When you’re brainstorming baby names, anything goes. For ideas, you might look to a favorite TV show (Arya, anyone?) or beloved musician (Bowie, Lennon and Hendrix all come to mind). But we like to think that you can find all the inspiration you need right here in Los Angeles. From the city’s iconic landmarks to its natural wonders and most significant residents, here are 21 unique, LA-inspired baby names and their meanings.
There's something lovely and otherworldly about this name, which makes sense. Not only is Arcadia known for its natural beauty—it's home to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens—in Greek mythology, Arcadia refers to an earthly wilderness paradise where the god Pan lived, making the name fit for a little goddess.
For Bronson Caves in Griffith Park, the site of Batman's Bat Cave in the 1960's TV series. Because what kid wouldn't be psyched about the superhero connection? Of course, you wouldn't be the first Angeleno to borrow the name Bronson. Actor Charles Buchinsky became Charles Bronson, allegedly taking the name from Bronson St. which leads to both Bronson Caves in one direction and Paramount Studios in the other.
The iconic WeHo restaurant may have closed in '95 (it's now a Bristol Farms—wah-wah), but the name Chasen continues to evoke the glamour of a bygone era. Frank Sinatra had his own booth at Chasen's, and Ronald Reagan took Nancy there for the couple's first date. As a name, Chasen offers an alternative to more predictable monikers like Graysan and Mason.
If you're into LA architecture, you might know that this name takes its inspiration from the Ennis House, the Los Feliz mansion Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Charles and Mabel Ennis in 1923. After a complete restoration, the sprawling Mayan revival home was listed for a cool $23 million in 2018—which, coincidentally, is the same year this actress named her son Ennis. So you'd be in good company.
For Fern Dell (sometimes called Ferndell), the meandering kid-friendly trail that takes you into LA's oasis within the city, Griffith Park. And wouldn't Dell make a cute middle name too?
For the San Gabriel mountains, which form the northern border of Los Angeles County. (You probably know Mt. Baldy, the range's highest peak, which offers skiing and snowboarding a hour's drive from LA.) With Gabriel's biblical connotations and the mountain-connection, the name feels strong and majestic without being pretentious.
We like this cool, laid-back moniker (along with the nickname Griff), a nod to Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory. The landmarks are named for mining mogul Griffith J. Griffith, who donated 3,000+ acres of land for the park, and bequeathed the rest of his fortune to the city for the building of the observatory and Greek Theater. Just note that while generous, Griffith was no saint—he served time in San Quentin for shooting his wife. (You can read the details of his crime here.) So maybe focus on your little one being named after the popular landmarks and not the man who is their eponym.
Cinephile parents-to-be looking for a name that's not too obvious (ahem, Orson) should consider Huston, for John Huston, legendary Hollywood actor, screenwriter and filmmaker, and also father of Anjelica Huston (pictured). The 15-time Oscar nominee (and two-time winner) appeared in Chinatown and directed hits from The Maltese Falcon to Prizzi's Honor. Though he lived in Rhode Island during his final years, Huston went to high school in Echo Park and was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (aka the cemetery of the stars—which is so LA).
During much of the '80s, '90s and '00s, the Robertson Blvd. restaurant was the place to see and be seen in LA. While it may have piqued as a celeb haunt, The Ivy's continues to be a go-to spot for locals (and tourists hoping they might just see a star). For all its chichi-ness, the restaurant still manages to be warm, cheerful and welcoming, kind of like the name Ivy itself.
For writer Joan Didion, who lived in LA for more than 20 years and understands the power of place, and LA's particular allure. "A good part of any day in Los Angeles is spent driving, alone, through streets devoid of meaning to the driver, which is one reason the place exhilarates some people, and floods others with an amorphous unease. There is about these hours spent in transit a seductive unconnectedness," she wrote. In a city often criticized for being shallow and devoid of history, the name Joan, deceptively simple, is a reminder of its depth.
If you bleed purple and gold, consider this homage to the Lakers, LA's home team since 1960 (after it relocated from Minnesota, aka “Land of 10,000 Lakes," hence the name). Over the years, the basketball squad has racked up 16 NBA championships, second only to the Celtics. We like the unisex name, which sounds strong, modern and just the right amount of bohemian.
Lala (or La-la)
According to some baby name sites, Lala is a Hawaiian name meaning cheerful. But in 2011, Oxford English Dictionary (OED) entered La-La Land into its hallowed pages. The OED gave the term two meanings: "Los Angeles or Hollywood, especially with regard to the film and television industry," or "a fanciful state or dreamworld." The 2016 Oscar-winning film cemented the link between La La (or La-La, or Lala) and Los Angeles, and also the "dreamworld" it evokes. As a baby name, La-la seems to bring together all of its meanings: cheerful, fanciful and totally LA.
Laurel Canyon isn't just the name of a street or a shortcut for getting in and out of the Valley; it embodies an era during the late '60s and '70s when the winding strip above Sunset Blvd. was home to rockers like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and The Eagles. The name captures the free-spirited, peace-and-love vibe of the era without being too "out there."
For writer Raymond Chandler's fictional private eye Philip Marlowe (famously played by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep). The LA that Marlowe inhabited was sultry and smoky, the ultimate film noir setting. The name Marlowe, which would work for a boy or girl, nods to old Hollywood without being too on the nose.
He's Hollywood's favorite leading man—how could you go wrong? Plus, even with old-fashioned names being all the rage, Oscar remains under the radar—in 2018, it ranked 206th in popularity.
Because the only thing more closely associated with LA than Hollywood (and celebrity culture) is probably the beach. Of course, if you're all about coming up with a name that's original, just be warned that Ocean has seen an uptick in trendiness: For 2018, its popularity (for boys) jumped by 31 percent. Might we suggest Pacific instead?
Any nightclub that has survived more than five decades on the Sunset Strip has to be considered a classic. That's the case for The Roxy, which opened in 1973, and has featured performers ranging from Frank Zappa to Prince to Alabama Shakes. As a name, Roxy represents not just rock 'n' roll but perseverance and, well, moxie.
For Runyon Canyon, a quintessential LA hike in the middle of Hollywood. Sure, it's crowded and touristy and a bit been-there-done-that if you're a local. But on a clear day, the views from downtown to the Pacific are unforgettable—kinda like the name itself.
The name is long for Sandy, as in Koufax, the legendary Dodgers pitcher who struck out 18 Cubs in 1962, and became the youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame. (And also memorably sat out a World Series game to observe Yom Kippur.) Sure, he's originally from NY, but isn't that true of so many Angelenos? If the name Sanford doesn't hit you right, we're also throwing out Koufax as an option.
NYC has Brooklyn; Austin has, well, Austin. So we'll take Venice, a name that connotes a cool, laid-back beach-y vibe.
Because Kobe already piqued in popularity in the early 2000s, as did Kareem before that in the late '70s. So we looked into the annals of Lakers history to bring back Wilton, or Wilt, for Lakers MVP Wilt Chamberlain, who led the team to its first NBA championship in 1972.
featured image: Pixabay