Name of the Day: Bindi

The late Steve Irwin chose this name for his darling daughter. Now that she’s following in her father’s footsteps will we meet more girls answering to this one?

Thanks to Sassy for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Bindi.

The late Steve Irwin was known as the Crocodile Hunter, but he was more of a crocodile (and shark and elephant and snake and so on) admirer. Bindi is often said to be an Australian Aboriginal term meaning “Little Girl.” That’s open to debate, but what’s certain is that Bindi was the name of a crocodile at the Australia Zoo. (I couldn’t confirm if the croc is still in residence – what’s certain is that the Irwin family is quite visible. You can even buy a Bindi the Jungle Girl doll at the zoo’s gift shops. Crikey!)

After having spent a few hours with Aboriginal dictionaries whilst researching Kylie, I’ve decided to sidestep the issue of Bindi’s aboriginal roots. Let’s just say that the name might mean “little girl” in some language. It certianly means “very famous little girl” in modern pop culture.

There are three other possible references for bindi:

  • The red dot or jewel customarily displayed between the eyebrows in certain Indian and Southeast Asian culture is called a bindi. The term comes from the Sanskrit word for a drop or a dot;
  • Bindi or Bindy is sometimes listed as a diminutive for Belinda, à la Cindy for Cynthia and Mindy for Melinda. Belinda had been out of vogue in recent years, but she’s crept back into the US Top 1000, ranking #747 in 2008. Shefirst surfaced in seventeenth century literature, though her exact roots are debated. She could be an elaboration of the Italian bella – beautiful – paired with the Germanic lind – serpent, or a mash-up of the Italian bella with the Spanish linda – pretty. There’s also an old Germanic name Betlindis;
  • Then there’s the plant, but bindi isn’t in the same league as Violet or Rose. Soliva sessilis is also called field burrweed, lawnweed, bindi-eye or bindi weed. It’s spread from South America to Australia and beyond, including California and points north and the southeast United States. And no, it isn’t the kind of plant that gardeners encourage – on the contrary, you can find quite a bit of information about how to kill the plant. In Washington State, it is designated a Class A noxious weed. Not an auspicious choice for a child!

While that last reference might not position Bindi as a novel botanical appellation, it does suggest to some that it is authentically Australian – the term has been in use there for well over a century.

Overall, Bindi falls somewhere between a nouveau coinage like Taylee and an undiscovered gem. True, she does not appear in the US Top 1000. But perhaps Bindi is best as a nickname for Belinda. Or maybe some other name that starts with B. On her own, it seems just a bit like naming your darling daughter Suri – she may have legitimate roots, but she’s clearly borrowed from the stars.

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11 Comments

I was named Bindi 48 years ago and was always told my name was aboriginal and meant ‘womb’ or ‘stream of life’. Never heard of ‘little girl’ before. I like it! ❤️

Bindi is also the name of Rolf Harris’ daughter.

I can confirm that Bindi the crocodile is still alive (I used to work at Australia Zoo in 2005-2006 as a zookeeper).

I LOVE THE NAME ” BINDI” SO MUCH THAT I NAMED MY LIL SWEET CHIHUAHUA “BINDI”.. IT IS THE CUTEST NAME EVER, AND I LOVE MY BINDI WITH ALL OF MY HEART !!!

I am almost 40 and my name is Bindi. I was born in the South Australian outback and my parents liked it – a word from the local aboriginal Pitjandtjara language meaning “awakening”. I love the name, and it always gets lots of comments, especially now because of Bindi Irwin. At least people spell it right now!!

My 20 year old gradaughter is named Bindi, after much research we discovered it means “beautiful rainbow serpent”. I think it is a unique Australian name.

I have a daughter named Bindi…we are Aboriginal and gave her this name without even thinking of Steve Irwin’s Bindi. Being Aboriginal I know a number of other Bindi’s, both male and female. It has different meanings according to the dialect it is borrowed from, in some areas Bindi means “little girl”, in others its meaning can be “little spear”, which may be why the plant is known as a bindi-i over here! In our dialect, the meaning is “little girl”.

I think Bindi is offly adorable. I wouldn’t use the name myself, but it fits Bindi Irwin so perfectly. I like it Hindi dot associations, and Bindi as a nickname for Belinda is very cute.

When I first heard the name Bindi, I thought of the bindi dot – honestly I wondered what connection Steve Irwin had to India. Generally speaking, Sanskrit names are quite pretty IMHO, but as this isn’t so much a name in Sanskrit, but a word, right? Whatever its roots, it feels a little light-weight to me. Very nickname-y. And while I’m not a huge Belinda fan, I must say, it does make a cute little nn for it. As a name unto its own, I picture bindis first and then Bindi Irwin. It’s not one for me, but, if I met a baby Bindi, I’d probably think it was rather cute… just not too sure of how Bindi would stand up as a grown-up name on that baby 30 years on.

Lovely name, cute girl, sad story, annoying children’s show. So many associations. I think Bindi, as you said, is better left as a diminutive for Belinda and the sorts, but it is quite cute. It’s also the sort of name that works well for a family of many heritages — A mother whose parents were both from India, and a father who was born and raised in Australia to herbologists, for example, would be a great example of people to use the name Bindi straight up. Or just a person who likes the name. Or a person with a Steve Irwin fascination. I don’t judge.

One of those celebrity names that falls somewhere between quirky and unfortunate, depending on how charitable I’m feeling. I’ll say this: Steve Irwin named his daughter for an animal that he was passionate about; it wouldn’t have been my choice, but it doubtless makes Bindi feel very special, especially now that her father is gone. I think it’s best left as one of those one-&-only names, like Cher or Tatum.