BrioVisit Old Town Alexandria, and you’ll find a statue with this name in a courtyard.  But how would it wear on a real boy – or girl?

Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Brio as our Baby Name of the Day.

Brio is a noun, and an upbeat one.  The closest synonym is probably vitality.  That’s a great meaning, the kind of spirit that many of us would like for a child’s name.  It’s more daring than Felix or Asher, but not nearly as out there as Happy.

It’s even more interesting to look at the word’s origins.  In Italian, brio translates to life.  The musical term con brio means to play with vigor – or sometimes, more poetically, with fire.

There’s more than one possible origin for the word, but here’s my favorite – the Old Provençal briu – wild, possibly from a Gaulish word meaning strength.  There’s something rather romantic about a word borrowed from the language of Southern France.  Occitan was the language of twelfth century troubadours and one of the first traditions of vernacular literature in Europe.

Another possible origin?  The Latin ebrius – also the source of our word inebriated.  Best to go with the Gauls.

Brio has been much-used in the twentieth century and beyond, though not as a given name.  Instead:

  • A sculptor named Jimilu Mason created a bronze statue in Alexandria, first installed in 1983.  The statue is a dancer, captured mid-motion.
  • You might have this one in your toy box.  Swedish company Brio was founded in 1884, when a basket maker expanded his business to include wooden toys.  The trains have been around since the 1950s, and other kidgear, like strollers, is also part of the line.
  • Restaurants, software companies, a cell phone, a Honda hatchback, and many more organizations and objects have all embraced the name.

Brio has never been given to more than 5 girls or boys born in the US in any year.  But is it such a stretch?

  • For boys, there’s the Irish Brian, now in dad name territory, as well as successor names Bryson and Bryce.  The br sound is also heard in popular picks like Gabriel.
  • For girls, Brianna has been a huge hit for years, along with Gabrielle and Gabriela, and spin-off of both, Brielle.  Bree has seen some use, and I’ve heard Bria now and again.
  • Ends with ‘o’ names are huge, for boys and for girls.

All of this makes Brio a possibility for parents interested in a daring word name with a great meaning and an on-trend sound.  It might serve as a creative means to honor a Brian, or a more daring alternative to Bree.

It’s a good choice for a name that is truly different and distinctive, but still sounds and feels like a name.

Photo credit: Cliff1066 via Flickr

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.

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What do you think?


  1. Thanks for writing about my submission! This one is from my short-ish list…while I too have a fairly strong association with the toy trains, this one reads to me a bit like Arlo–short, sweet, and blessedly underused.

  2. We had those Brio train sets growing up, so to me it’s all brand-name, like naming a son Lego, though to be fair I think everyone associates Lego with Legos, whereas Brio has the benefit of obscurity as a toy in the US.

  3. I really love it! It appeals in the same way to me as other short girl-names ending in “o” so: Leto, Juno, Io, Hero, Cleo, Kató… Thanks for introducing me to Brio!

  4. I love this one. I’m not really sure if it skews more boy or girl really. I’m not sure how it would work in real life but wouldn’t it make a great hero name in a young adult novel?