There's no shortage of baby name inspiration for animal-loving parents. Here are a dozen baby names with animal origins and meanings.
As an animal name, Fox is as clever as he is handsome. The first name Fox, popularized by the David Duchovny character Fox Mulder on "The X-Files," was given to 163 boys and seven girls in the U.S. in 2014. If the name Fox is too, um, foxy for you, you might consider Todd, which means "fox."
Leonine names are on the rise throughout the Western world, and we love them all, from Leonie to Leo to the brave-hearted Lionel. After a hiatus in the early 2000s, Lionel reentered the Top 1000 for boys in 2010 and is now on a steady upward trajectory, reaching Number 660 in the U.S. last year. Though Lionel does not register on the girls’ side of the ledger, noted novelist Lionel Shriver is female.
"Dog" is an unusual animal meaning for a baby name -- the Irish surname name Madigan, meaning “little dog,” is one of the few examples. Though the name would work for either gender, only 15 girls were registered with that name in the U.S., perhaps because its similarity to the popular Madison and Madeline make it sound more female.
Though we love the name Ursula, which also means "bear," Orson is ultimately a name we prefer. Ursula is unfortunately still saddled with the sea witch image, but Orson is both distinctive –- only 52 boys were given this name meaning “bear cub” last year -– and easy to understand.
Baby names that mean "dove" carry a special peaceful symbolism beyond that of the animal. Some wonderful possibilities: Jonah or Jonas, Callum or Columba, Jemima or Dove itself. But at the top of the list we’d place Paloma, the ideal fitting-in-standing-out name that’s been skipping along the bottom of the Top 1000 list for the past two decades, never becoming pandemic but not disappearing from sight.
It is absolutely astonishing to us that one of the handsomest names for boys does not even register the minimum five new bearers in the U.S. in 2014, making Auberon a truly unique name! The Shakespearean form Oberon, the name of the king of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was given to eight boys. By any spelling this name meaning "bearlike" is a fantastic choice.
Poe, a literary name that means "peacock", was used for a mere five girls and six boys in the U.S. last year, and we’d wager even fewer elsewhere. But all that is about to change, with the Oscar Isaac character in the new "Star Wars" movie due out at the end of the year named Poe.
There are several attractive names that mean "wolf," from Channing to Lowell, Phelan to all the Rudolph and Ralph relatives. But we’ll pick the attractive French version Raoul as the variation with the most animal magnetism.
This ancient name meaning “horse protection” has several legendary and literary bearers along with one attractive contemporary one, actress Rosamund Pike. Still, it was used for only nine girls last year while spelling variation Rosamond had less than five namesakes. Philip and Philippa are other appealing horse-related names.
The birdlike Wren is a name that’s taken off over the past few years. It’s sometimes shown up for a handful of babies on the extended U.S. popularity list: Five girls got the name in 1888, for instance, and five in 1914, and in 2000, only 18. But then in vaulted onto the Top 1000 in 2013 and last year was given to 397 girls and 40 boys. The sleek, special Wren is making an even bigger splash as a middle name.
Yara is a butterfly name especially favored by the Hispanic community, used for 154 girls in the U.S. last year and also fashionable in Spain and South America. As butterfly names go, Vanessa may be more classic and Kimana or Farasha more exotic, but we prefer the sleek, distinctive Yara.