With so many modern parents turning to edgy and innovative baby names, moms and dads who prefer to choose something more traditional are often the odd ones out! It’s not uncommon to meet kids with last names as first names, inventive spellings of classic names, or even kids who go by their initials or other nicknames. But naming a new baby is a huge trial for parents. What if it doesn’t suit, or what if the child grows up to hate it?
Then again, parents’ naming choices affect their children’s lives beyond the playground. A child’s name sticks with them throughout grade school, college, and into their career. It needs to be personal, yes, but it also needs to be versatile. Timeless names have waned in popularity, only to suddenly become trendy again as today’s parents turn to the past for inspiration. Luckily for parents of little girls, there are so many beautiful and classy monikers that fit every personality.
If you’re expecting a daughter and want to bestow a name on her that exudes a timeless personality and gives a nod to history, consider one of these twenty proper names that are properly befitting of almost any little lady.
She is a princess, after all. But royal babies aren’t the only ones who can pull off a winning name like Charlotte. It’s also literary in origin- think Charlotte Bronte, or even Charlotte’s Web for the little ones! Of course, it originally came from the boys’ name Charles, and both names have French origins.
Although it came from France, the name is widely used in English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, and Danish, too. Even with the surge of non-traditional names in recent years, Charlotte still ranked number seven in the United States in 2016, according to Behind the Name. It has only grown in popularity since around 2000, which is good news for the royal family! Plus, people rate the name is being feminine and refined, ideal traits for the name of an esteemed little lady.
Long before the Plain White Ts sang about her, Delilah had origins in Biblical terms. The name comes from the Hebrew word for “delicate,” which can also mean weak or languishing. Delilah was the lover of Samson in the Old Testament, and despite her betrayal of him, the name gained popularity in the 17th century.
Surprisingly, the name ranked in the hundreds as far as popularity in 2016 in the US, based on Behind the Name’s data. This is another feminine and refined name based on their rating system. And the Plain White Ts weren’t the only group to title a song after the name- there have been at least eight songs with the name Delilah in the title since 1968. So this is a great classic name if you want your little girl to have a song about her!
Did you know that Coco Chanel’s real name was Gabrielle? And the fashion designer wasn’t the only one to have the name. In popular culture, there are plenty of Gabrielles, both on TV and in movies. It’s a French and English name, but variations of the name are used across many different cultures. Gabriella and Gabi are two of the most common variants.
Behind the Name notes that this name wasn’t very popular in recent years, as it came in at number 225 in 2016 in the United States. In fact, popularity peaked in the late 90’s and has since declined. Although the name exudes grace and poise, it’s also been chosen in the naming of storms and hurricanes at least five times. Then again, the male Gabriel means “strong man, hero,” so why can’t the girls’ name be tough, too?
With a reputation as a very feminine and complex name, Bernadette also earns points for coming across as mature and formal. The name comes from the male form of the French name Bernard, but there is also a famous saint bearing the name. Although this is an elegant and quite long name, the trendy nickname “Bernie” gives it some youthful (and potentially political) appeal.
If you’re hoping for a name that’s uncommon yet distinguished, Bernadette fits the bill. Behind the Name didn’t have any data on the name for the 2016 rankings in the US, and the moniker hasn’t been even minutely popular nationally since the late 60’s. Then again, this fact ensures that your little girl will be one-of-a-kind in the classroom, and most likely later on in her career as well.
Katherine is derived from the Greek name Aikaterine, but the original form of the name is debatable as far as history and meaning. However, in early Christian times, it was associated with the Greek word for “pure,” katharos. Although Catherine is just as distinguished, Katherine gives parents the option to bestow a nickname on their girl such as Kate or Katie, without confusing the spelling.
Not surprisingly, Katherine is a common choice for many television and movie characters. Its popularity earned it the number 90 spot on the charts for 2016 according to Behind the Name. It was somewhat less popular in Canada and trailed behind in England and Wales, however. It’s also rated as a natural and strong name, which balances out the overall formality of such a long name.
This culmination of Anna and Bella can also be interpreted as a deviation of Anabel, which came from Scotland in the Middle Ages. Its usage is primarily Italian and English, and it’s similar enough to Annabel to put them in the same category. Although it wasn’t popular by any means in recent US rankings, the name allows parents to choose short and sweet nicknames from either end of the name.
While this name is considered to be quite delicate, it’s also very youthful, but girls can choose to go by a nickname for both brevity and professionalism if desired. Because the name peaked in 2010, odds are it won’t see a resurgence in popularity before your little princess reaches preschool, making Annabella a unique choice in a world full of Annas and Bellas!
This traditional French name came from the medieval title Genovefa, according to historical details from Behind the Name. The name is argued to be either Gaulish (Celtic) or Germanic, based on its resemblance to the words for “kin, family” in both languages. In the 1900’s, the name gained popularity, but its peak lasted only ten years before it fell out of favor.
While it might sound like a mature name for a little girl, you can also shorten it to the nickname Geni (like Jenny) or Viv. People tend to rate the name as sounding natural but also complex, which probably has to do with its foreign-sounding and decidedly French pronunciation. At the same time, it’s also known as being refined and classic, an ideal title for your precious little lady.
Although its Germanic roots mean “strength in battle,” this modernization of Mahthildis is more demure. It’s used in English, Swedish, and Finnish, with some variations on the spelling. According to Behind the Name, Matilda was common in many branches of European royalty in the Middle Ages. Today, it hardly makes a dent in popularity ratings in the United States.
Matilda is seen as a serious and even “nerdy” name, but for a little girl, it can also be whimsical. Nicknames Mattie or Tilly make it more versatile, but with the prevalence of the name Madison, and therefore the nickname Maddie, it might be simpler to stick with Matilda in its entirety. Or, you could take an even more original spin and adopt the Spanish or Portuguese spelling (Matilde), or even the Czech variation (Matylda).
A proper English title, Margaret was derived from a Greek word that meant “pearl.” Even in 2016, Margaret stayed in the top 150 girls’ names, although it’s seen a decline since the 1920’s. While many people might think of an elderly aunt or grandmother when they hear the name, Margaret appeals to parents who want a classic and noble name with the option to adapt nicknames depending on their girl’s personality.
Maggie, Meg, Marge, Margie, Madge, May, Peg, Peggie, and Midge are all associated nicknames. There are also variations in a whole host of other languages, and parents looking for a nonconventional twist on Margaret may instead choose Marguerite, Margot, or even Margareta. A wholesome and refined name for any girl, Margaret might be the ideal choice for even today’s self-described “hip” parents.
With a name like Eleanor, who could resist nicknaming a little girl Ellie? Other adaptations like Nellie, Nonie, Nora, and Nell give some versatility to the name. Coming from an Old French name Alienor, Eleanor surfaced in the 12th century with queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. It peaked in the 1920’s in the US, based on Behind the Name data, but it began an upward climb on the charts around 2010.
Most people perceive Eleanor as strong and wholesome, but also slightly “strange,” keeping the name from dipping into “boring” territory. Then again, cultural adaptations resulted in deviations like Leonora, Ellinor, and Alienor, so parents can keep the meaning but skew the spelling and pronunciation a bit. Alternatively, a shorter name like Ella or Nell also conveys the grace and class of Eleanor in a more brief way.
The name literally means “victory” in Latin, but today’s interpretation is more of a regal and queenlike persona. Although the name wasn’t very popular prior to Queen Victoria’s rule in Britain, after she took the throne, the name spread to other parts of the English-speaking world. This name is still popular in modern times, taking the number 21 slot in the US’ rankings in 2016. Parents like the ability to use nicknames like Vicki, Tori, and even Toria, while keeping the formal name to suit their girls past their teen years.
The wholesome and serious name is probably recognized as such because of its association with royalty and a number of saints, contrary to its definition. Other alternatives to the traditional spelling include the Italian Vittoria, French Victoire, and Estonian Viktoria.
Beatrice is an Italian adaptation of Beatrix, from the Latin Viatrix, meaning voyager or traveler. The name was common with early Christians, but the spelling was changed due to ties to the Latin word for “blessed,” beatus. Beatrix Potter is a famous bearer of the name, and variations exist across Italian, English, Swedish, and other languages and cultures.
In the modern US, Beatrice doesn’t rank very highly, despite its association with classic and formal tendencies. It reached its peak around 1910, according to Behind the Name, but there have likely always been a subset of parents who choose the name for its literary connotations. In Italian, one nickname is Bice, but for US parents, Bea, Trixie, or Tricia are acceptable shortened versions of the name. Alternatively, spelling and pronunciation changes like Beatriz (Spanish) or Beatrice (French) add interest to this traditional title.
This name mimics a flower, the Camelia, and it’s just as beautiful for a little girl. The origins are English, American, French, and Latin, so this name is popular around the world. Its Latin roots stem from ancient Rome, where young attendants of priests and priestesses used the name, according to She Knows.
In France, the name works for both boys and girls and ranked at number 10 in 2015. According to Behind the Name’s data, it’s grown steadily in the US too, and has yet to peak. Despite its use for both genders, most people assume the name is feminine, and it’s considered wholesome and refined by most accounts. Diverging from the conventional spelling, parents can also choose the form Camilla or Kamila, with the nickname Cami or even Millie.
Even if you’re not a fan of uber-famous Angelina Jolie, this diminutive of Angela is a sweet name that is popular all over the world. It’s most popular in the US, with France and the Netherlands coming up after. With the length of this name, little ladies can go by Angie or Lina, or even Angela. Or, take on the Irish spelling and pronunciation with the exotic Aingeal, or the Romanian Angelica. A more conventional alternative is Angeline, a shortened version of Evangeline.
With Italian, English, Russian, German, Dutch, Polish, Spanish, and Macedonian usage, you can take the name Angelina anywhere and still convey femininity and refinement. And although it was most popular in the early 2000s, Angelina has declined in popularity, making the name rare for the upcoming generation.
A long and graceful name with lots of nickname options, Evangeline is an extension of Angeline, with the alternative Evangelina. This almost tediously long name shortens into the delightful Evie, Lina, Angie, or Eva. The Spanish alternative is Evangelina, with the option to pronounce a soft g. It has climbed in popularity in recent years, according to Behind the Name, but it’s still beyond the 200s in popularity rankings. It’s overwhelmingly perceived as feminine, natural, and delicate. Still, the name conveys character and power. Its literary origins also come from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a poem titled “Evangeline” in 1847.
Its origins are Greek, from the combination of the word “good” (eu) and “news, message” (angelma), forming the translation of “good news.” Of course, any little girl is good news, but bestowing this name on her holds significance.
Most popular in Italy, Anastasia is an adaptation of the masculine name Anastasius, a 4th-century saint. Because of that saint, the name became common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It also emerged in the Middle Ages as a popular English name. Millennials will likely remember the movie about Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Russian tsar Nicholas II.
Along with Russian roots, the name also occurs in Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, Hungarian, Macedonian, Polish, Serbian, and Slovak. If the traditional spelling isn’t right for your little girl, consider Anastazie (Czech), Anastasija (Macedonian), or Anastazia (Slovak) instead. Nicknames include Ana, Stasi, Tasia, and Natasa. This mature and complex name will make any little girl feel like royalty, and it sounds just exotic enough to stand out from the school-age crowd.
This trendy last name as a first name variant comes from a surname meaning “cheerful” in Old English. Blythe does sound like a cheerful girl, and this short but sweet name holds plenty of character with its unique spelling and pronunciation. While uncommon for modern girls, the antiquity of it is a pleasant departure from many modern names.
People commonly regard this name as refined yet strange, according to Behind the Name, and it’s also perceived as an intellectual and upper class title. At the same time, the Old English spelling competes with today’s trendy names that use “y” in place of “i” in an effort to be different. For a little girl who’s as plucky and bold as she is beautiful, Blythe is a worthy contender on the baby girl potentials list.
Although Gwyneth Paltrow is probably the only real-life Gwyneth I’ve ever heard of, the name has a traditional quality and an elegance that suits little ladies as well as grown up ones! The spelling Gwyneth is English, but the Welsh spellings include Gweneth, Gwenith, Gwenneth, and Gwenyth, in case you’re looking for something even more different.
Little girls called Gwyneth can also go by Gwyn or Gwen, a classy and brief nickname that suits girls of all ages. However, if you’re concerned about your little one’s generation recognizing the connotation with the celebrity Gwyneth, it may be worth modifying the spelling or pronunciation. Although, there are worse celebs to be associated with! But the meaning of the name, “white, fair, blessed” in Welsh, makes it too pristine to pass up.
There is something simply irresistible about a little girl called Frannie, but Francine is an esteemed title that sounds more grown-up for when little ladies become teens. Unfortunately, Fanny is also a common nickname, which could take girls down the path of being picked on by peers. But, alternatives like Francesca (Catalan) or Francis (English) may help avoid undesirable nicknames.
The name hasn’t ranked in popularity in recent years by Behind the Name’s estimations, but the male version (Frances/Francis, Francesco, Frank) is found in nearly every culture. That said, a girl named Francine in this decade will be a rare one, and that’s a good thing for a family who wants an original name for their girl. There are also variations like Francette (French) or Franka (Croation) to consider, too.
Derived from the Roman Prisca, Priscilla is an English name stemming from the Puritans. Therefore, it’s renowned as fairly biblical. The name didn’t even rank in the top 500 in the US in 2016, according to Behind the Name, making it quite rare in the states. It didn’t rank in France or the Netherlands, either, so any girl with the name Priscilla will be rare in today’s preschools. In fact, the name peaked in popularity around 1940, which explains its appeal today.
Plenty of cute nicknames come with this name, including Cece, Cissy, Pris, Prissy, and Sissy. Both feminine and complex, Priscilla is the name of two saints, a gospel singer, two Olympic medalists, and Elvis’ wife! While it has the potential to sound rather stuck up, Priscilla makes a sophisticated name that can grow with a girl.
Sources: Behind the Name, SheKnows
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