Choosing a baby name is a fun, yet super important job. Read on to find out why we chose the baby name Arlo, what the name Arlo means, and how we feel about the name Arlo six years on.

Arlo baby name. What does Arlo mean?

Why we chose the baby name Arlo

A question we get asked a hell of a lot is, ‘So, why Arlo?’ or, ‘Where did you hear that name?’  Well, here is the full account of the long road to choosing a name for Arlo.

I LOVE love baby names. I have been thinking about names for potential children since I was a young girl. I kept a master list on my computer, updating it whenever I came across a new name that I loved.

But here I was, looking at that list whilst actually pregnant, and I realised that half of these names just would not work for us in the real world. I had some ridiculous names on there, which were lovely when I was playing make-believe, but this was the real thing now and it was time to get serious. I made some major revisions before presenting ‘The List’ to Sam.

Despite my edits, Sam burst out laughing at half of them and declared an immediate ‘no’ to the other half. It did come as a bit of a blow to have the names I have been thinking about for so long rejected with the smallest amount of consideration by someone who had clearly never given a moment’s thought to potential children naming before his seed had been well and truly sown. Ahem.

So, ‘The List’ was out. It was time to start from scratch.

Although we had similar taste in girls names, Sam and I discovered that we were miles apart when it came to boy’s names. He liked classic, popular names. I had a huge issue with calling my child a name that ten others would have.

I knew that I wanted a special name for my boy. A name that felt like ‘us’. One that was strong, yet gentle. And a name that wouldn’t be too ‘out there’ for him – it’s a hard balance to strike when you know you want to choose something a bit different.

We had a few issues along the way. Namely (pun intended), the classic dogs and boyfriends dilemma.

Could we give our child the same name as my dead dog? (my choice. Sounds weird, but I just really liked the name and already had good associations with it). Could we give our child the same name as my current dog? (Sam’s choice. Why do we like our dogs names so much??).

Was it crossing some kind of line to give our child the same name as my sister’s recent ex?? Yes, we clearly had no imagination to think outside of names of people we already knew.

Sam had fallen in love with ‘Albert’. I had told him repeatedly, ‘No no no never ever not in a million years not for me’. No offence to Alberts out there but my tastes tend to veer from the traditional. Sam was still fighting in Albert’s corner.

Meanwhile, I had fallen in love with dead-dog-name, which Sam had flung into the ‘definitely not no way‘ pile on more occasions than I could count.

So…Why Arlo and where did we get his name from.

There was no exciting eureka moment where we suddenly thought of the name. I can’t actually remember where I first saw the name Arlo, I think it was a baby name website. We were vaguely aware of Arlo Guthrie, but perhaps just a few generations too young for it to have any impact on our name choice.

I really like names ending in ‘o’. Phonetically gentle but not too soft to lose all masculine connotation. But Sam had vetoed most of those names. Arlo was the only one that he paused on. I liked that it was not way too unusual. It could work.

What does Arlo mean?

The Old English meaning is ‘army hill’ and is also a distant derivative of ‘hare’, ‘rabbit’, and ‘eagle’. In Italian it is a variant of ‘Carlos’ and in Spanish it means ‘barberry tree’.

Arlo name meaning

We quite liked that the name Arlo doesn’t have one particular meaning. You can almost give it your own interpretation.

Cut to around one week before Arlo was born, and we had two solid name choices. I say we, really I mean that I had two solid name choices.

Sam was still dithering. Agreeing to the two names one day, only to deny any such agreement and push for his beloved Albert again. (I was also still holding out a little hope that he might agree to dead-dog-name).

I thought a name would become obvious once he was born, as it is so hard to put a face to a name. I thought it would be easy to pick between our two boy names once I saw my baby.

Arlo was born and we stared at him. A lot.

He definitely didn’t look like boy option A. But did he look like boy option B?

Before he was born, I couldn’t imagine what my baby would look like. Now he was here, and he looked so like me, and yet he looked so different to anything I could have imagined.

He looked like him. And we weren’t sure how something so simple as a name could do that justice. It’s a bit mind-blowing, having a baby.

So we waited. And waited some more.

Pregnant me had been adamant that we would announce his name and his birth at the same time. That’s the ‘proper’ way.

The birth announcement texts were sent out saying, ‘Baby boy born…etc’. We ignored the desperate requests to know his name. We were desperate to know his name too, it just hadn’t come to us yet.

It became apparent over the next few days. I had been calling him Arlo in my head for a day or so when Sam accidentally called him Arlo out loud.

‘You called him Arlo’.

‘Well, that’s his name, isn’t it?’

After all the months (and years, on my part) of deliberation, it was as simple as that.

His name has met a bit of resistance. My grandma couldn’t get her head around it at first and wanted to call Arlo by his middle name – a name she is more familiar with.

A couple of days after his birth a stranger said (after a long pause), ‘Well, at least hell be the only one in his class’. A lot of the time we have to spell his name to people. However, I am pleased that most people seem to really like our choice, and there’s no denying that he has really grown into his name.

I think his name suits him completely, all our other choices now don’t fit at all. He is Arlo.


A little update as it’s been SIX YEARS since we named our baby Arlo. It’s funny reading this back because now that the mammoth task of naming our first baby is way behind us, I don’t feel like naming him Arlo was particularly groundbreaking at all. The name Arlo has certainly rose in popularity massively since, with a fair few celebrities choosing the baby name Arlo. I like that it’s gaining popularity, as I never wanted him to stand out, I just wanted to give him a nice name.

And we still LOVE his name. I’ve named two more boys since (you can see their names here), and I still have major love for the name Arlo. Boy, did he grow into his name. It suits him entirely. Could not possibly imagine him being called anything else. Arlo is a name that is full of character, easy to say, easy to spell. Simple yet gentle-sounding. And it suits a six year old just as much as a baby and I can see it wearing very well as an adult, too.

Lots of people stumble across this post when they are considering the baby name Arlo, and I love that so many of you have shared your stories in the comments. I might be slightly biased, but I think Arlo is a fantastic baby name choice.

Arlo name meaning. Arlo baby name. What does Arlo mean?

 

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    1. On 1/8/15 my first grandson was born. His wonderful parents named him Arlo Francis. He is precious and I can not wait to bond with him. I think with the name Arlo he is bound to be a fun and creative person. I love baby Arlo.

        1. My son’s name is Arlo Francis as well! He is lovely and his name fits him so well. My husband and I had a childhood friend named Arlo and his name came up when I was pregnant. As soon as I heard his name I knew it was the one. Funny thing is that I had not seen my childhood friend Arlo in 15 + years and I ran into him at a restaurant when I was 6 months pregnant. I took it as a sign. I even told him I was thinking of naming my son Arlo and he replied “Why?!” Haha I like hearing/reading about the other Arlo’s out there!

      1. My husband and I are expecting in September, and we have chosen Arlo Francis as our boy’s name as well! Though we don’t know what we’re having and we don’t plan to find out ahead of time, I have a strong feeling that it’s a boy 🙂

  1. My husband and I are seriously thinking Arlo for this little guy we are having in November. There are a couple concerns 1. his brother is Adler – is it to twin name like and 2. How will it transfer into adulthood? I really really love it and I think its a go as long as we can move on from these two issues.

    1. Well, of course I am biased and think Arlo is a great name : ) And I can totally see an adult Arlo. We were also a bit unsure before he was born, but he is definintely an ‘Arlo’. Perhaps you will only know once he is here.

  2. My little boy showed up 8 days ago. My father was a great fan of Arlo Guthrie. (I grew up listening to his LPs.) Arlo was to be my name but it was changed at the last minute.

    My wife is a singer/songwriter and a great fan of Woody Guthrie, Arlo G.’s father.

    Long story short: I now have an Arlo Tennyson S.

  3. we also kind of stumbled across the name and our little 10 week old ‘arlo’ (second name myles) couldn’t be called anything else. We love the name!

    1. Oh wow, we have an Arlo Miles! Great taste in first & middle name! 😀 We were tossing up between the two spellings – Miles or Myles – for his middle name. It also took us a while (a week) to settle on Arlo and name him, but now that it’s his name I couldn’t imagine him as anything else, it suits him perfectly 🙂

  4. Our son born on December 13, 2012 is Arlo River Harrison Smith. We officially chose his name in the hospital when I was in labor. My husband loved it for 9 months and had to convince me. I couldn’t imagine him being named anything else.

  5. Great choice! Arlo is my name and it was perfect as a kid and now as an adult. My mother insists I was named after a prince of Spain from some book she read….I have yet to find that book.)) Older people ask if my parents were hippies and named me after Arlo Guthrie. Although Arlo is an uncommon name, there are several impressive people named Arlo that are listed in Wikipedia. The name Arlo has come up in several movies. Keep the name strong!

  6. Our Arlo will be here in April & since we decided on his name, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked those same questions! I’m floored by the number of people who’ve told me they’ve never heard the name!

  7. I have a little Arlo too, his name suits him perfectly. I liked reading your story as I often get asked the same questions… Where does the name Arlo come from? How do you spell it? What does it mean? etc… But we also come across Arlo’s quite often now that we know it. It’s a great name, I love that it’s a bit unusual but not too out there 🙂

  8. We have an Arlo Woods R. Couldn’t imagine him with any other name. I really liked Milo too, but seemed like it wouldn’t grow well with him. Arlo is a nice name for a baby, boy or adult. We stumbled across it too (fans of Justified) and are not avid Guthrie fans despite the name combination we unwittingly have him (Arlo Guthrie’s father is Woody Guthrie — didn’t even cross our minds. Woods is my husband’s middle name.) nice to see so many Arlo fans here and if you’re on the fence, go for it!

  9. My Arlo is three years old now and was the only real boy name in contention while I was pregnant. I sometimes second guess my decision and look up sites like yours to remind me that it really is a great name. Thanks!

  10. I also stumbled upon this page – we have a 14 month old Arlo. Same thing, we couldn’t decide when I was pregnant but as soon as he was born, no other name suited him. He has totally grown into Arlo too and everyone who hears the name loves it. I like that he could one day be either a rock star or an accountant with a name like Arlo – though I do think we’ve given him a lifetime of saying ‘A-R-L-O’.

    1. it is such a versatile name. I know what you mean about constantly spelling it, I find myself doing that a lot now when I just know that the person hasn’t heard of the name before. At least it’s quick to spell!

  11. We also have an Arlo, he is Arlo Sebastian, he is 11 months old today. I’m not sure where I first heard but just loved it immediately, we get constant compliments on it ☺

    1. Oh, that’s funny! My 4yo is named Sebastian (we call him Bastian) and our last son, who is due in March, will be named Arlo 🙂

  12. I always knew I’d name my son Arlo. I grew up lstening to Arlo Guthrie and I just always loved the name. In 2012(after years of infertility) I was blessed with my little Arlo.
    My husband and his father are Beatles fans, while my dad and I love Arlo Guthrie and folk music. So my son is Arlo Jude.
    We get loads of compliments on his name. My grandmother’s last words before she passed(right after our gender scan) was that “it was a hillbilly name”, and she hated it. Good thing I could care less of what she thought. His name fits him so well.
    It is unique like him, with his red hair and blue eyes.

  13. Naming Arlo had been the same long process most of you seem to have had. It was pathetic that my mum thought that I had named him after a pop group and refused to speak to me for a week – this a week when I really needed her. Our adult friends think its really cool still but Arlo (now 9 years old) has no particular opinion on his name and neither do his friends. I have seen him smile proudly – I hope – when an instructor paused in a roll call to say his name was cool.
    I have learnt how extraordinarily opinionated people can be about naming – even strangers – and a lot of the time it was that no one would no one would no how to spell it – no one knows how to spell Clare/Claire/Clair.

    So rock on you cool parents.

    Ps – his friends sometimes shorten his name to Arl ??!!

    1. He gets the occasional ‘Arls’ but that’s about it for now. Will be interesting to see if his friends come up with any shortenings/nicknames.

  14. Yay…I have a baby Arlo too! He’s 5 months old. I’m trying to pinpoint exactly where I first saw/heard the name but can’t. Had Arlo picked out last year during my first pregnancy as our ‘boy’s name’ but had a girl who we named Annie after my mother (delighted with her name too!). When my second baby arrived and he was a boy, we went straight back to the name Arlo. I also like the fact that the name Arlo is very versatile in that it would suit a baby, child, teenager, adult or someone older. My husband and I both love the name. Our son is Arlo James (middle name after his grandfather) . Really enjoyed reading your story Chloe and everyone else’s too- thank you for sharing!

    1. I can’t really pinpoint where I first heard Arlo either. Most likely during a trawl of naming websites. I didn’t know any Arlo’s at the time, but have since noticed it being picked as a celeb baby name a few times. Annie is also a lovely name, thanks for sharing your story!

      1. Arlo James is my favourite name! I don’t know any Arlo’s at the moment am I am kinda hoping it doesn’t become one of those popular names.

  15. I could have written this myself! We have a 1 week old whom we finally gave the name Arlo to yesterday! I always liked the name but after a week with my little man, I just knew it was the one. My husband needed serious persuasion and your story actually helped tip the scales in my favor. Here’s to all the amazing Arlos in the world!

    1. My other half loves the name now. In fact, with our second son he asked why we couldn’t find another name that was equally solid, not-too-common, but not pretentiously unique. “Another Arlo, but something different”. I knew I always wanted to call him Rory, though. Congratulations on your new little Arlo!

      1. Congrats on new baby Arlo! I love Rory too- that was on our shortlist and still adore it. So funny that with our love of the name Arlo, I think we all seem to have similar tastes in baby name choosing in general – excellent taste in my view! 🙂

      2. My husband (Sam..!) and I have a 2 and a half year old ‘Leo Samuel’ and have recently decided on ‘Arlo James’ (was going to be Arlo Francis) if our new baby (due in April) is a boy .. Just adore both names, Leo is strong and concise (suits my boy just perfectly!) and we feel that Arlo has a similar feel – but with a ‘softness’. I’ve mentioned the name to my mum and received the same response as when ‘Leo’ was mentioned .. “Arlo (pause…) I’m sure I’ll love it when the baby is born!” haha!

        I have found people around my age (25-30) just love it.

        Beautiful <3

  16. Pets are MY children in life. As I was searching for a name for my week old puppy (who will be arriving at his forever home in a few more weeks) I wanted a name that would go well with my year old cat – Juno – I also like names ending in O and unique names. Long story short – the puppy was born on my birthday. I was searching people who shared the birthday and came across Woodrow Wilson 28th POTUS. Woodrow (Woody) Guthrie was named after him & well, then along came Arlo! Welcome to the world wiggle butt!

    1. I just named my dog Arlo as well! We rescued him 2 weeks ago and we were not sure what to call him. I was reading names from a list on a website and as soon as I said Arlo, my husband yelled, “that’s it! What a cool name!” Since my husband is also a huge Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie fan, there was no way I was getting him away from it! I love the name and so many of my friends do too! I think the name is going to really explode int he next few years!

  17. We just called our little beagle puppy Arlo! Snap Lisa A. =) We brought him home February 13th and it wasn’t even on the list. He just was Arlo came out of nowhere. Obviously different to naming a child haha.

    I love unusual names, my 7 year old son is called Austen. Fairly uncommon in the UK. Not came across another spelt that way.

    Stumbled across this looking for the name meaning. How nice the thread has been going so long.

    Sophie

  18. My son was born 1 August 2017, 8 weeks pre-mature, his name is Arlo, Arlo for me means strength because during my pregnancy my aunt and my father passed away, i stayed strong. I had the worst time with work, I stayed strong, everything that 2017 has challenged me with, I was able to stay strong. We are still in hospital, as soon as I walk into the ICU unit I pull strength from him. He is amazing, simply amazing

  19. I’m so happy to come across this article! My hubby and I are expecting our 3rd baby (2nd boy) and I am set on the name Arlo! I think it suits perfectly with our other children’s names! Our daughter is Stormie Noelle, our son is Rocco Sebastían, and I LOVE Arlo Maximus for baby boy! My husband is Latino so trying to keep with the Spanish/Latin theme.

  20. I am currently pregnant at the moment and we have been having the search through baby name books, searching the internet type of thing. We came across Arlo and fell in love with it, this is the name top of our list. We both said it depends what he looks like but if he suits the name he will be called Arlo James! ( I sneakily bought a personalised blanket with the name on) so just hoping he does look like an Arlo! I’m called Amy and my partner is Anthony. We have particular drawn ourselves to having another A name as we’ll be the triple a’s AAA 🙂

  21. I just randomly found this today, as felt like reminding myself what Arlo meant! Ours is 2 years old, and we just moved back to my home town and bought a house on a street where the only other Arlo in town lives! He’s a younger baby, but still, what are the odds! Too funny. We love the name and always get lots of compliments, but also questions about how we picked it! We also have a Logan, so my sister just calls them LoLo for short.

      1. Would you friend be willing to make one for us? Due date in April. Would pay for it, shipping and everything, obviously! Totally understand if you want it to be like… the only one, unique and all that 🙂

  22. This so much sounds like our story.

    When I was just over three months pregnant I kept saying to my husband, we have our girl name but what if we have a boy. I told him we need to start thinking and discussing names. One morning I woke up and the name Arlo just came to me. I must have read it somewhere. I think actually I was reading entertainment weekly and “Juice” from Sons of Anarchy just named him son in real life Arlo.

    Anyways a few days later I said to my husband again, “we will have to think of boy names. The only one in my head at the moment is Arlo”. My husband didn’t even respond. Not yes, not no, not even maybe. He literally didn’t say anything to the point I thought he didn’t hear me. A few weeks go by and I say the same thing again to him. And he just nonchalant turns to me and says, “ Arlo. I thought we were going with Arlo”. Haha. From there it was set. He was born April 12 and he was Arlo from day one. People always comment on how awesome his name is. I agree that it is soft, but masculine. We love that Arlo Gunthrie is folksy as we love country music.

    So there you have it.

  23. My dog, who was adopted by me and my daughter about five years ago, is named Arlo. Bring from the US, and of a particular vintage, I grew up listening to Woody and Arlo Guthrie’s folk music. I liked the name Arlo but was all set to name my dog something cutesy like “Mango”. Arlo was literally the only name to which my daughter would agree. So our Maltese Poodle is name Arlo. It suits him very well. Thank you for sharing your story!

  24. My grandson was born two days ago…..Arlo Matthew I had never heard the name before but I love it, it’s a real cool name my husband knows the music of Arlo Guthrie and said he’s in good company with the name

  25. My sister is going to give birth in a few months and she hasn’t decided on what she’ll name the baby. I like that you named your son Arlo which has no one particular meaning and is open for many interpretations. Although that’s a great idea, I think it’s best if my sister will resort to searching for more baby names online so she can decide better.

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