Every Mom agonizes over making the choice of name for her brand new baby girl. Should she go with something elegant and classic? If she does, this could introduce the risk of the name becoming moldy and out-of-fashion by the next decade. Or Mom can go for a name that is more forward-thinking and modern—but she might run the risk of saddling her baby with a name that in retrospect sounds faddish, possibly foolish. Some Moms go for ‘aspirational’ names—think Porsche or Diamond. (Of course, this runs the risk of the child eventually be taunted: your Mom named you after a Porsche ‘cuz you’ll never own one!) Equally bad is an especially ‘weighty’ name—think ‘Genesis’ or ‘Perfect.' Such names are almost a prescription for trouble. Baby Genesis may decide her name portends the beginning of eighteen years of torment for Mom. Baby Perfect may decide to be—well—not quite flawless.
With that being said, there are timeless, pretty choices for names that can convey how special Mom sees her new baby—without falling into any of the traps evoked by the monikers above. Without further ado, here are 25 beautiful baby names every little girl wishes she had.
Bella is the short form of the name Isabella—which is itself a Spanish/Italian derivative of the name Elizabeth—meaning “devoted to God.” The original “Elizabeth” is, of course, strongly associated with royalty, such as the current monarch of England—Queen Elizabeth.
But the derivations—Isabella—and then Bella, are a little less extravagant-sounding. And Bella has the extra benefit of not being able to be shortened to diminutive forms like ‘Lizzie’ or ‘Izzy’ – the typical schoolyard fate of an ‘Elizabeth.’
But the best point of all is that Bella actually has a meaning unto itself: It means ‘beautiful’! Lastly, let’s face it, it just sounds beautiful—melodic and charming! And who wouldn’t want to call a baby a name so lovely?
Some babies come into the world with a wise, all-knowing mien. It’s as if they’ve contemplated all the mysteries of the universe and already come to a conclusion.
Such babies don’t exude the jaunty anticipation of spring or the gaudy lushness of summer. Instead, they carry with them the sensibility of a more contemplative season.
For those attuned to the seasons, autumn represents a time of tranquility. Summer is past, the harvest is over, the food has been put away and stored as everyone settles in for the upcoming winter.
Think of beautiful fall foliage, crisp air, apple pie, a warm mug of hot chocolate, and the snugness of a favorite sweater. These may be some of the images that come to you when you think of Autumn—and rightly so.
Believed to be derived from the old German name "Ermentrude," this modernized and Anglicized version has the benefit of sounding not only more current but also significantly more musical. The old Germanic name means “universal” or “whole” – a very fitting etymology as the name Emma has become popular across the globe.
Over the years the name has become more and more popular, often topping lists of favorite female baby names. It may be because of the popularity of the actress Emma Watson and the long-running Harry Potter series she starred in. Millions of young children (and their parents) were re-introduced to the name Emma. For the actress, it’s been an unbelievably lucky name: her role as Hermione in Harry Potter was her first professional role ever! And unsurprisingly—as befitting the meaning of the name—she’s received universal acclaim.
For a young mother searching for a name that’s not only elegant, but modern, and meaningful," Emma" is a winner!
Madeline is actually an Anglicized form of Magdalene—as in the famous Biblical “Mary of Magdelene.” Magdelene wasn’t a surname in the way that one currently envisions surnames, but rather a place name—Magdala—the village where Mary was from. To take it further, “magdala,” in the original Aramaic language means “tower” or—more metaphorically speaking—“elevated” “elegant,” or “magnificent.”
As for famous people named Madeline, probably the most well-known is the first female U.S. Secretary of State—Madeline Albright. Known for her gravitas and poise, she certainly embodied the qualities associated with the name.
So, as you surmise, any baby Madeline has a lot to live up to—as presumably, she will have to tower about her peers in accomplishments and prestige. But on the good side, the worst nickname she may be saddled with is “Maddy,” which is actually kind of cute.
Believed to be derived from the Latin “lilium” or the Greek "leiron,” this name quickly gained popularity in England (and other English-speaking countries) in the form “Lily.”
Of course, it has retained all the connotations you would expect from its flower namesake—delicacy, purity, and innocence.
And those are the exactly the qualities you think of when you think of actress and comedian Lily Tomlin, one of the most famous bearers of the name. (Well, no, not exactly: her humor, while not exactly ribald, is not exactly “innocent” either. But she is hilarious…)
The British singer/actress Lily Allen is a little closer to, perhaps, the clichéd conception of a Lily, with her waif-like appearance and baby face. But dig a bit deeper and she’s a bit edgy for a “Lily.”
So is your baby a “Lily”? Maybe if your baby is as lovely as a flower but with a lot more grit than others might expect? Because beauty and strength seem to go hand-in-hand with girls called Lily!
Originally derived from Latin or Greek “Sophia”—meaning wisdom or knowledge. It also has royal origins, as it became a popular given name for royalty.
But frankly, who cares about its etymological origins when it has such famous namesakes as actresses Sophia Loren and Sofia Vergara (from the popular TV show Modern Family.)
The Italian actress Sophia Loren, a lush beauty, proved to be much more than her looks. Gaining minor recognition as a beauty contestant in her teens (she did not win…can you believe it?) she took initiative and enrolled in acting school—a shrewd move on her part because she gained international fame in films such as Aida and Desire Under the Elms. But it was a later role in Two Women, a dark wartime era movie that finally won her recognition as a thespian; she won that year’s Best Actress award!
But perhaps Loren’s most endearing quality was the fact that she never took herself too seriously. Joking about her famous hourglass figure, she once quipped, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
So for Moms looking for a name that captures elegance, beauty, and brains, look no further than “Sophia”
Another name connected with nature, “Willow” is believed to be derived from the English “welig” or the German “weide.” It is associated with the willow tree, often planted for its ornamental appearance as it features pendulous branches that hang like drapery. On this basis, the name “Willow” has come to be associated with gracefulness and poise.
The tree is a water-loving tree, so it is commonly planted near rivers and lakes. Its deep roots burrow into the ground, stabilizing riverbanks and providing attractive shady areas for picnics or maybe midday naps. And interestingly, in Celtic legends, it is believed to be the “tree of Creation” with spiritual connections to the moon, water, and dreams.
Thus the name “Willow” not only evokes a sense of lithe and slender physicality, it is also associated with a sense of enchantment and wonder. If your little one seems to embody these qualities, perhaps you should consider this lovely name!
The name “Olivia” is believed by some experts to be of Latin origin, meaning “olive tree.” Based on this interpretation, Olivia has its roots (no pun intended) in legend since the olive tree has been lauded in historical texts as diverse as the Bible to Greek mythology.
Olive trees were known for their longevity (they can live hundreds of years), their beauty, and their utility (olive oil alone was used as fuel, cooking oil, and hairdressing). Olive trees became associated with wealth and wisdom and peace—the last as in the term “extending an olive branch.”
Some have contended that Olivia is actually a feminized form of Oliver—which is construed to be from the German “Alfihar” means “Elf Army”!
Either way, the name has become one of the most fashionable baby names, with singer Olivia Newton-John and actress Olivia Wilde making it even more popular!
One translation of “Paris” is “son of Priam” – made famous by Greek legend. This name is actually related to one of the other names on our list: Helene/Helen. Paris is one of the original namesakes—Prince Paris of Troy—who fought over Helen in the Trojan War. “Paris” is also, of course, associated with the beautiful capital city of France, alternately known as “the City of Lights.”
Interestingly, this name has been associated with use as both a boy’s name and a girl’s name, although arguably it is currently more in vogue as a girl’s name, with Paris Hilton being the most memorable.
The name “Paris” invokes romance, beauty, and metropolitan savoir faire. There is a baby somewhere who is not only a cutie but also displays a mysterious “je ne sais quoi” – a Paris!
Known at first as an English language surname—an example would be 4th U.S. president James Madison—the name started to become popularized as given name for girls in the 20th century. Some believe it to be an updated version of Mathieson—as in “son of Matthew” – with the original “Matthew” meaning “gift of God.” Other experts contend it is more likely an updated version of “Matilda” meaning “strong fighter.”
Either way, it’s a unique name that seems to connote a sense of strength and sincerity. Some also point to the fact that it could be construed as gender neutral—although of late, it seems to be much more accepted as a girl’s name than as a boy’s. Similar to Madeline, a Madison is likely to be dubbed “Maddy” at school—and since that’s an adorable nickname, that’s more than acceptable!
From the Latin “stellaris,” meaning star-like, it has alternate versions such as “Estrella” and “Estelle.” While it seems like it might be a bit intimidating—is it fair to name a baby after a celestial wonder—there’s something comforting about the name, rather than daunting.
It might be that the name is associated with childhood nursery rhymes, such as “Star Light, Star Bright,” or our childhood wishes (wishing upon a star) or maybe our fascination with celebrities (“stars”). Whatever the reason, the name seems to connote brightness, beauty, and loveliness—all excellent characteristics.
For examples of modern-day bearers of this name (or versions of it) look no further than designer Stella McCartney.
Stella McCartney could easily have been overshadowed by her famous father John McCartney. But she made her own mark in fashion design, with her brand becoming a go-to choice for many celebrities.
So while the name Stella is not perhaps as common as others on this list, with its suggestions of transcendence and beauty, it may be one to consider!
Okay, I know I said before that the name "Elizabeth"can be a bit intimidating. Strongly associated with royalty—as in the current monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth—the name Elizabeth brings with it an aristocratic air. Etymologically it also carries an admirable connotation – specifically meaning “devoted to God.”
Where this name can go wrong, in my opinion, is with the many and sundry diminutives that can take it from aristocratic to somewhat inelegant. Take "Eliza" for example. It’s cute, but it also brings to mind Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady fame regaling bystanders with her broad Cockney accent, then forced into a superficial elegance by endlessly repeating “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
However, the original name is beautiful. So if any future classmates attempt to nickname your child, she can simply fix them with an imperious air and remind them: “My name is Elizabeth.”
This name is derived from the gorgeous gemstone ruby. Derived from Latin “rubinus lapis” or “red stone” the name became popular as a girl’s name in the 1900’s. It’s actually related to sapphire, as it is derived from the same material— corundum.
In fact, it became popular along with other jewel-related names, such as “Jade,” “Pearl,” and “Crystal.” These jewel-related name tended to convey prosperity and – as this particular name is associated with the gemstone for the month of July – a sense of cheerfulness.
Probably one of the most famous namesakes would be the actress Ruby Dee, who was lauded for her roles on both stages and in film.
But just like a woman wearing red is not typically a wilting flower, a woman named Ruby is probably not just an eye-catching beauty, but probably a bit on the extroverted side as well. So expect that a baby Ruby will not only be a charmer, but also a confident well-adjusted baby!
When you look into some babies’ eyes, you just know they came straight from heaven. Didn’t need a stork. Had their own wings. Not just wide-eyed and innocent, but downright celestial. If so, you are not looking at a Cindy or a Taylor or a Piper. You’re looking at an Angela!
I must be in a ‘movie mood.’ You remember the scene in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life where the angel Clarence catches George about to give up on life? Clarence intercedes, stating that without George, the world would be a very different place.
It’s as if—all of a sudden—one person has made the world a little brighter? As if somehow a heavenly messenger was sent to bring down the good news personally? Well, that’s how you feel when you meet a baby Angela.
The name instantly confers a sense of dignity, refinement, and transcendence. It is derived from the Latin “gratia,” which—unsurprisingly—translates to the English “grace.” In fact, if you are Catholic, you may have inadvertently been singing it for years because it is featured in the lyrics of Ave Maria—“gratia plena,” as in “full of grace.”
Besides its lovely intrinsic meaning, the name has also come to be associated with royalty and elegance because of Grace Kelly, former Princess of Monaco—the tiny European nation tucked into the French Riviera.
Hers was somewhat of a fairytale story. An American actress acclaimed for her beauty, she coincidentally met Prince Albert of Monaco while participating in a Cannes delegation touring France.
She and the Prince eventually married in a fairy-tale wedding, and the rest is history!
Helena is the Latinized form of Helen, which is also beautiful. Experts variously indicate the name means “the Bright One” or “Shining Light.” Historically, the name has come to represent the kind of woman that men and even entire towns will fight over. According to Greek legend, the original Helen was the wife of the King of Sparta. She was either abducted or ran off to Paris of Troy—setting off the Trojan War.
Now of course, through the years, some of the details may have been exaggerated. Maybe Helen of Troy was a fiery temptress. Or maybe she was just caught up in a dramatic love triangle.
Now maybe “Helena" is the softer kinder version of Helen, but I wouldn’t expect zero drama from a baby with this name. Does she prefer only the most stylish diapers? Or perhaps seemed to saunter before she could truly walk? Then perhaps you have a Helena on your hands!
If you’ve ever run across a field of bobbing daisies, you may have intuitively guessed the meaning of the name—which has been associated with cheerfulness, purity, and fidelity.
"Daisy" is derived from the old English phrase “dæges eage,” meaning "day's eye.” This may be where the association of daisies with fidelity comes into play—they literally open with the presence of the morning sun and then—as the day progresses—faithfully track the sun across the sky.
Also, you may be familiar with the game played by every lovelorn teenager—plucking a daisy’s petals one by one, while alternating “he loves me” with “he loves me not” to ascertain whether or not a love interest returns the favor. But if you give your baby the name Daisy, she’ll know at least one thing: Mom loves her!
The most famous bearer of this name is, of course, Queen Victoria, the monarch of the United Kingdom (ruling from 1837 – 1901). The Latin-based name means “to conquer” or “victory” and certainly this dominating air is something Queen Victoria would have needed to rule successfully—as female rulers were still somewhat the exception.
She did have a lasting impact—instituting, for example, the Victoria Cross for bravery in war. And of course, the Victorian era is attributed to her. Although this era is most commonly associated with prudishness and moralism, it was also associated with British naval dominance, national prosperity, and advances in health.
Probably the most famous modern-day Victoria is Victoria Beckham. She was one of the original Spice Girls—from the English pop star group. But she moved on to a surprising second act—launching a successful career in fashion design.
So from the 19th century, Queen Victoria to the modern-day Victoria Beckham, the name Victoria has become associated with not just a majestic air but also with resourceful determined women—a great reason to consider the name for your little princess!
If you’ve ever seen the movie Jurassic Park, you might remember how dinosaur DNA was preserved perfectly in amber—the fossilized resin from long-ago trees. The idea was that scientists extracted the dinosaur DNA from blood in ancient mosquitos who had become trapped in the resin. They then used the DNA to resurrect long-extinct dinosaurs. (And voilà! You’ve got a pretty cool movie!)
Besides being scientifically exciting, amber seems to convey a sense of longevity and endurance—qualities a new Mom might very well hope to confer on her baby!
But let’s get to the fun part. Let’s face it, amber is also beautiful—the translucent, honey-colored gem has long been prized as a decorative addition to jewelry.
So, let’s see. A name that simultaneously suggests longevity and beauty? No wonder this baby name is a perennial hit!
Now let’s move on a name that has held its own for at least two centuries—all the way from poet Emily Dickinson to the popular modern actress Emily Blunt. The name Emily, besides being wonderfully musical to the ear, has an interesting meaning that may win the hearts of prospective parents. Though many agree it’s apparently derived from the Latin name Aemilia, experts variously describe its meaning as “rival” or “striving” – suggesting your baby won’t be any kind of pushover.
So, is your baby an Emily? Is she somehow simultaneously cute and fierce in onesies? When she’s sucking on a pacifier, do you take it out every once in a while to make sure she’s not hiding a gold tooth behind it? Ok, I maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, but then again….
Originally derived from the Hebrew name “Channah,” the name is believed to mean “favor” or “grace” – a name derived from a long-ago prophetess. Originally barren, the story goes, the prophetess was able to give birth due to her faith. Thus, the name is associated with powerful women who intend to make their mark in the world. And who seems to have an extra gift—the gift of being able to predict where they need to be at the right moment of history to create success and make an impact!
Think of recent well-known Annas—the famous tennis player Anna Kournikova or the formidable editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour. Any Mom who aspires for her little girl to not only be talented, charming, beautiful and also tenacious couldn’t pick a better name than “Anna.”
Derived from the Latin “Katharina,” this moniker was popularized as early as the 3rd century. Even the Greeks used it—in the form “Aikaterina.” Meaning “clear” or “pure” this name inspires a sense of classic beauty. (In fact, one could say it captures the innocence that the celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow was aiming for when she named her baby ‘Apple,’ indicating that she felt it apples were “so sweet and…wholesome” – except “Katherine’ has the benefit of not being the name of a fruit!)
Further, the name “Katherine” has withstood the test of time, maintaining its popularity all the way from Russia’s 18th century’s “Catherine the Great,” through the renowned actress Katherine Hepburn.
And there’s an even more recent famous owner you might not know about: Katy Perry! Her actual name is Katheryn!
Do you have a baby who fixes you with a haughty stare and appears to believe she’s conferring a privilege when she allows you to change her diapers?
Then you might want to consider the name Eleanor.
Derived from a Greek origin, it is believed to mean “bright” or “light.” It’s a classy name that immediately bestows a sense of gravitas. Some believe it is a version of "Leonore." an old English name associated with royalty.
In any case, it’s one of those names whose diminutives aren’t annoying: future classmates end up calling your baby "Nora" or " Ellie" – which is okay because those names are nice in and of themselves. But on paper, for legal signatures and the like, your little princess can retain a regal touch!
An ever-popular baby name, this name has Biblical or Hebrew origins, and variously has been described as meaning “lady of high rank,” “Princess,” or “noblewoman.”
Biblically, the original Sarah was the wife of Abraham, who had an interesting story. She was told she would be the mother of an important person but disbelieved the prediction because she was already past childbearing age. But, as anyone familiar with the story knows, she did end up having a son, Isaac.
Unsurprisingly, the name “Sarah” in Persian is also associated with “happy” or “pure.”
Famous modern women with the name “Sarah” include the comedian Sarah Silverman and the actress Sarah Michelle Gellar of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame.
So one could say the name Sarah was originally associated with royalty and purity and now has become associated with strength and courage: qualities anyone would want in their baby!
Like some other names on this list, the name Tracy is associated with a location. It was originally a surname borrowed from the Norman French: it means “from Thracia.”
It was not necessarily a girl’s name either. It, for example, is the first name of the male comedian Tracy Morgan of 30 Rock fame. The basketball star Tracy McGrady (a seven-time NBA all-star) is another example of a male “Tracy.”
But over time, this name has become more common as a female given name, with famous namesakes such as the singer Tracy Chapman and the comedian Tracey Ullman making the case for its popularity among girls. (Some observers point out that it may also be being used as a diminutive form of Theresa.)
Whatever the reason, this name has become a long-standing favorite!