The baby name Navy might just follow Scarlett and Ivy into the US Top 100 – eventually.
Thanks to Luisa for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
Back in the day, the word referred to a fleet of ships, from the Latin navis, ship. Navis gives us navigate and navigator, too. Eventually, the term was applied to a nation’s ships and personnel and sea power, in the broadest sense.
So that makes the baby name Navy thoroughly nautical.
HUE of BLUE
British sailors wore it first. Some say they adopted the color blue because it signified trust. Or maybe it was simply the color of the sea. In any case, they started wearing it in the 1700s. By the 1800s, they’d lent the color its name: navy blue.
The blue worn by sailors has darkened over the years, to the color we think of today, an inky, almost black.
PINKIE and BLUE
Some color names filtered into use as surnames. That’s true for Green and Pink and White and Brown, but even some you might not expect, like Scarlett. Add in foreign color names, and the number skyrockets. Many of those surnames made their way into general use as given names, at least some of the time.
But you won’t find Navy among them.
It first surfaces in the US name data in 1985, which makes this among the newest of names.
A handful do appear in US Census data beforehand. It might be short for a longer Nav- name, like Navarro or Naveed, or even a typo. While it’s difficult to say, at least some men and women probably did have the name.
But for the most part, you could find a Blue in 1969, or a Pinkie way back in the 1910s. But Navy? Not so much.
What explains the transition from word to name?
In some cases, it’s clearly short for a longer name. Actor Navi Rawat was born Navlata. But despite her 1977 birth, Rawat’s first big role was in The O.C. in 2003.
Instead, it probably reflects parents’ cautious embrace of new color names. Blue and Indigo both debuted in the US data during the 1970s. Sky and Skye, nature names with a colorful vibe, rose dramatically in use during the same period. Amber found new heights in the 1980s, as did Jade and Sage. Perhaps this was simply the moment parents first considered a broad range of color names.
It looks like a spelling of the baby name Navy, but could Navi actually hold a clue to Navy’s success?
It’s also true that Navi means prophet in Hebrew; but it’s pronounced nah VEE. And it’s not clear if Navi is used as a given name.
In the 1960s, astronaut Gus Grissom nicknamed the star Gemma Cassiopeia – it’s the center of the “w” shape in the constellation Cassiopeia – Navi. He arrived at it by reversing his middle name, Ivan.
The popular Legend of Zelda video game series gave us a fairy named Navi, but that wasn’t until 1998’s Ocarina of Time. The character is mentioned in subsequent installments of the series, but it doesn’t seem like a powerful influence.
And then there’s the Na’vi, the fictional alien race we meet in 2009 blockbuster Avatar, now visited by millions of guests at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, where the fictional language and the blue-skinned creatures are alive and well. Again, though, it’s pronounced nah vee, not like the color.
NAVY in the SPOTLIGHT
Instead, possibly it’s pop culture that made the baby name Navy so compelling – even without using it as a given name.
Blockbuster Top Gun starred Tom Cruise as a naval aviator in 1986. Gap spin-off Old Navy opened its first stores in 1994. In 1995, the long-running legal drama J.A.G. premiered, set in the offices of the US Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office.
Harmon, the name of J.A.G.’s main character, spiked in use during the shows’ run. And we all know how well Top Gun’s Maverick has fared as a boy’s name.
It’s not as if we discovered the branch of the armed services anew. But perhaps it showed in a particularly appealing light during the era. (Or not. The Tailhook sexual harassment scandal hit in 1991.)
After all, Saylor is also trending for girls, entering the US Top 1000 in 2013 and reaching #300 as of 2020.
ON the RISE
What’s certain is that the baby name Navy name slowly caught on.
In 2000, nine girls were given the name. By 2010, that number had reached 21. And in 2017, an astonishing 170 girls (and 35 boys) were named Navy.
Celebrites, including Jason Aldean and The Dream have given the name to their daughters. In the latter case, Navy might nod to mom’s name, Nivea.
Navi and Navie have gained in use, too.
In 2019, the baby name Navy debuted in the US Top 1000 at #815. As of 2020, it reached #658.
67 boys received the name in 2020, also representing a new high.
AVA and IVY
More than anything, the baby name Navy almost certainly owes its success to the chart-topping Ava. Other names, like Olivia, Evelyn, Ivy, and Avery, are powered by that middle-V, too.
In this light, it doesn’t take much to imagine parents falling for Navy.
It’s crisp and colorful. Navy brings to mind ships at sea. And while it’s perfectly feminine, it’s tailored and frills-free – a combination that appeals to many parents. It fits right in with Scarlett, Olive, and other colorful kid names, while representing something fresh and new, too.
What do you think of the baby name Navy?
First published on March 13, 2019, this post was revised and updated on July 23, 2021.
Hi! Love the name! Just wanted to add that blue and pink was actually a marketing scam after wwII to get families to buy two of the same product… but one Blue and other pink for a boy and a girl. It stuck and here we are with all these gender reveals!
We are naming our baby girl Navy, coming next year! I came across the name and suggested it to my husband and he instantly loved it. I think it’s a strong and cute name for a girl. I initially thought of it for our first born in case we had a boy, but didn’t love it enough (we would have gone with Nash over Navy). But for a girl, almost everyone we know loves this name too. Older great grandparents- not so much haha. Now we just need a beautiful middle name to go with it!
My granddaughter is Navy June. She was born 3 months ago.
The name “Blie” dayes back to the 1800-1900’s in America, maybe earlier in other countries. My male ancestors names include; Blue Darling Belk, Blue Britain Belk & Darling Blue Belk among others w Blue as the first or middle name. As for the name “Navy”, if it had a strong meaning attached, I may like it.
Before Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda’s first musical, In the Heights, had a lead named Usnavy. I absolutely loved it and the sound of it, was read to save it for a future child… and then another song reveals that the origins of his name come from a US Navy ship. So while at first Navy doesn’t seem like a name to me… I can definitely see myself getting on board (awful pun not intended!)
Well just to say the very first child actually named Navy was very purposefully so.
I should know I am the Grandmother of
Navy Jay born October 5,2004!
Given his name after two Grandfathers who passed before his birth.
Meaning was two blues Deep Blue Blue
and that would mean the color Navy.
Jay also for the blue that a blue Jay is and his Mother’s Father’s middle name Jay.
Also in honor of our great Country’s Military.
First SS# given to a child named Navy
Would be our Navy Jay Rankin
Also everyone knows the color blue stands for boys not girls.
Again a great name belonging to the male taken by female to tuffin up femininity
Weird what if people start naming boys after the color pink.
Oh well no lost Navy’s named not destroyed by girls being named after him
It’s kinda like what they did with the Handsome name Kyle naming girls Kylie.
Believe me blue has stood for boys longer than I’ve been alive so it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Name your child with a meaning behind it.
It will be so sweet
That’s a great name for your son – and a great story, too!
Just a point of clarification: pink was traditionally a boys’ color – well into the twentieth century. And while the name Pink is occasionally given to girls, it was relatively familiar for boys through the first half of the twentieth century, too. In fact, the name Pink was consistently more common for boys than girls.
So while it seems like pink has always been for girls and blue for boys, that’s not the case at all! And who knows what will happen next? Life is ever surprising …
My daughter, born June 30, 2018, is named Navy Jade. Yes… 2 colors? What were you thinking? Well… my name is a color so it’s acceptable. That’s what I tell people, anyway
My friends baby girl is being born today and she going to be named: Navey Coraline-She put a e in there!
The Mrs. says
Here’s the thing: navy feels like a masculine color to me. But Navy sounds more feminine… despite rhyming with Davey. It sounds adorable, but the US Navy is not an entity that I would describe as “adorable”. Perhaps this moniker is one juxtaposition after another.
The first time I heard it was in the late 90s on my friend’s Bernese mountain dog puppy. She said she chose it because it would work on either gender.
I like Navy but could never use it because of the reasons above.
Probably not one I’d ever consider myself, but I actually think it’s cute. And I agree that it’s right on trend for a girl (or boy) born today.