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Can you name your child a color?

Can you name your child a color?

Naming a child is an important decision that parents make early on in the child’s life. The name can have a significant impact on how the child is perceived and their personality development. Some parents choose common and traditional names, while others opt for more unique and creative names. In recent years, there has been a trend of naming children after colors, such as Scarlett, Violet, and Ruby. But is it acceptable to name your child an actual color word like Red or Blue? There are advantages and disadvantages to using a color as a name that parents should consider.

Popularity of Color Names

Color names for babies have grown in popularity in the past few decades. According to the Social Security Administration, color-inspired baby names became trendy beginning in the 1980s. Names like Amber, Ebony, and Ruby entered the top 100 most popular girls names in the 1980s and 90s. Other color names for girls that have ranked in the top 1000 include Violet, Hazel, Olive, and Pearl. For boys, color-related names like Hunter, Forest, and Sage are also becoming more common.

The increased use of colors as names reflects a shift toward more creative naming. Nature-inspired color names provide an alternative to traditional names and allow parents to give their child a more unique identity. The rise in individualism and rejection of conformity has contributed to the acceptance of color names today.

Factors to Consider in Naming a Child a Color

Though color names are popular, there are some factors for parents to consider when debating naming a child a literal color, like Red or Blue:

Meaning and associations – Certain color names like Violet and Azure have preexisting meanings related to flowers and gemstones that provide significance. However, naming a child a basic color like Black or White may lead to unwanted connections and assumptions related to race and ethnicity. The meanings attached to the chosen color should be evaluated.

Uniqueness – Opting for a name like Scarlett or Ruby is more common than naming a child Red or Pink. Very unique names can lead to a child constantly having to explain their name and correct mispronunciations. Parents should decide if they want something more distinctive or a relatively recognizable color name.

Nicknames – Color names often lend themselves easily to nicknames, like Violet shortening to Vi. If the color name is also a common word, like Rose or Blue, it may be hard to find intuitive nicknames for the child. Parents should determine if they like any built-in nicknames.

Last name compatibility – A color name that clashes with the last name or alliterates should be avoided. The full name should flow well. A soft sounding color name like Lavender goes better with a harder sounding last name versus a combo like Lavender Soft.

Gender associations – Some color names are strongly associated with a particular gender. For example, Violet skews female while Hunter skews male. Gender norms are evolving but parents should still be mindful of any gender assumptions tied to the color.

Teasing and bullying – An unusual color name may provoke unwanted attention or teasing. Parents should consider if the name could lead to mocking on the playground. However, bullying has become less tolerated, so color names are more accepted.

Here is a comparison of considerations when naming a child a common color name versus an unusual literal color name:

Factor Common Color Name (e.g. Ruby) Unusual Literal Color Name (e.g. Red)
Meaning and Associations Positive gemstone associations Potential racial overtones
Uniqueness Less common but recognizable Very distinctive
Nicknames Intuitive short forms available Hard to shorten creatively
Last Name Compatibility Flows well with most names Could clash or alliterate
Gender Associations Mostly female associations Not strongly gendered
Teasing and Bullying Less likelihood of mockery Higher chance of unwanted attention

This comparison shows that more creative and abstract color names generally provide more advantages over literal color names.

Legal Considerations in Naming

In the U.S., there are no federal naming laws, so parents have a lot of leeway in choosing names. However, some state laws prohibit names that contain obscenities, numerals, or symbols. There are only a handful of banned names, like Santa Claus or King, because they could imply false identity. So naming a child a normal color like Orange or Green is perfectly legal. However, there have been some extreme examples of baby names getting rejected:

– In Tennessee, a mother was forced to change her son’s name from Messiah to Martin, as the judge said Messiah was a title reserved for Jesus Christ.

– In New Zealand, the names 4Real, Majesty, and a brother and sister named Fish and Chips were rejected.

– In Sweden, the names Metallica, IKEA, and Elvis were not approved.

So while color names are allowed, parents should still choose wisely in case a judge determines the name is inappropriate. Absurd names that provoke public outrage like Cyan or Magenta might risk rejection. But standard color names should pass legal naming requirements.

Examples of Color Names

Here are some examples of creative color names for babies that follow current naming trends:

– Scarlett – Means “red” and is the most popular color name for girls.
– Violet – A floral name associated with purple flowers.
– Azure – The name of a light blue color and related to the blue gemstone lapis lazuli.
– Bijou – Means “jewel” in French and hints at brilliant colors.
– Ebony – A bold black color name related to dark wood.
– Lavender – A soft, feminine purple name linked to the herb.

– Hunter – Originally an occupational name for one who hunts, now associated with forest green.
– Forrest – An earthy nature name meaning “dweller of the woods.”
– Indigo – A deep blue name derived from the tropical plant of the same name.
– Russet – A reddish-brown color reminiscent of autumn leaves.
– Sterling – Means “little star” and relates to shiny silver.
– Slate – A strong gray color name referring to the fine-grained rock.

These options provide creative color name ideas that are recognizable but not overly unusual. Names like Scarlett and Violet have ranked in the top 100 girl names, showing their rising acceptance. Meanwhile, choices like Azure and Russet are more distinctive. So parents have many color name options that their child can grow into.

Popular Culture Color Names

Characters from movies, TV, books, and other media have also influenced the popularity of some color names. Here are some examples of well-known color names in pop culture:

Ruby – Main character in the TV series Max and Ruby, red jewel name.

Violet – The daughter from The Incredibles with powers that manifest in violet force fields.

Scarlett – Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist in Gone With the Wind.

Hazel – Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars.

Indigo – One of the main children in the book The Indigo Children which popularized the name.

Hunter – Title character of the movie The Hunter, played by Willem Dafoe.

Jade – Mortal Kombat character known for her green outfits.

Seeing color names given to popular characters helps normalize them as first names rather than just word names. People become familiar with them in a new context.

Color Names in Other Cultures

Color baby names are not just a recent American trend. Names inspired by colors and nature have long been used in other cultures around the world:

– Spanish – Color names like Blanca, Rosa, and Verde, meaning white, pink, and green, are commonly used in Spanish speaking countries.

– Hindi – Indian girl names like Pichu (yellow) and Neela (blue) have color related meanings.

– Japanese – Momo translates to pink or peach, although it is used for boys and girls.

– Arabic – Layla means “night” and relates to darkness while Samra refers to tan skin.

– Native American – Names like Tala (wolf) and Wohpe (white shell) have nature color meanings.

– Swahili – Zuri means “beautiful” in Swahili and is related to brilliant colors.

So the use of color names is present across cultures globally. This further demonstrates that color-inspired names have long been seen as acceptable name choices.

Tips for Choosing a Color Baby Name

When considering a creative color name for your child, here are some tips:

– Make sure it fits with your last name and has a pleasing sound or rhythm when said together.

– Check that the name is easy to spell and pronounce to avoid frustration for your child.

– Look up the historical meaning and any symbolism associated with the exact shade if it’s more obscure as a name.

– Search online to see if other children already have the name so it’s established but still uncommon.

– Have your child’s full name sound right to you when imagining yelling or calling for them.

– Picture your child at different ages and settings with the name to ensure it fits their personality.

– Weigh the potential for color-inspired nicknames like Red or Blue versus standard ones like Rob or Betsy if needed.

Following this advice will help narrow down your color baby name choice to a creative option your child will grow well into.


While some parents may stick to traditional names, choosing a creative color name for your baby has become more common and accepted in recent years. Names with color meanings range from relatively popular options like Scarlett to truly distinctive names like Azure or Indigo. Considering factors like associations, nicknames, and teasing potential is important when weighing a unique color name. Make sure to choose something that flows with your last name. While crazy names are still likely to get rejected, mainstream color names are generally legal. Just select something that fits your child and you can give them a color name they’ll love. With the freedom and individuality color names provide, more parents are likely to join the trend.