Bellamy: Baby Name of the DayBellamy recently debuted in the US girls’ Top 1000. Could it be the next Avery, Isabella … or is it a little bit of both?

Our Baby Name of the Day comes from this list, with thanks to Danielle for the original suggestion.

Belle + Amy

At first glance, this looks like a smoosh name, combining Belle and Amy.

Or it’s a twist on the long-time Top Ten favorite Isabella.

It could also be yet another three-syllable, ends-with-y name, a successor to Avery and Delaney.

Or maybe the name owes its rise in popularity to all three factors. The elements remind us of familiar feminine favorites, we’re wild for -bel names, and the general structure of the name reminds me of countless choices, from Kimberly to Kennedy.

Beautiful Friend

But back to Belle + Amy for a minute, because it turns out this name started out as a surname. A French one, derived from the elements bel – beautiful – and ami – friend.

So that’s all kinds of lovely.

Plenty of people have answered to the surname – and sometimes the surname as a first – over the years, including:

  • English pirate Black Sam Bellamy may have amassed the largest fortune of any pirate captain in just a short time in the early 1700s.
  • Ohio Congressman Bellamy Storer served back in the 1830s. He passed the name down to his son, who served as a diplomat in the 1890s.
  • It’s the surname of the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, who penned it for a youth magazine back in 1892. Adoption followed decades later, in 1942.
  • The aristocratic family at the center of 1970s British drama Upstairs, Downstairs. They were the Crawleys before Downton Abbey.
  • The 1976 country pop hit “Let Your Love Flow” was recorded by the Bellamy Brothers.

Novogratz and The 100

The twenty-first century gave us two notable figures with this name as a first.

We met the Novogratz design family – Robert, Cortney, and their seven kids – on Bravo in 2009. Their reality series, 9 By Design, lasted just a single season. But they remained in the public eye for their eclectic, trend-setting style. That extended to their kids’ names: sons Wolfgang, Breaker, Five, Holleder, and Major, plus daughters Tallulah and Bellamy.

In 2010, the year after the series aired, 48 girls were named Bellamy – nearly triple the prior year.

Actor Bellamy Young – born Amy – started her career around the same time, with roles in CSI: Miami and then the part of First Lady in Scandal.

Like any surname, it’s not fair to assume it’s only meant for the girls.

The 100 debuted on the CW in 2014. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the young survivors at the heart of the story include (male) Bellamy and his sister Octavia. It’s proved powerfully influential, helping Octavia into the Top 1000, boosting Lincoln, and even making Clarke unisex – at least occasionally.

Likewise, Bellamy gained in use for girls and boys, beginning in 2014. But the groundwork has been laid for parents to perceive this name as feminine. And so it started to appear on more shortlists, somewhere between Everly and Marlowe.

The Next Big Thing

It’s easy to imagine this name appealing to parents who love names as different as Annabelle and Sloane, Maren and Rowan. It offers so much: a powerful meaning, an appealing sound, the right mix of tailored, unisex sensibility and a sense that it’s just feminine enough.

Overall, if you’re after a modern name with deep roots, Bellamy is one that can satisfy.

What do you think of Bellamy? Do you like it better for a son or a daughter?

First published on September 20, 2011, this post was revised substantially and republished on July 31, 2019.

Bellamy: Baby Name of the Day

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. When I was growing up, my mum used to watch a show with a male character called PC Bellamy (known predominately by his last name), so I’ve always seen this name as masculine. But recently it’s grown on me as a sweet and spunky girl’s name. I really like how it can be shortened to Bella too: a different way to get the nickname if you’re not into Isabella.

  2. I always thought Bellamy was a boy’s name. I thought it was an English name (from the French but via the Normans). Is there any history of use for boys in the UK? I don’t think that American usage is a good guide to the history of this one (though I have no objections if it is used as a girl’s name in the US!). With these thoughts I put it in the Sasha camp – male in its place of origin and then female leaning in the USA.

    1. Well … it’s a surname. And it’s French in origin, but it wasn’t used as a surname in France, even though the translation is pretty literal for anyone who remembers French 101. You’re right that it evolved in England + Ireland from Norman French. There are lots of traditions that give family surnames to children as first or middles – it’s especially big in the American South.

      In England & Wales, a handful of boys have been named Bellamy, and virtually no girls. There’s also the male character on The 100 I mentioned. But I tend to agree with Elea at British Baby Names – sound makes it MUCH more likely this one will be perceived as feminine. And that’s reflected in the rise in use in the US for girls. That said, it’s rising rapidly for boys, too, so it’s possible Bellamy will be more of a Riley or a Peyton than an Avery or a Harper.

      My take on names + gender is that usage matters more than origins. Origins are complex. But it’s tough to argue that, say, Madison or Mackenzie aren’t girls’ names after decades of many girls receiving the names. I think Bellamy is great for a boy, but my guess is that it’s likely to be more popular for girls. (Only a guess, though …)

  3. “Bellamy doesn’t have much of a history for a given name of either gender”
    Actually yes it totally does. It’s originally a male name, french, and means “handsome friend”

    1. I’m not so sure about that. It’s not listed in Meilleurs Prenom’s (exhaustive) database of given names in France, and it doesn’t seem to register in Quebec, either. (Though I’m only look at recent history in Quebec, not as much data as at Meilleurs Prenoms.) In the US, it has only been used for girls, at least in sufficient numbers to register in the US Social Security Administration’s database. Looking at the 1940 US Census – which includes people born elsewhere – there were about two dozen men listed with the name – though that was a quick glance, not an exhaustive search, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more. So … it’s definitely a surname, with plenty of examples over the centuries. But a first name? I don’t see it.

  4. I think the “violent vibe” suggested may be because Bellamy rhymes with felony! Hah! I suppose I like the name, after all I have been laden with it for over 22 year now. I should be getting used to it by now!
    What’s have been getting used to is the mistake of confusing Bellamy as a last name, and again with Melanie and Belany. At least I’m not Belaire.

  5. I keep thinking of bellicose for some reason. And Bedlam. Basically the name somehow reminds me of manic, violent things.

    1. I’m not the only one who gets a violent vibe from the name! I couldn’t put my finger on it til just now. Must be the similarity to Bedlam. I agree that this one should rise dramatically over the coming years–it just needs a little more exposure. Maybe it will bring in a new generation of Amys? I love the name (sorry Abby!).

      1. Oh, Amy is a great name! Though I still know rafts of women my age named Amy, so I’m perfectly happy to have a less common name share my name with a bunch of toddlers instead. 🙂

  6. I know an Amy who goes (professionally and personally) by Bellamy — it’s not my style but a very nice meaning and sound. Fits right in with other Bell- names, but stands out because it’s so unusual.