Choosing a name for your baby is either:
A. Easy as pie (mmmm pie): you’ve had a name ready since you were a teenager in puppy love OR
B. Ridiculously daunting: how can you possibly put a name to another human being who doesn’t even exist yet?
You guessed it: I was B.
But the thought of looking through the infamous “1,000 Baby Names” book made me even more nauseous than my first trimester.
So what did I do? I picked up a National Geographic. I like natural, outdoors, Earth, but… could I really name my child after that?
I knew I wanted something not too crazy, and simple to say and spell. I see the beauty in “Myristica”, but just wasn’t right for my family.
Below are some of my faves. Note the popularity is based on U.S. stats only and sourced from the Social Security Administration.
ORIGIN: English, meaning “fossilized tree Resin or color orange/red.”
POPULARITY: Peaked in the 1970s (top 20) and started a decline in the 2000s.
♦ Amber is a gem, but not a gemstone.
♦ Amber was once part of a tree’s immune system.
♦ The word “electricity” derives from the Greek word for amber.1
ORIGIN: Eglish, meaning “poplar tree” with heart-shaped leaves that tremble in the slightest wind.
POPULARITY: Began ranking in the top 1000 in 1993 and slowly climbing.
♦ Aspen can grow up to 98 feet high.
♦ Unlike many plant species, aspen can survive forest fires and easily populate destroyed areas.
♦ Ancient Greeks wore crowns made of aspen leaves because they believed the aspen had magical properties.
ORIGIN: Latin, meaning “fall season.”
POPULARITY: Reached the top 100 in 1997 and still peaking.
♦ Autumn leaf colors are actually there year-round, just under the surface.2
♦ The word autumn entered English from the French automne and didn’t become common usage until the 18th century.
♦ An easy way to be hooked on classical is to listen to “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
ORIGIN: English meaning “small stream,” derived from Olde English “bróc.”
POPULARITY: Peaked (top 100) in the 1980s, steadily declining since then.
♦ Brook is also a verb meaning “to stand for or tolerate.”
♦ The sounds of a brook are often used to help relax, study or sleep (works wonders on my kids).
ORIGIN: English, meaning “pinkish calcareous skeletons secreted by marine polyps.” (Kinda yucky, but the living reefs are ridiculously gorgeous.)
POPULARITY: Pretty low, peaking in 1880s.
♦ Corals are animals, not plants.
♦ Coral reefs are the largest structures on earth of biological origin.3
♦ Chasing Coral is a must-watch documentary with incredible footage about the effects of climate change (warning: it’s sad, but hopeful).
ORIGIN: English, meaning “shrub or small tree with broad leaves” referring to the hazelnut tree.
POPULARITY: Female: in the top 100 from 1900s — 1930s; steadily climbing again since 2000. Male: peaking in the early 1900s.
♦ You can sing your baby to sleep with Bob Dylan’s “Hazel.”
♦ Historically, a wand of hazel symbolized protection and authority.
ORIGIN: English, meaning “a purple-flowered evergreen plant.”
POPULARITY: In the top 100 from 1960s — 1990s.
♦ Heather is widespread in Scotland and turns their hillsides purple in August.
♦ Heathers (a pending classic from 1988) was written by a video store clerk (Daniel Waters).
ORIGIN: English, meaning “green gemstone” from original Spanish term piedra de ijada.
POPULARITY: Steadily in the top 200 since 1992.
♦ Jade actually applies to two different minerals, nephrite and jadeite. It’s best known for its beautiful green varieties.
♦ Jade is precious to the Chinese culture and is known as the “stone of heaven,” symbolizing goodness, beauty and purity.
♦ Also a plant: the jade plant is an easy-to-maintain succulent that improves air quality, is a symbol of good luck and has medicinal properties.
ORIGIN: Arabic Yasmīn (يسمين) meaning “flowering plant of the olive genus.”
POPULARITY: Steadily in the top 200 since the 1980s.
♦ Jasmine is known in India as the “Queen of the Night” because of its intoxicating perfume that is released at night.
♦ Jasmine is native to tropical regions of Eurasia, Australasia and Oceania and there are about 200 different species.
ORIGIN: Persian (originally ganzabara), meaning “bringer of treasure.” Also an opaque reddish-brown variety of chalcedony.
POPULARITY: In the top 200 in 1900, then declined and back up again in 2017 (top 200).
♦ Jasper is a variety of quartz and one of the few gemstone names for boys.
♦ Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies (4,200 sq mi).
♦ Jasper is symbolic for actors, as it may give them the courage to be confident, bold, and speak out loud.
ORIGIN: Latin, meaning “bluish purple color or flower.”
POPULARITY: Not popular enough (top 1000) to rank.
♦ Lilac is a flowering plant in the olive family, native to the Balkan Peninsula.
♦ Lilac is known as the “Queen of Shrubs.”
♦ Because they’re early bloomers, lilacs symbolize spring and renewal.
ORIGIN: Italian, meaning “moon.”
POPULARITY: In the top 1000 since 1900, in the top 100 starting in 2016.
♦ The Moon is the Earth’s only permanent natural satellite.
♦ The moon’s surface is actually dark.
ORIGIN: Latin, meaning “of the sea.”
POPULARITY: Low, peaking in 1990s in the top 250.
♦ It’s a very rare name in the states, but much more common in parts of Europe; used in Britain from as early as the fourteenth century.
♦ Marina may also refer to an inland wharf on a river or canal.4
ORIGIN: English, meaning “blackbird.”
POPULARITY: Female: medium, reaching its highest ranking (top 200) in 1990. Male: started ranking in 1997 (just under top 1000).
♦ Ravens are one of the smartest animals, ranking with dolphins and chimpanzees.
♦ Ravens show empathy for each other.
♦ Ravens can imitate human speech.5
ORIGIN: English, meaning “a tall, slender-leaved plant of the grass family.”
POPULARITY: In the top 700 since 1900, starting to climb a bit in the 1990s through today.
♦ Reed grows up to 15 feet high, is typically found along the coastline, and has the ability to purify water and protect soils.
♦ The mature flowers on reed remain until new flowers bloom the following year.
♦ Reed could also be considered a musically-inspired name — it’s a mouthpiece for many woodwind instruments.
ORIGIN: From England, meaning “bright fame.”
POPULARITY: Female: in the top 100 from 1950s – 1970s. Male: peaking in the 1950s.
♦ Robin is the national bird of Great Britain.
♦ Robin is the state bird for Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.
♦ Robins are often portrayed as industrious, “can-do” birds, who are frequently rewarded for their work ethic.6
ORIGIN: English, meaning “Season of sunshine and warmth.”
POPULARITY: Medium; consistently in the top 300 since 1975.
♦ The first day of summer is called the summer solstice (also the longest day of the year). The day varies due to the Earth’s rotation not exactly reflecting the standard calendar year.
♦ The Eiffel tower actually grows about 6 inches every summer because of heat and iron expansion.
I hope these baby nature names gives you a little inspiration — I know there’s nothing more personal than choosing a name. It seems like when you’ve found it, you’ll know.
One more thought: don’t be too heavily influenced by family and friends. If that’s a concern, then make the name a surprise for everyone. Once baby arrives, the focus will definitely be on them and the name is secondary for sure.
Peace love & baby kicks.
Care to share?
“Creating my natural baby registry will be fun & stress-free.”
— said no mama, ever.
Let’s get real.
How to Prepare for Baby
1 “15 Clear Facts About Amber.” Jordan Rosenfeld, Mental Floss, 15 January 2016, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/73608/15-clear-facts-about-amber
2 “21 Weird Ways the World Changes in Autumn.” Brandon Specktor, Reader’s Digest, 14 December 2019, https://www.rd.com/culture/autumn-facts-fall-facts/
3 “5 Amazing Facts About Coral Reefs.” Reef Conservation International, 11 August 2017, https://reefci.com/2017/08/11/5-amazing-facts-about-coral-reefs/
4 “Marina.” Wikipedia,® https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina
5 “10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens”, Joy Lanzendorfer, Mental Floss, 7 January 2016, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/53295/10-fascinating-facts-about-ravens
6 “American Robin: Top 10 Most Interesting Facts.” Perky Pet, Woodstream Corporation, https://www.perkypet.com/articles/american-robin-top-10-most-interesting-facts
About the Author
Jen Brady — Chief Green Mama
Mom of two. Wife of one. Holistic nutritional consultant. Amateur biohacker. Guide of the Green Yourself Pregnancy Challenge. Author of the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.
I'm wild about pregnancy and babies (in a sane way) and I need to steer you away from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors. Stick with me to keep it lean and green.