Crested Lark Galerida cristataEditor’s note: This post was originally published on November 30. 2009.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on August 12, 2013.

There’s Robin, Wren and Dove, and boys called Hawk and Falcon. Would this borrowing from the world of birds wear well on a daughter?

With a Happy Birthday to my sister, today’s Baby Name of the Day is Lark.

There are dozens of kinds of larks – the white-winged, the short-toed, the roufus-rumped and even the spike-heeled. But that’s amongst the avian population. As a given name, Lark has only darted into the US Top 1000 once in the 1880s – for boys.  That might have been thanks to Larkin, an old school diminutive and a surname derived from the then-popular Laurence and Lawrence.

The word comes to us from the Germanic lerche – songbird. The verb lark – as in frolic – probably traces back to the Old Norse leika – to play.

I hear it and think Shakespeare.  In Romeo and Juliet, the couple awakens the morning after their wedding night to birdsong. Juliet tries to convince her groom that he can stay a little longer: “It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.”  In Cymbeline, it is “Hark, hark!  The lark at heaven’s gate sings.”

You’ll sometimes see lark listed as the opposite of night owl – another term for a morning person.

Parents today might think of actress Lark Voorhies. As the privileged Lisa on 1990s teen comedy Saved by the Bell, she was an aspiring fashion designer. Voorhies went on to play a fashion designer on daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.  As for where Voorhies’ mom found her name, I’ve read that it from was an early movie role for Margaret Avery.  In 1972, Avery played Lark in Cool Breeze, a reboot of 1950’s crime caper, The Asphalt Jungle – though Jungle didn’t have a Lark.

Now here’s the twist: Lark was actually slightly more popular in the 195os than she is today, though the name has always been obscure.  Perhaps the tiny spike in 1950s Larks was attributable to John Langstaff recordings of traditional English folk songs, including “The Lark in the Morn.”  Or maybe the singing Mello Larks, part of pioneering late night variety show Broadway Open House.

Lark wasn’t much of a given name in recent decades, but you might think of:

  • Copper brought nineteenth century miners to Utah. One of the communities they established was called Lark, though it is now deserted.
  • Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Thurman Ruth was a member of The Larks, a vocal group from the early 1950s.
  • In the 1960s, it was a brand of cigarette – and still is in Japan.
  • Studebaker once built a Lark.  Buick built Skylarks from the 1950s into the 90s.
  • During the 1940s through the 60s, passengers could travel from San Fransisco to Los Angeles on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Lark.

Nature names are huge in 2013, as are spare name for girls.  Back in the 1970s, Mia Farrow and Andre Previn welcomed a daughter called Lark.  More recently, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany became parents to Agnes Lark.

Lark makes a lovely, unexpected middle.  She’s also wearable as a given name, especially if you’re after a frills-free choice that doesn’t encourage nicknames.  She might not share her name, but she’ll fit right in with Violet, Summer, and Rowan.

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. I named my daughter (born Mother’s Day this year) Lark Lorraine Emily. It came to me one day and we called her Lark-Virgil because we weren’t sure if she was a boy or girl and Virgil was our boy name. Thank goodness she was a girl!!! She’s our fifth child and our fifth girl. The others are named Beatrix Bridget, Esther Kaitlin, Veronica Mae, and Naomi Eugenie Skye. They all have family names or a combination of family and names we like. I think Lark fits right in. It sounds classic but also is lighthearted, perfect for a fifth baby.

  2. My mother insisted on Larke, (my dad picked Ellise, but he settled for a middle name), and I love it. It’s just a bit more feminine than Lark already is. My mother used to always call me – “My Lovely Larke”. It’s quite funny, because I loved to sing and I still do. My husband and I are expecting a girl in October. What do you all think about the name Leanora? (My grandmother, who I was very close to, died last year, so I wanted to pay homage to her. I’m also open to suggestions for middle names.

  3. I would like to mention that Lady Larken is the love of Sir Harry the Immaculate in the musical Once Upon a Mattress.

  4. I’ve pondered Larkspur – which is a botanical name borrowing a reference to the songbird. I think I’d only be brave enough to use it as a middle, along with similar Lilac.

    Lark itself doesn’t grab me. Not sure why. I like a few other bird names. And my husband is mad for Raven (for a girl). Maybe it’s the knowing that in my husband’s accent it would be “Lahhhk” and I just cannot even deal with LAAAHHHHK.

    1. my given name is Larkspur, and it’s served me incredibly well. Sure I have to repeat it and explain it almost every time I meet someone new, but I have ways to avoid the conversation when I need to, and don’t mind it as an opener most of the time. Once people know what I’ve said, they almost always exclaim at how beautiful it is.

  5. I know a Larkst0n, (just like Clarkston without the “C”.) If I remember right Larkst0n was also her Grandfather’s name (but he preferred to be called Stan.) 🙂

  6. I love Lark! Another reference is Willa Cather’s novel ‘Song of the Lark.’ The title of her novel comes from the painting of the same name by Jules Adolphe Breton.

    1. Willa Cather really boosts a lot of names, doesn’t she? Antonia, Signa, Cyrus, Godfrey, Rosamund – and nice point about Lark. I think there’s a post in that …

  7. My grandpa and great-grandpa were both named Lark. Not sure where it came from. But of course, because of that Lark has a very masculine feel about it. My mom wanted to name a daughter Lark but I have it on my list in the middle name spot for a boy or possibly combining my grandparents first names and using Marylark in the middle name spot for a girl.

    I personally don’t see the phrases “Having a lark” or “just a lark” as a negative thing, it is just something that is lighthearted and playful or jocular which I think is a fitting description of childhood.

    1. I LOVE Marylark. That would be such a fantastic middle name, especially with the family significance!

  8. I’d use Lark as a middle, but as a first it’s a little stark for me. Add the suffix -IN and it softens right up, though. I love LARKIN.