Baby Name Inspiration From The Most Unexpected Places

Naming Inspiration
Jultud/Getty

Baby name inspiration: it’s literally everywhere, if you’re looking hard enough.

My oldest son has a family name. My second-born got his name from a street sign in Vegas. My third is named after his grandfather’s nickname, and for my fourth, we needed one last “C” name, so Corbin it was.

Every expectant parent is in search of that “just right” baby name, and many times we start in the most obvious of places (like the Scary Mommy baby name database, perhaps? *Wink wink, nudge nudge*). But sometimes, the perfect name comes to us through other, less conventional means.

We asked parents to tell us the unique stories behind their children’s names, and the origins did not disappoint.

Special places

“My sister and her husband named their daughter after the city they fell in love in: Adelaide, Australia.” -M.K.

Nola was named because her dad and I got engaged in New Orleans, Louisiana. Maya was named after our honeymoon destination, the Mayan Riviera.” -B.

Very special places

“My oldest’s name is Cameron Beau. We got Beau from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi because it had the best buffet we’d ever eaten from.” -K.

Suggestions of others

“It was Christmas time and I kept hounding my husband to tell me what he wanted. Finally he gave me a ‘list’ that said, ‘All I want for Christmas is for my baby girl to be named Brysa.’ End of story!” -S.

“We let our daughter name her little brother. There was some guidance – she couldn’t name him ‘idiot’ or ‘boogers.'” -M.

“We were trying to decide between Leo and Simon. Blaise, age three, from the backseat, very calmly said, ‘His name is Simon.'” -E.

To bridge a connection to loved ones

“My uncle had a heart attack (he’s fine now) the day I was scheduled for an IUD. I missed my appointment to visit him. Nine months later my son was born; his middle name is Frank, after my uncle, since it’s his fault I got pregnant.” -J.

Zachary was named after his father’s childhood friend who passed away of brain cancer. He had the name picked out before he even met me.” -C.

“Since my stepsons and my daughter were going to have different last names, their first names all share the same letter: Z. We thought maybe it would create more of a connection between them.” -M.

To symbolize strength through a rough start

“When Sam was born at 23 weeks, I had no boy names picked out. As he was whisked away to the NICU I wanted a name that meant ‘strong’ or ‘victory’ … the name Samuel came to my mind. I asked my husband to look it up and it means ‘asked of God.’ My miracle child definitely fits that name.” -N.

“I had an awful first pregnancy, and had to be induced early, so my husband and I wanted to make sure our baby had a really strong name to help him. His name is Maximilian Emanuel, which is a mouthful. He was just a 5-pound little guy with an enormous name, and now he’s 5’10” at age 13 and his hands are double the size of mine. I think it worked!” -J.

How they sound with titles in front

“When I was pregnant with our son, we used the Grandma/Grandpa test: if a name sounded weird with ‘Grandma’ or ‘Grandpa’ in front of it, we didn’t add it to the list.” -C.

“My son’s name was going to be Jack until literally the last minute. I sat next to a guy at work and told him I liked Jackson (from Steel Magnolias) and he said, ‘Jack Thorpe sounds like a quarterback and Jackson Thorpe sounds like a president.’ Done deal!” -C.

Favorite books, movies, musicians, and TV shows

“Years of playing Dungeons & Dragons and reading fantasy/sci-fi gave me Kheldin’s name.” -B.

Rowan’s name came from the main character in the Witching Hour series by Anne Rice. I’ve been in love with it since the first chapter.” -C.

“Tannis was supposed to be my name. My parents heard it in Raiders of the Lost Ark (it’s the city where the Ark of the Covenant was buried) and loved it. When I was born, my grandmother despised the name and promptly started calling me Morgan, which was the other name my parents had discussed. I always felt cheated out of a super cool name from a cult classic movie that my parents saw on a date. Therefore, I named my own daughter Tannis.” -M.

“My midwife and nurse were both named Judy, and they kept calling each other ‘Jude’ while I was in labor (and my mom is a huge Beatles fan). So my daughter is Violet Jude.” -M.

“Our son Malcolm was named by my husband after the captain of some sci-fi show called ‘Firefly.’ I was opposed to it for months but by the time he was born it was stuck in my brain.” -J.

Inspiration that’s a little misinterpreted

“While watching Legends of the Fall, we both really liked Brad Pitt’s character and his name. I looked it up in the baby name book, liked the meaning, and threw a twist in the spelling to make it even more unique. Thus, Drystan was born. But years of working the flight line in the military and loud music did neither one of us any good, because we had completely misheard the name in the movie. Turns out, Brad Pitt’s character was Tristan, not Drystan.” -C.

Last minute changes because the planned-on name just doesn’t fit

“My son was supposed to be named Charles Ashley (family names). During the birth, the doctor had to use forceps to turn him which made a mark on his face. When we saw him he had carrot-red hair and looked like he had been in a street fight. The chosen name just didn’t fit, so we changed it to Casey Allen.” -C.

“We couldn’t agree on a name. I said ‘Jude.’ Rob said, ‘Okay, if we can call him Butch.’ I said okay, because I knew I would never call him that. But when the adoption agency escort handed me this round little lovebug, I immediately thought, ‘Butchieboy!'” -S.

Names that are literally what’s right in front of you

“My son’s dad noticed the doors at work were Jamison brand and he liked the name, so that’s how we got his first name.” -N.

“We worked different schedules most of the pregnancy. We wrote names on a dry-erase board and the other would cross out or erase ones they didn’t like. Collin was what was on the board when he was born, five weeks early.” -Z.

Symbolic inspiration

“We named our youngest daughter Paige because we knew she was the last ‘page’ in our family book.” -D.

Whether your baby’s name comes to you via a loved one, or graffiti on a trash can, or a Netflix binge, it’s still a special part of your child’s story. And even if they share their name with hundreds of other people, the tale of how they got it will always be uniquely theirs.

Keep looking everywhere for baby name inspiration … but Scary Mommy’s name lists are a great place to start.