The island country of Japan, located in the northwest Pacific Ocean, welcomes over 800,000 babies every year.
As far as I know, Japan has never released an official set of baby name rankings. But Japan’s top baby names of 2022 might be Himari and Ao, if two unofficial sets of rankings are to be believed.
The two sets of rankings were put out by a pair of Japanese companies that used their own data (i.e., the names of the newborns of their own customers/clients) to guess which baby names were the most popular in Japan last year.
Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company’s 2022 baby name rankings (in Japanese) account for 8,561 baby girls and 8,952 baby boys born in Japan from January to September, 2022.
Benesse Corporation’s 2022 baby name rankings (in Japanese) account for 148,103 baby girls and 149,152 baby boys born in Japan from January 1 to September 27, 2022.
These rankings aren’t exactly representative: the samples are self-selected, the last quarter of the year is entirely omitted, etc. Nevertheless, they’re fun to check out. And I think it’s significant that they agree on the #1 girl name.
Because both companies rank names as they’re written — and each of these written forms tends to have multiple pronunciations — I had to create images of the rankings (because my blogging software can’t handle kanji/kana characters). So, in the images below, the written forms are on the left, and their most common readings(s) are on the right.
Looking for baby names that are associated with yellow — including baby names that mean “yellow”?
If so, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected dozens of options for you in this post.
Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color yellow represents…
Symbolism of yellow
What does the color yellow signify?
In Western cultures in particular, yellow can be symbolic of:
The color is primarily identified with the sun, which is the most important source of energy for life on Earth.
Interestingly, the sun’s light is actually white. It only appears yellow (or, sometimes, orange) from our perspective because particles in the Earth’s atmosphere scatter short-wavelength (e.g., blue) light more efficiently than long-wavelength (e.g., red) light.
Top baby names associated with yellow
Determining the top names in a category isn’t difficult when you’re working with an easily definable category, like gender-neutral names. When it comes to names that have a connection to the color yellow, however, we need to account for the fact that certain names have a stronger connection than others.
With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color yellow:
Unsurprisingly, four out of the five were inspired by the sun.
Here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The word sunny simply means “having plenty of bright sunlight.” In Middle English, it was spelled sonni. Sunny is also a homophone of the name Sonny, which is based on the English word son.
Sunny is currently the 650th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word soleil (pronounced soh-lay, roughly) means “sun” in French.
Soleil is currently the 999th most popular girl name in the nation.
The word sol means “sun” in Latin and in several of the languages that descend from Latin, including Spanish and Portuguese. Sol is also a short form of the name Solomon, which explains why it was a popular choice for baby boys in the early 20th century.
Sol is currently the 1,054th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word sunshine refers to the light (and warmth) of the sun. In Middle English, it was spelled sonne-shin.
The word lemon — which can be traced back (via Old French limon and Arabic limun) to the Persian word limu — refers to the citrus fruit of the lemon tree (Citrus limon). By extension, it also refers to the yellow color of this fruit.
That said…most of the U.S. babies named Lemon during the 20th century (and earlier) were not named after the fruit. Instead, their names were inspired by the surname Lemon, which was derived from the Middle English word leman, meaning “sweetheart, lover” (from the Old English elements leof, “dear, beloved,” and mann, “person, man”).
All the names below are associated with the color yellow. The names range from common to uncommon, and their associations range from strong to slight.
Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.
Antu, the Mapuche word for “sun,” is the name of the Mapuche god of the sun.
Arevik is an Armenian feminine name based on the word arev, meaning “sun.”
Aspen trees (in particular the North America species Populus tremuloides) are famous for their golden-yellow autumn foliage. The word aspen is derived from the Old English word for the tree, æspe.
Beryl is a mineral that can be yellow. The name of the stone ultimately comes from the ancient Greek word beryllos.
Blaine comes from a Scottish surname that can be traced back to the Old Irish word blá, meaning “yellow.”
Bowie comes from a Scottish surname that can be traced back to the Gaelic word buidhe, meaning “yellow.”
Buff is a light brownish-yellow color — the hue of buff leather, which was often obtained from the European buffalo.
Buttercup flowers are yellow. “Buttercup” is the common name of several species of flowering plants in the genus Ranunculus.
Boglárka is the Hungarian word for “buttercup.”
Canna flowers are sometimes yellow. The genus name Canna is derived from the Latin word canna, meaning “reed.”
Chrysanthemum flowers are commonly yellow. The genus name Chrysanthemum is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words khrysos, meaning “gold,” and anthemon, meaning “blossom, flower.”
Citrine, a variety of the mineral quartz, is often yellow. The adjective citrine can be traced back to the Latin word citrus.
Daffodil flowers are frequently yellow. “Daffodil” is the common name of plants in the genus Narcissus.
Dahlia flowers are sometimes yellow. The genus Dahlia was named in honor of Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.
Dandelion flowers are yellow. “Dandelion” is the common name of the plant species Taraxacum officinale. The common name is derived from the Latin phrase dens leonis, meaning “lion’s tooth” — a reference to the shape of the leaves.
Fífill is the Icelandic word for “dandelion.”
Diell is an Albanian masculine name based on the word diell, meaning “sun.”
Flavio is the modern Spanish and Italian form of Flavius.
Forsythia (commonly pronounced for-SITH-ee-uh) flowers are yellow. The genus Forsythia was named in honor of Scottish botanist William Forsyth.
Fulvio (masculine) and Fulvia (feminine) are the modern Italian forms of the Roman family name Fulvius, which was based on the Latin word fulvus, meaning “deep yellow, reddish-yellow, gold-colored, tawny.”
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) often has yellowish flesh. The word ginger is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word sringavera.
Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes yellow. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
Günes (pronounced goo-NESH) is a Turkish feminine name meaning “sun.”
Haetbit is a Korean feminine name meaning “sunlight.”
Haru is a Japanese gender-neutral name that can mean “sun,” or “sunny,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
Haruki is a Japanese name that can include the element Haru.
Haruna is another Japanese name that can include the element Haru.
Helios, the ancient Greek word for “sun,” was the name of the Greek god of the sun.
Inti, the Quechua word for “sun,” was the name of the Incan god of the sun.
Jonquil flowers (which, like daffodils, are part of the genus Narcissus) are frequently yellow. The species name, jonquilla, means “little rush” (ultimately derived from the Latin word iuncus, meaning “rush, reed”) and refers to the shape of the leaves.
Ketut is a Balinese gender-neutral name associated with the word kitut, which refers to a small banana.
Khurshid (also spelled Khorshid) is a Persian gender-neutral name derived from the word xorshid, which means “sun.”
Lillesol is a Swedish feminine name meaning “little sun.”
Marigold flowers are sometimes yellow. “Marigold” is the common name of plants in the genera Tagetes and Calendula.
Mehr is a Persian gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
Meyer lemons are a cross between citron and hybridized mandarin/pomelo. They were named after Dutch-American agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer (born Frans N. Meijer), who discovered the cultivar while in China in 1907. The occupational surnames Meyer and Meijer are both derived from the Middle High German word meier, meaning “administrator, steward.”
Mzia is a Georgian feminine name meaning “sun.”
Naran is a Mongolian gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
Nurit (pronounced noo-REET) is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “buttercup.”
Nyima is a Tibetan gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
Orchid flowers are sometimes yellow. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
Oriole is a type of bird that often has yellow plumage. “Oriole” is the common name of birds in the genera Icterus and Oriolidae. The common name is derived from the Latin word aureolus, meaning “golden.”
Ra, the ancient Egyptian word for “sun,” was the name of the Egyptian god of the sun.
Seqineq is a Greenlandic gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
Sequssuna is a Greenlandic masculine name meaning “egg yolk.”
Shams is an Arabic gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
Shimshon is a Hebrew masculine name meaning “sun.”
Samson is the Biblical (Late Latin) form of Shimshon.
Solaris comes from the Latin word solaris, meaning “of the sun” or “pertaining to the sun.”
Solar is a modern word (used in English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages) based on solaris.
Sunflower petals are usually yellow. “Sunflower” is the common name of plants in the genus Helianthus, particularly the species Helianthus annuus. The common name is a reference to the sun-like flower heads.
Surya, a Sanskrit word for “sun,” is the name of the Hindu god of the sun.
Ravi, another Sanskrit word for “sun,” is one of Surya’s alternate names.
Susan is part of “black-eyed Susan” — the common name of the plant species Rudbeckia hirta, which has flowers that are typically yellow.
Tonatiuh, the Nahuatl word for “sun,” is the name of the Aztec god of the sun.
Topaz is a mineral that comes in several different colors, most notably golden-yellow. Its name is based on the Middle English word topas, which referred to any yellow-colored gemstone (not just topaz). The earliest known form of the word, the ancient Greek topazion, referred to a specific yellow gemstone (possibly yellowish olivine).
Tulip flowers are sometimes yellow. The name of the flower can be traced back to the Ottoman Turkish word tülbent, meaning “turban.”
Xanthos was an ancient Greek name derived from the word xanthos, meaning “yellow.”
Yesterday I read an informative article about Japanese name trends. The part I found most interesting was…
[A] further headache awaiting many babies as they grow up is that an increasing number of parents are exploiting a loophole in the law that fails to dictate how kanji in names are to be read and pronounced using kana.
Since most kanji can convey numerous meanings, and so be read in numerous ways, parents trying to make their offspring stand out are opting for unconventional ways in kana to read the kanji used for their name. Consequently, they are often anointing them with a name that, when read in kanji, others can only guess at.
In other words, a single name (written down) can morph into multiple names (when said aloud). One popular boy name, for example, can be read as Hiroto, Haruto, Yamato, Daito, Taiga, Sora, Taito, Daito or Masato. Last year’s most popular girl name can be read as Hina, Haruna, Hinata, Yua, Yuua, Yuina or Yume.
Because Japan does not have a custom of putting kana alongside people’s kanji names in many official records, including the family register, this has caused untold confusion and has led to mistakes being made in identifying people by government officials, teachers and so on.
Yet some parents have taken the quest for uniqueness even further by assigning names whose kana pronunciation cannot even be guessed by anyone not told what it is.
This rarely happens with English names, but I do know of one case: a nurse friend of mine told me about a newborn baby girl named Cindy whose mother insisted the name was pronounced “Sidney.” Or perhaps it was Sidney pronounced “Cindy” — I can’t remember. Regardless, the written and spoken forms didn’t match up.
One more quote from the article:
Another consideration for the Toriis, as for many other parents in Japan, was to use kanji that would not involve too many strokes, because if they chose ones that were too heavy-looking, or congested, it would be time-consuming to write in school exams, which would leave less time for the child to tackle the questions.
I bet some English-speaking parents have bestowed short names for the same reason — potential academic edge, however slight.