Baby Name of the Day: Lotus


Indian lotus മലയാളം: ചള്ളിയാന്‍ എടുത്തത്. രാത്...

India lotus; image via Wikipedia

There are sweet flower names and showy ones, traditional choices and new discoveries.  File this botanical possibility under the latter two categories.

Thanks to Queen of Shibas for suggesting Lotus as our Baby Name of the Day.

Unlike Lily or Rose, Lotus has never cracked the US Top 1000.  But like Azalea or Zinnia, it is possible to argue that she could.  The blooms are lovely, rich with meaning, and like nearly any flower, seems a reasonable a choice for a daughter.

Lotus also boasts considerable cross-cultural appeal.  It’s the national flower of Vietnam and India.  Eastern gods are often pictured seated or standing on a lotus, and the flower symbolizes purity, as well as beauty and elegance, the perfection of the natural world, and spiritual growth.

All lotuses are aquatic plants, but they’re far from identical.  There are American varieties, known to grow in swamps.  Different colors and shapes occur in different places, too.

And then there’s the lotus tree and its intoxicating fruit, the one Homer described in The Odyssey.  Odysseus speaks of “a food that comes from a kind of flower.”  There are plenty of candidates, and some of them aren’t lotuses at all.  Lotus-eaters has become a term for the laid back, almost lazy, those who are content to subsist on what’s readily available rather than setting off on odysseys.  To be called a lotus-eater is to be called a pleasure-seeker:  not exactly a put-down, but neither is it praise.

If there’s uncertainty about exactly which fruit caught the fancy of Odysseus’ crew, it is particularly because several flowers were called lotos in Greek, and the word’s origins are uncertain.

There’s a literary tie for Lotus, courtesy of Pearl S. Buck.  Buck penned The Good Earth, a tale of pre-World War II Chinese family over the years of hardship and eventual success.  Lotus is the concubine who joins the successful household later in the story.  Buck nabbed a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, and later won a Nobel.  The Good Earth was a bestseller in the 1930s, and again just a few years ago, when Oprah chose it for her book club.

All of this lends Lotus some familiarity as a given name, but Lotus isn’t exactly the kind of character you name a child after.

Still, Lotus was in sparing use before the novel was published.  Plenty of women wore the name as early as the nineteenth century, though Lotus has never reached the US Top 1000.

I’m not confident you would name your child Lotus if you were a practitioner of an Eastern religion.  Instead, I think you might use Padma – the Sanskrit word for the flower.

As exotic blooms go, Lotus is wearable in the US.  Yes, there’s the car, but that hasn’t hurt Bentley or Royce.  In Europe, though, Lotus is a popular brand of toilet tissue – so that’s probably a non-starter.

But back to the US.  Nicknames for your little Lotus include Lola or Lou, or maybe even Lulu, though it is a stretch.  If you’re set on floral appellation, preferably exotic, meaningful and international in spirit, Lotus is one to consider.

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19 Comments

My Chinese wife and I named our daughter Lotus, that is, this is what we call her. Her official name is ‘雨荷’ which would be ‘Rain Lotus’ or ‘Lotus in the Rain’. I am from the Netherlands, which in Chinese is 荷兰, the first character of which is… Lotus. Besides, it does rain frequently in the Netherlands. We couldn’t have thought of a better name for a daughter with our kind of cross-cultural background. And so far everybody loves the name.

I have a beautiful daughter named Lotus. We went through many many names, and finally found this one that suits our little girl most. Very satisfied.

I have three children. All L’s, my youngest Lotus Vivian.I love her name and her personality matches her unique name;)

I have always liked Lotus especially with the nickname Lottie. Don’t know if I would actually use it, but it would make a cool middle name.

Lotus is also the name of Belgian bakery that makes the Biscoff (Speculoos) cookies. It’s not as well known as Nabisco or Oreo, but their Biscoff Spread is a new darling of food bloggers.

I worked woman named Lotus. She was a head-in-the-clouds, hippie type and Lotus really suited her personality. There are so many floral names I like more, but I could really see Lotus used to honor a Dolores or a Lourdes.

All I can think about is the software, Lotus Notes. Bleah. And for some reason, I picture someone stern, strict, and unimaginative when I think of this as a woman’s name. (As if Mom wanted a floral name, and dad was a strict displicanarian and wouldn’t agree to any of the “pretty” flower names, and so they compromised at Lotus.)

I can see the possible appeal of Lotus, but I just can’t get behind it. While I love more unusual floral names such as Marigold, Lavender, Lilac, Tulip, Primrose, and Daffodil, Lotus just seems a bit too much. I have similar feelings for Magnolia.

Thank you for featuring Lotus today. A good friend of mine named her daughter Lotus Raine in 2010. I love the beautiful associations you described!

I have a hard time seperating this name from a fellow member of the birthboard I followed prior to Roseanna’s birth. The member in question, a first time mum, decided to have an unattended home birth. She was obviously both very brave and very strong, because she ended up pushing for six hours at home before rushing to the hospital to discover that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Thankfully the story has a happy ending, and the mother in question chose to name her baby Lotus.

It’s pretty, but I prefer the Sanskrit Kamala personally.

Lotus is a chic choice, but I can’t shake the similarity to ‘locust’. I’d love for you to do Iris — one of my all-time favorites!

i love lotus as a middle name, but my husband won’t let me use it. too hippy, he says. it certainly has associations of this in the uk… i know of one couple who used it after their daughter had what’s known as a “lotus birth” – not cutting the cord at all. regardless, i think lotus is beautiful.