One of the most common questions parents get asked before their baby is born is, “Do you have any names picked out?” Some moms and dads know exactly what their son or daughter will be called from the moment they find out they’re expecting. For other couples, it takes some time and consideration, and maybe an extra special meaning to sway them towards a name.
If you’re looking for baby names that mean wise, smart, intelligent, or something similar, it’s probably important to you that your little boy or girl knows their thoughts are important. Maybe you want them to feel like they can conquer anything with some critical thinking and a little bit of research, or maybe you just already know you’ll learn so much from this little person who’s about to enter your life.
Whatever is drawing you to names with meanings like wisdom or intelligence, you’ll love these options that come from all around the world, throughout history, and even mythology. Some of them are traditionally reserved for boys or girls, and others would make the perfect unisex choice. All of them will remind your little scholar that their brain power will help them go far in life.
For many, the name Sage instantly brings to mind the herb of the same name. But throughout history and philosophy, a sage was someone who was known for being “profoundly wise,” and who could be turned to for advice based on their extensive knowledge and experience. That’s where the term “sage advice” originates, in fact.
So, naming your little one Sage is a great option if you want a nod to centuries’ worth of wisdom and philosophy. Or, you know, if you also happen to want a name that’s one syllable or starts with the letter S.
Cato is considered a gender-neutral name with roots in Latin, and it means “wise” or “good judgment.” It’s also the name of some prominent figures in Roman history. Cato the Elder was a senator in Rome who was the first historian to write down the city’s history in Latin. His great-grandson, Cato the Younger, was a senator, orator, and philosopher. He also had major beef with Julius Caesar and stood against him for being corrupt, so according to Brittanica.com, he’s still seen as a virtuous figure today. All in all, Cato is a great choice for your tiny ruler.
Alden is an English name that means “old, wise friend.” And hey, what more could you really want from your new baby than to become your old, wise friend over time? This name wraps up the virtues of being kind and smart all into one.
Alden is similar in sound to the super popular names Aiden and Holden, but hasn’t been used nearly as much. So, if you’re looking for the “smart” alternative to those two popularity powerhouses, Alden gives you a similar sound while still being unique (because no kid likes having the same name as three other students in their class).
The name Ethan means strong or firm, so astute readers may wonder why it makes the list at all. Well, the Old Testament has quite a few Ethans in its pages, and one of them, Ethan the Ezrahite, was known for his wisdom. So, if you want something in the wisdom category that isn’t so literal, you may really like Ethan (or one of its variations, like Eitan).
A Russian name that translates to mean “wisdom,” Sonya definitely tops the list of fitting (and beautiful) baby names. It has an old-fashioned, grown-up feel to it that may not be for everyone, but it would make a stunning name on a smart little girl. Plus, it’s not on any U.S. popularity lists these days, so your wee scholar would stand out in her classroom.
OK, this name is absolutely dripping in cool and simultaneously isn’t overused one bit. Hugo means “mind” or “intellect,” so while it doesn’t literally translate to “wise” or “wisdom,” it’s got a similar sentiment behind it. It’s pretty popular in the U.K., Spain, and France, so your little one will have a special European flair about them from the start with this name.
Looking for a boy’s or girl’s name with a virtuous meaning? Quinn has been steadily climbing in popularity for a few decades now, and for good reason. It has Gaelic origins and means “wise” or “head,” referring more to thoughts and intelligence than your baby’s actual noggin.
Farzan is a name with Persian and Iranian origins that means “wise,” and is most popular in countries outside the U.S. It’s usually reserved for boys as well, but a name this strong and with such a special meaning would make a wonderful name for any child.
If you’re thinking of baby names that have to do with wisdom, the Greek goddess of wisdom has probably come to mind. Athena is known in Greek mythology for being stern, majestic, and totally dominant in both her smarts and skills in battle, weaving, and more. She is also seen being the goddess of reason and practicality, so hopefully any child with this name will be a little more reasonable during their toddler years. Her pet owl, Nike, is probably a big part of why owls are associated with wisdom today. If the name Athena doesn’t appeal to you, try one of the other monikers associated with her: Minerva, Pallas, or Athene.
Kendry is a Malagasy name, meaning it’s from the region of and language native to Madagascar. So, yeah, if you want something totally one-of-a-kind that’s still easy to pronounce and spell, Kendry is a slam dunk. It means “a wise man,” so some parents may feel it’s best reserved for boys, but the look and sound of it give it a solid unisex quality.
Conrad has German roots and translates roughly to “brave counsel,” and it’s true — someone with the name Conrad does sound like the perfect person to run to when you need advice. This name peaked in popularity in the 1920s and ‘30s, so giving it to your baby today not only bestows upon them a little dash of wisdom, but a bit of old-school flair, too.
Jada is a Hebrew name that means wise, and is traditionally a gender-neutral choice given to boys and girls alike. In the Old Testament the name belongs to a man, but it has become popular as a girl’s name in no small part thanks to Jada Pinkett Smith. This one has lots of spellings if you’re looking for something a little different, like Jayda or Jaida.
Rhetta is the feminine version of the name Rhett, which music fans may recognize from the likes of Thomas Rhett and his father, Rhett Akins. Rhetta is the Latin word for speaker, and shares the same root word as “rhetoric.” That means your little one will probably have some very smart things to say when they’re ready.
Outdoorsy couples might gravitate to this option because of the mountain range by the same name, and parents looking for wise name choices will like it too. Rainier means “wise army” and originated in Germany. It’s a derivative of the much older name Ragnar, and has some variations like Raynor if you’re in the market for something with fewer syllables.
The name Veda originates from Sanskrit, meaning “knowledge,” and the Vedas are also the name for the religious texts of Hinduism. That means this baby name option has both a fitting dictionary definition and philosophical ties for parents who want to impart some wisdom to their newborn from Day 1. There’s also an alternate spelling: Veta.
Prudence is a classic “virtue name,” a la Faith, Hope, or Charity. And technically, it actually means “caution” or “discretion,” but a case could be made that wisdom and discretion often go hand in hand. (If you’ve ever used a dating app, you hold this truth to be self-evident.) Prudence is a lovely old-fashioned name poised for a major comeback, and it doesn’t hurt that Prue is quite possibly the cutest nickname ever.
Gorgeous much? Ismene is a Greek name meaning “knowledgeable,” so if you’re hoping to raise a little bookworm, this one’s for you. It doesn’t hurt that Ismene is also the name of Oedipus and Jocasta’s daughter in Greek mythology, so you’ll have some literary ties there, too.
Rae isn’t just a
Star Wars-adjacent name; it’s one with origins in both Hebrew and Germanic language. And the Germanic meaning? “Advisor and protector,” which, if you hope to have multiple kids, sounds like an amazing name for a big sister. The masculine versions include Ray, Raymond, and Raimund, so if the sound and special meaning speak to you and you’re having a boy, the name still works. It’s currently the 1931st most popular name in the U.S., so it’s still a unique (yet recognizable and easy-to-say) choice.