Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Most Common Middle Names for Boys

In 2014, I posted a series of Birth Announcements that were taken from real hospitals across the US. After combing through all of the names and tallying them up, I came across the twenty most commonly recurring middle names for boys.

Disclaimer: This is very limited data. The following featured names appeared the most often in my small collection of birth announcements which can be found on the name lists page.   Of course, I would much rather have official data on that. If the Social Security Administration made a list of the most popular middle names, things would be easier and namers like me would be thrilled. Since they don't compile that data, I had to improvise.

What I noticed, though, is that we tend to like our male names to be on the traditional side. It may be that many parents use the middle name spot to honor male relatives. Many may simply favor solid, classic choices above the more modern and trendy, while others pair a trendy first name with a classic middle name for balance.

So which names are the most popular middle names? We can't be totally sure, but the following names were most commonly used on the birth announcements curated by The Art Of Naming:

1. James
(31 uses) James is the English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus, which means James and Jacob are related. It may be safe to assume that James is the most popular middle name for boys. The data used here is admittedly limited, but James is very prevalent elsewhere too. As a first name, it ranked at # 9 in 2014.  It is also the #1 male name overall for the past 100 years combined, out ranking all other male names. Girls are being named James now too. There were two girls within this data that were given James as a middle name. If you are wanting something uncommon, this is not the name for you.

2. Michael
(15 uses) Michael comes from the Hebrew name Mikha'el meaning "who is like God?". Michael was the #1 boys' name in America from 1954 to 1998. It still ranks well today as a first name, falling only down to #7 in 2014. As a middle name, according to my small data set, Michael was the 2nd most recurring with 15 births.  While Michael has always been given to boys as firsts and middles, it has also been used for girls since the early 1900s.

3. Alexander/Alejandro
(13 uses) This is the Latinized form of the Greek name Alexandros which means "defending men". This strong name for boys has always ranked well in the US. It's also sometimes given to girls even in lieu of the feminine forms like Alexandra. Since the late 1980s, Alexander has been massively popular. It ranked as high as #4 in 2009. Currently it is the 8th most popular name for boys as of 2014.  Within our small data set here, there were 13 instances of Alexander being used as a male middle name, which puts it at #3 on The Art of Naming.

4. John/Jon/Jean
(13 uses)  The name John is the English form of Iohannes, which comes from the Greek Ioannes which comes from the Hebrew Yochanan meaning "YAHWEH is gracious". John has always been a typical name, (think John Doe), but it is no longer the most popular overall boy name since James took that title. John was #1 from 1880-1923 and ranked in the Top 10 until 1986. Currently, John ranks at #26 in the US.

5. Joseph
(11 uses) The Hebrew name Yosef lead to the Latin and Greek Ioseph, which brought about the English Joseph as we know it.  It means "He will add". There are many saints with this name, including the husband of the biblical Mary. The name Joseph was more common among Jews in the Middle Ages than with Christians. Later Joseph gained popularity in Spain and Italy then in England. This name has a ton of variations and translations across different languages around the world (things like Yosif, Josepe, Peppe, Giuseppe, José, and more). Joseph, itself, has never ranked lower than #22 in the US. It has spent decades in the Top 10. In 2014, it was #20.

6. Lee
(11 uses) Lee comes from a surname that was derived from the Old English leah meaning "clearing". This name is predominately masculine but it has always been given to females too, which means it can be considered unisex. It ranked at its best for males in the 1940s and 1950s. It spiked for females through the 1950s and 1960s, too. Popularity has declined for both genders recently with only 348 male births (#701) and 23 female births in the US in 2014. It seems likely that Lee (and possibly the feminine equivalent Leigh) are used more often as middle names than first names now.

7. David
(10 uses) The Hebrew name dawid probably comes from the Hebrew letters dwd meaning "beloved". As a name, David has been used since the Middle Ages in Britain and was huge in Wales and Scotland. It has vast international appeal and recently ranked within the Top 100 in nearly 30 different countries. In English, it's DAY-vid, but many languages opt for the dah-VEED or DAH-vit pronunciations. This name has always within the Top 35 names in the US. It was a Top 10 name between 1936 and 1992, even ranking at #1 in 1960. It currently ranks at #18 in 2014. This name really spans all ages as a first name, and seems to be common as a middle name too.

8. Thomas
(10 uses) Thomas is the Greek form of the Aramaic name Ta'oma meaning "twin". This is a biblical name that was introduced to England by the Normans and grew in popularity. There were a couple saints and philosophers with this name, and also a president and an inventor. A good, traditional name that works as a first name or a middle name nicely. This name has always been popular, consistently ranking within the Top 15 from the 1880s through the 1960s. After that, it dropped a bit but still remains within the Top 70; it was #54 in 2014.

9. Anthony
(9 uses)  Anthony is the English form of Antonius which is a Roman family name. Its meaning, though, is not certain. It has been incorrectly associated with the Greek anthos, meaning flower, which added an h to the name which was originally not there.  A famous bearer was Mark Antony, (or Marcus Antonius) who ruled the Roman Empire with Augustus. He wound up with a tragic story along with his mistress Cleopatra; their story was later told by Shakespeare in 1606's "Antony and Cleopatra".  As a name in the US, Anthony is much more common than Antony. It has almost always ranked within the Top 100, peaking at #7 in 2007. It's currently ranked at #21 as of 2014.

10. Daniel
(9 uses)  Daniel means "God is my judge" as derived from the Hebrew name Daniyyel. A biblical prophet wore this name which upped the popularity in England through the Middle Ages.  It grew rare again after that until it was revived after the Protestant Reformation. Other noteable bearers include authors, mathematicians and frontiersmen. This is is another traditional, biblical name that has never ranked lower than #55. It has ranked as high as #5 in a number of years; and currently is #10 in 2014.

11. Scott
(9 uses) Scott comes from an English surname but it originally referred to someone from Scotland or someone who speaks Scottish Gaelic. Its root is the Latin Scoti which literally means "Gaelic speaker". Even though this name still ranked at a respectable #425 in 2014, you're probably more likely to find this name on someone born between 1960 and 1975. It was very popular during that time, ranking as high as #10 in 1971. Today, you may encounter it more often as a middle name.

12. Alan/Allen
(8 uses) Allen is a variant of Alan, but both names have a few different etymologies. The name was first introduced to England by the Bretons in the 11th century. Possible meanings include "deer" in Breton and Welsh, "little rock" in Irish,  or "beautiful/handsome" in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Another possibility is that it's English and French via the Indo-Iranian name alans. So the meaning is unknown, but most layman baby name sites list it as "handsome". In the US, Allen started out as the more popular choice, then they both ranked together in the Top 100 from the late 1930s to the late 1960s. Then Alan became the more common choice. Today, as of 2014, Alan ranks at #170 and Allen ranks at #367. Which do you prefer?

13. Andrew
(8 uses)  Andrew is the English form of the Greek Andreas, which itself came from andreios meaning "manly" or "masculine", a derivative of aner which means "man." It is theorized that the biblical Andrew was called that as a nickname for or a translation of his real Hebrew name, but that name is unknown. Andrew was popular in the Middle Ages with Christians. Saint Andrew wore the name, along with 3 Hungarian Kings and an American President. In the US, Andrew has always ranked within the Top 90. It spent time in the Top 10 many times since 1986 and currently ranks at #22.

14. Christopher
(8 uses)  Derived from Christophoros and Christos to mean "bearing Christ", the Greek name Christopher was popularly used to indicate that the bearer literally carried Christ in their hearts. As an English name, it has been used since the 15th century. There are a few different translations of this name, such as Christoffer which was used on 3 Danish Kings. Famous bearers include explorers and playwrights. In the US, the name has always been well-used, ranking in the Top 10 from 1967 to 2003. As of 2014, it's #30.

15. Matthew
(8 uses)  Matthew comes from the Greek Matthaios which came from the Hebrew name Mattityahu meaning "gift of YAHWEH". Saint Matthew was also called Levi and was one of the twelve apostles who also penned a Gospel book. The English used this name since the Middle Ages. Here in the US, Matthew has ranked within the Top 100 since 1956, peaking at #2 in 1995-1996. Today it is the 16th most popular name in the US as of 2014.

16. William
(8 uses) William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm which is composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm meaning "helmet, protection". This name was brought to England by the Normans and remained very popular through the Middle Ages until now. The most famous William of today is England's Prince. Before him, the name was worn by kings and conquerors. It has also been the name of many writers and poets. In the US, William ranked within the Top 10 for nearly a century. It descended to #20 in the 1980s and 1990s, but currently climbed back up to #5 in 2014.

17. Edward
(8 uses) Edward is composed of the Old English elements ead meaning "wealth" and weard meaning "guard" which makes the meaning "wealthy guard". Edward is a regal name with use in England. This name has international spellings such as Eduardo, Eduard, Edvard, Ekewaka, Duarte and Edorta. This name ranked within the Top 100 from 1880-1996. Despite Twilight, the popularity of the name Edward wasn't really affected. In 2014, it ranked at #160.

18. Richard
(7 uses) A German name made from the elements ric meaning "power, rule" and hard meaning "brave, hardy" which makes Richard means "brave power". The Normans brought this name to Britain and it has always been common there. It was even used by 3 kings. It was most popular in the US in the 1940s and 1950s.  Richard always ranked in the Top 100 up until 2006. As of 2014, it is now at its lowest rank of #141.

19. Charles
(7 uses)  Charles is said to come from the German name Karl which means "man", however it is also possible that it came from the German hari meaning "army, warrior". And yet, layman baby name sites like to list it as meaning "free man". Take your pick, I suppose. This name was popular in Europe during the time of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne (742-814). Beyond him, there have been many Kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Hungary and England by the name. Even some Holy Roman Emperors. Add in Darwin, Dickens and others, this name has been well used. In the US, it has always ranked within the Top 70. There were over 40k boys named Charles in both 1947 and 1949. These days, you'll only find about 7k boys per year. It ranked #51 in 2014.

(6 uses) Paul comes from the Roman family name Paulus meaning "small" or "humble" in Latin. This was the name of an important Christian figure, Saint Paul, whose Hebrew name was originally Saul. There have been many other St. Pauls along with six popes by the name, too. This name was not common during the Middle Ages; it took until the 17th century for the name to catch on. This name translates very well across the languages such as Paolo, Pavel, Pól, Pasha, Pablo, Paulos and others. Here in the US, Paul ranked within the Top 100 until the year 2000. It had the most usage per year through the 1950s and 1960s, but recently, the name has fallen to the rank of #201 in the US in 2014. Perhaps it has more usage now as a middle name to honor all those grandpas born in the 50s and 60s.

Other middle names that appeared frequently within The Art of Naming's birth announcements but didn't make the cut for this list include Lucas, Arthur, Patrick, Robert, Lewis/Louis, Steven/Stephen, Timothy, Wayne, Samuel, Ryan, Frederick, Lawrence, Ray and Wesley.

Beyond these 35 names mentioned above, anything else that you choose for a middle name will probably not be quite as commonly used, however, since this data is very limited, there are surely names more or less popular in specific locations. Other middle names that could be added in as "modestly popular" may include Vincent, Xavier, Gabriel, Dean, Benjamin, Oliver, Cole, Everett, Grant,  Isaac, Jacob, Isaiah, Nathaniel, Reid, Russell, and Vaughn.

There's bound to be a lot of discrepancies between this data and what you may experience in your particular area, so this list is meant as a basic guide to which names are most likely popular for middle names if that is something you're trying to avoid.

So I ask, which middle names do you hear most often for boys in your area?

Friday, March 25, 2016


Our final featured name for this alphabetical name series is the female name Zoey. Did you get a chance to view the final list of The Very Best Z Names for Boys and Girls earlier this week?

The name Zoey is actually a variant of Zoe. Interestingly, while Zoe has been in use in the US since before 1880, Zoey has only been around since 1967. Despite that, Zoey is the more popular spelling today. Both names are currently ranking within the Top 40 though.

Zoey joined the Top 1000 chart in 1995 and entered the Top 100 in 2008. Now, as of 2014, Zoey is the 22nd most popular name in the country with over 7,300 female births.

Zoe peaked quicker, entering the Top 1000 in 1983. By 2000, Zoe was the 82nd most popular girl name. Even though Zoey has surpassed Zoe, Zoe still ranks at #32 in 2014 with over 5,800 births.

After breaking down those American popularity statistics, which name do you prefer?

If you're not sure, let's take a closer look at the names. Zoe is a Greek name that means "life". According to Behind the Name, Zoe was historically considered a translation of the name Eve by Hellenized Jews.

There are two early Christian saints named Zoe, both were martyred in their day. In the Byzantine Empire, Zoe was actually a commonly used name for women including an empress in the 11th century.

There are plenty of variations of Zoe, including the one we are featuring today, Zoey. There's also Zoie and Zowie. The Dutch like the spelling Zoë, the French use Zoé, the Polish go with Zoja, while Russians and Ukrainians prefer Zoya.

Then of course there's the spelling Zooey which is popularized in Hollywood by actress/singer Zooey Deschanel. While she pronounces her name the same as Zoey or Zoe, the name Zooey is better known as a masculine nickname for Zachary or Zechariah. Author J.D. Salinger used the name Zooey for a male character in his book "Franny and Zooey". Deschanel was named after that character.

Believe it or not, the name Zoe has broad international appeal. In recent years, it has ranked within the Top 100 in at least 17 countries around the world including The Netherlands (#7), Hungary (#9), and France (#11). Click here to view a complete list of recent popularity rankings.

Are you considering using the name Zoe or Zoey? Here's some suggestions for middle names and sibling names:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Alyssa, Esme, Keira, Lila, Mara, Olivia, Tessa, Violet
Brothers: Damian, Finn, Gavin, Isaac, Levi, Max, Tyler, Zachary

Middle Name Ideas: 
Zoey Abigail
Zoey Colette
Zoey Harper
Zoey Madeline
Zoey Roxana
Zoey Taylor

As A Middle Name:
Amelia Zoey
Catherine Zoey
Evelyn Zoey
Lorelei Zoey
Magnolia Zoey
September Zoey

Thanks for following this series for the past year! Tell me in the comments which name you prefer and what middle name you'd pair with it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Very Best Z Names for Boys and Girls

At last, we have arrived at the very end of the alphabet. I appreciate all of you who have stuck with me this long.

It took a year and three months to finish the entire series! 

Now, let's look at the zippy letter Z! Along with the rest of the tail-end letters, Z names are rather few and far between when compared to the letters at the start of the alphabet.

However, that doesn't mean that there are unappealing options. Far from it!

Z names are mostly bold, interesting and unusual but there are a few classics in there like Zachary, Zachariah and Zoe. 

Which of these 50 Z names for boys and girls do you like most? 

  1. Zahara
  2. Zaila
  3. Zaire
  4. Zamora
  5. Zandra
  6. Zanna
  7. Zara
  8. Zariah
  9. Zarina
  10. Zasha
  11. Zaviera
  12. Zelda
  13. Zelia
  14. Zendaya
  15. Zenon
  16. Zia
  17. Zinnia
  18. Zion
  19. Zoe
  20. Zoey
  21. Zola
  22. Zora
  23. Zoraya
  24. Zorina
  25. Zuri
  1. Zacchaeus
  2. Zachariah
  3. Zachary
  4. Zaiden
  5. Zaire
  6. Zale
  7. Zander
  8. Zane
  9. Zavier
  10. Zealand
  11. Zebadiah
  12. Zebedee
  13. Zed
  14. Zeke
  15. Zelig
  16. Zenith
  17. Zenon
  18. Zephaniah
  19. Zephyr
  20. Zeppelin
  21. Zeus
  22. Zion
  23. Zoltan
  24. Zubin
  25. Zuma
Are there any I missed that you like more? Share your thoughts in the comments! If Z isn't your letter, there are 25 others to explore! Use the links below and thank you for following this series.

<-- The Very Best Y Names for Boys and Girls |||  The Very Best A Names for Boys and Girls -->

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Aria, Gale & Zephyr: These Windy, Airy Names Will Blow You Away!

At this point, The Art of Naming has covered Water Names, Rocky Names and Fire Names. Let's take a look at some names that are inspired by wind and air.

Airy names can be quite refreshing like a gentle breeze, or much more powerful and interesting like the strong winds of a tornado or hurricane. Most of the names on this list are uncommonly used for modern children today, except for Aria which is climbing the charts for girls.

Take a moment to browse through these names. Which are your favorites? Can you think of any others that could be added?


The name Anil is a masculine Sanskrit name meaning "air, wind". It has ranked in the US since 1959 but never received more than 45 births in a single year which happened in 1989. As of 2014, there were only 5 boys named Anil. Perhaps this decline in usage indicates that it is not currently fashionable within its culture. What do you think of it?


In Italian, this name literally means "air". Most will also know, though, that it refers to a song or a melody, both of which are sometimes listed as the name's meaning. An aria is an elaborate vocal solo in an opera.

As a name, it has been in use since 1900 in the US but it was not at all common until recently. It joined the Top 1000 chart in the year 2000 and then made it into the Top 100 by 2012. Most recently, Aria has ranked as the 31st most popular name with nearly 6k births in 2014.


Aura is an English word most typically defined as "the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place," according to Google. But as a name, it is said to be derived from Greek via Latin with the meaning of "breeze", according to Behind the Name.

This is a rare name and has not ranked within the Top 1000 in this modern age of naming, but it has been used on record since way back in 1881 in the US. It technically ranked a few times in those early years but it hit #641 with only 16 births in 1888 which is very unlike today's popularity stats. Today, 85 births in the year 2014 gives Aura the popularity ranking of #2201.


This is a beautiful Welsh, Cornish and Breton word that means "(poetic) inspiration". You may be wondering where the "air" theme comes into play. Awen is a very flowy name. Awen is said to be a flowing spirit, and that spirit is the essence of life. The airy part, though, comes from the word itself. Its Indo-European root "-uel" means "to blow" and has the same root as the Welsh word awel which means "breeze".

This breezy, whimsical name is truly unique in the US since this name has never been given to at least 5 girls in a single year. It is, however, sometimes ascribed to poets and musicians.


A gale is defined as "a very strong wind". As a name, Gale can either be derived from the Middle English gaile which means "jovial" which is considered a masculine name. It could be a variant short form of Abigail, which would be feminine. The same applies to the spelling Gayle, but this name could be used for either gender.

Gale peaked in popularity for females in 1957 at #245 with a total of 1,208 births for the year. After that, the name declined and is not in constant use today. It nearly died out altogether in the 1990s and 2000s, but there were a few births such as 6 in 2011 and 6 in 2013.

For males, it peaked in 1947 with 377 births and a rank of #352. Currently, it's also fading away but there were 9 births in 2014. It goes without saying that this name isn't currently fashionable for either gender. Do you think it could come back in style?


We have all heard this Hawaiian name on its most famous bearer, actor Keanu Reeves. Since this is an unusual name, he will probably continue to be the biggest associaton with the name for some time. This name can actually be given to either males or females. It means "the cool breeze" from the Hawaiian ke, a definite article, and anu meaning "coolness".

Mr. Reeves may be the reason this name gained usage in the US. It wasn't given to children at all until 1990 for boys and 1991 for girls, right around the time the actor began becoming more well-known in Hollywood.  Usage ceased for girls in 2006, but it is still being used for a good amount of boys each year.

In 1990, there were 8 male births, by 1992, there were 105, and the name joined the Top 1000 chart by 1994 with a rank of #755. Today, in 2014, there were 141 boys named Keanu for a rank of #1259.


Nasim is a unisex Arabic name that means "breeze". It does have some spelling variations such as Naseem and Nassim in Arabic, Naseem in Urdu, and Nesim in Turkish. Pakistanis use this name.

Here in the US, both Nasim and Naseem were originally given more often to girls from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, but usage has nearly stopped. For boys, Nasim and Naseem gained usage in the 1990s and managed to keep it consistently since then. There were 5 boys named Nasim (and 5 girls too) in 2014. There were 22 boys named Naseem (but zero girls) in the same year.  Which of these two spellings do you like more?


Shu might not be a name that is on the radar for American parents, but it is interesting to note. Shu is the name of an Egyptian god. He is known as a personification of air, or the "God of the wind and air." He is also associated with sun and light.  Shu means "emptiness" and "he who rises up" in Egyptian. 

Interestingly, the name Shu does have a sprinkling of usage over the years for both genders.   On record, there's been a total of 12 females named Shu (births in 1978, 1983 and 2007). For boys, there has never been more than 8 births in a single year, starting on record in 1992 for a total of 52 recorded male births. There could be even more people named Shu out there but we will never know about them since the SSA doesn't record fewer than 5 births. If there were only 3, they wouldn't be on the list.  What do you think of Shu?

Sky / Skye

If you're looking for a ton of wide open air, where else would you look but up? The Earth's sky looks blue during the day because air scatters blue sunlight more than it scatters red.  While Skye and Sky aren't directly associated with wind, the sky is massive and full of air. 

Originally in the US, Sky was given to males and Skye was given to females starting in the mid-1950s. Since 1970, both names now have moderate usage for both genders. As of 2014, Sky is ranked at #740 for girls and #1402 for boys.  Skye is the most popular spelling overall with a ranking of #368 for girls. For boys, Skye is down at #2258. These stats suggest that while it is a unisex name, it is more commonly given to females. Which spelling do you prefer and for which gender?

Storm / Stormy

A storm is defined as "a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow." We're all familiar with storms. We've surely all been caught in one before. Wind storms can vary depending on the wind speeds, but the faster they are, the more destructive. They could escalate into dust storms, blizzards, tornadoes or hurricanes.

The names Storm and Stormy have been used for both genders since the mid-1940s. The one with the most use is Stormy for a girl. As of 2014, Stormy was given to 104 girls and only 6 boys.  Storm was given to 58 girls and 61 boys. Stormie is also given to girls; there were 69 born in 2014.  Which spelling do you prefer? Which gender?


Windy has been used as a name in the US since 1948 for females. It even ranked in the Top 1000 from 1967 to 1980. Alternate spelling Wendy was much more popular during the same time period, ranking as high as #28 in 1970.

However, Windy is more of a nature name inspired by actual wind which is defined as "bulk movement of air".  Wendy is typically a shortened form of the Welsh name Gwendolen and other similar names.  So Windy and Wendy aren't actually related.  Which do you like more?


Zephyros was the Greek god of the west wind, so the name Zephyr also means "the west wind". This name is typically masculine since it is the name of a male god, but in the US, it was originally given to females way back starting in 1905 to 1937. Nobody received this name on record after that until it popped up for boys in 1975, and again for girls in 1981.  These days, there were 99 boys and 21 girls named Zephyr in 2014.


According to Wiki, "the practice of using names to identify tropical cyclones goes back many years, with systems named after places or things they hit before the formal start of naming. The system currently used provides positive identification of severe weather systems in a brief form, that is readily understood and recognized by the public."  The first person to begin naming storms was a meteorologist named Clement Wragge. He named systems between 1887 and 1907, but after that, the practice fell into disuse until World War II.

Today, tropical cyclones are named by one of eleven meteorological services. It is said that using names for storms helps eliminate confusion, especially if there are multiple storms in an area at at time. Significant storms will have their names retired and replaced by another. The lists start alphabetically and continue down the list depending on how many storms there are in a year. Here just two of the lists for 2016:

List of Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone names for 2016:

  • Agatha
  • Blas
  • Celia
  • Darby
  • Estelle
  • Frank
  • Georgette    
  • Howard
  • Ivette
  • Javier
  • Kay
  • Lester
  • Madeline
  • Newton
  • Orlene
  • Paine
  • Roslyn
  • Seymour
  • Tina
  • Virgil
  • Winifred
  • Xavier
  • Yolanda
  • Zeke

List of Atlantic tropical cyclone names 2016:

  • Alex
  • Bonnie
  • Colin
  • Danielle
  • Earl
  • Fiona
  • Gaston
  • Hermione
  • Ian
  • Julia
  • Karl
  • Lisa
  • Matthew
  • Nicole
  • Otto
  • Paula
  • Richard
  • Shary
  • Tobias
  • Virginie
  • Walter
There are many more lists like these that you can browse through if you'd like! What do you think of all the above names? Are there any more air or wind related names that could be added?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Aidan, Ignatius & Seraphina: Hot Names Inspired By Fire!

Today we will be exploring one of the most powerful things in nature: fire. Whether it is controlled in a fireplace or a bonfire, or raging out of control in destructive ways, it is hard to deny that fire is exciting.

However, staring into the mesmerizing, continuous flicker of flames from a safe distance on a cool night might be one of the best ways to experience this phenomenon, especially if you have some marshmallows.

Name-wise, though, there is a handful of excellent names that relate to fire. Let's explore them:


You may be wondering which names are the fieriest.  Perhaps the most popular name with a fiery meaning is Aidan. The name Aidan comes from a sizable family tree of related names. The original Ancient Irish name was Áed meaning "fire". From that name came names like Áedán, Aodh, Aodhán and today's variations of Aidan such as Aiden, Aydan, Ayden and so on.

The name Aodh, pronounced EE or AY, was very popular in early Ireland. It was used by many different figures in Irish mythology as well as several kings. Interestingly, Aodh was traditionally anglicized as the name Hugh rather than any of the Aidans.

Aidan's distant cousin is the name Keegan by way of the diminutive name Aodhagán turning into the surname Mac Aodhagáin. There's also the Scottish Iagan and Edan. More or less, all of these names mean "fire" or descendant of the fiery one, at least.

Like I said, Aidan is very popular. I'm sure many of you are tired of this name and its soundalikes such as Braden, Cayden, Hayden, etc. That's probably because of how incredibly fast this name rose from out of nowhere. It wasn't even used in the US until 1957. It didn't rank in the Top 1000 until 1990 at #889. Suddenly, by the year 2003 there were over 10k boys given the name for a rank of #39.

However, it was actually the spelling Aiden with an E that was vastly more popular. It rose slower than Aidan but has hung on longer. It had half the popularity of Aidan in 2003, but climbed the charts while Aidan declined. Aiden's peak came in 2009 with exactly 16,000 births and a rank of #12. But it went on to rank higher at #9 in 2010 and 2011 with slightly fewer births per year.

Currently, Aidan ranks at #187 in 2014 while Aiden holds steady at #14. They are both finally overstaying their welcome a bit and creeping back down the charts. Which spelling do you prefer?


This name can refer to the residue of a fire, but it is more typically associated with the Ash Tree or it is simply a short form of names like Ashley, Asher or Ashton. However, it has to be noted that these longer forms don't have meanings having to do with fire.

Ash was first regularly given to boys as a name in the US in 1996. Most parents probably prefer longer forms of the name since Ash has never been popular on its own. There were a record-high 66 male births in 2014.  Would you ever use Ash on its own? Do you like any of the longer forms?


Blaze is an English word meaning "a very large or fiercely burning fire". As a name, though, it is a modern variation of Blaise. Even though these two names are technically related and share a pronunciation, Blaise has nothing to do with fire since it is a Roman name meaning "lisping". 

Blaze popped up in the US as a boy name in 1953. While it has never been popular, it entered the Top 1000 in 2000 and currently resides at #775 fourteen years later. Blaze could be a more edgy alternative to Blake. 


Ember is an English word meaning "a small piece of burning or glowing coal or wood in a dying fire." As a name, Americans have used it since 1946 but it never has much steam until recently. It entered the Top 1000 in 2009 and shot all the way up to #435 in 2014. Even though embers are a dying fire, the name Ember is glowing brightly.

It is very similar in sound to the name Amber which was huge in the 1980s-1990s, ranking as high as #13 in 1986. Since Amber's popularity is starting to fall, perhaps Ember is rising to take her place. If that seems like a stretch, though, Ember is also very close in sound to other popular Em- names such as #1 names Emma and Emily. Ember could be similar enough to those yet unique enough to be catching parents' attention today.


A flint is a hard stone with which one could start a fire if the stone is struck hard enough. As a name, Flint comes from the Old High German word flins and usually refers to a dark stone made of the mineral quartz. Since it is a hard stone, it has been used in the past as a nickname for a tough guy.

Flint might immediately bring to mind the cartoon character Fred Flintstone. But also, with the recent news out of Flint, Michigan concerning the toxic water scandal, Flint might not currently be a name you want at the top of your shortlist. 


The name Ignatius comes from the Roman family name Egnatius. Originally, Egnatius had an unknown meaning from the ancient Etruscan origin. As time went on, the spelling was altered so it would be similar to the Latin word ignis which means "fire". Because of this, the Etruscan Egnatius became the Latin Ignatius and inherited itself a meaning. 

Now that Ignatius means fire, it is certainly a red-hot choice for bold namers. It is used well internationally under various translations, but here in the US, it remains rare. Ignatius was only given to 40 boys in 2014.


Of course the Phoenix is perhaps the most beautiful image aside from fire itself. The immortal bird from Egyptian and Greek mythology is known for being consumed by fire and then rising from its own ashes every 500 years. The Greek word phoinix actually means "dark red". 

In other English-speaking countries, Phoenix is mostly used for boys, but here in America, this name is hot for both genders as both a mythological name and a place name for the capital of Arizona. It was given to girls first but caught on more quickly for boys. For boys, it entered the Top 1000 in 1995; girls followed in 2003. Here's 2014's stats: 59% boy / 41% girl. Boys: 901 births (#355).
Girls: 629 births (#494). Which gender do you prefer?


The lovely, underused Seraphina comes from the biblical word seraphim that means "fiery ones" and refers to an order of angels.

It is rather surprising that this name has never caught on. Even more surprising is that it was never used in the US before 1981. Even today, Seraphina is nowhere near the Top 1000.  In 2014, there were only 175 girls given this name. Do you think it'll blaze up the charts someday or remain forever uncommon?


Tyson is an English surname that is said to mean "firebrand" based on the Old French word tison. In the past it has also been used as a nickname for a quarrelsome person.

This name has been around in the US since 1912, It never ranked all that well until it joined the Top 1000 in 1966. It ranked well through the 1980s but declined again in the 90s. Tyson peaked in popularity in 2009 with nearly 1,500 births for the year and a rank of #237. These days it's down to #282.  What do you think, is the name Tyson hot or not?


Names that mean "fire" in other cultures:

Agni (m) "fire" Sanskrit
Azar (m&f) "fire" Persian
Brandr (m) "sword or fire" Scandinavian
Cinaed (m) "born of fire" Gaelic
Conleth (m) "chaste fire" Irish
Fajra (f) "fiery" Esperanto
Fiammetta (f) "fire" Italian
Fintan (m) "white fire" Irish
Hurik (f) "small fire" Armenian
Keahi (m&f) "the fire" Hawaiian
Nina (f) "fire" Quechua
Ognyan (m) "fiery" Bulgarian
Plamen (m) "flame, fire" Slavic
Shula (f) "flame" Arabic
Şule (f) "flame" Turkish
Ugne (f) "fire" Lithuanian

So what do you think of these fiery names? Can you think of any that I missed?

Friday, March 4, 2016


Our final boy name of the A-Z series is Yannick. It comes straight from the list of The Very Best Y Names for boys and girls.

Yannick  is a diminutive of the name Yann which is the Breton form of the name John. Yann is well-used by the French, recently ranking at #113. Yannick is a bit more unusual but it did rank at #288 in The Netherlands recently.

Nameberry says that Yannick is "not likely to appeal to many American ears," but I disagree. It may never be popular but it isn't strange either. It could even be unusually refreshing to meet a little Yannick. There have been many names ending with -ick over the years. In the 1960s in particular, names like Derrick, Erick, Dominick, Frederick and Patrick ranked well. They all declined in usage after that but they are all ticking upward again today. Add to that list Maverick and Kendrick too for more modern options.

Perhaps, though, they are referring to the "yann" part rather than the "ick". Y Names in general aren't popular. They're not even common. There's no denying that. But if you were to choose one, Yannick is one of the cooler options.

Yannick has been in use in the US since 1981. It has never been popular but it is regularly used. The most births in a single year that it has received was 34 in 2013, and it is currently down to 33 in 2014.

Since it is a form of John, Yannick means "God is gracious".  This name could very nicely honor a relative with any number of related John names, especially if the family has any French or Breton ancestry. If you're looking for something French and unusual with a solid lineage, Yannick would be a great choice. Here are some ideas for sibling and middle names.

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Angeline, Coralie, Eugenie, Helene, Lenore, Manon, Valorie
Brothers: Armand, Gerard, Hugo, Mathias, Remi, Roland, Sebastien

Middle Name Ideas:
Yannick Augustin
Yannick Damien
Yannick Julien
Yannick Laurent
Yannick Ross

As a Middle Name:
Beau Yannick
Evan Yannick
Hugh Yannick
Michael Yannick
Victor Yannick

What do you think of Yannick? Is there another Y name you would have chosen instead?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Very Best Y Names for Boys and Girls

Let's face it. There just aren't very many popular Y names. You occasionally hear them, my own middle name starts with a Y, but as a whole, Y names just aren't hitting the spot for mainstream parents.

Isn't that something we should change?  There are many more names that start with Y out there than I even thought there were.

I found a couple hundred per gender to browse through which means this letter has enormous potential if only someone would get the trend going.

If you're into the unique and unusual, this letter can be your best friend! Take a look at the 25 Y names for girls and the 25 Y names for boys that I picked out and let me know which ones you love most!

  1. Yadira
  2. Yaella
  3. Yamileth
  4. Yara
  5. Yareli
  6. Yaretzi
  7. Yasmine
  8. Yeardley
  9. Yelena
  10. Yesenia
  11. Ygritte
  12. Ynez
  13. Yohanna
  14. Yolanda
  15. Yoselin
  16. Yosephina
  17. Ysabel
  18. Ysadora
  19. Yseult
  20. Ysolde
  21. Yuliana
  22. Yulisa
  23. Yveline
  24. Yvette
  25. Yvonne
  1. Yale
  2. Yannick
  3. Yarden
  4. Yardley
  5. Yarley
  6. Yarrow
  7. Yasser
  8. Yates
  9. Yeardley
  10. Yeats
  11. Ygnasio
  12. Yorick
  13. York
  14. Yosef
  15. Young
  16. Yovan
  17. Ysaac
  18. Ysidor
  19. Ysidro
  20. Ysmael
  21. Ysrael
  22. Yule
  23. Yuri
  24. Yves
  25. Yvon
What do you think of the letter Y? If it isn't the letter for you, use the links below to browse other letters.

<-- The Very Best X Names for Boys and Girls |||  The Very Best Z Names for Boys and Girls -->


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