50 Literature Baby Names

Learn the meaning and origins of popular literature baby names

Baby Names From Popular Literature - Photo Illustration by Michela Buttignol

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Michela Buttignol / Getty Images

There are tons of books out there about how to choose the right baby name, but you can also find inspiration from literature itself. So, booklovers, ponder your favorite novel, story, children's book character, literary canon, book club selection, or beach read for names that resonate for your baby. These options range from the highly traditional, like Elizabeth, William, and Henry, to more unique choices, like Fern, Hermione, and Sherlock.

Whether the name you pick is popular or rare, each gets wrapped in a story when you pick it based on a book that speaks to you. These bookish names might be that of an especially compelling character—or a silly, sweet, strong, adventurous, noble, or serious one. You might also choose the name of a beloved or inspiring author. Or you might just simply how it looks on the page. Read on for more inspiraton.

Popular Literature Baby Names

Literature abounds with interesting names that might be right for your baby. We get you started with the list below, but feel free to think of these names as the beginning point of your search. Any book you fancy can provide a wealth of options. Also, as you look through these baby names, note that many can be unisex names


  • Origin: French, German
  • Meaning: Noble
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ali, Adelaide
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Alice Walker, Alice of "Alice in Wonderland"
  • Peak Popularity: Alice has been surging in popularity, rising from 440 in 2001 to 76 in 2020 on the list of the top 1000 baby names.


  • OriginLatin
  • Meaning: Beloved
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ami, Amie
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Amy March of "Little Women," author Amy Tan
  • Peak Popularity: Amy is a popular name but has dropped from the rank of 105 in 2000 to 216 in 2020.

Fun Fact: Amy is sometimes used as a nickname for other names, such as Amanda, Amita, Amélie, and Amelia.


  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Favored, grace
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ann, Anna, Annie
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Anne Shirley of "Anne of Green Gables," author Anne Lamont, Anna Karenina of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"
  • Peak Popularity: Anne has grown less common, going from the 298th most popular name in 2000 to the 625th in 2020.


  • OriginSanskrit, Hindi
  • Meaning: Honorable
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Aria
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Arya Stark of "Game of Thrones"
  • Peak Popularity: Arya breached the top 1000 list in 2010, then zoomed all the way into the top 100, at spot 92, by 2019.

Fun Fact: "The Game of Thrones" books (and HBO TV adaptation) are unique baby name gold, with such offerings as Sansa, Daenerys, Tormund, Samwell, and Brienne.


  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Belonging to Attica (a region in Athens)
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Atticus Finch of "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • Peak Popularity: This name is picking up steam, rising from a rank of 934 in 2000 to 300 in 2020.


  • OriginOld English, French
  • Meaning: Free man
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Charlie, Chuck, Chazz, Carl, Karl
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Charles Dickens, Charlie Bucket of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
  • Peak Popularity: Charles is a very popular name that has been around 50 on the popularity chart for the past 20 years. In 2020, it was ranked 46.

Fun Fact: Charlie and its spelling variations, such as Charley, Charlee, and Charli, are also quite popular for boys and girls. Charlie, in particular, has had a steep increase going from 959 among girls in 2005 to 122 in 2020.


  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Petite, feminine, free
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Carlotta, Lottie
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Charlotte of "Charlotte's Web," author Charlotte Brontë
  • Peak Popularity: Charlotte is one of the most popular girl names out there, going from 289 in 2000 to 4 in 2020.


  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: God is my oath
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Liz, Liz, Eliza, Bethany, Elsbeth
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Elizabeth March of "Little Women," Elizabeth Bennett of "Pride and Prejudice"
  • Peak Popularity: This uber-popular name has stayed in the top 15 for the past 20 years, with the exception of 2020, when it was ranked 16.


  • Origin: Latin, English
  • Meaning: Persuasive, rival
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Emilia, Emil
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Emily Bronte, author Emily Dickinson
  • Peak Popularity: Emily has had a bit of a fall but is still hugely popular. It was in the top spot from 2000 to 2007. In 2020, it had fallen to 18.


  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Serious
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ernesto
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Ernest Hemingway
  • Peak Popularity: Ernest has fallen from 513 in 2000 to 969 in 2020.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Plant
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Fern Arable of "Charlotte's Web," author Fern Michaels (pen name of Mary Ruth Kuczkir)
  • Peak Popularity: Fern has not been in the top 1000 names list in the past 20 years.


  • OriginHebrew
  • Meaning: God is my strength
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Gabi, Gabby, Gabrielle
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Gabriel García Márquez 
  • Peak Popularity: Gabriel is a steadily popular name. It ranked 44 in 2000 and was 38 in 2020.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Harp player
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Harper Lee
  • Peak Popularity: Harper has experienced a big increase in use, jumping from 887 in 2004 to the number 10 spot in 2015. It was also at 10 in 2020.


  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Home protector, army commander
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Harold, Henry, Harriot, Harrison
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Harry Potter of "Harry Potter"
  • Peak Popularity: This name has seen a slow decline, going from 512 in 2000 to 720 in 2020.

Fun Fact: Harry is a medieval form of the name Henry.


  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Nobility
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Heidi of "Heidi"
  • Peak Popularity: Heidi has held relatively steady over the past two decades, going from 352 in 2000 to 381 in 2020.


  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: House ruler
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Henri, Henrietta
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Henry David Thoreau, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, novelist Henry James, Henry Huggin's of Beverly Cleary's "Henry Huggins" and "Ribsy"
  • Peak Popularity: Henry is a common name that's on the rise, going from 126 in 2000 all the way to 9 in 2020.


  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Soldier
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Herman Melville
  • Peak Popularity: Herman has not ranked in the top 1000 names in the 2000s.

Fun Fact: Herman was a very popular name in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.


  • OriginGreek
  • Meaning: Messenger of Hermes
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Minnie, Herminie, Mimi
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Hermione Granger of "Harry Potter"
  • Peak Popularity: Hermione is not in the top 1000 names.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Hollow valley
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Holden Caulfield of "Catcher in the Rye"
  • Peak Popularity: Holden is steadily increasing in popularity, going from 453 to 228 over the past twenty years.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Holly tree
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Holly Golightly of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," author Holly Bourne
  • Peak Popularity: While still in the top 500, Holly has plunged from 189 in 2000 to 481 in 2020.


  • Origin: American
  • Meaning: Sweet berry
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Huck
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Huckleberry Finn of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
  • Peak Popularity: Huckleberry is not in the top 1000 names.


  • Origin: English, Hebrew
  • Meaning: Supplanter, substitute, one who follows
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Jamison, Jameson, Jim, Jimmy
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author James Baldwin, James of "James and the Giant Peach," James Bond of the "James Bond" spy series
  • Peak Popularity: James is a very popular boy name. It ranked 18 in 2000 and reached 6 in 2020.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: God is gracious
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: John, Jan, Janet, Janice
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Jane Austen, Jane Eyre of "Jane Eyre"
  • Peak Popularity: Very popular in the early to mid 20th century, Jane has been in the top 500 names during the past 20 years. In 2000, it was 437 and in 2020, it was 265.


  • Origin: English, Hindi
  • Meaning: Blue crested bird, victory
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: James, John
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Jay Gatsby of "The Great Gatsby," author Jay McInerney
  • Peak Popularity: Jay has remained at around 350 over the past twenty years. In 2020, it ranked 382.

Fun Fact: The name Jay may also come from the Latin name Gaius, which means "happy."


  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: God is gracious
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Joe, Joanna, Joanne, Josie, Josephine, Joseph
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Jo March of "Little Women," author Joseph Conrad
  • Peak Popularity: In the 1930s, Jo was a popular girl's name that ranked around 100. In the past 20 years, it hasn't been in the top 1000. Joe, however, ranked 315 in 2000 and 733 in 2020.


  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Youthful, beautiful
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Julius, Jules, Julia, Juliet, Juliette
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Julie of "Miss Julie," Juliet Capulet of "Romeo and Juliet"
  • Peak Popularity: Julie has had a steady decrease in use, going from 190 in 2000 to 614 in 2020. However, variations on Julie, such as Juliette, are increasingly popular. In fact, Juliette ranked 180 in 2020.


  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Laurel
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Laurie, Laurence
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House on the Prairie," Theodore "Laurie" Laurence of "Little Women"
  • Peak Popularity: This name has been decreasing in use but is still popular. In 2000, it was 85 and by 2020, had fallen to 357.


  • Origin: Latin
  • Meaning: Lion
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Leonardo
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Leo Tolstoy
  • Peak Popularity: Leo is gaining traction. In 2000, it was 389, and by 2020, it was ranked 36.

Fun Fact: In German, Leo is short for Leon or Leopold, meaning lion-hearted or brave.


  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Acclaimed warrior
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Lewis, Louis, Louise
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Louisa May Alcott, author Lewis Carrol
  • Peak Popularity: In the past 20 years, Louisa did not reach the top 1000 until 2014, when it ranked 954. In 2020, it had risen to 725.


  • Origin: Latin, English, French
  • Meaning: Light
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Luci, Lucia, Lucius, Luce, Lucille
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Lucy Pevensie of "The Chronicles of Narnia"
  • Peak Popularity: Lucy is increasingly popular, rising from 323 in 2000 to 49 in 2020.


  • Origin: Greek, English, French
  • Meaning: Magnificent, from Magdala
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Madeleine, Magdalene
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Madeline Fogg of the "Madeline" children's books
  • Peak Popularity: This name has been in the top 100 for the past 20 years. In 2000, it was ranked 56 and was 95 in 2020.


  • Origin: English, German
  • Meaning: Mighty in battle
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Mattie, Mathilda, Mathilde, Hilde, Hilda, Tilda
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Matilda Wormwood of "Matilda"
  • Peak Popularity: Matilda is growing more common. It rose from 827 in 2008 to 478 in 2020.

Fun Fact: Scandinavian variations of Matilda (Mathilde, Mathilda, Hilda, and Hilde) are popular names in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.


  • Origin: Greek, English
  • Meaning: Pearl
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Megan, Margaret, Meghan
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Meg March of "Little Women," author Margaret Atwood
  • Peak Popularity: This name is not in the top 1000 in any year beginning in 2000. However, Megan was ranked 638 in 2020, down from 18 in 2000.

Fun Fact: Meg can be a nickname for Megumi, a Japanese name that means blessing or grace.


  • Origin: Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Who is like god
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Michael, Mike, Michele, Michelle
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Miguel de Cervantes
  • Peak Popularity: Miguel has seen a slight decline, dropping from 86 in 2000 to 188 in 2020.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Victory of the people
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Nicholas, Nicolas, Nico, Nikki, Nicky
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Nick Adams of Hemingway's "Our Time," writer Nick Hornby
  • Peak Popularity: Nick has been declining in use, going from 767 in 2000 to 999 in 2009, when it was last on the list of top 1000 names.

Fun Fact: Nicholas is derived from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.


  • Origin: Latin, Norse
  • Meaning: Olive tree, ancestor's descendant
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Olive, Ollie, Oly
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Oliver Twist of "Oliver Twist"
  • Peak Popularity: This name is increasingly popular, rising from 305 in 2000 all the way to the number 3 spot in 2020.


  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Fond of horses
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Phil, Phillip, Flip
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Philip Marlowe of "The Big Sleep"
  • Peak Popularity: Philip has fallen somewhat in popularity, going from 255 in 2000 to 451 in 2020. Phillip was ranked 518 in 2020.


  • Origin: Greek
  • Meaning: Lover of horses
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Philippa, Pippa
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Pippi Longstocking
  • Peak Popularity: Pippi is not ranked on the top 1000 list for years beginning in 2000.

Fun Fact: Pippi is a nickname for Philippa, which is a feminine version of Philip.


  • Origin: English, German, Norse
  • Meaning: Counsel (meaning advice or guidance) of wolves
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Radulf, Ralf, Rafe, Ralphy
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Ralph Ellison
  • Peak Popularity: Ralph has become far less common over the past two decades. In 2000, it was ranked 584. In 2018, it ranked 950—and since then, has not been in the top 1000.


  • Origin: Spanish, English
  • Meaning: Wise protector
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ramon, Raimonda, Raymond
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Ramona Quimby of "Ramona Quimby, Age 8"
  • Peak Popularity: Ramona is growing in popularity. It breached the top 1000 at 949 in 2016. In 2020, it was ranked 816.


  • Origin: German, English
  • Meaning: Wise protector
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Ray
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Raymond Chandler
  • Peak Popularity: Raymond has experienced a slight decline, moving from 162 in 2000 to 312 in 2020.


  • Origin: Norwegian
  • Meaning: Famous ruler, leader
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Roald Dahl
  • Peak Popularity: Roald does not rank in the top 1000 names.


  • OriginItalian
  • Meaning: From Rome
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Romeo Montague of "Romeo and Juliet"
  • Peak Popularity: This name is growing in popularity. In 2000, it ranked 606. By 2020, it was 377.

Fun Fact: Romeo is an Italian nickname for Barromeo and Romaeus.


  • Origin: French
  • Meaning: Explorer, to listen
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Scout Finch of "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • Peak Popularity: Scout is an unusual name but on an upswing. In 2018, it made it into the top 1000 at 964. In 2020, it was at 874.


  • Origin: English
  • Meaning: Closely cut (shear) hair
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Complete Sherlock Holmes"
  • Peak Popularity: Sherlock is a rare name that does not rank in the top 1000 names.


  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: Twin
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Tom
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Thomas Wolfe, Tom Sawyer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," Thomas the Tank Engine of "The Railway Series"
  • Peak Popularity: Thomas is a steadily popular name. It ranked 33 in 2000 and was 45 in 2020.

Fun Fact: Thomas is derived from the Hebrew word for twin, "ta'om."


  • Origin: Greek, Latin, French
  • Meaning: Flourishing, praiseworthy, priceless
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Tony
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author Toni Morrison
  • Peak Popularity: This name is becoming less common. It ranked 546 in 2000. Then, the name ranked 930 in 2007, its last recent year in the top 1000.


  • Origin: German
  • Meaning: Wild boar
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Wilbur of "Charlotte's Web"
  • Peak Popularity: Wilbur has not been in the top 1000 names in any year beginning with 2000.


  • Origin: German, English
  • Meaning: Resolute protector
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Wilhelm, Will, Willa, Wilhelmina, Wilma, Bill, Billy
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Author William Shakespeare, poet William Blake, author William Faulkner
  • Peak Popularity: William is a perennially popular choice for boys. It was ranked 11 in 2000 and was up to number 5 in 2020.


  • Origin: Yiddish, English
  • Meaning: Happy, strong woman, dark battle
  • Alternative Spellings & Variations: Griselda, Selig
  • Famous Literary Namesakes: Writer Zelda Fitzgerald, Princess Zelda of the "The Legend of Zelda" series based on Nintendo's game franchise
  • Peak Popularity: This name is gaining in popularity, having breached the top 1000 at 647 in 2015. In 2020, Zelda was ranked 559.
1 Source
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  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of name.

By Sarah Vanbuskirk
Sarah Vanbuskirk is a writer and editor with 20 years of experience covering parenting, health, wellness, lifestyle, and family-related topics. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Activity Connection, Glamour, PDX Parent, Self, TripSavvy, Marie Claire, and TimeOut NY.