Your passion in life may be art, music, writing, crafting, acting, designing, decorating, cooking, or making really great animal shapes out of balloons, but it really doesn't matter—all of us have a creative streak. And even if your baby isn't the next Picasso, your little one can proudly wear a name that hints at artistic talents and an inventive spirit.
But what makes a name express creative qualities? Classic names in particular can conjure up so many different associations, that it's difficult to say whether a William is worthy of a sonnet-writing British baird or an average bloke. So we browsed distinctive names of famous creators and places throughout history, as well as name meanings and associations, and what Namipedia users rated as the most creative sounding names.
Sometimes there's a clear connection, other times it just seems like a girl named Fiona might be more creative than one named Murphy. (A statement brought to you by the users of Namipedia.) But we aren't here to judge, just inspire—and that's exactly what these names do! We feel like breaking out a beret already.
Allegra: We have decided to take this gorgeous name back from the pharmaceutical industry. It's got a beautiful meaning (Italian for "happy") and reminds us of the music tempo allegro, even the literary term allegory. It was also the name of the stepsister of "Frankenstein" creator Mary Shelley (who was born "Wollstonecraft Godwin"). But perhaps our favorite use belongs to renowned ballerina Allegra Kent.
Ansel: Ansel is a German name meaning "God's protection" that brings to mind the striking black and white images of photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams. Ansel sounds chic and down-to-earth at the same time, it's a fresh take on the ever-popular "A" beginning, and we can't help but envision it on a gallery nameplate.
Aria: Aria comes directly from the world of opera, as a term for an accompanied solo. In Italian, the word aria means "air". And it's trending in pop culture, too: A character from the TV show Pretty Little Liars recently gave this name some much-deserved attention.
Auden: Poet W.H. Auden is one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century, and his surname hits a sweet spot for poetry lovers. (A little bonus name trivia: W.H. stands for Wystan Hugh.) Actor Noah Wylie has a daughter named Auden, and model/actress Amber Valletta has a son with this name.
Bronte: Undeniably literary, this name comes from those famed sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë who each penned timeless classics in the Victorian era. This smart, classy name is unusual but not unheard of. (Remember the movie Green Card?) In case you're not sure what to do about that umlaut, don't let it hold you back—it's purely optional.
Cadence: A rhythmic flow applied to both poetry and music, Cadence rose to fame quickly in 2004 after the movie American Wedding was released. But Cadence has proven to have staying power, and it feels like a musical twist on Candace or even Constance.
Calliope: This Greek muse of epic poetry has a fantastic name that's perfect for a young artist. Variations like Callie and even Poppy help it feel more playground ready, and the character from Grey's Anatomy gives it a bit of a boost as well.
Coraline: Author Neil Gaiman brought this name to our attention after his novel of the same name was published and a movie release followed. This name sounds like an oceanic sibling to Caroline, and it comes with a few hot short forms like Coral, Cora, and Corrie. Namipedia users say this name sounds creative, and we can see why.
Harper: Famed author Harper Lee has a name that means "harp player," giving it a twofold creative punch. Harper is a celebrity (and non-celebrity) favorite, chosen by the Beckhams, Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, Jenna Fischer, and more.
Hendrix: This name rocks. It has roots in the name Henry, but the guitar-solo twist (with an x!) brings it up to contemporary standards. It sits nicely alongside other rock star names like Axl and Phoenix.
Leonardo: Decidedly creative, thanks to artist da Vinci and famed Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. Actor "Leo" DiCaprio, making the short form known the world over, has done nothing to hurt this mellifluous name, either.
Lyric: A term from both music and poetry, Lyric is a fitting name for a tiny troubadour. Parents are choosing this catchy name with more confidence in recent years, and it's steadily climbing in popularity as it's sitting in the top 300 names for girls.
Memphis: This bluesy American city is home to many different genres of music and launched the careers of countless artists, including Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. Memphis is chosen more often for boys than girls, though it works for either gender. Last year 385 newborn boys were given this name.
Monet: Softer and more modern than Mona, Monet evokes impressionistic paintings of lily pads and country cottages. We picture this name on a girl wearing a smock with a paint brush in hand.
Piper: We chose this name for its musical meaning (one who plays the pipe), and Namipedia users agree that it's fit for a boy or girl who is both creative and friendly. Piper hasn't looked back since it hit the airwaves on the TV show Charmed, and it's now a top-100 name for girls.
Riordan (REER-den): An Irish name meaning "little royal poet", Riordan is a unique choice in the US. Best-selling author Rick Riordan is giving this name even more of a creative feel, and made it more accessible to Americans.
River: This fashionable name is inspired by nature, with undercurrents of rock music and acting genius thanks to Rivers Cuomo and Phoenix. Singer Kelly Clarkson and her husband recently chose this name for their daughter.
Rome: The Eternal City and one of the famed locations of the Italian Renaissance, Rome has global appeal and a sturdy sound. It strikes us as a more straightforward alternative to Romeo and Roman.
Sebastian: Thank goodness Bach used his middle name! Sebastian is also a character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and a musical crab in Disney's The Little Mermaid, and there are many more famed references to this name in pop culture and literature. We think this sophisticated name would be great for a music-loving family. Potential nicknames include Bastian, Bash, Seb, and more.
Story: This pretty name doesn't beat around the bush at all, and we love how it seems to find a balance between spunky and free-spirited. It's contemporary sound reminds us of names like Stella, Stormy, Cory, and Rory.
You can get creative in your baby name hunt by using our Expert NameFinder and playing with the sliders on style preferences. Looking for more reading on names with creative qualities? Check out The Jane Austen Name Report, and Knock Knox: The X & O Roundup.
How many young girls do you know named Florence and Harriet? If you live in the USA, the answer is probably "none." In Britain, though, those are likely names to hear in any playground.
Many name trends in the two countries are the same, but the points of difference make for a fashion opportunity for American baby namers. They're fresh-sounding ideas pre-vetted by thousands of other parents. What could be a more sincere recommendation than choosing the name for your own child?
All of the names below are British hits that could stand out on your U.S. playground. The numbers indicate each name's current ranking among all girls' names in England and Wales.
These dignified ladies may seem a little stiff for a toddler, but they're full of nickname possibilities.
U.S. parents have embraced a few sweet old nicknames, like Molly and Sadie. British parents have dived head-first into the cute end of the pool.
U.S. parents love Celtic boys' names like Liam, Aidan and Declan, but have been slower to pick up on Celtic options for girls.
Ffion (270, but #24 in Wales)
These names peaked in the 1930s-1960s in the U.S. Could they be ready for a second look?
What's Stopping You?
And finally, a group of names with full fashion potential that just haven't managed to cross the pond.
Can you guess which of these Halloween-ready baby names made America's official name popularity stats last year?
The answer is all of them. A generation ago those names were unheard of, but now they show up every year. Names are getting spookier.
photo credit: devinf, flickr
On both the boys' and girls' popularity charts, you can see a new willingness to name on the dark side. Once upon a time, American parents liked to name their daughters Dove. The bird of peace was a top-1,000 baby name in the 1800s, and the diminutive Dovie was even more popular. Not any more. For the past generation America's favorite bird name has been Raven, the bird of ill omen
What's more, parents shopping for fresh names are now willing to look in the villain aisle. Dark, violent antiheroes like Draven (undead vigilante of The Crow) and Kratos (from the God of War video games) have soared. The X-Men films made villainous Mystique a hot name, and the Death Eaters of Harry Potter inspired scores of babies named Bellatrix and Draco. Even Vader showed up in the baby name stats for the first time in 2012.
It's not just new names that show the effects. The name Alucard ("Dracula" backwards) has been a staple in vampire tales for generations. The monster master himself, Lon Chaney Jr., played an Alucard in the 1943 film Son of Dracula. Since then the name has been steadily used for bloodsuckers in movies, tv series, comic books and video games. But it wasn't until the past decade that parents started giving the name to real-life, warm-blooded children.
You can see traditional namers turning darker, too. Biblical villains used to be mostly out of bounds as baby names. Today, Delilah is soaring toward the girls' top 100. Even biblical names that are negative words in English have risen: Judas, Lucifer, Jezebel.
For the record, I don't believe that American parents are raising a generation of vampires and supervillains. I think that the rising tide of sinister names reflects the rising triumph of style in baby naming. We're drawn to names that sound fresh and intriguing and have an eye-catching edge to them, regardless of where they come from. And let's face it, a good villain can be awfully stylish.
When Disney decided to give Sleeping Beauty's nemesis Maleficent her own film, they hired Angelina Jolie for the role. A cosmetics company stands ready to help you capture her look, or that of sisters in evil like Cruella De Vil, with their "Disney Villains" makeup collection. Even in the realm of names, the lure of the dark side isn't entirely new. Demon spawn from horror movies have been baby name hitmakers for years. (Damien from The Omen, Regan from The Exorcist, Gage from Pet Sematary, et al.)
As long as the shadowy depths are filled with such stylish names, parents are going to be lured in. And if the names happen to come with a curse attached, so be it.