There are tons of baby names inspired by literature — for example, did you know that the perennially-popular Jessica originated with Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice? There’s Holden, popularized by J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and Harper, practically synonymous with Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. For avid readers, a good book can make an impact for life, and within those well-loved, dog-eared paperbacks is a treasure trove of inspiration from the characters and authors alike.
But why limit yourself to one specific tale when you could pay homage to literature in general? There are plenty of actual, literal literary terms that sound just as melodic and on-trend as some of today’s most loved baby names.
This one’s obvious, but a good choice if you want a more mainstream name. You can spell it “Page” if you want to be more literal — or more unisex.
The word cadence means “rhythm” or “flow” and is used to describe the changes in rhythm, pitch, and pace as a literary piece is read. It can also be used in reference to music, or in its Italian form, Cadenza.
Ella is currently #15 on the Social Security baby name popularity charts. Nova is #56 (and one of the fastest risers). So if those two names, and those that sound like them — Bella or Novalee, for example — can be among the darlings of the baby naming world, why not Novella? It means a short novel (or a long story).
Meaning “fluent or persuasive speaking or writing,” the word eloquence actually makes a great literary name choice. Again with that beloved “El-” sound, like Ella or Eleanor, Eloquence can fit right in while still standing out. You could even go with Quen as a “Quinn-adjacent” diminutive, though it would be kind of a shame to shorten such a pretty name … unless Eloquence someday decides she’d like something that sounds a little less formal.
A sonnet is a 14-line poem, made most famous by William Shakespeare. Whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare himself or just poetry in general, Sonnet makes an adorable name.
Every family has a story, and now yours can have a Story too. Not only is this the perfect literary name, but it’s culturally-relevant and truly unisex: actor Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad) gave it to his daughter, while Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster herself) gave it to her son.
A short story with a moral theme, kids love fables — and Fable is a name they can love. It isn’t much of a stretch considering that the soundalike names Abel and Mabel are numbers 146 and 436 on the popularity charts, respectively.
If a sonnet is a lyrical poem, an elegy — meaning “a poem of serious reflection” — is more somber. When used as a name, much like Eloquence, it’s got that well-loved “El-” sound at the beginning. But one could argue that this is even more “name-like” than Eloquence, since it also boasts the proven combo of three syllables and a Y-ending, like Emily, Emery, and Avery.
From truth-bomb slam poetry to epic professions of undying love, poets have been beautifully putting feelings into words for centuries. And if you’re a fan of one of history’s most famous poets, Edgar Allan Poe, this unisex name provides a double whammy, as Poe could be a cute nickname.
Poetry isn’t confined to paper when it’s sung, and Lyric is one of those neat names that’s a nod to both the literary and the music world.
A saga is “a long story of heroic achievement.” As a name, it’s short and sweet, and has a bit of a dramatic flair.
Surnames-turned-first-names are big right now, and Booker is an English occupational surname referring to someone who (unsurprisingly) made books.
The term “epic” is virtually interchangeable with “saga” in meaning; it’s a lengthy poem about the deeds of a hero. But these days it’s also used as slang to mean “extremely awesome” — so that ups its coolness quotient.
Whether quill or ballpoint, the literary connotations with this name are obvious. And our bets are that it might even enjoy a bit of a surge in popularity, thanks to actor Penn Badgley and his (albeit creepy) role in the Netflix hit You.
Initially seen most often as a diminutive of the name Dashiell, but this name has gained traction in its own right. As a literary reference, it can be used as a punctuation — see? — or meaning to write something in a hurried way, i.e., “She dashed off a quick note.” No matter the intention or meaning behind the name, it has a definite energetic feel.
This name can be used as a standalone, or as a diminutive of a longer name like Quiller or Quillan. But, like Penn, it can pay homage to the literal strokes of genius that transfer words to paper.
Could you find a better name for a bookworm-to-be?! You could spell it “Reid” or “Reed,” but in this case, Read is the only way to go.
Like Dash, this is another word-name that conveys an explosive sort of energy, thanks to its proximity to the word “cannon” and everything that evokes. But in the literary world, canon is a term for the most important or influential pieces of literature of a particular place or time period.
First and foremost, a legend is a literary genre, but it has also come to refer to a person who is so great at something that he or she will go down in history. So if you name your little one Legend, be sure to remind him regularly that he’s already reached that status in your eyes.
Who says these beautiful, melodic, descriptive terms should be confined to literature? We think they fit in just as well on a birth certificate. Bestow one of these literary baby names on your future reader, and they’ll live happily ever after.
For a comprehensive baby name database, answers to your biggest baby naming dilemmas, and fun inspiration, check out Scary Mommy’s baby name section!