Will “Avatar” influence baby names?

The character Neytiri from the movie "Avatar" (2009).
Neytiri from “Avatar

Avatar is doing very well at the box office right now. And whenever a sci-fi/fantasy film (or book, or TV show) hits big like this, I can’t help but wonder: What baby names could it inspire/popularize?

What about…

  • Neytiri (pronounced nay-TEE-ree), the pretty Na’vi warrior-princess
  • Eywa (pronounced AY-wah), the Na’vi deity
  • Toruk (“last shadow”), the massive flying creature
  • Toruk Makto (“rider of the last shadow”), any Na’vi who manages to tame/ride a Toruk
  • Na’vi (“the people,” pronounced nah-vee), the sentient, blue humanoids of Pandora

I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of these pop up in my local birth announcements.

Have you watched the film? If so, which Avatar name (or word) do you think stands the best chance of catching on as a baby name?

Update, 2021: It’s been over a decade since Avatar came out. So…what happened? Neither Eywa nor Toruk ended up in the U.S. baby name data. But the name Neytiri debuted in 2010, and the name Navi saw higher usage post-Avatar. (Though the rise of Navi could be due to the influence of Navy.)

The character Tsireya from the movie "Avatar: The Way of Water" (2022).
Tsireya from “Avatar: The Way of Water

Update, Dec. 27, 2022: The long-awaited Avatar sequel — Avatar: The Way of Water — was released earlier this month. It features a slew of new characters, with names like…

  • Neteyam
  • Lo’ak
  • Tuktirey (nickname “Tuk”)
  • Kiri
  • Tsireya (nickname “Reya”)
  • Aonung
  • Rotxo
  • Ronal
  • Tonowari
  • Payakan

Which of these new Avatar names will turn into baby names, do you think?

Will Kiri and Reya, which are already baby names, see significantly higher usage in 2023?

Finally, could “Avatar” itself ever pop up in the U.S. baby name data?

(At least five U.S. babies have to be given a particular name within a single calendar year for that name to be included in the publicly available dataset.)

Sources: Avatar Wiki | Fandom, Avatar: The Way of Water – Wikipedia, SSA
Images: © 2009 20th Century Studios, © 2022 20th Century Studios

31 thoughts on “Will “Avatar” influence baby names?

  1. I love all the different thoughts and ideas blossoming throughout the blogosphere due to this movie. Yours is the first to touch on the names. I think Zoe Saldana can be said to have been the first to have a breakthrough performance in ‘motion capture’ acting with her performance as the beautiful and archetypal Neytiri. Needless to say I think it is a name that has a lot of strength and love behind it. Sounds exotic and beautiful too. Look for it in the next few years I’d say.

  2. I think Toruk might catch on, especially since it sounds like other existing names.

    Neil – I think the honor for breakthrough motion capture performance must go to Andy Serkis for Gollum.

  3. I’m going to call my baby girl Neytiri… if I ever get a baby. I just love the name so much, not because it’s from Avatar, don’t get me wrong, Avatar is my favorite movie, but just because I love Neytiri so much!

  4. I’m 27 weeks pregnant of my second girl;
    i’m really having troubles to find the right name for my daughter; i’m really into the exotics names but still cannot find one who i really like.
    Today i went to the theatre to watch AVATAR with my husband, and i onestly did not went only for the movie, but for the entire time i was really focused on the names, cause i thought maybe a good fantasy name could sound right to me.
    I really liked the movie and i really liked the name EYWA so i have to confess that i’m seriously considering this names and i don’t think i’ll be the only parent to do that!
    But the way, sorry if my english is not perfect, i’m italian and i’m still learning…

  5. I am loving the name Neytiri its beautiful and i think like a lot of mothers like to name their children after a strong beautiful role models even if they are from the world of fantasy.
    That fact adds even more magic to the name.
    Have to say though i think if the name neytiri was used for an evil character there would be not as much interest in the name.

  6. I can’t say much about which names will catch on (my crystal ball’s gone cloudy), but I know which ones I’d consider:

    Neytiri, of course;
    Pandora, the Na’vi homeworld;
    Personally, I think Mo’at is a beautiful name…she was a strong woman, and maybe it’s a cultural thing for me, but the name sounds almost Spanish;
    Eytukan, the chief;
    Ninat, the singer;
    Sylwanin, Neytiri’s sister;
    Yerik, the little deer-like creature;
    Kelutral, the Hometree;
    Mawey, which means “calm” or “peace”;
    and even Na’vi/Na’viya could serve as a name.

    Downsides, other than looking faddish:

    Mo’at and Na’vi are not playground-proof; it’d be too easy for classmates to make fun of “moat” (as in castle) and “Navy”, respectively.

    Eytukan is easy to turn into “Hey, Toucan!”

    Yerik might be safe until he gets to high school and Shakespeare: “Alas, poor Yerik, I knew him well!”

    Pandora, the figure of Greek myth, has a mixed reputation; it all depends on whether one associates her with the world’s woes or with the hope that remains.

    Eywa, being the name of a goddess, might be a little presumptuous (and the fundies would probably give that family a rough time in church). The same meaning without the movie link can be had with the name Gaia…which, btw, is also a perfectly good Roman name (fem. of Gaius) and pretty besides. >({|:-)

  7. We finally watched Avatar with the in-laws a couple of months ago. i did not have much interest in seeing it, but i have to admit i was drawn-in. And the whole time i was watching, i kept thinking “Eywa” would be SUCH a gorgeous name. There is something about the sound that really gets me. But i am not sure if i would ever truly use that name– not to mention if it would pass the Spouse-Veto!

  8. Hmmm….Avatar names for children. Sounds like a good idea as some of the Na’vi names are beautiful.
    You’d have to be a bit careful though. “Neytiri” might cause the child a few problems if the film was still current, although it’s a lovely name. Likewise “Eywa” and in my opinion that’s another lovely name.
    Maybe the film makers could produce a baby names book! So many of the Na’vi names are good.
    When you look at what some film stars call their children i.e “Heavenly Nirvana Tiger Lily”….. Eytukan and Tsu’Tey are fairly tame in comparison.

  9. I have a similar info my daughters name is Pandora, however, she was named way before the movie came out and way before she was born. People are talking crap about how they shouldn’t name their children after something that they love.. I know people that named their children after characters from LoTR (Lord of The Rings).. I think it’s wonderful how people can implement their life with a fantasy.. Its something that they enjoyed and will continue loving for their duration of life. So, in that regard, I commend people that are naming their children after their fantasies. Keep doing it! It’s FUN!

  10. Samantha I think you are absolutely right!!!
    I think people should not care about what
    other people think. Call your child or pet
    for that Matter whatever you whant to.
    My daughters name is Shaya and I love that name
    Because it is different but also beautiful. Also I am getting a new
    Little puppy (yorkie mixed w. Shitzu)
    and I am going to name her Eywa :0)

  11. Hi All,

    i hv already kept my daughters name “EYWA” :)

    its different and beautiful


  12. i love the name Neytiri, i think its a wonderful name i am in the process of changing my name and i think ive decided that i truly love this one. however i fear that the movie is still popular and that people wont see the beauty behind it and will tease.

  13. I believe, the name Neytiri stands the most out of all the Na’vi names and there’s a good reason why. Neytiri, if you think hard on it, the names sounds just like the name of the beautiful egiptian queen called Nefertiti. And each time I say the name of Neytiri, my thoughts automaticlly go to Nefertiti. Beside! Who wouldn’t name their daughter with the name of Nefertiti. I know, I would! xD But if I had to choose one of the few names mentions on Avatar the movie for my daughter, it would be Neytiri.

  14. I prefer Ewa (Polish name) over Eywa – it has almost the same pronunciation depending on where you are from and is easier to spell. Naytiri is nice, although I might prefer Natana in terms of sound (something about -tiri doesn’t work for me).

  15. its already been done my cousion had a baby girl back last May and she called her Neytiri or Neytiri Rose i think its a lovley name and its not the first time films have inspred names or tv shows my cousion [Neytiris mom ]is called is called Kylie after Kylie the actress singer my great grandma is Alice after Alice in wonderland also how many pepole watched Gone with the wind or Wizard of oz and called their kids Scarlet or Dorathy and i even know a Gohan after someone in the anime Dragon ball z and also the name Eywa too but Neytiri is a beautiful name and i think it will take off

  16. My baby girl was born in February and her name is Neytiri Anjali! I love the name. It’s beautiful and I don’t care what anyone says. Her name has more meaning than some of these crazy names people come up with.

    Believe it or not but a lot of people that saw the movie didn’t even realize that the character’s name was Neytiri!

  17. I Absolutely love the name Na’viya! and there are many other beautiful names inspired by movies that i love as well. such as Arya from Eragon, the spelling is strange but the way it’s pronounced is so beautiful! Plus in the movie she was a strong warrior and a princess who was kidnapped from her home land and forced to fight in an amazing battle to be free again, and the character is such a gorgeous person and the name fits well! i’m planning on naming my daughter this and i , like most of you here, don’t care what others think! :)

  18. I’m trying to think about my new norms in my future…. We am trying to choice two names for son and daughter.


    But I don’t want to choice the Neytiri and Eywa are same and I wanna different name from the Na’vi.
    I have no idea any names for boys.. Help me :(

  19. I would like to name my daughter Neytiri, mo-at, Mawey, or Eywa. I would like to name my son Eytukan, Tsu-tey, or toruc makto. I think these names are good. by the way, I just like the name Neytiri. Injoy your time and pick out names that are going to fit the baby’s characteristics and that fit your family.

  20. Yo peoples, I want to let you know that I would like to get a femail cat and name her Pey’ral. I also would like to name my son or daughter Nari, meaning eye, or tsaheylu, the bond, or Nitari, the tsaik of the Akywe clan. I also like the names Katara and Atokirina.

  21. Hey, you awsome people I have a friend named Mia, and she names her harps Gina, the peddle harp and Emmy, short for emily. I also have a baby doll named Mawey. I don’t care what people say about someone says that you can’t name your baby after a fanticy. I still like the name Neytiri it is beautiful. Good luck. Irayo ulte Eywa angahu. It means thank you, and Eywa be with you.

  22. Hey I am back! Just got a name from a fan fiction and the name was a phrase “lu mawey ma tsmuke” It means “Be calm my sister.” Irayo and happy naming! Kiyevame, ulte eywa ngahu. See you again, and Eywa be with you. Lu mawey, ma Eylan, lu mawey, ma eylan. Be calm my friends. Oyasumi, Naviya oyasumi. Good night people of Pandora.

  23. im am pregnant right now and if its a girl her name is neytiri and im still decideing on the boy name but i think it might be tsu tey or toruk

  24. Love the name neytiri,and I plan on giving the name khaleesi,with a diff twist on the spelling to my baby when I have a girl someday.personally I think my name is pretty great also and I get compliments all the time..its Yulenny .and I pronounce it “you-lay-knee”..

  25. I just named my daughter neytiri crystal and i love it so much everybody does now im look foe more names like this one foe my next child

  26. I had my daughter at 37w5d and she was stillborn but her name was neytiri crystal and I had it picked out before I got pregnant

  27. Aw.. Sorry for your loss. :(

    AVATAR is my fave movie. I love the name Neytiri also, along with many other Na’Vi words. I thought about it for a baby name but I think I would have to come up with something for original.

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