. In addition to being hauntingly lovely, the name is cute and playful, as water names ought to be. Which makes it a great choice for parents who might be ocean-loving and/or marine-obsessed.
Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame is definitely the celebrity that’s most often associated with this unique and powerful moniker, which means “sun,” and is pronounced so-LAY.
Soleil seems to have become quite popular circa 1998 on up, according to Baby Center stats. French in origin, the name is also associated with the famous circus troupe Cirque du Soleil. There’s also Mont (Mount) Soleil in Switzerland, a popular and breathtakingly beautiful skiing destination.
Needless to say, the name Soleil can logically be associated with the astrological sign Leo, the sun sign of all sun signs. But Soleil isn’t just a name for summer babies — there’s the winter sun and the Alaskan midnight sun to pay homage to, as well.
Moral of the story: If you’re considering Sunny as a name, why not give its prettier, more exotic variation a try? Your little light will shine just as brightly in French.
With its meaning of “halo around the moon,” this beautiful Arabic baby name is a lovely nighttime alternative to the daytime appeal of Soleil. Baby Center charts show it rising slightly in popularity in the late 1800s and early to mid 2000s, but it’s really an enchanting choice for any era.
Interestingly, the meaning of the name Hala can alter based on the way it’s pronounced. When said with a long A (“HAY-la”) it refers to the moon; if it’s pronounced as “HAH-la” it means “welcome,” and if the H is pronounced in Arabic in a certain way, it means “beauty.”
In popular culture, there’s the Mazzy Star song “Halah,” with its slight spelling variation and its wistfully haunting words and music. So if your little one happens to be born at night (or perhaps on the night of a blue moon, a harvest moon, or some other such majestic lunar event) Hala might be a wonderful choice.
Sequoia is a baby name that refers to the magnificent trees that are native to California (and that are more commonly known as redwoods). The moniker started to climb the U.S. popularity charts in the mid 1980s, and though it hasn’t yet become a household name, Sequoia reached a redwood-like apex of its own in the mid 2000s.
The word sequoia also means “sparrow,” and is Native American in origin. It was said to have been coined by a brilliant Cherokee scholar and traveler who, according to Nameberry, “invented a way to write his tribe’s language.” The name is also unisex, and the boy’s version of it has roughly the same popularity statistics as the girl version.
Either way, Sequoia is a wonderful moniker to add to the family tree. And there aren’t many names that are more widely associated with the Golden State, if that’s also something you’re looking to pay homage to.
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