The Best Baby Names for Your Little Leo

So it’s official: You — or someone you know — is expecting a late-summer baby and is stumped for baby name inspiration. Just for you zodiac lovers, we’ve gathered up a plethora of fierce Leo-inspired baby names. Here’s the secret, though: They’re all actually perfect choices for year-round baby-naming (but especially so for late July to mid-August littles). Without further ado, we present our Leo list, which includes 40+ names fantastic for gendered (or gender-neutral) kids. Roar!

File under LOW-KEY LEO:

For parents who prefer their lions (and baby names) classic and understated, you can’t go wrong with these leonine-yet-chill monikers:

Leo — Straight up, no rocks, no twists. No fooling around. All business. We also think it would make a fab unisex name.

Leia — Have you ever met the lioness named Princess Leia? Enough said. (Side note: Damn it, we miss Carrie Fisher.)

Leon — That “n” makes all the difference.

Leonard — If you’re a fan of Johnny Galecki’s character in The Big Bang Theory, look no further.

Leonardo — Da Vinci, DiCaprio…take your pick when it comes to inspiration. Leonarda works too.

Lionel — As in the train sets, or as in Messi, arguably the current best male soccer player in the whole damn world.

Leona — Capable. Commanding. Will own her own company by the age of 7, will take over your company by the age of 12.

Leonie — The French form of Leona, so, like, the more delicious croissant version of Leona. Fantastique.

Lenore — A French derivative of “light,” but we think it sounds like “lion” and “roar” in one perfect name. Lenora is another lovely twist.

Leora — More Leo action! More implied roaring! But still…not too flashy.

Leander — Greek for “lion man.” Nothing too crazy going on here. That nice -ander ending means he fits in just fine with the Alexanders and Zanders in his preschool class; the Le- prefix assures him a cool short nickname. All in all, a great, ancient name that rarely sees any play these days. Leandra is the traditional female variant.

File under OBSCURE LIONHOOD:

For parents who want a lion meaning or connection that’s off the beaten path of the guided safari tour, these daring names have serious swag.

Lyall — Ye Olde English says this means “lion,” and we believe. We’re betting you can go with Lyle, too.

Aric — Hebrew for “Lion of God.” Do not mess with Aric on the playground; he will smite you.

Isamu — “Brave or gallant,” with Japanese origins, Isamu has a lovely flow to it (and a handy “Sam” nickname smack in the middle).

Liev — Of Russian origin, meaning “lion-like.” If you haven’t seen actor Liev Schreiber doing any of his onscreen smoldering, well, just trust us when we say there’s definitely something purr-worthy in that name.

Ariel — Hebrew origin, and so very unisex — also meaning “Lion of God” like Aric. Also the name of a witty air spirit in Shakespeare’s The Tempest — so it’s a fab choice for you artsy theatre parents who also happen to be astrologically inclined.

Loewy — If it’s good enough for John Malkovich’s kid, well, hey. Swiss for “brave person,” pronounced (we think) “LOO-vee,” and frankly adorably for any gender.

Haidar — An intriguing Arabic choice. Keep Haidar on your radar.

Leocadia — Sure, she was a saint and a fourth-century martyr who was tortured to death for her steadfast beliefs. But who’s really going to remember that when you can call your Leocadia cool nicknames like “Lee,” “Leo,” and “Cadi”? She’ll probably start in at least one World Cup and piss off at least two presidents. Or be a president. We’re down for a Leocadia revival.

Tiaret — A beautiful, truly unique African name for girls, meaning “lioness.” LOVE.

Quillan — Irish for “cub.” Yes, we know Ireland is not exactly a hot spot for lion cubs. We’re taking some poetic license here, because Quillan is a great non-gendered name and we seriously dig it and think you might too. And, hey, surely there’s one lion somewhere in Ireland, right? No?

Torgny — Of Scandinavian origin (oh JUST LET US FINISH), meaning “Thor’s roar.” Now, if there’s one thing babies and lions have in common, it’s the roaring, are we right? If you think you might have a roaring Thor-beast on your hands, well, don’t say we didn’t give you a worthy option.

Gurit — A female name in Hebrew, meaning “young lion.” Strong, sensible, and one-of-a-kind, like her. Guri is the male variant.

Sura — Now get this: Sura apparently appears in several languages: Thai, Yiddish, and Romanian. We’re not sure how that happened, but this would be a fab choice for a baby born into a traveling family. The meanings include “brave” and “princess” — very leonine indeed.

Dandelion — Would you believe it mean’s “lion’s tooth”? We kind of love it — in a world full of Poppys and Apples and Lilys there has yet to be a crop of Dandelions.

Laith — An Arabic name meaning lion, traditionally for boys, but who’s to say any kid couldn’t be a Laith? We adore its clean simplicity and modern edge — sharp as, well, a lion’s tooth. Thanks, Dandelion.

Levon — Intriguing enough for Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, back in their golden days, to choose for their son. Also the title of an Elton John song, inspired by a drummer of The Band, Levon Helm. Levi is a variant.

Valencia — Of Spanish origin, meaning “brave, strong.” Valencia takes no prisoners when it comes to outdated, unfair, and frankly misogynistic school dress codes. Valencio would work too.

Kinga — We cannot lie; we love this Hungarian and Slavic name for girls. No Queena or Princessa here — Kinga all the way.

File under TREAD CAUTIOUSLY/BIG PAWS TO FILL:

Nala — Yep. We went there. Simba’s girlfriend in Disney’s The Lion King. We’re not going to even try to convince you that Simba — though it means “lion” in Swahili — would be a good choice at this point. But Nala… maaaaaybe, just maybe. Hear us out. It’s simple, two-syllable, and means “successful.” Nala really could outlast The Lion King. And if you conceived your little cub on a weekend trip to Broadway, well, heck. This might just be the one.

Aslan — If you’re the literary type, you know right away that Aslan is the title lion of C.S. Lewis’s classic The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. You’d have to really have a connection with that piece of fiction to name your baby Aslan, though. Could be a great middle name, if you love the book but aren’t ready to go all in. Anyway, it’s worth a ponder, especially if you have Turkish ties (it’s Turkish for “lion”). Or you might want to try the Russian variant of the name, Ruslan. Same stature, n=less baggage.

Lafcadio — the lovable lion hero in a rather underrated Shel Silverstein book.

Abbas — While we love the Hebrew meaning (“lion, stern”) for a serious baby, we fear too many too many Abba jokes for the child. You can’t be too careful.

Leo Baby Names
Image: Natana_batana/Shutterstock. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

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