The baby name Poppy combines an upbeat sound and vibrant color with a powerful association.

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


The baby name Poppy comes straight from the flower.

And the flower? There’s no mysterious meaning or deep backstory.

In Latin, it is papaver. In Old English, popæg.

It is tempting to link Poppy to Poppaea Sabina, second wife of Roman Emperor Nero. But it’s almost certainly just a coincidence.


The US celebrates Veterans Day on November 11th, in honor of the day fighting stopped during the first World War.

It’s called Remembrance Day elsewhere in the English-speaking world. While it’s less common in the US, the poppy is broadly associated with commemorating veterans and those who lost their lives in war.

Why this flower?

As the war ended, wild poppies grew in the fields where so many lost their lives. Two poems cemented the connection: Canadian John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields and American-born Moina Michael’s We Shall Keep the Faith, a response to McCrae.


But poppies can be about rest, peace – even oblivion.

Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch curses the field of flowers? She’s plotting to keep Dorothy and friends from ever reaching Emerald City.

Can’t you just hear the green-faced Margaret Hamilton cackling, Poppies … poppies will put them to sleep.”

Poppies are the source of opium, a powerful drug used in medicine – and also the source of heroin.

However, it’s not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the name of the flower.


The baby name Poppy has been used in small numbers for well over a century. That’s not surprising – a great many floral names enjoyed at least some use. If we name our daughters Daisy, why not Poppy?

British actor Elsie Mackay took the stage name Poppy Wyndham. It’s not clear if she was influential enough to cause the name to rise in use. But she made her first film in 1919, the same year more than five girls received the name in the US for the first time.

Mackay went on to have a fascinating life. She became an interior decorator, working on opulent ocean liners. Later, she earned her pilot’s license. During an attempt to cross the Atlantic, her plane disappeared.

But she had dropped Poppy by then.

It rose again in the 1970s.

Sissy Spacek played a character named Poppy in 1972’s Prime Cut, a crime drama. It was controversial – for violence, among other things – at the time. It might be enough to explain the name’s modest rise.

But mostly, the baby name Poppy never caught on in the US. As of the year 2000, just 6 girls received the name.

By 2008, when the first version of this entry appeared, the number was just 73.

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In the UK, though, the story was very different.

EastEnders gave us a minor character called Poppy Meadow.

Another familiar figure is Harry Potter’s Poppy Pomfrey. While she appears throughout the series, the ever-busy Hogwarts school nurse is most often referred to as Madam Pomfrey.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and wife Jools Norton named their firstborn Poppy Honey Rosie, beginning a string of sweetly nature-named children, way back in 2002.

In fact, the baby name Poppy entered the England & Wales Top 50 in 2002, and spent a few years in the Top Ten.

The name caught on earlier elsewhere in the English-speaking world, too.

Australian actor Poppy Montgomery gets some credit for the name’s success. She’s one of several botanically-named sisters, including Rosie, Daisy, Lily, and Marigold. Her daughter is Violet.


As American parents fell hard for nature names, the baby name Poppy went from undiscovered possibility to white hot British import.

Plenty of high-profile parents chose the name, with designer and television hosts Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent welcoming Poppy Brent-Berkus in 2015.

2016 gave us Anna Kendrick as the adorable, pink-haired Poppy at the center of Trolls. Sequels followed.

Modern Family’s Haley Dunphy grew up and became mom to twins named George and Poppy.

Along the way, it has surely gained in use. As of 2022, the baby name Poppy reached #338 – a new high, with no signs of slowing down.

What do you think of the baby name Poppy?

Originally published on May 21, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on July 29, 2013; March 30, 2022; and April 30, 2024.


vibrant + vintage

Vibrant red Poppy fits with antique Lily and modern Willow. We associate this vibrant red name with remembrance, a powerful meaning.


#338 as of 2022


gaining in use


from an Old English name for the flower, associated with remembrance

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 always curious how people feel about this name which is so common in the UK, but nearly unused here. Personally I’m not the biggest fan, though I see why garden theme and sound repetition appeal to others. However, as others have said, I can’t get past the grandpa/dad association.

    Poppy and the like for grandpa is very common slang where I live. I called my great-uncle Poppy, as did the rest of his grandkids. My little cousins on the other side of the family began calling their grandpa Pop all on their own because it’s just so easy to say — like papa. I’ve heard my brother affectionately call my father Pop as well. I call him Pops when I’m being a bit fresh. The list goes on and on for me. Many of my friends have similar experiences with the pet name. So to see it on a baby girl, or even a grown woman, throws me quite a bit. I think of the slang before the flower.

    On the other hand, the flower and it’s WWII significance are both beautiful. I can definitely see why others are drawn to this name. It still seems quintessentially British to me though! I can’t imagine it picking up in the US — at least not in my community. Maybe the grandad slang is less common in other regions?

  2. I love Poppy! The name Pomeline strikes my fancy of late, and I think Poppy could work as a nickname.

  3. I’ve always wanted to like this name as much as I do Daisy and Violet, but like some mentioned above, I can’t shake the association with it as a grandpa nickname and, even more unfortunately, the infamous “Poppy peed!” line from Seinfeld. Sadly, not going to work for me.

  4. I love Poppy. One of our top girls names is Penelope and I can never fully decided between Polly, Poppy and Penny. I usually lean towards Poppy, but Chris loves Penny. The only issue with Poppy for me is that my dad’s “grandpa name” is Pop Pop. And my parent’s neighbor’s dog’s name is Papi, lol. Not a huge deal obviously, but still something. The whole Papi thing (not the dog, just the word) bothers me more than anything. I grew up in a 90% mexican area and dads, grandpas, little boys and boyfriends are all regularly called Papi, I don’t live there anymore but my parents do and I often visit…

  5. I’m naming my daughter Penelope and will probably use Poppy as her nickname. We are Greek, and in Greece the nickname for Penelope is Poppy. I think it’s very fitting and very cute and invokes images of a field of vibrant flowers.. much more refreshing than the overused Rose and Lily (IMO). I have gotten a less than enthusiastic response to this name though… with people referring to a “grandpa”. I think a Poppy as a flower or girls name is clearly different from “Pop” for a grandpa or “papi” as some of my Spanish friends have mentioned, but to each their own! I think I’ll stick with Poppy as I find it very cute and refreshing for a little girl, yet she’ll have the formal Penelope for when she’s older or wants to be seen as more serious.


    The genus Papava, in a field of swaying corn,
    Vivid against the ripened gold;
    Or scattered randomly, along the hedgerows,
    Petals at risk from the morning cold.

    Symbollic of the gallant fighting forces
    Alone, in the mud bogged trenches,
    These scarlet heads sway in Summer breeze,
    A jewel, beside rustic, roadside fences.


  7. Hmmm, I don’t mind the name. I can understand it’s fresh, whimsical and simple appeal. It sounds joyous. Even though there is the funeral connotation- one can argue that it is a symbol of the life that someone lived.That it can be a face for vitality and vibrancy amidst the loss of someone and the drone of symbols. I view it more as a celebration, as opposed to something morbid

    The name is one I prefer as a nickname, but I am one hundred % ok with it as a first. The name is HIGHLY popular in the UK. It’s popularity and consistent popularity at that, makes the name seem as accessible as Lily, Rose or Violet to me.

    The teasing story that is always mentioned is that ‘I popped Poppy”; is def possible, but, the most innocent name like Jane or Isabella can be turned into a mockery.While I do think it is important to take into account how the child will be affected (more importantly the adult), I would rather focus on raising a child that can stand up for itself and treating people with dignity and not judging them by their name

  8. I named my daughter Persephone and we use the nickname Poppy. It works really well. I wanted to just name her Poppy, but I couldn’t get my husband to go along with the idea.

  9. I just love Poppy. I would definitely consider using it as either a nickname for one of my top contenders, Eponine, Pomeline, Persephone or Perpetua, or as a possible middle name option. I think Poppy can really spunk up a first name.

  10. I can explain the connection between Margaret and Daisy. The name Margaret comes from margarita, the Greek word for daisy. So there you go.