Modern Names for Your Flower Child

Dec 18th 2017

The 1970’s brought us word names like Heather, Crystal, and Dawn, lovely nature-inspired choices that embodied the hippie vibe of the previous decade. While bell-bottoms may have gone out of style, the desire for peace and love (and nonconformist names) certainly hasn’t! The legacy of the hippie movement continues today in popular names like Summer, Harmony, and even Paisley.

If you love the prettiness and positivity of this name style, check out these fifteen word names that haven’t yet cracked the top 500. Bohemian yet robust, these choices are sure to inspire and encourage your own little flower child.

Image: iStock/MeganKPhotos

Feather. This light and airy choice is only one letter off from Heather, but it feels like a bold twenty-first century pick. While a few fictional characters have been given this sweet name over the years, Feather was given to only seven baby girls in 2016. With names like Birdie and Aviana on the rise, why not Feather?

Bliss. Cheerful Bliss makes an excellent alternative to popular picks like Hope or Faith, matching their concise sounds and upbeat meanings. The name is related etymologically to Blythe as well, giving Bliss an added retro sound. Despite its connection to an unpleasant idiom, the word bliss is filled with merriment and would make a unique, happy option.

Season. “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven”: whether this quotation reminded you of a Bible verse or a Byrds’ song, global harmony is an appealing connection to the name Season. Though Autumn, Summer, and Winter rank in the top 1000, this serene choice has yet to make similar waves.

Unity. A virtue name with untapped potential, Unity first appeared in Puritan societies alongside Felicity and Chastity. It’s also a literary pick, with authors like Thomas Hardy and Neil Gaiman choosing this harmonious name. With an uncommon first initial and an inherent meaning of acceptance, Unity could join Serenity and Trinity on today’s playgrounds.

Henna. The beautiful reddish dye originating in the Arabian Peninsula has a feminine connection as well; traditionally, decorating the body and hair with henna was a practice specific to women. The gorgeous patterns and colors relate the name to Paisley or Ruby, but Henna has a few other etymologies - it’s also a Finnish form of Henrike and an Arabic form of John.

Love. Romantic yet straightforward, Love is a daring choice that works especially well as a middle name. The name briefly rose in popularity after 1967’s Summer of Love, but has only passed 100 babies per year in the past decade. Could this passionate choice be the next Grace?

Meadow. Bizarrely, it took a character on HBO’s The Sopranos to bring this pretty and peaceful name into the spotlight at the end of the millennium. Meadow is a graceful, natural choice that fits in with the likes of Willow or Harlow, but it has a definite “free spirit” vibe.

True. Simple and sanguine, True is an encouraging, modern choice in times of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” Its sound has primarily been heard in vintage picks like Gertrude or Truman, making it particularly uncommon today. There is a plethora of adages and idioms praising this virtue - “to thine own self be true” - and True is sure to appeal to confident namers.

Promise. The word promise comes from Latin elements meaning “send forth;” to make a promise is to declare an intention to the world, and to follow through with words and actions. With such gravity in this word name, it’s no surprise that elegant and virtuous Promise currently ranks just outside the top 1000.

Haze. While English surname-turned-first-name Hayes has quite a few fans, hippie homophone Haze has yet to reach similar popularity. The song “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix (another rising H-surname), released in 1967, is a classic psychedelic rock song and often ranked as one of the best guitar tracks in history. If you’re looking for something a bit edgier than Hazel, try Haze!

Lotus. Now that Lily, Violet, and Rose rule the playground, other floral names with more unusual sounds are sure to impress. The lotus is an important flower in both Buddhism and Hinduism, symbolizing growth, purity, and beauty (being a lovely plant growing out of muddy water). Alluring Lotus also has connections in literature and music, lending it to all kinds of personalities.

Vesper. From Latin for “evening,” Vesper is a melodic and mysterious choice, adorning both a god in Roman mythology and a James Bond femme fatale. “Vespers” also refers to evening prayer services in some sects of Christianity, giving this dramatic choice some religious connotations.

Revel. One of the more exciting celebrity baby names of 2017, Matthew Morrison and his wife named their son Revel, a lively yet accessible choice. It softens the hard edges of Rebel but feels fresher than River or Raven. Whether you’re revelling in the birth of your little one or looking ahead to a life of revels together, this name may be the one for you.

Dream. Though whimsical Dream was first recorded in 1970, it didn’t begin appearing regularly on US name charts until the late 1990’s. It’s ethereal aura is tempered a bit by its uncomplicated sound, fitting in with Drew or Drake.

Poet. An occupational choice that works well for boys or girls, Poet feels both classic and contemporary (depending, of course, on the poetry that inspires you). A few celebrity parents have picked this bright choice in recent years - the fabulously named Soleil Moon Frye among them - and Poet would make an unexpected honorific for a familial writer or storyteller.


December 18, 2017 1:32 PM

Re Unity: never mind Thomas Hardy and Neil Gaiman. The famous real-life Unity is Unity Valkyrie Mitford, one of the notorious Mitford sisters, outspoken Nazi supporter and an intimate of Adolf Hitler. I wouldn't touch that name with a ten- foot pole.

December 18, 2017 3:56 PM

Another one not to touch from this list: Haze. May as well name a sibling Smog or Intimidation.

December 18, 2017 4:47 PM

In the abstract I kind of like the idea of "reclaiming" names from evil associations, though in practice this can be difficult, given that some folks will have a strong visceral reaction to the name. Unity, which has a very obvious positive meaning and a foreign negative association, seems like an easier sell than some reclamations I've seen proposed.

Compare Benedict, which has been vastly rehabilitated in the US by Mr. Cumberbatch; I imagine it was a much easier name to bestow in England, where General Arnold was considered a patriot rather than a traitor.

Similarly, I think Unity would be easier to bestow in the US than in England, as the connotations in the US of the word's plain meaning and related associations (like the Unitarians and United Way and One United Bank) are going to be much stronger than a decades-dead traitorous British socialite, no matter how evil she was. Maybe it's still too soon, but I think it might work in the US before too many more years have passed.

This is also similar to our recent Mamie discussion; I'd prefer to see that name revived across the pond first, so that some strong alternate associations can develop in a place where many fewer people will be confronted with a painful reminder of the Mammy stereotype, but I would be happy if one day the name has primarily positive associations for all Americans.

December 19, 2017 7:44 AM

@nedibes Beautifully said! I associate Unity more with Puritan names than anything else, but it's interesting to think about the impact geographically separate Anglophone communities could have on each other's naming habits. 

December 19, 2017 10:03 PM

Long time reader and community member here, just chiming in to say that Unity is the name of my ten year old daughter. We live in the US and knew about the Mitford sister but decided that the association was not enough to scare us off from a name we love and that has great personal meaning for myself and my husband. (Our inspiration was the song "Unity" by California punk bank Operation Ivy.)

In our decade of parenting, only one person has ever brough up the Mitford connection. I think relatively few people know about it to the point of knowing her name, and the positive associations of connection and togetherness are what stay with people. In fact, people who learn her name for the first time often comment on the positive meaning.

Everyone is allowed their own opinion of course, and I'm not bothered by people who wouldn't choose the name for their own child. Just sharing that our experience with the name has been a good one.