Ivy: Baby Name of the DayIvy is a fast-rising vintage name with lots of modern appeal. Add in ties to the winter holidays, and it’s a can’t-miss name for a daughter.

Thanks to Elle for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


It’s not “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night,” but “The Holly and the Ivy” is sung with traditional carols, too.

That’s because the two types of branches have been used to decorate churches at Christmas for centuries. In fact, their association with the season pre-dates Christianity.

Ivy is an evergreen, also known as hedera. It’s found throughout Europe as well as Africa, Asia and Japan. The vines creep and climb, covering the walls of old buildings. That brings us to our second association with the plants.


Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale form the Ivy League – an octet of highly selective American universities.

Some claim the name refers to the vines climbing up the storied academic buildings on campus. Maybe, but the first reference comes from sportswriter Stanley Woodward in the 1930s. Woodward referred to a sports league, and officially, that’s still the case today.

The term implies so much more – academic excellence, yes, which is a good thing; but perhaps also social elitism.

It’s also the name of a famous restaurant in London, and another in Los Angeles, though they’re not connected.


Of course, toxicodendron radicans might give parents pause.

That’s poison ivy. Technically it’s not related to the evergreen. It grows throughout North America, and contact with it can result in an itchy red rash.

The play on words has proven irresistible for writers naming villains.

In the Batman comics, the name belongs to an eco-terrorist. The character debuted in 1966. Uma Thurman played the role in the 1996 movie;  plenty of other versions have appeared over the decades, including on Gotham.

Or maybe you think of Drew Barrymore in 1992’s Poison Ivy, where she destroys the life of her supposed BFF, Sylvie. It remains a cult classic, and inspired a trio of spin-offs, starring equally sinister women named Lily, Violet, and Daisy – but really, none of those work nearly as well as the original.


So what does this mean for the name?

The Victorians embraced many a daring botanical name. Ivy belongs in that category. Even in the late nineteenth century in the US, it remained a Top 300 name. In fact, it’s left the US Top 1000 just a few times over the last century or so.

The more surprising fact? Ivy also appeared in the boys’ Top 1000 for a time.

Perhaps that’s because it’s sometimes a surname, probably derived from a French place name, Ivoy. Or maybe, like many nature names, it does feel unisex. Think of Rowan and River, to name just two.

Today, though, it’s firmly established for girls. It returned to the Top 100 last year, with 3,256 births for girls, compared to just 11 for boys.

Why is it rocketing up the charts?

Some credit goes to Blue Ivy Carter, the eldest daughter of trendsetting parents Beyonce and Jay-Z. It’s speculated that her middle name refers to the number four – via the Roman numerals – IV – which has significance for the couple.

But it’s also easy to imagine parents seeing the name as an alternative to Top Ten favorite Ava. And the letter V is powerfully popular for girl names these days – just ask Evelyn, Olivia, Avery, and Violet. Or, speaking of Violet, maybe it’s just the newest ecovintage girl name ready for revival, a sister for Daisy and Rose.

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt Ivy makes a great name for a daughter born over the winter holidays – or any time of year.

First published on December 25, 2008, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on December 24, 2012 and again on November 27, 2019.

Ivy: Baby Name of the Day

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. Yes, I’m a nurse and I can’t get past the IV issue. Ivy does have a vintage charm about her, but to me is not a appealing as other botanical names.

  2. My 12 year old daughter loves Ivy, but as my brother had a liver transplant last year, I can’t get past the sound of “I.V.” for it, and it sounds medical to me. Just my 2 cents! 😉

    1. That’s a fair point, Amy. I imagine nurses and other medical professionals have the same reaction! Here’s hoping your brother is on the mend.

  3. I love Ivy. It’s pretty high on my list, but my family doesn’t care for it so I don’t know if I’ll ever get to use it. I love the simplicity, but at the same time, it has alot more spark than the overused and overexposed Isabella or Ava.

  4. Ivy is at the top of my list right now.
    I think the poison connotations give this name attitide and edge, thats what I like so much about it.

  5. I agree with everyone else, Ivy is simple yet edgy which makes her very appealing but (and I don’t know why) the poison ivy reference ruins her for me. Logically, I know that if I was to search hard enough I could find something negative about practically every name and that the ‘poison ivy’ thing could be gotten over; but in this instance I just can’t quite get past it. I still like the name Ivy and would love it if a friend chose Ivy but she’s not for me.

  6. I met an Ivy last winter and it was the first time, outside of Batman, that I’d heard the name on an actual baby – it surprise me and I thought, “wow, I really like that!” I totally agree with Lola – it has a bit of edge to it, which also appeals. Ivy is definitely one I’d consider, but more likely as a middle… Not because I don’t like it as a first, but my girl already has an “i” name and it might be a little too much to go with another “i” up front.

  7. I love Ivy. It’s one of my favorites, but my other half won’t usually consider it, along with my long time true love Fern… He finds botanical names too weird. Bummer. I’ll constantly try to foist her on others though 😉

  8. Ivy is my favorite girl’s name. Probably I’ll never get to use it because I am getting too old to have more kids. I would use it despite the poison ivy connection. I think it’s getting more popular? Not too popular, I hope.

    1. Never say never. My baby brother came along eleven years after I was born – and seven years after my mother thought she was done. 🙂

      Bek, Fern is really growing on me – pun intended! – but she’s not nearly as fashionable as Ivy. Maybe I’ll put her on the calendar and see what others think.

  9. Merry Xmas Verity! I’vy’s sweet and I thoroughly like her. Because of the “poison Ivy” remarks I hear so often (Other half’s a Batman freak), I generally consider her middle material but still lovely, even there.

    I find Ivy charming as well as a bit edgy. An Ivy’s got attitude to spare! 🙂 She gets a huge :thumbsup: from me!