Societies and cultures around the world have named their children in the hope of shaping their future by instilling the virtues of previous name holders. That’s why badass baby names have such appeal.
So, we’ve searched the annals of history for some of the most badass men and women ever to walk the planet and added some fictional ones as well. We’ve also looked at name meanings to find some tough ones. This list might hold the name you’ve been dreaming about finding.
50 Badass Boy Names
Just as with the last 50, we’ve tried to choose boys’ names that either have badass meanings or are linked to men with serious badass kudos.
Audie is an Irish name that evolved from Edward, meaning rich guard.
In 1942, Audie Murphy was 16 and so slight that he passed out during military training. That didn’t stop him from going to war, where he contracted malaria and still took on and beat a platoon of Germans single-handedly. He later became a famous actor, starring in more than 40 movies.
This name may not have a badass sounding definition, but Axel Rose, the lead singer of hard rock band Guns n Roses, is tough by any definition.
Ayrton is an English name for a farm on the River Aire.
Ayrton Senna da Silva was a racing driver who drove a 1200 horsepower car at 200 mph and once saved the life of a fellow driver by stopping and running back along the track, dodging other vehicles, and giving him first aid.
Bjørn comes from the Old Norse word for bear.
Bjørn Ironsides was the badass Norse Viking Chief and King of Sweden. This could make Bjørn a suitable intimidating baby boy’s name for those who have Scandinavian roots.
The meaning of Boris is unclear. It could be wolf, or it could come from Slavic elements meaning battle and glory.
If you are in the market for a tattoo, Boris is the seriously badass artist who owns Boris Tattoo, a world-famous studio.
Bowie comes from the Gaelic word buidhe, meaning yellow, fair-haired.
Originally a surname, Bowie has found popularity as a first name, mostly thanks to English music legend David Bowie. After his death, the name appeared on the top 1,000 boys’ name charts in the U.S.
Brick began as an English slang term. Someone who was a good brick was considered a good, decent person.
In the U.S. comedy series The Middle, the youngest son in the Heck family was Brick. His parents hoped that by giving him a cool name, he would grow up into an edgy, cool adult.
Bruce is a Norman name that indicates someone who is from the town of Brix in France.
Bruce Springsteen, American singer, songwriter, and musician, was born in 1949, a time when the name Bruce was at its peak of popularity in the U.S. From a fictional standpoint, Bruce is the first name of Batman’s true identity.
Camazotz is an Ancient Mayan name meaning death bat.
Pronounced Cama-Zots, this was the name of a hardcore figure in Mayan mythology who, in the form of a man with bats wings, brokers a deal with mankind. It is thought that Camazotz was the inspiration for Batman.
Carl is a German name that means either man or warrior.
Carl Akeley, a respected conservationist, was once attacked by a leopard that bit down on his arm. Akeley forced his arm further into the cat’s throat, causing it to gag and let go. He then killed it with his bare hands, threw it over his shoulder, and went back to camp.
Christopher comes from Christos, meaning anointed.
Christopher Lee is best known for his horror films, but he worked in military intelligence during WWII, released a heavy metal album at the age of 88, and is said to be the partial inspiration for James Bond.
Colt is short for Colton and means Charcoal town.
In 2019, Colt was ranked at number 210 on the top boys’ names list of the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Cooper is an English boy’s name meaning barrel maker.
Cooper has that surname-as-a-first-name chic as well as being a badass name, especially for the child of a brewer or someone in a profession that makes or uses barrels.
The name Damon comes from Greek mythology and means to tame.
In Greek legend, Pythias was imprisoned and allowed to go temporarily free if Damon took his place. Damon did so, willingly, and Pythias returned before Damon was executed in his place.
Dex is short for Dexter, which means one who dyes.
Dex has a short, choppy, badass feel and has become popular across the world. In the Netherlands, it is number 37 on the most used boys’ name of the year list.
Donovan comes from the Irish surname, which means descendant of Donndubhan. Donndubhan means brown, dark.
Donovan may be the ideal choice for someone of Irish heritage who is looking for an edgy, badass boys’ name.
Enzo may come from the German Anzo, meaning giant, or it can be an abbreviation of names ending in Enzo.
Enzo Ferrari started out as a test car driver, became a race driver, started his own racing team, and founded one of the world’s premier supercar manufacturers.
Ferris is a surname related to Fergus, which means man of vigor.
The definition of Ferris is enough to make it sound pretty badass, but the name itself screams alpha. Then there’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which the title character skips school, defeats his principal, and jumps on a parade float.
Faust is derived from the Latin Faustus, meaning auspicious, lucky.
Johann Georg Faust was a traveling German alchemist, magician, and astrologist on whom the legend of the man who sold his soul to the devil is based. This, in itself, may not be badass, but the name certainly is.
Flynn is an anglicized form of the Irish Flann, which means red.
Flynn has become increasingly popular in the U.S. since the beginning of the 2000s and could be an excellent badass choice for someone with Irish heritage.
Gibson means son of Gib, and Gib is short for Gilbert, meaning bright pledge.
In 1894, Orville Gibson began to sell the instruments he made from his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. And so was founded the coolest guitar manufacturing company ever, Gibson.
Gotz is short for Gottfried, which means peace of God.
Götz von Berlichingen was a German mercenary known as Iron Hand because of his prosthetic. In a 1504 siege, he was told to surrender, to which he replied, “Leck mich am Arsch,” the first recorded instance of “kiss my ass.”
We give Griffin badass status partly because it is an ancient name that evokes images of hand-to-hand combat in hard-fought, muddy battles, and partly because of the part lion, part eagle creature of legend.
Holden is a place name which in Old English means deep valley.
Whether you think Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye is a badass or a whiner, there’s no denying the name says rebel. This may be why it’s seen a surge of popularity in the U.S.
Hugh is an English name that means heart, mind, spirit.
Hugh Glass was an American frontiersman, and legend has it he was mauled by a grizzly and left for dead by his companions. He set his broken leg, let maggots eat his wounds, and reached the nearest settlement after six weeks of travel.
The meaning of Ignatius is unclear, but it may be from a Roman family name that was changed to resemble the Latin ignis meaning fire.
Ignatius makes the badass list for no other reason than we think it sounds like a hardcore badass name. It can also be shortened to Iggy, as in the Grandfather of Punk, Iggy Pop.
Ivar is an Old Norse name meaning yew bow, warrior.
Ivar has that edgy badass feel to it, and we’re not the only ones who think so. This name remains steadily popular in the Netherlands and Sweden, making it a suitable choice for families with Dutch or Scandinavian heritage.
Kurt is a short, German version of Conrad, which means brave counsel.
Singer-songwriter and frontman of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, may be one of rock’s most compelling badasses. Since his death, the depth of his emotional turmoil has only enhanced his standing.
An English derivative of John, Jack means God is gracious.
At the age of 50, Captain Jack Ward stole the ship of a stranger, crewed it with his drinking buddies, and set off on the high-seas. Over the next 20 years, he became an infamous pirate and is the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow.
Jax is a short form of Jackson, which is an Old English surname that means son of Jack.
Jackson has cropped up intermittently as a first name, but Jax became hugely popular after Sons of Anarchy introduced the world to hardass biker Jax Teller.
Jonas Salk developed the vaccine for polio, injected into his own body to test it, and refused to profit from it. Not only did he save roughly 1 million people a year from death or permanent disability, but he also turned his back on billions of dollars. Pretty badass, in our opinion.
Joe Boyle fought a shark, built a gold mining empire, formed a hockey team that played in the Stanley Cup, established his own machine gunner company, received military honors from five countries, and stole the Romanian crown jewels back from a vault in Moscow. If the name Joe is too commonplace for you, you could opt for the name Boyle.
Jude is an English form of Judas, which likely means praise.
Jude benefits from being one of those names that’s mainstream enough not to be weird but unusual enough to be uncommon. A gender-neutral name, it’s currently more popular for boys.
This name comes from the English word jet, meaning an intense, dark, black.
The name Jett conjures up an image of someone who is so incredibly badass, they become the definition of the word.
Leif comes from the Old Norse name Leifr which means descendant, heir.
Viking Leif Erikson, a Norse explorer born in Iceland, is thought to have been the first European to have set foot in North America. He established Vinland in the area around the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The name Leo is from the Latin word for Lion.
Having lost one eye, Leo Major refused to be sent home from WWII. He turned down his first Distinguished Conduct Medal but accepted the second for single-handedly liberating the Dutch town of Zwolle and was awarded a bar to his DCM in the Korean War.
Although modern-sounding, Logan dates back centuries, even as a first name. However, it took off in 1974, which is the same year Wolverine first appeared in the Marvel universe.
Lyle evolved from the Norman French word l’isle, meaning island.
Lyle Bouck Jr. was a 20-year-old lieutenant when the 18-man unit he was leading held off an entire division of 500 German soldiers. This action resulted, 37 years later, in every member of the platoon being decorated.
Macsen is an Old Welsh version of Maximus, which means the greatest.
Max is a little mainstream, while Maximus is a bit pretentious. That’s why we think Macsen hits the Goldilocks point of just right in the badass boys’ name stakes.
Magnus is a Latin name meaning great.
Magnus is the given name of countless Vikings, kings, and dukes of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as two holders of the “World’s Strongest Man” title. We think that’s enough for Magnus to be an intimidating name.
Ragnar evolved from the German name Reynold meaning wise army.
Once fairly popular name in Norway and Iceland, it’s less popular today. But Ragnar still has the sound and the feel of a badass, ax-wielding Viking, so if you’re brave enough, this may just be the name for your child.
Roald is an Old Norse name that means famous ruler.
Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who led the first known expedition to sail through the Northwest Passage and was the first man to reach the South Pole.
Slade is from an Old English name and means valley.
The improbable sounding Slade Cutter was a U.S. Naval officer who was famous for being in second place for the number of enemy Japanese warships sunk during WWII. From a fictional standpoint, Slade Wilson was the name of the supervillain Deathstroke.
The name Subutai is of unknown meaning.
Subutai was the military strategist of Ghengis Khan. He coordinated armies hundreds of miles apart, and his sophisticated strategies were centuries ahead of modern warfare techniques.
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas’ mother was a slave, and his father, a French aristocrat who took him from his birthplace in Haiti to France. Dumas became a fearsome military leader, known by his enemies as The Black Devil and is the inspiration for The Count Of Monte Cristo.
Tycho is derived from the old Norse name Thor, meaning thunder.
Tycho Brahe proved it is possible to be an academic and a badass at the same time. The Danish mathematician and astronomer had his nose chopped off during a duel at a wedding reception over who was the better mathematician.
Waverly is an English name with the rather beautiful meaning restless meadow.
In WWII, Waverly Woodson landed at Omaha Beach with no weapon and 50 pounds of medical equipment. With shrapnel in his butt and thigh, he spent 30 straight hours saving the lives of hundreds of men, all while under enemy machine gunfire.
Witold is the Polish form of Vytautas, which means to drive away the nation.
Witold Pilecki was a Polish resistance member in WWII who volunteered to be caught and detained in Auschwitz so he could gather intelligence. He organized a resistance movement within the camp and escaped in 1943 after three years.
Yonatan is a Hebrew name that means God has given.
Yonatan Azarihab was stabbed multiple times during a random attack, and the knife used was left embedded in his neck. Instead of keeling over, he pulled the knife from his neck and stabbed his attacker with it. Hardcore, huh?
Yusuf is an Arabic and Turkish form of Joseph, meaning he will add.
Yusuf Alchagirov was an 80-year-old Russian shepherd who was attacked by a bear, which he fought, and, at some point in the fight, Yusuf was thrown off a cliff. He sustained bruises and was released from the hospital the next day. There’s no word on the bear’s injuries.
50 Badass Girl Names
Badass is a subjective term. We’ve tried to choose badass girls’ names that have tough meanings or are held by badass women, real or imaginary.
Aella is an ancient Greek name meaning whirlwind.
In Greek mythology, Aella was one of the Amazons who was known for going to war wielding her double ax.
The name Agnes evolved from the Greek hagnos, which means chaste.
Agnes Randolph was a Scottish Countess known for her bravery and strength. For over five months, Agnes held Dunbar castle in the face of an intimidating English army who laid siege to her citadel.
This Greek name means defender of mankind.
If you’re looking for a contemporary, but unique, name, this one fits the bill. For 2019, it was only number 632 on the Social Security Administration’s list of popular names.
Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia. This badass woman held several international records for flight times when she died during a fight in World War II.
Azima is an Arabic name that means great, powerful, or magnificent.
With this name, your little one couldn’t be anything but hardcore. It should also be noted that this is the feminine form of Azim, which means perseverance in Turkish. Which, to our mind, makes it even better.
Bertha is a Germanic name meaning bright, famous.
Bertha Benz, the wife of automobile inventor Carl Benz, improved on her husband’s invention when she took the car, without his knowledge, drove 66 miles, and made many improvements along the way. In doing so, this rebel was responsible for the first car sales.
The name Bessie is short for Elizabeth, which means my God is my oath.
Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and the first Native American to earn a pilot’s license anywhere in the world. The daughter of an African American mother and Cherokee father, Bessie, died when the plane she was test flying crashed.
The name Blaze evolved from Latin and means lisping.
If you want to give your child a name that shapes their personality, then Blaze has to be near the top of the list of badass girl’s names. It’s contemporary and has a tough sound to it.
Cleo is short for Cleopatra, a Greek name meaning Glory of the Father.
Cleopatra may be a little clunky for a child. However, shorten it to Cleo, and you have the connotations with the badass queen and a short and choppy format that conveys “little ass-kicker.”
Because of the story of Samson and Delilah, the name has negative connotations for many. Flying in the face of this negativity is what makes this such a badass name, and, in 2019, it had risen to number 88 in the U.S. baby name charts.
Edith is from the Old English Eadgyð, meaning wealth and war.
British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad in World War I after aiding the escape from occupied Belgium of around 75 soldiers and 100 civilians, giving shelter to them in her home before helping them across the border.
The name Emma began as a nickname for Germanic names that began with Ermen, meaning universal.
Emma Gatewood was a 67-year-old grandmother who told her adult children she was “going for a walk” but neglected to say she was off to hike the 2,168-mile Appalachian trail. Not only was she the first woman to complete the trail alone, but she also did it three times.
The feminine form of the Arabic name Faiz, meaning victorious.
Sometimes spelled Fayza, this name is popular enough to be mainstream, but not so common you’ll be bumping into other little victorious badasses with the same name.
An Arabic name, Fatima, means to abstain.
Also known as “Umm al-Banayn,” Fatma Al-Fihri founded the al-Qarawiyyin mosque in Fez, Morocco, in 859 CE. The mosque developed an institution of learning that eventually became the University of al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest learning institution globally.
Finley is an anglicized form of Fionnlagh which means fair warrior.
Finley might be a good choice if you have Scottish or Irish ancestry, and you have a feisty little girl who’s ready to take on the world.
The names Frank and Francis both evolved from the name of the Ancient Germanic tribe, the Franks.
A popular badass girl’s name of the 1930s, Frankie slowly became less popular. However, it’s recently become fashionable again and has become more popular every year in the U.S. since 2015.
Hattie is a shortened form of Harriet, which evolved from Old English and means leader of the army.
Hattie is an intimidating baby name not only because of its meaning, but also because of the badassery of Hattie Gossett, Hattie Lawton, and Hattie Caraway.
Heddy comes from the Germanic name Hadewig, meaning battle, war.
Movie star Hedy Lamarr was promoted as the world’s most beautiful woman. Less well known is that she was the co-inventor of a complex frequency hopping technology and improvements to several aircraft designs.
Henryka Krzywonos is a Polish MP who is considered one of the pivotal figures in the Polish revolution of 1989. She began a strike by stopping the tram she was driving, which eventually led to Polish independence.
Derived from the Germanic Id, Ida means work.
Born into slavery, Ida B. Wells was an American investigative journalist, co-founder of the Alpha Suffrage Club, and was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the horrors of lynching.
The name Irene evolved from the Greek word Eirene, which means peace.
Despite torture by the Gestapo and the threat of death, Irena Sendlerowa never revealed the names or locations of the Jewish children she rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II.
A medieval form of Elizabeth, Isabella means my God is my oath.
Isabella Bird was a badass British rebel who wrote “A Lady’s Life In The Rocky Mountains.” The book describes her travels in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where she refused to ride side-saddle. She also sued The Times for saying she dressed like a man.
A superhero in the DC Comics universe, the protagonist in Beyond Good And Evil, and the name of Mick Jagger’s daughter, Jade, has a serious rock star, rebellious, badass pedigree.
The meaning of Katherine is up for debate. It could mean torture, each of the two, or pure.
Katherine Switzer signed up for and officially ran the Boston Marathon in 1967 when women were not allowed to run. A race organizer tried, unsuccessfully, to drag her from the race, which she completed.
Kim predates the name Kimberly and is actually short for Kimball, which means chief of war.
Kim Deal was the original bassist in The Pixies and the frontwoman for The Breeders. The Pixies are credited with influencing major artists such as Kurt Cobain.
Komako is a Japanese name that means pony and child.
Komako Kimura was a Japanese suffragist. The government threatened to shut down her theater because she produced a play supportive of women’s rights. Instead of shutting down, she made performances free and was arrested.
Lepa is a Serbian name meaning beautiful.
At 17, Lepa Radić was a member of the resistance in the Second World War. She was captured during a battle with the Waffen SS and sentenced to hang. She refused to give up other resistance members in return for her life and was hanged.
The name Lilith is thought to have come from the Mesopotamian demons called lilû and means of the night or night monster.
In Jewish folklore, Lilith is Adam’s first wife and is cast out of the Garden of Eden because she refuses to submit to his authority. Sounds pretty badass to us.
Lillian comes from the Latin word lillium, the name of the flower.
Lillian Ngoyi was a South African political activist who helped launch the Federation of South African Women. She was arrested and spent 15 years under house arrest for fighting against apartheid.
Lorelei’s origin is unclear, but it may be related to the Germanic ley, meaning rock.
In German romantic literature, Lorelei is the name of a maiden who lives on Loreley, a rocky headland on the Rhine. There she lures boaters and sailors to their death with her songs.
Maud is a Dutch form of Matilda, which means strength in battle.
Maud Stevens Wagner was a badass punk before punk was even a thing. The first known professional female tattoo artist in the U.S. never used a tattoo machine; instead, she created all of her art by hand.
Milunka is a Slavic name meaning dear.
Milunka Savić cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothes, and rode off to war in place of her brother. She saw ten deployments before she was injured, and her true gender was discovered. Savić is the most decorated female combatant of all time.
Nila means dark blue in Sanskrit.
We like Nila because it manages to sound dark and edgy while at the same time being feminine. Nila is also modern-sounding, although it was briefly popular in the U.S. during the 1930s.
Nikita is a Russian name meaning victor.
A short and choppy name with punch, Nikita is badass, without being too aggressive. It became briefly popular in the U.S. during the late 1980s, probably due to the Elton John song of the same name.
Omu is an Osomari title that is the equivalent to queen.
Omu Okwei is considered to have been the greatest queen in Nigerian history. She built an extensive business empire and worked with the invading British while maintaining many important Nigerian traditions.
For her edgy, intelligent lyrics and her badass attitude to the music industry, Patti Smith is sometimes known as the poet laureate of punk.
A medieval English girl’s name, Prudence means prudent, wise, and skilled.
In 1983, post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees released a cover version of the Beatles song Dear Prudence. The song was a favorite of Jerry Garcia, and he also recorded a cover version.
Rhiannon is a name from Welsh mythology, and it means great queen.
In Welsh mythology, Rhiannon is a tough, strong-minded woman of the otherworld. She rebels against what’s expected by marrying someone of her choosing, rather than the man to which she was betrothed. Rhiannon was also a big hit song for singer Stevie Nicks.
Ruby was also the name of a brief yet incredibly badass rock band formed by a post-Credence Clearwater Revival John Fogerty. Ruby Rose is an American actress who played Batwoman on the CW network before abruptly departing from the show. Quitting a hit television show is a hardcore move, we think.
Sela means rock in Hebrew.
When we were looking at badass names, we researched those associated with rock. While we meant rock as in music, this name cropped up, and we decided it sounded pretty tough.
Sojourner means one who stays temporarily.
Listed by the Smithsonian magazine as one of the 100 most influential Americans of all time, Sojourner Truth was a hardcore badass of a woman who escaped slavery, fought for the end of slavery, and recruited black soldiers for the Union army.
An Old Norse name, Siv means bride.
Pronounced seev in Swedish, this was the name of Thor’s wife, although, in some places, you will see this written as Sif.
We think there is something inherently badass about girls’ names that are also boys’ names, and we’re not the only ones. This currently ranks as the 524th most popular girl’s name in the U.S. in 2019. Stevie Nicks, a famed American singer who has lived life on her own terms, is one famous example of this name.
Tarja is a Finnish name that means goodness.
Tarja Turunen fronted Nightwish, one of the most prominent symphonic metal bands ever. Talent and sheer force of will took them from a Scandinavian band to a regular festival headliner.
Tempest is from the Old English word meaning storm.
If you are brave enough to tempt fate, then consider adding Tempest to your list of badass girl’s names. With its dark and stormy connotations, we think this name is ripe for recognition.
Thérèse is the German and Nordic version of Theresa, which probably comes from the Greek word for summer.
Thérèse Bonney was an American photographer who spent much of World War II traveling through Europe documenting the plight of children.
Thora is an Ancient Scandinavian feminine version of Thor and means thunder.
Giving your child a name you hope will influence their personality is an ancient tradition. If you want to go down that road, then naming your child Thora is certainly giving her a badass headstart.
A Japanese name, Tomoe, means either earth or death.
Tomoe Gozen was an onna-bugeisha. These were Japanese women of noble birth who fought alongside the samurai. It is unclear whether she was an actual person or a fictional creation, but either way, she is frequently celebrated.
Vida evolved from the Roman word vita, which means life.
Pronounced Vee-da, we were surprised to discover this modern, edgy sounding name was relatively popular in the U.S. during the mid-1800s. Perhaps it’s time for a Vida revival.
Viv is short for Vivian, which came from the Latin word vivus and means alive.
Viv Albertine is best known as the guitarist for punk band, The Slits. Her autobiography was included in the list of the “50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years” in the New York Times.
Choosing a name for your baby with the intent of inspiring some hardcore badassery may not be everyone’s idea of the right thing to do, but it does harken back to ancient naming traditions found around the world.
Don’t blame us if you start to regret your action when, in a few years, you have a defiant little ass-kicker on your hands.