100 Indian Baby Names That Pass the Playground Test

Indian baby names easy to pronounce

Although I’ve grown to love my name over the years, particularly because Lakshmi has a lovely meaning as the Goddess of prosperity in Hindu religion, (and I’m certain it gave me added character when I had to constantly correct people’s pronunciation), ‘Lunch meat’ definitely wasn’t the easiest name growing up.

Recently, New York Times columnist Alex Williams wrote an op-ed piece about the conundrum of choosing a baby name that’s unique —  but not too unique —  and whether that was really possible anymore. Many parents can surely empathize with this situation, South Asian Americans especially.

The first day of every school year, I braced myself for the moment when the teacher would abruptly stop with a confused look on her face. After a long moment, she would take a deep breath and make the attempt…

LAX-shmi…? LOCK-shmi…?”

As a mom now, I urge new parents to consider the impact your children’s names will have on them each day, every day of their lives. The jury is still out on the measurable impact a name can have on a child’s future, as seen in the Freakonomics debate. Regardless, whether it’s the first day of school or the first time their resumé hits the desk of a prospective employer, your child’s name will be the first thing to leave an impression. And not to be overly dramatic, but you have the opportunity to mold that first impression. So, when you’re in the hospital holding the birth certificate application, please take an extra moment to consider the following:

1.  Is it easy to read and pronounce? If you can’t answer yes to both of these, chances are that’s your child’s teachers, friends and employers will experience the same difficulty.

2.  Is it easy to remember?  If you can’t remember the name or how to spell it, neither will anyone else.

3.  Does it sound like a Western name (or have a nickname that does)? An Anglo-sounding name will save your child much time and embarrassment from having to correct or repeat their name all the time.

4.  Could there be a negative connotation to the name or nickname? (If it rhymes or sounds like a body part, please reconsider!) Realize that kids can be mean and may tease other kids with funny sounding names.

5.  Does it have a cultural or family meaning? Even though we are advocating for an Anglo-sounding name for your American born child, it doesn’t mean the name should be meaningless or without culture. Many South Asian names have significant history and meaning associated with them, and it would be unfortunate to lose this part of tradition.

With a little extra thought, you could make your child’s life smoother and happier. Just to give you a jumpstart, we have 100 Indian baby names to inspire you.

Good luck, and above all, may your new addition be healthy and happy!

Remember, some of the baby boys names can also be used for baby girls like Taran, Kiran,  Arya, Devan and Kamran.

GIRLS MEANING BOYS MEANING
Aanya Gracious Ajay Unconquered
Alisha Protected By God Aran Forrest or Righteous
Anisa Joy and Pleasure Arun Sun
Anita Grace Arya Noble
Annika Goddess Durga Ashwin (Ash) Of Great Wealth
Avani Earth Avinash (Avi) Indestructible
Bela Jasmine Flower Bhargavan (Gavan) Diety
Bina     Intelligence     Daman      One Who Controls
Daya     Kindness     Damian      Tamer
Devi     Goddess     Darun     Lord Ganesha
Dhara     Constant Flow     Dasharath (Dash)     Father Of Lord Rama
Divya     Divine Luster     Deenath (Deen)     Lord Vishnu
Ela     Earth     Devan     Little God
Elora     Caves In India     Devanand (Devan)     Joy Of God
Geena     Silvery     Devendra (Deven)     Lord Indra
Gia     Essence of Life     Hans     Swan
Jaya     Victory    Jagan (Jag)     Universe
Kali     Goddess of Empowerment     Jay/Jai     Victory
Leela     Divine Play     Kalyan  (Kal)     Welfare
Leena     Devoted     Kamran      Success
Lily     Flower     Kanan     Forest
Lola     Goddess Lakshmi     Keval     Lord Vishnu
Marisa     Worthy     Kiran     Ray Of Light
Maya     Illusion     Krishna (Kris)     Lord Krishna
Meena     Precious Blue Stone     Milan     A Coming Together
Meghana (Meg)      Cloud     Naveen     New
Mira     Prosperous     Neel     Blue
Monica/Monika     Wise Counselor     Niam     Contribution Of God
Naina     Eyes     Nikhil (Nik)     Complete
Nikhila (Niki)     Complete     Rahul     Conqueror Of All Miseries
Nina/ Neena     Lovely Eyed     Raj     King
Priya     Beloved     Ravi     Sun
Reena     Gem     Rohan     Ascending
Reya     Goddess Lakshmi     Sai     Guru Sai Baba
Riya     Singer     Sameer (Sam)     Wind
Roma    Goddess Lakshmi     Samir (Sam)     Companion
Salena     Moon     Sanjay (Jay)     Victorious
Sejal     River Water     Shailendra (Shail)     King Of Mountains
Serena     Quiet     Siddhartha (Sid)     Lord Buddha
Sharan     Protector     Sunil (Neel)     Dark Blue
Simran (Simi)     God's Gift     Taj     Crown
Siya     Sita     Tarak     Protector
Sonia     Wise     Taran     Heaven
Tara     Star     Tej     Light
Teja     Radiant     Timir (Tim)     Darkness
Trisha     Wish     Toshan (Tosh)     Satisfaction
Uma    Goddess Parvati     Veer     Brave
Vani     Goddess Saraswati     Vikram (Vik)     Sun Of Valour
Veena     Musical Instrument     Vinod (Vin)     Full Of Joy
Yasmin     Jasmine     Wali     Protector

Lakshmi Reddy

Founder of Saffluence Magazine. Hoping to connect smart, like-minded individuals with shared values & attitudes.

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32 Comments

  1. Tell me about it:) I have to always follow my name with ” Preeti as in Pretty….Pretty girl”!

  2. Nice article, Lakshmi. I am an immigrant from India. We are looking for names for our child who will be born in the US. You have listed Dhara, Divya, Siddhartha etc., as easy names for americans to pronounce. What do you think about the “dh” sound in these names? Can native english speakers get the “dh” sound right. For example, will DHara become Dara and sidDHartha become siddartha or can they get the “dh” sound right when they are corrected once. Your advice on this from an Indian American perspective will be help us in deciding the name for our baby. Thanks.

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello AMM – I understand your concern with the pronunciation. Generally speaking, even when corrected, many Americans will struggle with the ‘DH’ sound, so if proper pronunciation is important to you, then I would veer in the direction of some of the other names on the list. It is also important to recognize that you child may opt to shorten their name (ie. Sid). So it is important that you are prepared and comfortable with that. I have spent my life correcting people’s pronunciation of my name, because proper pronunciation is important to me but I know many people that are ok with the ‘American’ pronunciation of their names. This means that it is not only you correcting people but after age 5 or so, it is the nature of your child. For instance, I am very strict about pronunciation of Lakshmi – ‘LUCK-SHMEE’ but many are comfortable with ‘LACK-SHMEE’.

      If you would prefer if the name is generally pronounced properly or you don’t want a nickname for your child, choose accordingly. There are many names that fit that criteria – just a few examples are Jaya, Leela, Maya for girls and Ajay, Naveen, or Kiran for a boy. I hope this helps and please reach out with any more questions.

  3. Thank you for this list. Very helpful as Hubby and I get ready to welcome our 1st. His family is Tamil and mine is Irish American, so it is important to us as we’re name-storming that the name be easy for both sides of our extended family to pronounce. I really like the name Sejal, but would it be an odd choice for a boy? To me it looks masculine along the lines of names like Tejas, but am not sure if it can be unisex. Thanks again..

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello Kati! Congratulations. This is going to be the most amazing time for you both. I understand, first hand, the need for a name that works across cultures as my family is from South India and my husband’s is from Southern Manhattan :) Sejal is such a lovely name, however, traditionally it is not unisex (unlike Madhu or Kiren.) I would consider the increasing global nature of the world, and implications on your son to be, if you choose to name your son a traditionally feminine name and he ends up becoming an international business man. I think it is easier to name a girl a traditional male name than vice-versa to be globally accepted. That being said, the easiest way to envision this is thinking about it with a western name. Although there is a history of boys named Sue and Alice, is this something that you would feel comfortable with for your son? If this is at the top of the list – consider just naming him Sej. It doesn’t have much of an Indian meaning (I believe it translated to bed in Hindi) but it doesn’t have a negative meaning and sounds cool. The best of luck with your decision. Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  4. Great post, Lakshmi!
    And good suggestions for baby names.
    We r having a baby boy soon, and reside in London. I am hell bent on wanting a name that all can pronounce well and read out quickly!
    I frankly loved Niam as ive never heard of it!!

    Just sent a text to husband who hardly gives a positive response to names, send a text back saying “nice, can consider”!

    Thanks! And keep up the good work!

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words. Congratulations on one of the best things that will ever happen to you!

  5. 4. Could there be a negative connotation to the name or nickname?

    umm…Aryan passed the test?

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello Midukee,

      Thank you so much for your comment. You make an excellent point! it is such a common Indian name, that I missed the secondary meaning. This kind of input is fantastic. I have taken it off the list. Thanks so much, again!

  6. pyare (pierre ray) says:

    Hi. I’m from Melaka or Malacca , Malaysia.. My brother’s wife is a chinese and recently they have a baby boy, a few days old. His wife doesn’t want indian sounding name for the baby and i suggested some ‘anglo indian “names. So i tried to help him and found your site. Great suggestions . i like some names that you have suggested in your article but his problem is that he consulted a priest and he was specifically told to have name starts with da , ka or kha and all the letters must total up to 24.That is insane … don’t why he wants follow this practice.He has so limited choices and i told him not to bother about numerology . Anyway i do like many names that you have suggested. Well even my name sounds a little french by changing the spelling and less hassle for people to pronounce it.

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello Pyare,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. We are thrilled that you like some of the names on our list. My name is Lakshmi because I was born on a Friday, so I understand that traditions are quite important. I encourage you to support your brother to play around with some of the names and add a letter here or there or perhaps consider adding a middle name if it could be included, to give a few more options and remain within the numerology requirements. Please share what they decide. Good luck!

  7. Do yo u think Pari passes test for baby girl name ?

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      I think it is such a pretty name that she will love and will be very easy for people to pronounce. Congratulations!

  8. Lakshmi Reddy says:

    Congratulations on the pending addition to your family! Pari is a beautiful name and I think it would be very well suited for a baby girl raised here in the US. However, it is important to note that it may not be pronounced exactly the way you hoped. Many Americans may pronounce it like party without the T — it is still lovely and I think it is a great choice if you are not too particular about how it is pronounced.

  9. Mandhee dhandapani says:

    i am american but of mixed race (white-Hispanic-Indian ) and my husbands from India (Tamil) …were are trying to figure out what our second child’s name will be ..i am leaning more into Kareena (which can also be used as a spanish name) and my husband is leaning more into Katrina or Rajeena …(all names are common american names but different spelling of course) …we still have 4.5 months to come to a decision…our first born was much easier for picking a name since a majority of people already have names picked out for their first child… :) cant wait til shes here an hoping we chose a name before her big arrival day

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Congratulations on one of the most amazing journeys that you are about to take. Two little ones is definitely a big difference from one. I wish you all the joy that we have found!

      I think that all three names that you have chosen are really quite lovely. However, the one thing that came to mind about Katrina was the immediate link I made with Hurricane Katrina. I thought it was just me, so I asked several people and all of them immediately made the same connection in their mind. If it was me, I wouldn’t necessarily want a negative first association with my name. Although I believe this link will fade over time in most of the US — if she ever chooses to travel down South, people are sure to remember. That being said, if you really love the name, it is still quite lovely and I am sure she will love it, too.

      Good luck in your decision making!

  10. Lakshmi, I am so happy I came across your article. This is very very helpful! I am American and my husband is Indian. We are expecting our first this year. We love the name Priya for a girl and I’ve always had my heart set on Taj for a boy. My husband’s family is Hindu. Is Taj considered a Hindu name? My mother in-law (whose name is also Lakshmi) said that she has never heard of a boy with that name in India. It’s as if she didn’t like it. I felt a little down when she told me this. I want to be sure that the name is something that works for the family. Maybe she is not aware that it is a Hindu name if it truly is.

    Thank you again for your wonderful article!

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello Shannon! I am super excited for you but can completely relate to finding a name that works for the whole family. Priya, as you may know is a very beautiful and also traditional Hindu name. Taj, however, may technically have a Sanskrit meaning of crown, but it does not necessarily have a well-known Hindu meaning. India is actually quite a complicated country with thousands of years of history and the name is probably more commonly associated with the Taj Mahal with was actually built by Moguls. Thus, the word is more common in the Arabic culture and Muslim religion. There is a possibility that your mother-in-law equates it with the Taj Mahal. Think of it this way. If you named your daughter Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) or your son Empire (after the Empire State Building), they would be wonderful, meaningful and cool names. I have a friend named Brook Lyn, which I think is awesome. However, for a traditional Indian woman her first reaction may have been wondering why you may want to name your son after a building :)

      That being said, if you love it (I think it is powerful and evoke the idea of India), I am sure you can convince her to embrace it by explaining that there is a Sanskrit meaning. Alternately, Tej (short for Tejas, or Taja) means radiant in the Hindu culture.

      I hope this helped a bit. Good luck and please let us know what you decide!

  11. Abhijit Moreshwar says:

    Hi Lakshmi, Very nice article..!!! We are Hindu Indian family currently residing in LA USA. We are going to have baby boy soon. Do you think “Raayan” name sounds indian american? Do you think it will be good choice for baby boy name?

    Thanks

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Hello Abhijit – thanks so much for your comment. Congratulations on your pending addition! I think the name ‘ Raayan’ is fantastic and will make it to the top of the list for my next list of baby names. It has a strong Sanskrit meaning and does indeed sound Indian American. I could become the next Annika or Kiran (a lot of people in both the east and west have these names in recent years.)

      However, the one thing I may consider is spelling it Rayan (which is also another correct spelling of the Sanskrit name — pronounced ‘RY han’.) I have several friends that have names like Aarti or Aasha, and although not difficult, 90% of the time people spell their names wrong.
      I can respect that you don’t want it to seem too American. But at the end of the day, that is the beauty of some of these names. They sound American but have a genuine Indian meaning. Interestingly, when you share the Indian meaning with people, they are really quite impressed and excited. That being said, if you prefer the ‘AA’ for alternate reasons like naming for the birth star, I wouldn’t give it a second thought and would move forward with the spelling you prefer. Either way, I think it is a good choice and you will be giving your son a strong name.

  12. Great article and good timing for us to find it as we are debating for names for our first child, a boy, due in a few weeks. We are a Hindu family in US… we have almost finalized Veer but debating between which spelling…Veer or Vir?

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Thanks so much for your message. We are thrilled about your news. The next few years are going to be amazing! Of the two spellings, I personally prefer the look of Veer, but since it has an English meaning of ‘to change direction’, I would choose Vir. That being said, you may have to tell some Americans how to pronounce it, since a natural inclination for Americans could be to pronounce it ‘VUR’ (sounding like ‘her’) — but I think they would catch on very quickly. With the meaning of brave, it is a great name for him to live up to.

      My husband loves the name. He thinks it would be a great name for either a football player or founder of a new start-up. We wish you a healthy and happy end of your pregnancy! Please check back and share your ultimate choice!

  13. Nice article my daughters name (Siya) passed the test! We were worried it wouldn’t

  14. Hi,

    You have “Deenath” on your list above? I known of the Sanskrit name Deenanath which means Lord Vishnu. Is your info above from a reliable source, as there are a lot of unreliable websites out there. Also “Avi” is a name by itself, meaning – Another name for the Sun, favourite, protector, lord e.t.c

    Cheers,

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      You are correct — Deenanath is one of the ways of writing the name which means Lord Vishnu but people also use Deenath. Technically it is Deena Nath (Day God) but in the form of Deenath it is almost like a conjunction and much easier to say for the American audience but still has the same intended meaning. My source is actually a Sanskrit scholar that I have consulted in this case.

      I also wanted to thank you for the suggestion of Avi. Agreed this is a perfect name by itself. We are planning to create a second list soon and will be sure to add it.

      I thank you, again for your readership and comments!

  15. Great article Lakshmi. We are expecting a baby boy and I am between these names: surya, vir and dasarath(removed the h). What do you think would go apt with americans. Please let me know. Thank you again.

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed the article. I think all of the names that you have chosen are relatively simple. I think that Vir is probably the easiest (particularly if you have a long last name.) If your son ends up being the sporty type – I think the nickname Dash is wonderful (if you name him Dasarath.) If you are not inclined to nicknames, I would stick with Vir. Although Surya is a lovely name, I think that many Americans will be confused as to weather he is a boy or a girl. Good luck! I am so excited for you.

  16. We are expecting a baby girl and we are northindians in US.
    Certainly we want some traditional touch but at the same time, people and her friends be able to say her name well.

    Let us know what you think of these-

    Arhantika
    Arisia
    Arista
    Ira
    Sameeha
    Arhana
    Gia

    Thanks for your input.

    Great article

    • Lakshmi Reddy says:

      Wow – I love your list of names. While I love the names Arisia & Arista, I am personally not familiar with the meanings and I think meaning is just as important as the sound of a name. So my favorite from the whole list is Gia because it is so simple to pronounce and also has a lovely meaning in Sanskrit and also in many other languages around the world. Her name would be considered beautiful in many countries, which would be a wonderful gift. Good luck and enjoy your new bundle of joy!

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