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Beyonce named her baby Blue, and Scarlett is a Top 100 name.

How would this colorful rarity wear in 2013?  Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Lazuli as our Baby Name of the Day.

Many gemstones come in multiple hues, but lapis lazuli is always an intense shade of blue.  It’s been mined and incorporated into jewelry for millennia.

No, really for millennia.  The Statue of Ebih-Il goes back to the twenty-fifth century BC.  Ebih-Il was the superintendent of Mari, an ancient city-state.  We know it as Syria today.  You can see him at the Louvre, with his big ol’ orbs crafted from lapis lazuli.  The stone was probably imported from a distance.  Even after ages of neglect, Ebil-Il’s gaze is still vivid.

The art world has been faithful to lapis lazuli.  It was the only way to produce a truly blue color for painting.  Lapis lazuli was ground into a powder to create paints.  Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the more famous works, but it’s not alone.  From Buddhist temples in the sixth and seventh centuries to Anglo-Norman manuscripts in the 1100s to Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel from the fourteenth century, the most vibrant blue was produced with lapis lazuli.

The color is often referred to as ultramarine.  Ancient days, references to sapphires may have actually been about lapis lazuli.

The merchant Marco Polo traveled to the east, recording his adventures, including a visit to a lapis lazuli mine in modern-day Afghanistan.

So back to the word itself: lapis is Latin for stone.  

Lazuli is a tiny bit more complicated.  Lajward or Lazhward appears to be a Persian word and place name, meaning heaven or sky.  It’s also used for the color blue.  Lajward became lazaward or lazuward.  In French, the L was dropped.  (It’s still lazur in Polish.)  So was the ending.  The name for the color became azur and then azure.  Lazuli comes from lazuward, too.

Put it together, and lapis lazuli is literally blue stone, but poetically, stone of heaven or stone of the sky.

Here’s the lovely part: it isn’t a stretch to say that lazuli refers to things celestial.  If you’re considering names like Ciel or even Nevaeh, Lazuli could make your short list.

It’s also an avian appellation, thanks to the blue-headed Lazuli Bunting.  He’s a brightly colored little fellow, a songbird found throughout North America.

Does any of this make Lazuli a possible given name?  Maybe.  After all:

  • From Blue Ivy to Indigo to Azure, color names are cool, and baby blue is big.
  • Lazuli’s meaning could appeal to lovers of nature names as well as those seeking a spiritual connection.
  • Her ties to the art world are another bonus.
  • She’s different, but if Naomi and Lorelei are popular, is Lazuli really so out there?

The answer to the last question might just be yes.  Lazuli has never been given to five or more girls in the US, which means that she’s among the rarest of the rare.  A quick search turned up a handful of women who have worn the name, including one named Lapis Lazuli, and another called Azura Lazuli.  You’re far more likely to meet a Sapphire.

But don’t count Lazuli out.  If you’re after something truly distinctive, she’s one to consider.

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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’m from California and my first name is Lazuli and I’ve only met one other girl with the same name. I love my name and appreciate it’s uniqueness. Only problem is no one I’ve ever met can pronounce it correctly. So, for much of my life I have gone by the nickname Lalli. Thank you for the article very interesting.

  2. This is truly a first for me! I was always ridiculed as a child because my name was so different. Growing up as an adult I learned to appreciate having such a unique name. The hardest part still is how others pronounce my name, .. it is Laz’uh’lee.

  3. I love the idea, but after reading these comments, I think it’s too hard to pronounce, and has too many pronunciations dependent on accent.

  4. This is my favourite gemstone name bar none, but like M I’m curious what everyone else’s intuitive pronunciation is. I love the sound of LAzuli, but I’m not quite as fond of LaZUli. I’ve only heard it pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable and that’s how I say it myself but I know it can be said both ways.

    1. I’ve always heard ‘la ZUL ee’. I love the gem as well, and as a name of a gem, it’s very cool. I just don’t like Lazuli (either pronunciation) as a person’s name.

  5. I think it is gorgeous, and would want to use it. My hesitation is that it sounds almost too similiar to “lazily”, and lends itself easily to the nickname “lazy.” I nickname without intending to, and I would hate to refer to my child as “lazy.”

    However, it is a way to get the sweet nickname “Zuzu”. I love the meaning and history behind the name. It would be a spectacular middle name!

    For me it falls under name I like but wouldn’t be able to use, but would love to hear more widely used.

  6. I can’t believe how I hadn’t considered Lazuli for a name before! I really, really love it.

  7. Yes! I was so excited to see this as the name of the day- I love Lazuli!
    One question: is it LA-zu-li or la-ZU-li? Does it vary between languages?