The baby name Dove might be the next girl name borrowed from the birds.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
DOV IS DIFFERENT
Let’s start with Dov, hold the e. It’s a masculine name, Hebrew in origin. And Dov comes with paws, not wings. The name means bear.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
But the baby Dove has long been used in sparing numbers for girls in the US. It tracks with Robin and Wren, Raven and Paloma. Some feel more obviously avian; others seem more subtle.
The birds are cousins to pigeons, members of the Columbidae family, along with a few hundred others. Names like Jonah and Jemima also relate to doves.
It’s thought that the word comes from the Germanic dubon – to dive, related to their pattern of flight – via the Old English dufe.
In the story of Noah, a dove signals the end of the floods. But long before that, the birds were symbols of ancient goddesses in Mesopotamia and Greece, to name just two.
In Christianity, a dove often represents the holy spirit. They’re significant in Shintoism and Buddhism, too.
But perhaps it’s best known as a symbol of peace. The association goes back to ancient Greece. Early Christians depicted a dove holding an olive branch, using it in both baptisms and funerals at different points.
For centuries, doves have also been associated with peace among nations. In 1948, Pablo Picasso’s lithograph La Colombe inspired the symbol of the Word Peace Council. They adopted the dove symbol in 1949.
Picasso spoke at a future World Peace Congress, and named his daughter Paloma, from the Spanish word for dove.
In 1985, Larry McMurtry published Lonesome Dove, the Old West story of retired Texas rangers driving cattle to Montana. It became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It inspired a television mini-series adaptation, too. Three more books – and mini-series – followed into the 1990s.
In the novel, Lonesome Dove is the name of the Texas border town where the story begins. McMurtry has also said that the title refers to one of the characters, a teenage orphan.
It’s not a personal name at any point in the story, but it’s a powerful association for many.
DOVE SI TROVA …
If you speak Italian, this is simply a word meaning where. But it’s pronounced doh-VAY.
It’s possible you’d find Dove as a surname, either for someone who kept the birds or maybe someone who shared their gentle nature.
But in recent years, there’s no question where at least some parents have first heard the possible baby name Dove.
Disney Channel star Dove Cameron headlined popular hits like Liv & Maddie and The Descendants.
Cameron was born Chloe Celeste Hosterman. She took her screen name from a childhood nickname.
If you know your Disney villains, chances are you know what comes next.
In 2015, Cameron took on the role of Mal, daughter of Maleficent in an alternate universe where all the Disney villains have been imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. But now a handful of the “villain kids” are getting a chance to enroll at Auradon Prep, where the children of the heroic good are educated.
Mal falls in love with Ben, son of Belle and the Beast, and heir to the throne of Auradon.
Drama follows. Enough for not one, but two sequels.
We meet lots of other descendants of our favorite fairytale characters along the way. The third in the series debuted in August 2019. If your kids are the right age, you’ve inevitably heard the songs.
That makes Cameron a major celebrity in some circles.
While the actor has graduated to more adult roles – she plays Schmigadoon!’s Betsy on Apple TV+ and has launched a singing career – it’s safe to say that an entire generation now thinks of Dove as a given name.
BY the NUMBERS
27 girls received the baby name Dove in 2017, and 26 in 2018. As of 2020, that number soared to 51 births – an all-time high.
It also suggests that Dove might now appeal well beyond Disney Channel fans.
You might also think of Tamora Pierce’s character Dovesary, from Tamora Pierce’s fantasy novels.
Reality television’s Natalie Halcro of E’s Relatively Nat & Liv gave the name to a daughter in early 2020. So did Teddi Mellencamp, of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame.
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom welcomed Daisy Dove in 2020, too.
While it remains rare, there are signs that the baby name Dove might just take flight.
What do you think of the baby name Dove?
Originally published on June 5, 2009, this post was revised substantially on February 22, 2020 and updated on December X, 2021.
We were thinking of the name Bird not Birdie. I don’t think that will work, but Dove I’m in love. She will be Dove Bloom!
Lauren Steenkamp says
I might be wrong but didn’t you do a write up on Dov (boys form) a few years ago, I’m pretty sure I saw it whilst I was looking through the back catalogue a few weeks ago but I just tried to find it on the boys master list a few minutes ago and it isn’t there. If you have done a wu on Dov would you be able to give me the month and year it was published? So I can find it in the bc myself
I like it as a middle name. I had a great-great aunt who was an awesome lady, and her Yiddish name was Toiba, which means dove. She used Tillie in English. I’ve thought about combos like Theodora Dove for her. WDYT?
I also like Yonina, which is a Hebrew name that’s the feminine form of the male name that’s usually translated to Jonah. I don’t like Yemima/Jemima nearly as much as Yonina but I’m not sure why, except my long-term fondness for Nina.
Theodora Dove is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And I love Nina. I’m less sold on Yonina, but I think it would grow on me – I hadn’t heard it until this very moment!
Love Theodora Dove!
I haven’t seen it mentioned yet, but there is an actress named Dove Cameron that just got her big break on a new show on the Disney Channel. I just heard her name for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and was immediately intrigued! MN is Olivia – gorgeous combo!
SF, thanks – I completely missed that! I think it could definitely give the name a boost, and yes – Dove Olivia is a stunning combination.
Is there supposed to be more to this post? I would really love to read it if so. Considering Dove as a first name… if I can get my husband on board.
Hi Sarah – The post is updated! It’s a lovely name …
I have a great-great aunt who was named Dovie and have read Pierce’s Trickster novels, so Dove appeals to me. Also I found the, supposedly, Hebrew name Doveva in my name ramblings and have fallen for it.
r b says
I’ve used it just recently in a double-barreled first name, Cora Dove. I’ve received many compliments, so hopefully my husband and I are not the only ones who like it. 🙂
Cora Dove is gorgeous! So that’s three of us and counting …
I think she makes a cool nickname for Paloma or Audovere. Perhaps a bit too much as a full fledged first name.
Emily – I saw it as a middle name online (I think at Y!A, but can’t remember for sure). Clara Dove sounds really pretty. 😉
Emmy Jo says
Sophie — Oh, we have Dove soap products in the U.S., too, but that’s not at all what I thought of upon hearing the name. The bird association is far stronger in my mind. The big problem with Allegra in the U.S. is that most people are familiar with the word ONLY as an allergy medication.
I do like bird names for girls, quite a lot actually. Wren is my favorite, but I’m also drawn to Lark, Kestrel, and even Nightingale (as a middle only). I could see Dove working, but it would definitely be middle material for me.
Photoquilty — where did you get the idea to suggest this as Name of the Day? Do you know someone named Dove? Or had you heard it being used as a given name before? I’ve never heard of Dove being used as a name.
Ooh – thanks for the clarification 🙂 I’m really glad Allegra’s ‘just a name’ over here.. I rather like her!
My first thought was ‘oh dear’, but after repeating it to myself a few times, I can appreciate it – it’s rather soft and simple and reserved. It would make a lovely middle really, perhaps to balance out a more extravagant name such as Penelope Dove or Victoria Dove or something.
I do have the urge to pronounce it do-VEY, kind of like duvet, but with the O sound for an odd reason, and Dovey too. Maybe it stems from what JNE expressed -I always call my kids lovey and my friends love? My sister uses Poppet.
Dove is a toiletries type brand in Australia, with shampoo and soap products everywhere, so I’d never use her for that reason. (Much like Allegra in the US I gather?!)
She’s rather pleasing, and a mostly wearable bird name; though I agree, it’s best suited to the middle 🙂
At first I thought Dove (DUHV) had too much “duh” in it, but I’ve said it a half a dozen times and it’s quite soft and, I’ll admit, there is something appealing about it. I’d have to agree that it sounds like a middle to me, more than a first. Now Paloma, that’s a different story – I love that name and it’s great up front! I actually quite like bird names, although not Robin – but Wren, Raven, and I was on a Lark kick for a while (which always met with a bark of laughter from my other half). I personally know a Kestral who is in his 30s and thought it was a fairly cool name (in the UK – and his brother is Falco, which in context seems one letter short of Falcon, but always makes me think of ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ instead). As for Bek’s British nannies – maybe it’s because it wouldn’t be unusual to use the similar sounding “Lovey” as a pet name (as well as Love, Poppet, and Pet) in the UK. Overall, Dove (*not* Dovey) is kind of growing on me a bit and would make a great middle name.
I see something appealing about Dove. I think, though, that it strikes me more as a pet name (not the doggy kind of pet, the baby/childish nickname kind of pet) than a given name. And for some reason I’m hearing British nannies in my head addressing a child as “Dovey”… not sure why, though.
I do like Dov, though, so that probably helps me see Dove as not too far out there…
All in all, not as appealing as Wren or Phoebe, but far more appealing than Emu or Penguin.
I think I like it. I don’t think Erik would ever let me do it. But in all honesty, it has a pleasing sound, and definitely is different from all the -a ending names I like: Nora, Clara, Lana,etc.
I knew someone whose name was spelt Dove but for some reason it was pronounced Dove-y. I was quite a young child at the time and tended to be extremely opinionated on names I’d never heard before — I thought the name was stupid and now I can’t quite shake those childish emotions. Also, when I see Dove I want to say “Dovey”. Dovesary, on the other hand, I find rather appealing.