Around the world in river names!

Posted on: July 13th, 2017\""by Ruth Fitzpatrick

Place names as given names are so in right now and we’re always on the lookout for a new name and some new inspiration. So fasten your seatbelts! We’re traveling around the world to find the best river names.

South America

Mira The Mira River in Ecuador and Colombia provides us with our first – and maybe best! – name. As a girl’s name, Mira is a multicultural superstar. It means ‘admirable’ in Latin, ‘peace’ from its Slavic roots, ‘female ruler’ from Arabic, and ‘ocean’ from Sanskrit. It first entered the US top 1000 in 2015, and last year was #546. We love it, and think it’s a really exotic and refreshing alternative to Mia.

Tomo Thomas is a perennial favorite among American parents, but using this Colombian river’s name as inspiration could be an interesting twist on the original.

Zulia This Venezuelan-Colombian river could be the new, jazzed up Julia.

North America

Mackenzie Mackenzie is such a popular name in its own right – last year it was #85 for girls – that people may not immediately connect it with Canada’s longest river. If you need something with a little more character and uniqueness, you can choose from some of Mackenzie’s tributaries: Keele, Bear or Red!

Fraser Fraseris a strong sounding boy’s name with a sweet, juicy meaning: ‘strawberry’. TV-fans will be reminded of Fraser, and winderness fans will enjoy its association to the British Columbian river.

Peace This Canadian river name would definitely send off some major hippy vibes. Paz or Pax – both meaning ‘peace’ – might be better, more understated choices.


Trent Trent has been falling out of popularity with American parents, but it’s a strong one-syllable name, meaning ‘the flooder’.

Shannon Ireland’s longest river has been used as a name here in the States for many years now. It means ‘old and wise’ and has been used almost exclusively as a girl’s name in its country of origin. For a male variant, consider Senan, who was a 6th century saint associated with the river.

Spree This English river name would make a fantastic, sprightly and 100% original name. Could join other active, outdoorsy names like Scout and Hunter.


Argun This Asian river which flows through Russia and China definitely has huge potential as a boy’s name. It would be completely unique, but it sounds established and sensible.

Jordan Still a very popular name in the States, Jordan means ‘flowing down’. The Middle Eastern river has immense religious, archaeological, historical and cultural significance, which makes it a profound and meaningful choice.

Padma This girl’s name means ‘lotus’ in Sanskrit and has religious and mythological significance within Hinduism. It is also a major river which flows through Bangladesh.


Tana The Tana River flows through Kenya, East Africa; it’s also a place-name in Ethiopia, the diminutive for a number of Slavic names, and means ‘fire/star goddess’ in Greek. These multiple meanings and influences make it a beautiful, multicultural choice for your baby girl.

Marico This South African river could be an interesting fresh take on Mark or Marco. It sounds musical and playful, but also friendly and forthright.

Nile This iconic Egyptian river makes a simple choice with profound meaning. As a name, it’s also related to the Irish Niall, meaning ‘champion’.


Lachlan This Australian river is a great boy’s name. It was a doubly aquatic meaning, coming from the Scottish Gaelic for ‘from the fjord-land’. Can be pronounced LOCK-lin or LACK-lin.

Cooper An occupation name which is also a river in Papua New Guinea, as well as a number of rivers across the USA. It’s been in the US top 100 for the past decade, so it’s certainly not an overly daring river-name-as-first-name choice.

Fly Like Spree, Fly would be a pretty audacious choice. It would be a powerful and meaningful name, but maybe best as a middle name.


Lawson A glacial meltwater river in Antarctica, and a persistent top 500 name in the US. It originally meant ‘son of Lawrence’, so it could be a nice choice if you wish to honor someone with that name.

Aiken Might look like an attempt to jazz up Aiden, but this surname has plenty of potential for use as a first name here in the states. It has Irish origins and means ‘keeper of horses’.

Jemmi Jemmi could be the cool new Jenny or a playful and fresh take on the stuffier Jemima. It’s also related to the Hebrew word for ‘dove’.

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Baby Names Baby Naming Ideas American Names River Names Baby Naming Inspiration
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