River Name Meaning

The name River has a flowy, free-spirited feel to it, much like the natural feature it’s named after. But where did the name come from and why is it so popular? Let’s dive in and find out!

A Brief History of the Name River

The name River has been around for centuries, but it wasn’t always a popular choice for baby names. In fact, it wasn’t used as a given name at all in the past. The word “river” is derived from the Old English “rivere,” which simply meant “a large stream of water.” It wasn’t until more recent times that the name River started to be used as a first name.

Rising Popularity

River started to gain popularity as a given name in the late 20th century. In the United States, the name River first appeared on the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names in the year 2000, and it has been increasing in popularity ever since. The name River is now considered a unisex name, and can be used for both boys and girls.

Meaning of the Name

The name River brings to mind the natural feature of a flowing body of water. Rivers are considered symbols of life and renewal, as they provide a source of water for animals and plants to thrive. The name River also has a strong association with freedom and movement, as rivers are always on the move and never stay in one place for long.

Celebrity Inspiration

One of the reasons for the increase in popularity of the name River is the influence of famous people who have borne the name. River Phoenix, the actor who appeared in films such as “Stand by Me” and “My Own Private Idaho,” passed away in 1993, but his legacy lives on. Additionally, the name River has been used by a number of other celebrities for their children, including Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who named their daughter James (River).

In Conclusion

The name River is a beautiful and unique choice for a baby name, with a strong association with the natural world and a sense of freedom and movement. It’s no wonder that the name has become increasingly popular in recent years. So, whether you’re naming your baby boy or girl, River is a perfect name for a child who is sure to make a splash in the world!

Infographic of River name meaning, which is Derived for the word describing a flowing body of water, River is an English name.
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River Name Popularity

How popular is the name River? Here’s everything we know.

Year Rank # Births % Births
1910 0 0%
1911 0 0%
1912 0 0%
1913 0 0%
1914 0 0%
1915 0 0%
1916 0 0%
1917 0 0%
1918 0 0%
1919 0 0%
1920 0 0%
1921 0 0%
1922 0 0%
1923 0 0%
1924 0 0%
1925 0 0%
1926 0 0%
1927 0 0%
1928 0 0%
1929 0 0%
1930 0 0%
1931 0 0%
1932 0 0%
1933 0 0%
1934 0 0%
1935 0 0%
1936 0 0%
1937 0 0%
1938 0 0%
1939 0 0%
1940 0 0%
1941 0 0%
1942 0 0%
1943 0 0%
1944 0 0%
1945 0 0%
1946 0 0%
1947 0 0%
1948 0 0%
1949 0 0%
1950 0 0%
1951 0 0%
1952 0 0%
1953 0 0%
1954 0 0%
1955 0 0%
1956 0 0%
1957 0 0%
1958 0 0%
1959 0 0%
1960 0 0%
1961 0 0%
1962 0 0%
1963 0 0%
1964 0 0%
1965 0 0%
1966 0 0%
1967 0 0%
1968 0 0%
1969 0 0%
1970 0 0%
1971 0 0%
1972 0 0%
1973 0 0%
1974 0 0%
1975 0 0%
1976 0 0%
1977 0 0%
1978 0 0%
1979 0 0%
1980 0 0%
1981 0 0%
1982 0 0%
1983 0 0%
1984 0 0%
1985 0 0%
1986 0 0%
1987 0 0%
1988 0 0%
1989 0 0%
1990 0 0%
1991 0 0%
1992 0 0%
1993 0 0%
1994 0 0%
1995 3,858 5 0.0003%
1996 0 0%
1997 3,804 5 0.0003%
1998 0 0%
1999 2,568 16 0.0011%
2000 3,816 5 0.0003%
2001 2,385 21 0.0014%
2002 2,671 15 0.001%
2003 2,636 16 0.0011%
2004 1,848 46 0.003%
2005 2,127 33 0.0022%
2006 1,316 115 0.0073%
2007 1,103 177 0.0112%
2008 1,030 197 0.0127%
2009 951 224 0.015%
2010 934 213 0.0148%
2011 878 239 0.0168%
2012 644 383 0.0269%
2013 579 443 0.0311%
2014 448 665 0.0456%
2015 341 922 0.0634%
2016 273 1,107 0.0768%
2017 264 1,140 0.0817%
2018 237 1,307 0.0951%
2019 208 1,397 0.1032%
2020 181 1,520 0.1194%
2021 149 1,751 0.1432%

Alaska (AK)

Alabama (AL)

Arkansas (AR)

Arizona (AZ)

California (CA)

Colorado (CO)

Connecticut (CT)

District of Columbia (DC)

Delaware (DE)

Florida (FL)

Georgia (GA)

Hawaii (HI)

Iowa (IA)

Idaho (ID)

Illinois (IL)

Indiana (IN)

Kansas (KS)

Kentucky (KY)

Louisiana (LA)

Massachusetts (MA)

Maryland (MD)

Maine (ME)

Michigan (MI)

Minnesota (MN)

Missouri (MO)

Mississippi (MS)

Montana (MT)

North Carolina (NC)

North Dakota (ND)

Nebraska (NE)

New Hampshire (NH)

New Jersey (NJ)

New Mexico (NM)

Nevada (NV)

New York (NY)

Ohio (OH)

Oklahoma (OK)

Oregon (OR)

Pennsylvania (PA)

Rhode Island (RI)

South Carolina (SC)

South Dakota (SD)

Tennessee (TN)

Texas (TX)

Utah (UT)

Virginia (VA)

Vermont (VT)

Washington (WA)

Wisconsin (WI)

West Virginia (WV)

Wyoming (WY)

Data via SSA.gov.



Lists With River

Find inspiration in these baby girl name lists featuring the name River.


9 Comments

  1. We named our baby girl River because we love the significance of flowing, cleansing, nourishing water, and all the life that goes into it. Our apartment also currently overlooks the Spuyten Duyvil creek that connects the Hudson and the East River in NYC and little River’s name will always remind us of this beautiful home she was born into. Additionally, her middle name is Ivy. Her Daddy’s middle name is Ivan and we just think it is the prettiest name!

  2. We chose the name River based off the actor River Phoenix. My boyfriend had always loved that name. We were going to save it for if we had a boy but decided to name our daughter because over time and the more we said it we came to love it for a girl too.

  3. We named our daughter River in 2019 and it is still my favourite name! We are pregnant again and trying to come across another name we love just as much as River.
    This name was mom’s choice but only for a girl, and it works beautifully.

  4. We chose the name River because we believe that each of our Children already had a name given to them by God before we were ever pregnant! We prayed and prayed and asked God to reveal the name that He calls this babe and when I was reading through Psalms I found it in the first chapter! We knew right away that our baby was named River, and were overjoyed! We actually knew her name long before we knew we were having a boy or a girl. 🙂

    • I have a similar testimony we are naming our baby River as well our first miracle her name is Ryder was a boys name but the lord had given that name to us it means warrior for the lord and then we found out it’s a girl not a boy so I kept the name because we knew the lord has named her well before her time … And this time with miracle baby # 2 Double Blessings ! Her name is River and I too was reading the word and the lord spoke to me as I read the name River I knew it was for the baby what wonders he has for our little ones I read your post with tears in my eyes it was all the confirmation I ever needed thanks for sharing the love of the father he so graciously covers us with love only our heavenly father can give

  5. Sounds cool. Usually it’s used a lot for boy’s name but why not for girls right. Meaning is also a plus. 🙂

  6. River makes me think of something strong but peacefull. I love the sound of running water and how Rivers bring life to everything around them. My daughter is such a chill baby so sweet and smart and I know she will grow to be a strong but caring woman one day.

  7. I chose the name River because it reminds me of the natural world that my husband and I both Passionately enjoy. We love swimming in the Florida springs and kayaking down the rivers, and we Naming our first child after Well we both love is truly magical.

  8. I love nature and wildlife. I named my daughter River. She is a sweet little girl with a beautiful singing voice. She has some spirit too, just like a river! Her sister is named after a flower.


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