Looking for baby names that are associated with red — including baby names that mean “red”?
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 red represents…
Symbolism of red
What does the color red signify?
In Western cultures in particular, red can be symbolic of:
The link between the color red and emotionally-charged situations may be attributable to the fact that we blush involuntarily when we experience intense feelings (such as anger, lust, or embarrassment).
Top baby names associated with red
To determine the top red names, I first had to take into account the fact that certain names have a stronger connection to the color than other names. (I also did this for the posts on orange, yellow, blue, and purple names.)
With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color red:
Now here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The word ruby refers to the red variety of the mineral corundum. By extension, it also refers to the red color of these crystals.
The name of the stone can be traced back to the Medieval Latin term lapis rubinus, meaning “red stone” (from rubeus, meaning “red,” and lapis, meaning “stone”).
Ruby is currently the 62nd most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word rose refers to any flowering plant of the genus Rosa, the name of which ultimately derives from the Greek word for the plant, rhodon.
Roses come in various colors, but shades of red have long been favored — so much so that the word rose, by extension, has also referred to a pinkish-red or purplish-red color since the early 16th century.
Rose is currently the 116th most popular girl name in the nation.
Scarlet is a bright shade of red. The name of the color comes from the Medieval Latin word scarlata (or scarlatum), which referred to a type of woolen cloth that was often, though not always, dyed red.
The more popular spelling of the name, Scarlett, represents transferred usage of the English surname. The surname Scarlett originally referred to a person who sold or worked with the cloth.
Scarlet is currently the 450th most popular girl name in the U.S. (Scarlett ranks 20th.)
The vocabulary word carmine (pronounced KAHR-mien) refers to the pigment made from the cochineal insect, which lives on prickly pear cacti. By extension, it also refers to the purplish-red color of this pigment.
Spanish explorers, who learned of the pigment through the Nahuas (Aztecs), began exporting it to Europe in the early 16th century. Its name (in Europe) is based on the Medieval Latin word carminium — a form of the Arabic word qirmiz, meaning “crimson,” influenced by the Latin word minium, meaning “cinnabar.”
The word also happens to be a homograph of the personal name Carmine (pronounced KAHR-mee-neh), which is the Italian masculine form of Carmen.
Carmine is currently the 1,282nd most popular boy name in the nation.
The pronoun Mars initially referred to the Roman god of war.
Later, when the ancient Romans chose names for the five visible planets of the solar system, they named the one with the reddish color — which is reminiscent of blood — after the god of war. (The surface of Mars appears reddish due to the presence of iron oxide in the planet’s soil.)
Mars is currently the 1,305th most popular boy name in the U.S.
More names associated with red
All the names below have an association with the color red. The names range from traditional to unusual, 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.
Akane is a Japanese feminine name that — depending upon the kanji being used to write the name — can refer to the madder plant (genus Rubia), the dye made from the root of the madder plant, or the purplish-red color of that dye.
Amaranth flowers are frequently red. The genus name Amaranthus is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words amarantos, meaning “unfading,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
Amaryllis flowers are often red. The genus name Amaryllis is derived from the ancient Greek word amarysso, meaning “to sparkle.”
Anara is a Kazakh and Kyrgyz feminine name based on the word anar, meaning “pomegranate.”
Azalea flowers are sometimes red. The (obsolete) genus name Azalea is derived from the ancient Greek word azaleos, meaning “dry.”
Berry fruits are frequently red. The Old English word for “berry” was berie.
Brick is commonly red. In fact, the term “brick red” refers to the brownish-red color of red clay bricks.
Burgundy is a purplish-red color. The name of the shade was inspired by red wine from the region of Burgundy in France.
Camellia flowers are often red. The genus Camellia is was named in honor of Moravian botanist Georg Joseph Kamel.
Canna flowers are sometimes red. The genus name Canna is derived from the Latin word canna, meaning “reed.”
Cardinal birds (genus Cardinalis) — the males in particular — have red plumage. The common name “cardinal,” inspired by the red robes of Roman Catholic cardinals, is ultimately derived from the Latin word cardinalis, meaning “principal, chief.”
Carnelian, a variety of the mineral chalcedony, is often red. The name of the stone ultimately comes form from the Latin word cornus, which refers to a type of berry, altered by the influence of the Latin word carneus, meaning “flesh-colored.”
Cherry fruits are typically red. Cherry trees are part of the genus Prunus.
Chrysanthemum flowers are sometimes red. The genus name Chrysanthemum is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words khrysos, meaning “gold,” and anthemon, meaning “blossom, flower.”
Coral is a pink-orange shade of red. The name of the shade refers to the color of precious coral, which was first discovered in the Mediterranean Sea.
Crimson is a deep shade of red. Crimson pigment was originally made from the kermes insect, which lives on evergreen oaks. (The pigment fell out of favor in Europe after the introduction of carmine from the New World in the early 1500s.)
Dahlia flowers are sometimes red. The genus Dahlia was named in honor of Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.
Delima is an Indonesian feminine name meaning “pomegranate.”
Edom is a Biblical masculine name based on the Hebrew word ‘adom, meaning “red.”
Erythia, based on the ancient Greek word eruthrós, meaning “red,” was the name of several figures in Greek mythology.
Eztli is the Nahuatl word for blood. (Fun fact: The red pigment made from cochineal that Europeans called carmine was called nocheztli, or “prickly pear blood,” by the Nahuas.)
Flann is an Irish masculine name meaning “blood red.”
Flannán is a diminutive form of Flann.
Garnet is a gemstone that is typically dark red. The name of the stone ultimately comes from the Latin word granatum, meaning “pomegranate” (literally, “having many seeds”) — a reference to the resemblance between garnets and pomegranate seeds.
Garance is a French feminine name that refers to the madder plant (genus Rubia), the dye made from the root of the madder plant, or the purplish-red color of that dye.
Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes red. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
Gül (pronounced gool) is a Turkish feminine name meaning “rose.”
Helen is part of Helenium, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes red. The genus was named in honor of Helen of Troy.
Jagoda (pronounced YAH-goh-dah) is a feminine name meaning “strawberry” in Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Slovene, and other South Slavic languages.
Jasper, an opaque type of microcrystalline quartz, is commonly red. The name of the stone ultimately comes from the ancient Greek word iaspis.
Kamala is a Hindi feminine name based on the Sanskrit word kamala, meaning “pale red.”
Kimmernaq is a Greenlandic feminine name meaning “lingonberry.”
Lohit is a Hindi masculine name based on the Sanskrit word lóhita, meaning “red.”
Orchid flowers are sometimes red. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
Phoenix refers to the mythical bird, but the name of that bird was based on the ancient Greek word phoinix, meaning “purple” or “crimson.”
Poinsettia bracts are usually red. “Poinsettia” is the common name of the plant species Euphorbia pulcherrima. The common name commemorates U.S. politician Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the U.S. (from Mexico) in the 1820s.
Poppy flowers are commonly red. The Old English word for “poppy” was popig.
Rubina is a Portuguese and Italian and feminine name meaning “ruby.”
Rufus derives from the Latin word rufus, meaning “red” or “red-haired.”
Rufino (masculine) and Rufina (feminine) are the modern Spanish forms of the Roman family name Rufinus, which was based on Rufus.
Russell comes from a surname that can be traced back to the Old French word rous, meaning “red.”
Shani is a Hebrew gender-neutral name meaning “scarlet, red.”
Strawberry fruits are red. Strawberry plants are part of the genus Fragaria.
Tulip flowers are often red. The name of the flower can be traced back to the Ottoman Turkish word tülbent, meaning “turban.”
Ulaan is a Mongolian gender-neutral name meaning “red.”
Vadelma is a Finnish feminine name meaning “raspberry.”
Vardan is an Albanian masculine name meaning “rose.”
Verbena flowers are sometimes red. The genus name Verbena is derived from the Latin word verbena, which referred to the leaves, twigs, and branches of specific plants (like laurel, olive, and myrtle) that were used during religious ceremonies.
“I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name,” continues Madonna, who was named after her mother. “How could I be anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this.”
[Madonna, born Madonna Ciccone, went by the nickname “Little Nonni” as a child.]
From Wired‘s 2016 “Google Autocomplete Interview” with rapper Ice Cube [vid] (born O’Shea Jackson):
My brother, he’s about nine years older than me, so, he used to have all kind of women calling the house. I would try to get at them. He got mad at that, he said he was going to slam me in the freezer one day, turn me into an ice cube. So I was like, “You know what? That’s a badge of honor.” When I walked out the house that day, I told him, “Don’t call me O’Shea no more, you know, I found my nickname, it’s gonna be Cube, it’s gonna be Ice Cube.”
From a 2002 interview with musician Elton John on Larry King Live:
Well, I was making a record, and I had to choose a name, because they said, you know, you can’t make a record under the name of Reg Dwight, because it’s never going to — you know, it’s not attractive enough. And I agreed with that, and I couldn’t wait to change my name anyway, because I’m not too fond of the name of Reginald. It’s a very kind of ’50s English name.
So I picked Elton because there wasn’t — nobody seemed to have the name Elton. And I picked John to go with it. And it was — it was done on a bus going from London Heathrow back into the city. And it was done very quickly. So I said, oh, Elton John. That’s fine.
Named after acclaimed University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, brothers Bear and Bryant “Bo” Rinehart were born and raised in rural Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, where their pastor father ran a church camp.
From an MTV interview with Bruno Mars, birth name Peter Gene Hernandez:
MTV: Bruno Mars is a world away from your name, so where did that come from?
Bruno Mars: My father and my mother. There was a wrestler in their day called Bruno San Martino and he was a very heavy-set wrestler and I guess when I was a kid I was a real chubby, chunky kid. Everyone calls me Bruno; they don’t ever call me Peter, that was just my government name.
From the book All Music Guide to Hip-Hop (2003):
Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1975, with the unlikely name of Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (after D.C.-born Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor).
[Elgin Baylor, born in 1934, was named after the Elgin National Watch Company.]
From a 2015 interview with musician Zella Day at Huffington Post:
What’s the inside story behind your name?
ZD: Zella is from the 1840s. My parents got married in Jerome, Arizona. And when they were getting married, they were looking for baby names. And there was a book of the town’s history in Jerome, and they were scouting locations for the wedding. And they just walked into a museum and they were looking through this book. And one of the main coal miner’s wives was named Zella — 1842. There’s actually a song on the record called “Jerome.” That’s about the ghostly woman behind my name.
From a 2015 article about late Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla in the San Antonio Current:
Selena continues to have influence over other known and up-and-coming performers. Born in 1992 near Dallas, Disney bopper Selena Gomez, now a pop star of her own, was named after the queen of Tejano (during Selena’s 1991-1995 reign, her name skyrocketed from 780 to 91 in the rankings of most popular baby names in America).
From a blog post about electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire at Open Culture:
With her buttoned-up style, work with the UN, and name like a plucky character in a certain English wizard series, Delia Derbyshire may not seem a likely pioneer of experimental electronic music.
From an NPR interview with B. B. King, who explained why he started naming his guitars Lucille:
I used to play a place in Arkansas called Twist, Ark., and they used to have a little nightclub there that we played quite often. […] Well, it used to get quite cold in Twist, and they used to take something look like a big garbage pail and set it in the middle of the floor, half-fill it with kerosene. They would light that fuel, and that’s what we used for heat. And generally, the people would dance around it, you know, never disturb this container. But this particular night [in the winter of 1949], two guys started to fight and then one of them knocked the other one over on this container, and when they did, it spilled on the floor. Now it was already burning, so when it spilled, it looked like a river of fire, and everybody ran for the front door, including yours truly. But when I got on the outside, then I realized that I’d left my guitar inside. I went back for it. The building was a wooden building, and it was burning so fast when I got my guitar, it started to collapse around me. So I almost lost my life trying to save the guitar. But the next morning, we found that these two guys who was fighting was fighting about a lady. I never did meet the lady, but I learned that her name was Lucille. So I named my guitar Lucille and reminded me not to do a thing like that again.
(B. B. King was born Riley B. King in Mississippi in 1925. The “B. B.” in his stage name stands for “Blues Boy.”)
From a 2001 Guardian interview with singer Dido (born Florian Cloud De Bounevialle Armstrong):
To be called one thing and christened another is actually very confusing and annoying. It’s one of the most irritating things that my parents did to me. I’m still irritated by it. Florian is a German man’s name. That’s just mean. To give your child a whole lot of odd names. They were all so embarrassing.
From the 1975 obituary of jazz drummer Zutty Singleton in the New York Times:
Mr. Singleton, who was born in Bunkie, La., on May 14, 1898, was named Arthur James. He acquired the nickname Zutty (Zoot-ee), a Creole patois word, for “cute,” when he was an infant.
After a season of tanbark and tinsel, Harry caught on with a traveling repertoire company, playing juvenile roles, singing songs of his own composing, and abandoning the family name of Gumm for a more glamorous and professional moniker. He took his mother’s maiden name of Tilzer and added “Von” for a touch of class. This switch in nomenclature proved to be the keystone of a songwriting dynasty which was destined to make history in Tin Pan Alley with the turn of the century.
[The family’s surname was originally Gumbinsky. The phrase “tanbark and tinsel” refers to the circus; Harry was part of a traveling circus for a time as a teenager.]
From a 2009 OK! Magazine interview with pop star Taylor Dayne (born Leslie Wunderman):
Taylor Dayne had a major influence on pop culture when she hit the big time in 1987 with a string of hits that included Tell It To My Heart, Prove Your Love, I’ll Always Love You, Don’t Rush Me, With Every Beat of My Heart, Love Will Lead You Back and I’ll Be Your Shelter.
By 1993, the name Taylor hit its peak in popularity of baby names.
“You wonder where they generated from, right?” she yuks. “It was a very uncommon name in 1987, that’s for sure, but it’s a compliment.”
Perhaps she even inspired the name of country’s latest sensation, Taylor Swift, who was born in 1989. She laughs off the suggestion. “I would say that her mother was a fan.”
(The name Taylor had been rising steadily on the girls’ list throughout the ’80s, but Taylor Dayne helped kick the name into the top 10 in 1993. It stayed there for nearly a decade. According to records, some Taylors from this era did indeed get the middle name Dayne.)
Stereogum: Speaking of another powerful woman, Taylor Swift is probably the biggest pop star in the world right now, and she’s named after you! How do you feel about being connected to her in that way?
Taylor: It’s hugely flattering and was a delightful surprise when she told me that. We did a benefit together, I think it was focused on teenage pregnancy, before Taylor really took off. But she was playing guitar and singing her songs and I knew how remarkable she was. She told me that her mom and dad had been really, deeply into my music and I got a real kick out of the fact that she’d been named after me. Obviously it wasn’t her choice, it was her mom and dad, but nonetheless a great connection I think.
From a 2016 article in People about singer Ciara, who explained how she got her name:
My mom was trying to figure out my name when my dad bought her a fragrance called Ciara by Revlon. That’s where my name came from!
(Ciara pronounces her name see-AIR-ah. The name of the perfume, according to television commercials, was pronounced see-AHR-ah.)
From the book Jazz And Its Discontents (2004) by Francis Davis, a passage about jazz singer Abbey Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge) :
When the singer Abbey Lincoln gives her autograph, she appends the name Aminata Moseka. During her pilgrimage to Africa in 1975, the president of Guinea christened her “Aminata” in recognition of her inner strength and determination, and Zaire’s minister of education likened her to “Moseka,” the god of love in female form. “I love Aminata Moseka. I’ve added her to myself. But I can’t say that’s my one and only name,” says Lincoln […] “It’s more like a title — something to live up to. That’s why I recorded Stevie Wonder’s ‘Golden Lady.’ It gave me the opportunity to sing to a female god. But I’m still Abbey Lincoln — I still like to wear makeup and glittering dresses and look attractive for an audience. And in many ways, I’m still Anna Marie.”
I grew up in a world where I never thought I was gonna play the lead on Mr. Robot because I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me. I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury until I realized his name was Farrokh Bulsara. […] That was the motivation that allowed me to say, “Oh, I can do this.”
A quote about jazz musician Red Norvo from the book American Musicians II: Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz (1986) by Whitney Balliett:
Norvo isn’t my real name. I was born Kenneth Norville, in Beardstown, Illinois, in three thirty-one oh-eight. […] I got the name Norvo from Paul Ash, in vaudeville. He could never remember my name when he announced me. It would come out Norvin or Norvox or Norvick, and one night it was Norvo. Variety picked it up and it stuck, so I kept it.
(Red also had a strong opinion about the name of his instrument: “Please don’t call it a vibraphone. I play the vibraharp, a name coined by the Deagan Company, which invented the instrument in 1927 and still supplies me with mine.”)
From a 1995 Spin interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:
Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.
From a 2018 Insider write-up on rapper Post Malone (born Austin Richard Post):
“I was like 14, and I had started getting into producing and rapping and singing over my own stuff. And I needed a name, you know, for my s—- mixtape,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “So I ran [my real name] through a random rap name generator… now I’m stuck with it.”
…And, from the same Insider article, a paragraph about rapper Childish Gambino (born Donald Glover):
“We were all hanging out, chilling and drinking and then we were like, ‘Oh, Wu-Tang name generator, let’s put our name in,'” he revealed on The Tonight Show back in 2011. “And we’re putting them all in, and they’re all funny and stuff, and then mine came up and I was like, ‘you guys, it’s not funny anymore. This is something big.’ I just really liked it.”
From a 2012 Rolling Stone article about Monkees singer Davy Jones:
Davy became so famous that another David Jones – a struggling singer-songwriter at the Monkees’ peak – had to change his last name to Bowie.
From the book Strange Fascination (2012) by David Buckley, the story of how singer David Bowie (formerly David Jones) chose his stage name:
‘Bowie’, pronounced by the man himself and all his ‘die-hard’ fans to rhyme with ‘slowie’, as opposed to ‘wowie!’ as used by most ‘casual fans’ and chat-show presenters, was chosen for its connection with the Bowie knife. Jim Bowie (pronounced to rhyme with ‘phooey’) was a Texan adventurer who died at the Alamo in 1836, and carried a single-bladed hunting knife. Bowie’s description of why he chose the name is typically highly ambiguous. In the 70s, Bowie proclaimed that the knife signalled a desire to cut through lies to reveal hidden truths (a highly ironic comment, [given] Bowie’s capacity for deceit), while in a recent Radio 1 interview he said that he liked the connotations of a blade being sharpened from both sides, a signifier for all sorts of ambiguities. In fact, the Bowie knife has only one cutting edge, and is not double-bladed. This mistaken belief was held not just by Bowie, but by William Burroughs too. The choice of stage name nevertheless indicated a sense of being able to cut both ways, perfect for the pluralistic 60s. The name also derived, despite its association with Americana (a connection the English David was obviously happy about, his whole career musically being an English take on a largely American form), from a Scottish heritage, and Bowie quite liked that regional distinctiveness, too.
BBC: Hello Billie Eilish… Have I pronounced that right?
Billie: Yes! It’s eye-lish, like eyelash with a lish.
BBC: Your family name is O’Connell, though, so is that a stage name?
Billie: It is my middle name. So I’m Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell.
BBC: Pirate! That’s an amazing name.
Billie: Pretty weird, right? Pirate was going to be my middle name but then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad. Then Baird is my mother’s name.
From a 1991 article about musician Gurf Morlix in The Buffalo News:
It’s a name that makes you wonder. Run into Gurf Morlix in album credits for Peter Case or in a concert review of Warren Zevon, and you imagine one of two things. Either he’s a refugee from some republic trying to secede from the Soviet Union, or else he’s hopelessly addicted to science fiction novels.
In truth, he’s an emigrant from one of Buffalo’s ostensibly normal suburbs — Hamburg — and, if anything, he looks a bit English as he talks over a plate of pasta fazool in his favorite hometown restaurant.
“A friend of mine changed it for me,” he responds in answer to the name question. “It was kind of a stupid thing. I dreamed this name when I was 13 years old and I told my friend about it and he said, ‘Well, I’ll never call you anything else.’ And then everybody did.”
From a 1984 episode of the New Zealand TV show Radio with Pictures, hosted by Karyn Hay, an interview with singer Billy Idol [vid] (born William Broad):
Q: Why did you choose the name Billy Idol, especially in a time when [there’s] Johnny Rotten, Rat Scabies, you know?
A: Exactly, I mean that’s the point. That’s exactly the point. […] I thought, first of all, of course, of I-D-L-E, you know, idle. Cause this chemistry teacher when I was at school — I got 8 out of 100 for chemistry, I hated chemistry — so he wrote, “William is idle,” right? And I thought that was great to get 8 out of 10 [sic] for chemistry, cause I hated the hell out of it. So I thought that was respectable, so I thought it was worthwhile being called I-D-O-L, idol. Also, it’s good fun making fun of show business. I’m not into show business, I’m into rock ‘n’ roll.
From a 2019 New Yorker article about musician Beck:
He was born on July 8, 1970, as Bek David Campbell. He and his brother later took their mother’s maiden name, Hansen, and Beck added the “c” to his first name, with the hope that it might help people pronounce it properly. “I still got Brock, Breck, Beak,” he said. “I remember leaving a meeting with some record executives, and one said, ‘Very nice to meet you, Bic.'”
From a 2020 interview with Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson — who is the youngest of seven siblings — on the podcast In My Heart with Heather Thomson:
A lot of people don’t know that Beyoncé is my last name. It’s my maiden name. My name was Celestine Beyoncé, which, at that time, was not a cool thing, to have that weird name.
But, all of us have a different spelling. I think me and my brother, Skip, were the only two that had B-E-Y-O-N-C-E.
And, it’s interesting — and it shows you the times — because we asked my mother when I was grown, I was like, ‘Why is my brother’s name spelled B-E-Y-I-N-C-E?’
[M]y mom’s reply to me was like, ‘That’s what they put on your birth certificate.’
So I said, ‘Well, why didn’t you argue and make them correct it?’
She said, ‘I did one time, the first time, and I was told: ‘Be happy that you’re getting a birth certificate.” Because, at one time, Black people didn’t get birth certificates. They didn’t even have a birth certificate. Because it meant that you really didn’t exist, you know, you weren’t important. It was that subliminal message.
And so I understood that that must have been horrible for her, not to even be able to have her children’s names spelled correctly.
So it was an odd name, it was a weird name, and they were like, ‘How dare you have a French name.’ Like, ‘We’re gonna screw this up real good for you.’ And that’s what they did. So we all have different spellings.
From a 2014 interview with Skid Row bass player Rachel Bolan (born James Richard Southworth):
DC9 at Night: How did you get the name Rachel?
Bolan: It’s not my real first name. When I was first getting into bands, I wanted a cool stage name. I wanted to be like Alice Cooper. Eventually, when I was old enough, I legally changed my name to Rachel. It’s always raised a few eyebrows. It’s funny to hear people pronounce it when I give them a credit card or something. It’s funny to this day. They ask me if I gave them the wrong ID or if I gave them some chick’s credit card.
(According to Wikipedia, he created “Rachel” by combining the names of his brother Richard and his grandfather Manuel.)
Virginian rap crooner DRAM returned last night with the release of his new, three-song EP, That’s A Girl’s Name. Produced and co-written by Josh Abraham and Oligee, the EP’s title refers to DRAM’S real name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith, which means “that’s a girl’s name” is probably a phrase he heard quite a bit growing up.
(“DRAM” is an acronym for “does real-ass music.”)
From a 2004 interview with Bob Dylan, as recorded in the 2018 book Dylan on Dylan by Jeff Burger:
Bradley: So you didn’t see yourself as Robert Zimmerman?
Dylan: No, for some reason I never did.
Bradley: Even before you started performing?
Dylan: Nah, even then. Some people get born with the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens.
Bradley: Tell me how you decided on Bob Dylan?
Dylan: You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.
From an interview with Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, née Perfect, in The Guardian:
Hi, Christine. What was it like growing up with the surname Perfect?
It was difficult. Teachers would say: “I hope you live up to your name, Christine.” So, yes, it was tough. I used to joke that I was perfect until I married John.
From the book Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity (2009) by Leigh H. Edwards:
In [the autobiography] Cash, he explicitly addresses how he represents his identity differently in different contexts, noting how he uses different names for the different “Cashes” he played in different social settings, stating that he “operate[s] at various levels.” He stages a struggle between “Johnny Cash” the hell-rais[ing], hotel-trashing, pill-popping worldwide star and “John R. Cash,” a more subdued, adult persona.
From a 2014 Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”) with rapper Macklemore (born Benjamin Hammond Haggerty):
Mack-La-More is how it’s pronounced
Should have picked an easier name to say
From a 2021 interview with rapper Lil Nas X [vid] (born Montero Hill) on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:
Jimmy: So, where does Montero come from?
Lil Nas X: Ok, it’s slightly embarrassing, but not embarrassing. So my mom wanted the car, the Montero, you know? And she never got one…
Jimmy: What’s a Montero?
Lil Nas X: It’s a Mitsubishi. So, yeah, I’m named after a car.
From the 2022 obituary of singer (and early ’60s teen idol) Bobby Rydell in the New York Daily News:
He was so popular and tied to teen culture that Rydell High School in the stage and screen musical “Grease” was named for him.
“It was so nice to know that the high school was named after me,” he told the Allentown Morning Call in 2014. “And I said, ‘Why me?’ It could have been Anka High, Presley High, Everly High, Fabian High, Avalon High. And they came up with Rydell High, and, once again, total honor.”
Amongst the many topics discussed when Kendrick Lamar strolled through Arsenio Hall‘s reinvented television series, the Compton rapper revealed that he’s named after one of the members of the iconic Motown group, the Temptations. While gushing over old school music, K Dot unveiled that his mother named him after Eddie Kendricks, the group’s distinctive falsetto singer.
Our band’s namesake, Mr. Marshall Tucker, passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 99. Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name. In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with his name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades.
(The story behind Super Mario’s name, in Name quotes #111, also happens to involve a warehouse.)
From a 2009 NPR interview with jazz singer and pianist Blossom Dearie:
It is my real name, and everybody asks me that, but I don’t mind answering that question. […] I was born in the springtime, and my father gave me the name Blossom cause I was born in April and my bothers brought blossoms in the house.
From a 2016 Boston Magazine article about Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA, who was born in 1969 and named Robert Fitzgerald Diggs after the Kennedy brothers Robert and John Fitzgerald:
The Kennedy brothers really had a big effect on my mother. She loved what they stood for, that’s why she named her son after them. I think the ideas that they possessed and tried to put into our country, whether it’s the idea of man achieving the high glory of reaching the moon or the glory of trying to help spread civil liberties to the people, fulfill the promise of our Constitution. Those type of things, I think, are always admirable. My mother was really touched by that and she named me after them.
An accomplished tunesmith, he played around the Gulf Coast region, hosting his own radio program for a time in Beaumont before migrating to California in 1942. It was a wise move since Hunter — whose real name was Ivory Joe, incidentally (perhaps his folks were psychic!) — found plenty of work pounding out blues and ballads in wartime California.
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.
Image: Screenshot of the music video for “Like a Prayer.”
Even a mistake in a name can stick with you for a lifetime, as my late friend Ossie Davis discovered. Ossie, a great actor and director who died in 2005 at 87, was born in Georgia. When the nurse asked his parents for a name, his mother said, “R.C.” The nurse wrote “Ossie” on the birth certificate, he said.
With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.
From an article about baby names by a writer named Josanne:
In my case it can be mildly tiring because I am constantly having to explain that there is no “i” in Josanne, (simply because the most common spelling and pronunciation is Josianne) – one person had even asked me if I was sure I was spelling it right and asked me to check my own ID card. True story.
The cover art of the single “My Sharona” actually features Alperin posing in a revealing tank top and tight jeans. For some time, she was famous in her own right. […] “I remember going on tour, and seeing sometimes people dress up. And I’d say, ‘What are you dressed up as?’ And they would say, ‘Sharonas.’
Boh means little boy or son, Kamaji means old boiler man, Yubaba means bathhouse witch, and Zeniba means money witch. The heroine Chihiro means a thousand fathoms or searches, while her worker name, Sen, just means thousand.
Here’s a long list of unusual name combinations I’ve been collecting over the years. I found these names on censuses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).
First Name + Middle Name
Above Hope Demmell (female, married in 1619 in England)
Alma Mater Hughes (female, born in 1887 in Texas)
American Queen Ingrain (female, born circa 1894 in Alabama)
Americus Discoverer Le Ballister (male, born in 1838 in Maine)
Apple Pie Bell (male, born in 1886 in Georgia)
Apple Seed Powell (female, gave birth in 1954 in Texas)
Atom Nucleus Blackwell (male, born in 1983 in California)
Bacchus Naughty Orgill (male, had a baby in 1841 in Jamaica)
Big Money and Little Money Carter (brothers, born circa 1926 in Louisiana)
Birds Eye Conrad (male, born in 1871 in Indiana)
Biscuit Foot Cobbin (female, born circa 1939 in Texas)
Bitter Jam McClellan (female, born circa 1925 in Oklahoma)
Black Eye Wesley (female, born in 1892 in Georgia)
Burger King Austin (male, born circa 1856 in California)
Catfish Hunter Kay (male, born in 1997 in Texas)
Cloudy Day Canaan (male, born in 1885 in Pennsylvania)
Confederate American Kenner (female, born in 1863 in Utah)
Country Dream Patterson (female, born in 1987 in Texas)
Easter Daybreak Mullarkey (female, born in 1891 in Scotland)
Egyptian Pyramid Wade (male, born in 1993 in Texas)
Electric Music Sparks (male, born circa 1896 in West Virginia)
Emancipator Lincoln Quinn (male, born in 1889 in Mississippi)
Equal Rights Gotcher (male, born circa 1865 in Arkansas)
Evening Star Babcock (female, born in 1979 in California)
Gold and Silver Gadbury (female, gave birth in 1909 in Texas)
Gold Dollar Davis (female, born in 1893 in Virginia)
Gold Dust Fauntlery (female, born circa 1903 in Arkansas)
Holly Berry Pharo (female, born in 1880 in England)
Hush Vocal Bryant (female, born circa 1914 in Oklahoma)
Ice Cream Goldsmith (female, born circa 1871 in Alabama)
Ice Snow Franklin (female, born in 1899 in Georgia)
Jelly Bean Carlton (female, born in 1931 in Texas)
Joy In Sorrow Godman (female, married in 1614 in England)
Lemon Lime Clay (male, divorced in 1992 in Florida)
Lucky Boy Turipa (born in 1948 in New Mexico)
Magic Brilliance Carter (born in 1987 in North Carolina)
Magic Enchantress Creamer (born in 1974 in California)
Mint Julip Wilson (male, born circa 1921 in Illinois)
Northern Pacific White (male, born in Minnesota in 1872)
Nucleus Demon Johnson (male, born in 1987 in Texas)
Obey The Lord Jenkins (female, born circa 1904 Georgia – sister of Prase)
Ocean Wave Hamilton (male, born in 1888 in Texas)
Orange Lemon Thomas (male, born in 1859 in Ohio)
Panama Canal Caldwell (female, born in 1912 in North Carolina)
Pearl Shell Adams (female, born circa 1901 in Tennessee)
Penny Nickel Sutherland (female, married in 1987 in Florida)
Praise The Lord Jenkins (female, born circa 1903 in Georgia – sister of Obey)
Quiet Glow Kellough (male, born in 1881 in Ohio)
Rasp Berry Nelson (male, had a baby in 1954 in North Carolina)
Red Apple Thomas (female, born circa 1885 in Iowa)
Remember Death Comper (male, born in the late 1500s in England)
Rocky Mountain Kennedy (male, born in 1884 in Arizona)
Rose Of The Sea McKay (female, born in 1884 at sea aboard the Duke of Westminster steamship)
Salary Grab Hamrick (male, born in 1880 in Illinois – a reference to the Salary Grab Act apparently)
Sanspariel Audacious Thomas Philpott (male, born in 1892 in England)
South Pole Mitchell (male, born circa 1908 in Georgia)
Star Spangled Banner Osborne (male, born circa 1860 in Illinois)
Sterling Silver Slayden (male, born in 1966 in Texas)
Summer Solstice Walker (female, born in 2001 in Minnesota)
Superior Inches Brown (male, born circa 1858 in Wisconsin)
Treasure Trove Kittenger (female, born circa 1895 in West Virginia)
United States America Cook (female, born in 1896 in Ohio)
Vernal Equinox Richardson (female, born in 1898 in Texas)
Vocal Refrain Rose (female, married in 1951 in West Virginia)
Which of these name combinations is your favorite?
P.S. I did my best tracking down birth years and birthplaces, but in some cases I had to assume that the state where the Social Security Number was issued was also the birth-state, even though this isn’t always the case.