Once dismissed as crazy celebrity baby names (remember Apple and Pilot?), word names for babies have gone mainstream. From rising River to why-not Wolfe, many of the best boy names in 2016 are borrowed from the dictionary. They’re stylish, meaningful and different, but still easy to say and spell, and celeb parents from Liv Tyler to Terrence Howard have embraced the trend. Here are 12 of the best recent starbaby word names that just might inspire a bold boy name choice for your own son.


1. River: Peaceful and powerful, River became a baby name possibility thanks to the late actor River Phoenix. Keri Russell chose it for her son back in 2007, sparking a rise in more boys with the name. Now that bold baby namers Jools and Jamie Oliver have called their fifth child River, we can call this a mainstream favorite. River ranks Number 244 for boys in the US. (Photo via Daily Mail)

2. Journey: Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green chose a chart-topper for eldest son Noah, but became bolder when naming their second son, Bodhi. Now, new addition Journey’s name strikes a note that is part spiritual, part adventurous. The name ranks Number 274 for girls in the US, but the Fox-Greens remind us that it works nicely for boys too.

3. Story: It’s been a good year for big families known for daring baby names! Soleil Moon Frye and Jason Goldberg added son Story to their family, which also includes daughters Poet and Jagger, and son Lyric. Story is rare, but not unknown; Jenna Elfman has a son Story Elias, and Minnie Driver is mom to Henry Story.

4. Forest: Surname spelling Forrest ranks in the US Top 1000, but Holly Madison opted for the straight-from-the-dictionary Forest for her new addition. Forest fits right in with other baby boy names from nature but feels almost traditional, considering that his big sister answers to the even bolder Rainbow. Forest is an outdoorsy, handsome choice.

5. Ocean: Jeff Goldblum became a first-time father last year and named his son Charlie Ocean. It’s an unusual choice — fewer than 150 boys and girls combined were given the name Ocean last year. But it sounds like popular Owen, and pairing it with the more traditional Charlie makes for a winning combination. While Ocean is unusual, it’s not without history — Oceanus Hopkins was born aboard the Mayflower.

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We've got teeth!!!!!!!

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6. Sailor: Liv Tyler is now mom to three: new daughter Lula, plus sons Milo and Sailor. Like Journey, Sailor is more common for girls but very wearable for boys. It’s part water name, like River and Ocean, but also part occupational name, like Hunter. With ends-in-r names like Archer and Wilder on the rise, Sailor fits right in.

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7. Rocket: Long dismissed as one of those wacky celebrity baby names, Pharrell Williams — dad to a Rocket — made the case to Oprah that Rocket signifies achievement. Since then, Lara Bingle and Sam Worthington have named their son Rocket, and Jamie and Jools Oliver chose it as a middle name for son River. 25 boys and 11 girls were given the name in the US last year, a new high.

8. Hero: Hero is a young woman in Greek myth, but Hiro is a Japanese masculine name. Hero is also the name of Terrence Howard and Mira Pak’s new son, a little brother for Qirin. The couple has said that they love names that their children can live up to. That’s definitely one reason word names, with all of their built-in meaning, work well for so many families.

9. Wolfe: Kimora Lee Simmons is mom to daughters Aoki and Ming, and sons Kenzo and Wolfe. While her older three children’s names reflect Kimora’s Japanese heritage, her newest addition has a name that’s just plain fierce. Spelled with or without the “e,” this name is part of our growing interest in names borrowed from the animal kingdom.

10. Cypress: Arboreal name Rowan ranks in the Top 250 for boys in the US, so how about more names inspired by trees? There’s no shortage of ideas, including Cypress, chosen by actor Jack Huston and Shannan Click for their son, Cypress Night, earlier this year. The evergreen tree shares sounds with stylish picks like Silas and Cyrus and fits right in with the Click-Hustons’ daughter’s name, Sage.

11. Indigo: Rider Strong is back on the small screen as Shawn Hunter on Girl Meets World. This time, he’s all grown up — in fact, he’s a stepdad to a teenager. In real life, Rider welcomed son Indigo in late 2014. Color names have become go-to choices for parents after something just a little bit different, including a number of boys with the middle name Blue.

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12. Saint: When it comes to word names, no one outdoes Kim and Kanye. After naming their daughter North West, their son’s name had to be equally spectacular. The couple chose Saint — a spiritual name, but also a lot to live up to! They weren’t the first, though — Selma Blair welcomed son Arthur Saint in 2011, and Saints can be found all the way back to the late 1800s.

What’s your favorite unusual celebrity baby name? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

This post was previously published on Nameberry by Abby Sandel.