Recommended Reading:

Name Nerds main

What name books do name nerds recommend? Here is a list of some good ones. Also... If you buy these from Amazon through this website, we get a commission! yay!!

General Name Books, Specialty Books, Names from other languages/cultures, a special section for Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic Names

General Name Books (English)





Pros: This book is awesome for name accuracy, AND it contains lots of newer, more modern names. It tells foreign translations of names as well as lists famous bearers of the name. The best name book around!

Cons: Written in the U.K., so popularity information does not reflect the USA, if that's where you're coming from. But seriously, who cares?

Pros: This book is about as good as it gets for name accuracy.

Cons: uses a very traditional naming pool, so many modern and foreign names are not included.

Pros: A good resource for surnames. Since many first names are derived from surnames these days, it's more useful than ever!

cons: can't think of any except that it's a bit expensive and only comes in hardcover as far as I know.

Pros: This is THE BOOK. This is the best book out there for accuracy.

Cons: wicked expensive. Also has sections for surnames & British place names-- this may not be your thing. It's huge and weighs a ton. Also, uses a very traditional naming pool, so many modern names are not included.

Pros: This book is pretty accurate, though it concentrates more on history and cultural significance than name origins.

Cons: Doesn't focus on etymology, if that's what you're looking for. Contains a lot of the author's own impartial commentary about names, but that could actually also be a pro!






Pros: There aren't a lot of weird, superfluous names in here. The etymologies tend to be fairly accurate. I think it's funny that it's called the "Virgin" Baby Name book.

Cons: the origins and meanings of names, though better than most books, are off occasionally.

Pros: Very good etymologies of names. 

Cons: very traditional naming pool, doesn't have many modern or foreign names

Pros: entertaining commentary on the pop culture status of names. A very fun read. Has many modern names.

Cons: etymology information TOTALLY SUCKS. Don't trust a word of it!

Pros: From the authors of Beyond Jennifer and Jason, the book that revolutionized baby name books, this is another fun cultural look at names.

Cons: it's written from the upper-middle to upper class urban point of view and may not apply to all.

Pros: tells the origins of the most common names in the USA. The author is a pop culture expert as well, so he tracks down the origins of many modern names.

cons: Not a ton of outlandish names, if that's what you're looking for




Pros: has a lot of modern names that other books don't have. Creates names and addresses African American names (most books don't even mention them).

Cons: Etymologies of names are REALLY BAD! Has many weird, outlandish spellings. 

Pros: This is the book that started the whole baby name books revolution.

Cons: it's written from the upper-middle to upper class urban point of view and may not apply to all. The authors probably have 50 more books out since this one was written-- I can't keep up!

Pros: Very interesting and informative book about how name fashions start and are carried on and die.

Cons: the style is a bit scholarly and dry. It's a text for the hardcore name nerd; it's not for browsing for names at all.

pros: As baby name books go, this one's pretty good.

cons: not always totally accurate, doesn't have a lot of modern names.

Pros: contains tons of names from all over the world. Includes meanings and pronunciations. Great for those looking for an unusual, but not made-up name!

Cons: Doesn't contain many standard names, if that's what you're looking for.

Names from Other Countries/Languages/Cultures:




Pros: A good resource for Armenian names. It's written in both Armenian and English. All names are written in both languages in both sections.

Cons: ?

Pros: This book is very user-friendly for people like me, who know nothing about Sanskrit names or Hinduism. It seems very thorough.

Cons: Can't think of any

 Pros: an awesome look at what names are popular in France, and for how long. Commentary about the names as well as meaning.

cons: it's completely in French, so you have to know French in order to read it!

Pros: it's very good source for the Hebrew and Yiddish names. It's interesting to look at the "translations" and equivalents as well.

Cons: The meanings in this book aren't always accurate for the non-Hebrew names (and some of the Hebrew ones as well)

Pros: seems fairly comprehensive and moderately accurate. In Spanish and English. Has saint day calendar as well

Cons: meanings are not completely accurate.

Pros: Has a lot of names, spelled in both English and Armenian. Has information about famous Armenians bearing the names.

Cons: No pronunciations.

Pros: Comprehensive, contains lots of facts about names & their history in Poland.

Cons: Doesn't have pronunciations, which isn't so good if you don't speak Polish!

Pros: An interesting and comprehensive dictionary of Hawaiian names as well as a history of naming practices in Hawaii. Also has a section on translating English names to Hawaiian-- better than any other I've seen! There's also a section on creating your own Hawaiian name out of Hawaiian elements. Well-researched and interesting!

Cons: As with most books of this type, the meanings of English names aren't always accurate, but I blame the lack of good resources rather than the author!

Pros: Has names from many different languages on the African continent. Provides some background information as well as a pronunciation guide.

Cons: wish it were longer! Doesn't seem to contain a lot of names from western Africa.

Pros: Has Spanish versions of lots of unusual names from around the world. Contains sections on "Nombres del Jet Set", and indigenous names (mostly from Mexico and Central America).

Cons: in Spanish (must read Spanish to understand it)!

Specialty Name Books:

Pros: This book contains both African names, the names of prominent African-Americans and names that are found mainly in African-American communities. Has a wide variety of names.

Cons: The etymologies aren't always terribly accurate.

Pros: This book is extra cool because it is composed of names of real African Americans submitted by questionnaires and forms filled out to the author. Also has short biographical sketches of famous African Americans bearing the names, where applicable.

Cons: Since it's about African-American names, you won't find super white names like Megan or Caitlin, if that's what you're looking for. (I think that's more of a pro- since this is a specialty book!)

Pros: Not technically a baby name book, this book lists all the characters mentioned in the bible, from the famous ones to ones mentioned in passing. Each name has at least a sentence describing his or her significance. Most importantly for name nerds, each entry has how to pronounce the name as well as a possible meaning.

Cons: etymologies of names tend not to be very comprehensive; I'd like to see better origins (i.e., some names are from Aramaic, Egyptian etc.), but still, pretty good !

This book is so awesome, about 3 different people have given it to me as a present over the years! Not your standard baby name book, this is more for entertainment -- it's a collection of strange names the author has collected throughout the world along with funny illustrations.

It even has A SEQUEL!

Pros: Hilarious! Gives the author's personal opinions on what's wrong with pretty much every single name out there.

Cons: For entertainment purposes only!

Pros: Gives lists of names of characters in sci-fi movies and tv shows as well as short descriptions of the characters with those names.

Cons: not completely comprehensive if you're nit-picky, doesn't contain etymology information, if that's what you're looking for.






Pros: a really interesting read-- details the rise of names and naming trends throughout England, Scotland, Wales & the USA.

Cons: name meanings/origins aren't always 100% accurate


Pros: Has lots of names from all over the world, not just "new age" names. It's more about names that are unusual, and/or have interesting meanings.

Cons: As in every book, not all of the information is accurate.

Pros: a really interesting read. Has articles about the origin of names, popularity, and lots of other things.

Cons: Not the book for you if you are solely looking to name a baby-- it's more for the Name Nerd.

Pros: Has a ton of baby names from celebrities of all types. Also has character names from movies and TV

Cons: Hasn't been updated, so anyone born since 1996 won't be in here!

Kind of funny, tongue-in-cheek look at redneck baby names. Not a dictionary per se, but short articles on different categories of names and the like. For entertainment purposes only, but a fun read!