Baby name ... Snow?

 Husband and I have been talking about potential name ideas and I feel really stuck on Snow as a first name for a girl. We both like how it sounds and I really love the colder weather. Its a bit ... you know... maybe too weird or simple. I haven't found a name that has the same connotations and sounds as lovely as Snow though (I am not in love with names like Eira or even Winter). We also like Isla but that seems to be WAY too popular at the moment.

Honestly is it too unusual? Could we get away with using it as a first name (or just a middle name, like Marie Snow ----)? Thoughts? Suggestions? Experiences with odd names? (Be nice, please.)


February 7, 2018 2:30 PM

I love it! It's so unique but recognizable, it matches current trends without being overly popular. It's not weird because of it's commonness as a word, it's not too simple because of it's lack of common usage as a name. 

I know lots of people with very odd names, and everyone accepts them after maybe a raised eyebrow. After you get to know someone, you don't even think  about any oddity of the name, just the person you love (I've found this especially true for unlikely word names). 

February 7, 2018 2:31 PM

Also, have you considered Iona? It has some of the sounds you have on your list. That said, Snow is still my top choice for you.

By mk
February 7, 2018 2:47 PM

I like colder seasons too. I don't think it is any more unusual than Winter or other nature names. Certainly not as a middle name, but even as a first name, it's fine.


February 7, 2018 4:57 PM

for me it is more of a middle name - a little too unusual for me

February 7, 2018 5:21 PM

It's used with some frequency in both Spanish and Catalan (and probably some other romance languages). Here the versions are Nieves and Neus, and I know women with both names. Lumi, meaning snow in Finnish, is also a baby name, as is Yukiko (containing snow in Japanese). So I think the concept as a baby name is fairly established, and then of course there is Snow White... a recent fictional retelling was Helen Oyeyemi's novel Boy, Snow, Bird, which featured characters with all of those names.

With names like Winter and Wren getting more use, and girl names ending in -o (Margot, Harlow, etc.) popular these days, I don't think there's anything too earth-shattering about Snow. Personally, I quite like it.


February 7, 2018 5:28 PM

I suppose it doesn't much matter to you that in our family, it's called "evil white stuff". :)

Once Upon a Time (the TV show) uses Snow as a given name. At first, it was kind of strange to hear it used that way, but as with pretty much any name, I got used to it. Still not something I'd ever inflict[ahem, sorry] use for any child or even pet of my own, but there are a lot of perfectly good names in that category. 

As far as Isla is concernced, this is starting to sound like a broken record, but really: popularity isn't what it used to be. Laura had a blog post a few months back about the subject. Basically, numbers that'll get you into the top 10 today wouldn't have been enough to even make the charts in previous generations. What this means in everyday life is that even if you give your child the most popular name, she isn't particularly likely to meet anyone else with her name. (And conversely, by the vagaries of statistics, if you carefully look for a not-too-popular name, it's no guarantee that she won't have two others by that name in her class. [Well, maybe not Snow. But Winter? I can see it happening.])

February 7, 2018 7:44 PM

When my son was in Kindergarten, he came home talking about 2 girls in his class named Snow and Sweet.  I totally didn't believe him.  Turned out, their names were actually Nieves & Dulce.  The girls had translated their names for a group of classmates who had asked about them.  

I see no reason why Snow couldn't be a name.  If you want something more "established" Nieves is an option, but it may seem odd if she doesn't have any Spanish heritage/language skills.  You could also pair it with a more established middle name, just in case she wants something less unusual to fall back on.  Snow could also be used in the middle position, if you decide you just can't pull the trigger on it as a first name.

Do you plan on more children later?  If so, you may want to consider if Snow is part of a larger style of name you like, or if it is an outlier.  If I came across a family with children named something like Snow, Ocean & Blaze, I might guess the family was a bit on the hippy/granola/nature-loving side, but I wouldn't think too much more about it.  A sibset consisting of Snow, Marie & Thomas would cause me to do a double take.  In that case, Snow is the odd man out. 

February 7, 2018 8:15 PM

In the middle, I wouldn't think twice about it. But I actually like it for a first name! Other people have made most of the points that I wanted to make (the current popularity of similar sounding names and of nature names), but really, while some people might be initially surprised to hear it, I think that it would pretty easily begin to sound completely normal.

I actually have a different Snow-White-being-called-"Snow" association in a short-lived 1980s comedy called The Charmings in which Snow White, Prince Charming, their two sons, her step-mother, the magic mirror, and one dwarf get magically transported to 1980s Los Angeles. I was 6 when the show came out so to me, Snow has always kinda just been a familiar name, even though I knew that it was short for Snow White.

Okay, there is one caveat. Your child's surname isn't going to be White, is it? Or really any noun? Having an unusual first name is one thing, but having a firstname+lastname combo that is a little jokey is a totally different story.

Yes, I can see Snow working with a hippie/nature sibling group, not all nature names sound hippyish (Snow, Lily, and Rowan sounds perfectly nice to me!) but I don't see why it couldn't work with other categories, too. Yes, Snow, Marie, and Thomas is a little jarring (I might wonder if maybe the other two were half siblings with Snow), but Snow, Aria, and Caspian or Graham or Brea, or Reyna or Maeve sounds fine to me. I actually appreciate when a group is a little eclectic.

By EVie
February 7, 2018 10:21 PM

I personally prefer it in the middle spot, but I adore unexpected middles that put a new spin on a more traditional first. Something like Marie Snow is just stunning -- adding Snow brings an ordinary name like Marie to just a whole different level, and makes me look at it and think about it in a new way. 

(Though as a Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fan, I would not be able to resist saying "You know nothing, Marie Snow" at every opportunity).

That's not to say that it isn't useable as a first name. I think it is, in the same way that other unusual nature names are useable. You may need to brace yourself for some confused looks and people repeating the name back to verify and making comments like "Wait... really? Snow?" But there's nothing inherently negative about the name (notwithstanding the mess in my driveway right now), it's spelled correctly, everyone knows how to pronounce it, and once people get used to it there should be no issues. 

I agree with Karyn about sibling names. Super-traditional choices would be a bit jarring, but there are a lot of quirky/offbeat/unusual names out there that could work... including Isla, if you think you'd want to use it one day after all.

February 8, 2018 12:09 AM

I think Snow works perfectly fine.  It's offbeat and unusual, but not goofy.  While Snow is definitely a nature name, it's also a surname.  Expect a lot of Snow White stuff when she's 4, but whatever.  My two cents: I gave my daughter a rare first name, but intentionally paired it with a middle name which is very familiar, just in case she desperately wants a "normal" name when she hits 12. 


February 8, 2018 2:33 AM

Yeah, I would beg to disagree with the "nothing inherently negative" part... precipitation which doesn't clean up after itself and which makes ordinary trips into life-threatening adventures just isn't something this California girl will ever like. None of which makes Snow unusable as a name: there are plenty of word-names, or names that happen to be homonyms of words, where the word in question has at least one less-than-desirable meaning - e.g. Rue, Randy, Dick - and the bearers survive just fine. But if you're going to use a name like that, you need to know about the (possible) negatives going in.

February 8, 2018 4:54 AM

Then there's Rose (pricks people), Briar (ditto) (Poison) Ivy, and the whole host of gun/brand/luxury goods names symbolizing death and third world exploitation, and the names after famous people who owned slaves or gods who behaved pretty terribly by modern standards and so on. I think snow gets off lightly!

February 8, 2018 12:42 PM

It does clean up after itself if you wait log enough...

February 8, 2018 2:50 AM

others that mean snow Edurne, Eira, Erdutza, Gwyneira, Khione, Lumi, Neva, Nevada, Nevara, Neve, Neves, Nieves, Yuki, Bora,Eirwen

February 8, 2018 7:15 AM

Snow seems like a lovely word/nature name to me.  I'd go for it in the first spot if it suits your fancy.  It isn't complicated, its easy to spell.  It is similar to many other wordnames like Winter, May, June or even Amber, Joy and Faith.  I think the only challenge you will run into is that people have strong opinions about the weather.  But to  me, that's not a deal breaker.

February 8, 2018 8:23 AM

You're right that people live to make comments about how names make them feel or what they remind them of. However, I'll just say that where I live is currently being inundated with the stuff (the pile on my front lawn is significantly taller than I am), and yet I still only associated the name with snow as the abstract, lovely nature word (winter, white, cold, crystals, falling on trees, soft blanket, etc) and not the stuff that makes doing everything outside difficult and messy. 

February 8, 2018 11:47 AM

Well, for myself personally I would never even consider this name. I hate snow- the stuff shuts down the south whenever it comes-so its a pretty negative association for me.  I also personally feel that it is a bit too unusual for my own taste. I think it would be much better suited for a middle name to be completely honest. I'll put it this way: if a friend told me they were considering naming their daughter Snow, I would definitely try to talk them out of it.

February 8, 2018 12:52 PM

I think it's usable, easily in the middle name spot but also as a first name. I think the weather associations are likely to be mixed, but probably not much more so than for a lot of word names, and once people get to know her it will come to just be her name. As others have pointed out, she will probably have fewer problems with spelling and pronunciation than many traditional names. My biggest hesitation would be the "pure as the driven snow" associations, but I don't think that needs to be a deal-breaker, just something to be aware of and watching out for as she heads into middle school and high school.

February 8, 2018 1:19 PM

Is that really such a common association/expression? I mean, I'm familiar with it, but I don't foresee many teenagers whipping that one out...

February 8, 2018 1:49 PM

Not necessarily the specific phrase, but I think snow is a pretty common metaphor for purity (my twins are doing freshman poetry right now, and it has come up). The close association between "snow" and "white" is obviously a contributing factor, and using Snow as a given name, which clearly brings up the Snow White association, puts that a bit more front-and-center than, say, the name River for rushing water (also sometimes associated with purity).

I would put this into the category of "names don't get made fun of, kids get made fun of...but some names have more obvious teasing "hooks" than others". In other words, for most kids it would never be an issue, but for the occasional girl with peers who are looking for a way to be mean (or klutzy adolescent would-be-boyfriends who are trying to be cute), this might come up.

February 8, 2018 3:03 PM

Okay, I'll buy that while studying high school English, kids *might* bring up the concept of snow=purity, but I combs to think of it,  being called cold or frigid is a more likely and greater concern, especially with female stereotypes and gender expectations and all that. But I also think that it's much like the name Grace where the association would only really come up if the kid either really did or really didn't fit the descriptor. 

February 9, 2018 1:56 AM

Wow - thanks for all the comments! A lot more positive replies than expected! I feel a lot better about using the name now, however I am still cautious over putting it in the first name position. I think it works as a middle name, and also as a nickname. (That's a thing, right? Using middle names as a nickname?)

February 9, 2018 10:15 AM

Yes, lots of people go by their middle names on occasion; it's definitely a normal thing. Snow is gorgeous in the middle name slot too!

February 9, 2018 2:13 PM

I want to quantitatively dispel your concerns that it's an exceptionally strange name. It shows up as a girls' firts name in the SSA data consistently throughout the duration during which social security numbers have been given. It's always been fairly unusual, true, but it really picked up a notch in recent years. (I'm guessing the uptick in 2012/13 was due to multiple Snow White movies coming out.)

It's unusual, but unusual like Mirabel and Bernice and Adora and Emmanuelle and Eveline and Ina, all of which were used less often than Snow in 2016. It's not going to be one of those names that causes people to clutch their pearls. And, if you want to call your daughter Snow, I'd use it as a first name. Pair it with a more conservative middle name choice so if she wants a more buttoned down alter ego, she can have it... but I think it's a fine choice and would not stand out in local nature names.






















































February 9, 2018 3:20 PM

Note that there's a 35-year gap in there, 1937 to 1972. (I noticed because my dad was born in 1937 and we were born in 1972.) It's possible that there were a few Snow's born in those years, but below the SSA privacy threshold; however, just based on the numbers we *do* have, this is a revival of a rarely-used name, not something that's been in continuous-but-infrequent use.

By EVie
February 9, 2018 4:06 PM

I don't think the numbers are significant enough to call it a revival starting in 1972. For the whole 20th century, in the years we have data, the numbers ranged from 5 to 8 uses per year. The years that we don't have data could all very well be 1, 2, 3 or 4 uses, and it's possible that just due to random chance the years between 1937 and 1972 were those instead of 5+ (along with 1895-1897, 1899, 1903-1904, 1906-1913, 1917, 1919, 1922-1926, 1929, 1931, 1933-1935, 1972-1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1986-1991, 1993-1994, 1997). We only start to see a significant rise starting in the 21st century.

February 9, 2018 9:40 PM

I agree, it's been skirting close enough to the threshhold in general that it's hard to say that it had anything other than an ebb in those decades.

My point is perhaps better made that it's a name that's seen regular use throughout time, albeit as an unusual one, and that it's currently an even less strange choice than ever before. In addition to the uptick in Snow as a given name itself, I think I locally have observed a fluorishing of nature names beyond the usual botanical choices, and I'd guess that names LIKE Snow are also on the rise (I know a Winter (male), plus a Banyan, Canyon, etc). 

February 9, 2018 3:44 PM

Do you think the male usage in 2014 and 2016 is an anomaly, or a typo, or a genuine trend? If it's a genuine trend, it's an interesting case of a clearly feminine-preferenced name "going boy" (rather than the very common other-way-round pattern).

Hmm, just noticed that the male numbers also made it across the threshold in 1914, so it wasn't universally feminine until the 21st century...

February 9, 2018 9:33 PM

I bet that the male usage might have something to do with Game of Thrones, where it got played up as the northern convention for a surname indicating a child without a father.