Baby names are often the most difficult choice new parents face. Between trying to honor each parent’s heritage, carrying family names on, and agreeing on the spelling and arrangement of first and middle names, there’s a lot to think about. For families with one or both parents who have Spanish or other Latin roots, there’s often an urge to choose something meaningful, albeit a name that won’t be too difficult for English-speaking Americans to pronounce.
For girls especially, a fitting name that honors family tradition is a huge hurdle to overcome. A name that is difficult to pronounce can make your child the subject of ridicule at school or social functions. A name that’s too long becomes a burden, making the middle name or a derivative nickname the top choice for daily use.
Whether you and your partner can’t agree on how ethnic to go with a name, or you’re not sure you love the choices you’ve compromised on- or if you’re just an average American parent who wants a melodic sounding name that’s just as beautiful as your baby girl is, these 25 Spanish names will help you find what’s just right for your little girl and your family.
Annabelle may be a sweet and traditional southern name, but the spelling variation makes all the difference when it comes to Spanish flair. It has English and Dutch origins in the form of Annabel, a variant of Anna. If you’re looking for a girls’ name that’s easily shortened- Ana- but that has a nice ring to it in its longer form, this name might work for your little girl.
As far as popularity goes, Anabel doesn’t usually rank on any lists, although Anna is a perennial favorite among multiple cultures. In fact, Ana has roots in Spanish, Portuguese, Slovene, Bulgarian, Romanian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Georgian- making it a sleek and international name for American girls. Plus, celebs like Michael J. Fox seem to like the name- his daughter’s middle name is Annabelle.
While you might think of Romanian origins for the name Anastasia, given the popularity of stories and movies about the princess, plenty of Spanish parents love the name for their girls. It’s versatile, too, with nicknames like Ana, or Stacey coming to mind. It’s also relatively rare, if you’re hoping for a title that makes your girl stand out.
The length also sets this name apart from other Spanish ones, but at the same time, it flows well and can pair easily with many shorter last names. It’s also equally as elegant with longer last names, and chances are, your Anastasia won’t meet many others throughout her lifetime. The name does rank in the top 100 quite often in Italy, making it slightly adventurous for American girls, but fans of actress Anastasia Griffith might choose it for that reason.
Behind the Name lists it as a cognate of Blanche in both Spanish and Catalan, but Blanca is most similar to the name Bianca, but with a linguistic flair. Literally, the name can mean “white” in Spanish, but it’s also a widely used girls’ name that’s highly popular in Spain and Catalonia. That said, it’s not very popular in the US, meaning your little lady will likely stand out in the classroom.
The last time Blanca made the charts in America was in 2007, and even then, it was only just inside the top 1000 list. In fact, its highest-ranking year was in 1991, when it came in at number 400 on popularity charts. In France, the name became popular when a woman by that name married King Louis VIII, spurring the commoners to choose it in tribute.
For English speakers, we might be more familiar with Camilla, but in Spanish and Portuguese, the name drops an L. This variation is highly popular in Mexico, where it ranked at number 7 in 2013. Portugal also favors the name, and it’s stayed within the top 40 lists in the last decade. Chile also has data that shows trends in favor of Camila through 2014. The popularity of actress Camila Alves may have helped the name’s notoriety, and there’s also a tennis athlete by the same first name.
Many American parents might be familiar with the name Camille, another variation, but dropping an L and changing the E to an A gives the name more of an ethnic sound while keeping it feminine. In Belgium, France, and Switzerland, parents prefer the spelling Camille, another option for American parents who want a more exotic name for their girls.
According to Behind the Name, Carmen is the medieval Spanish form of “Carmel.” In Latin, the word carmen means “song,” and an early opera from the 1800s popularized the name for girls. Surprisingly, many parents throughout the US and other countries have chosen Carmen for their boys, too.
In Spain, the name is an evergreen choice, staying in the top 20’s for use since the early 2000s. The same is true in Galicia, making the name a traditional and simple choice. There are no pronunciation difficulties or spelling challenges with this name, and even in the US, it’s stayed trendy over the decades. Alec Baldwin also has a daughter by the name, born in 2013, which could help or hurt its performance in the years. Other famous Carmens include Carmen Electra, plus Carmen San Diego, the cartoon who starred in video games in the 90’s.
An ultra-feminine name that lends itself to cutesy nicknames in the toddler years, Cecilia diverges from the English Cecille and loosens things up a bit. Call her Cece, Sissy, Lily, or another variation, and your girl can use her full name when the mood strikes. Although it’s a musical-sounding name, its history deals with the popularity of Saint Cecilia, who is the patron saint of music and musicians.
However, when the name first became popular during the Middle Ages, the English spelled it Cecily, but it switched to Cecilia in the 18th century, according to Behind the Name. If it sounds rather posh, consider that Vera Wang chose the title for her daughter, who was born in 1990. Its elegance has made it popular not only in the US, but across Italy and France, too.
If you’re a millennial, you probably recall the show Clarissa Explains It All, which starred Melissa Joan Hart. But the name isn’t as common in the United States as you might think, although it was fairly popular in the early 90’s when the show aired. Now, the name is rare, making it a unique and sweet choice for little girls in America and elsewhere.
According to Behind the Name, Clarissa is a Latin form of Clarice, which became popular back in 1748 with a novel by the name. As it’s written, Clarissa is used in English, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish in countries across the globe. But for now, no celebrities have picked up on it, so your Clarissa would be one in a million. Even if you shorten it to Clara or Clare, there’s a lot to love about this name.
It’s a cognate of the name Helen, and a variant of the Russian Yelena, according to Behind the Name, but Elena stands on its own in countries across the world. The alternatives Helena and Ileana retain the same sounds but with a few extra letters, although Elena on its own is short and sweet for any American girl.
While the name tops lists in Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Austria, it’s never quite made it big in the United States. Even with Disney’s Princess Elena emerging in the show Elena of Avalor in 2015, or the Vampire Diaries’ leading lady, sometimes-human Elena, parents didn’t propel the name to the top of the US charts. Although the English name Elaine has been around a long time, this variation on a classic has a regal quality and a little spice, ideal for baby girls of the next generation.
Ali Landry and her husband Alejandro Monteverde have a daughter named Estela, but the moniker isn’t limited to families with Latin roots. Despite relative success of the variation Estelle, Estela hasn’t ranked on popularity lists in the US since the 50’s. Its popularity at that time probably had something to do with Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, but even non-literary parents can appreciate the brief and meaningful name.
According to Behind the Name, Estelle came from a French name which was derived from the Latin “stella,” which means “star.” Estelle has been a longstanding entry on US baby name lists since the 1800s, but variations don’t seem to have caught on. However, for Spanish speaking families, the similarity between the name Estela and the word for “star” in Spanish, “estrella,” make it a sweet choice that bridges a gap between their roots and their American identity.
While most Americans have stuck with Gabrielle, historically speaking, the Spanish form has stayed popular throughout Chile, Mexico, Spain, and Portugal over the years. It’s also trendy in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania. The name is a feminine derivative of Gabriel, which is popular as a Hebrew word for “strong.” While boys can shorten Gabriel to Gabe, girls usually go with Gabby or Gabi. But the length of the name also means you can nickname your little one Ella or another variation, too.
In all likelihood, your girl won’t have to share her name with any other American tots, since Gabriela ranked at number 252 in 2016, according to Behind the Name. And if you’re interested in deeper meanings, Gabrielle was the real name of Coco Chanel, and of course, there’s Gabby Douglas for little girls everywhere to look up to.
The name Isabel has held impressive longevity in the United States, which isn’t surprising considering there’s been an Isabella or Bella in every preschool class for as long as anyone can remember. Part of the resurgence may have been due to the use of the name in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, as people became obsessed with vampires and the hapless human girl who befriended them.
But for the most part, celebrities have stayed away from the name, and it’s faded in recent years to around the top 150 in the United States. It is, however, still a Spanish favorite, ranking in the top 60 or higher for as long as Behind the Name has held records for it. That said, the variation Isabelle has earned high marks from Lance Armstrong, Kerry Washington, and Marlee Matlin, all of whom have daughters by that name.
Ivonne or Yvonne, as it originated, has roots in nature and plants stemming from medieval and earlier times. While it doesn’t have a specific definition, according to Behind the Name, the spelling Ivonne is reportedly Spanish. Although this alternate spelling hasn’t caught on in the English-speaking world, the variant Yvonne has wavered between the top 200 and top 1000 on US-based popularity lists.
The spelling and pronunciation may prove tricky to native English speakers, but overall, the sound is similar to the name Evan, which plenty of parents have chosen over the years for both sons and daughters. Similarly, there are also names like Yvette, Evonne, and Ivona that maintain the same flair without the pronunciation difficulties. There’s also Yesenia or Yessica, names that use the letter Y in creative beginnings to traditional Spanish names.
While Lily is a perfectly simple and sweet name for girls, Lilia takes on a Spanish pronunciation and meaning. While the longer Liliana is more commonly used in the United States as well as in Spanish-speaking countries, Lilia still ranked within the top 1000 in 2016. Conversely, it’s just below the top 100 in France.
For a feminine name that has roots in floral and nature meanings, you can’t go wrong with Lilia. There are also spelling variations that stem from Russian and Ukrainian meanings, such as Liliya or Lilya. This is one name that parents can really get creative with as far as spelling, and even pronunciation, but it can also be as simple as you’d like, too. Then again, you could also default to Lily, like Meredith Vieira, Kevin Costner, Kate Beckinsale, and Brooke Anderson did with their daughters.
The most iconic Lourdes of our time is probably Madonna’s daughter, and if her mom’s example is any indication, Lourdes may take her fame to the next level with only her first name as a brand. To date, no other celebrities have publicly chosen the name for their offspring. But the name is originally French and was the name of a historic town, giving it more meaning than simply a superstar’s daughter’s name.
It has never broken into the top 500 on baby name popularity lists, according to Behind the Name, and only two notable actresses and Olympic medalists have the name. That means it’s ideal for a little girl born in today’s times, since it’s somewhat nondescript as a name but at the same time, most people have heard of it because of Madonna’s girl.
Most Americans who were born in 1990 or earlier grew up with a Marcia or Marcy. But Marcela is a variation that’s uncommon in the states, although it’s a classical sounding name with plenty of history. It’s tied to the masculine names Marcellus and Marcus, which were Roman family names and the name of two popes. Marcella, with the extra L, is German and Ancient Roman at its roots.
Behind the Name lists no namesakes for Marcela, while Marcella has a saint with the name, and an Olympic medalist with the title. For American parents who don’t want to get too daring with their baby naming, choosing Marcela is a sweet compromise, since you can shorten it to Marcia or Marcy, or even Ella, and give your American girl options for what she wants to go by as she grows.
A combination of Maria and Isabel, two other classic Spanish titles, Maribel is a sweet-sounding and straightforward name that has maintained mild popularity over time. In the United States, Maribel popped up in 1961 just below the top 1000 names. It never got any higher than the top 300 and has dropped off the top 1000 completely since 2009.
Whether you have Spanish roots or just want something different, Maribel offers a meaningful mashup between the widely used Maria and the trendy Isabel. It also gives you nickname options like Mary and Bella, simpler to spell and easier to pronounce nicknames that other parents won’t feel the need to question you about. Even with the full name, it’s short and sweet enough that there shouldn’t be much confusion when it comes to spelling and saying it.
While you might think of the car, the Mercedes Benz, when you hear this name, there’s a good reason for that. The man who created the Mercedes Benz trademark in 1902 named the car after his daughter, Mercedes Jellinek. The brand is known for its luxury automobiles today, and the bad news is, many other parents might smirk when they hear your little girl’s name.
That said, Behind the Name explains that Mercedes literally translates to “mercies” in Spanish, meaning many mercies, which comes from the title of the Virgin Mary in Spanish (Maria de las Mercedes). Despite its connotation with the cars, the name has continued to be relatively popular over the centuries, keeping in the top 1000 until 2014. While Mexican families often nickname their girls Meche, other nicknames can include Mercy or Sadie, if you’re hoping for a more American-sounding moniker.
Because it’s used across so many cultures, the name Olivia can rank on any names list from English to Italian to Danish. Shakespeare is credited with using the name as it’s currently spelled in a play, but it’s very similar to the Latin word for olive, which is “oliva.” Wordplay aside, the name gained global traction and remains popular today.
Celebrities like Lance Armstrong, Kirk Cameron, Al Pacino, James William Van Der Beek, Denzel Washington, and more have chosen the name for their tots. With the variety of nicknames (Liv, Livia, Livy, Ollie, Olive) and spellings (Olyvia, Alivia) available, there’s no need to explain how perfect Olivia is for today’s modern tots. The name even earned the number 2 popularity spot in the US in 2016, and it was number 1 in Australia, England and Wales, New Zealand, and Scotland, just to name a few.
Paula and Polly may be American staples, but the Spanish take is less common here and more prevalent in Mexico and other countries. Juan Pablo Montoya has a daughter named Paulina, but there’s also the famous Paulina Rubio who carries the title. Plenty of spelling variations carry it through other cultures: Polina, Pavlina, Pauline, and Paolina are a few noteworthy choices.
Interestingly, the simple substitution of an A for an E, for Pauline, appeals to most Americans, and Pauline was trending high in the early 1900s and even earlier. It faded out in the late 1990s, however, and hasn’t made a reappearance since on the top 1000 charts. Paula, or the Spanish variant Paola, has stayed popular over the years, meaning your Paulina or Paolina will be unique among her peers.
If you grew up reading Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books like I did, you may already have a soft spot for this name. It’s a masculine form of the name Ramon, but with a more natural sound for English-speaking Americans. It became popular in the English-speaking world in 1884, according to Behind the Name, with the publication of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel with the same name.
The name didn’t make it onto the top 1000 lists in the US between 1989 and 2016, when it made a comeback at spot 950. Despite its unexpected resurgence, only a couple of celebrities have chosen the name, and only one relatively recently- Maggie Gyllenhaal with her daughter in 2006. Nicknames are slim pickings here, but Mona is a popular and handy diminutive depending on your girl’s personality.
Since the iconic Selena Quintanilla-Perez’s rise to fame in 1982, plus Jennifer Lopez’s depiction of her in the eponymous movie after her death in 1995, the name Selena has consistently held its place on the popularity charts of the US. In fact, the name spiked in popularity the year Selena passed, meaning more and more grownup Selenas are now naming their own children.
Even Selena Gomez, one of today’s top pop stars, was named after Selena, the Latin Times reported. Selena Gomez explained that she was born three years before Selena passed away, and that her name was her parents’ second choice. However, a cousin was born before Selena, and the family used the name Priscilla, leaving Selena’s mom and dad to turn to their love of Tejano music to name their little girl.
Sophie might have been a classic American staple, but Sofia is an edgier and still glamorous choice for today’s parents wanting a little Spanish influence. It’s popular in the United States, but it also topped popularity lists in 2016 in Chile, Denmark, and Italy, and came in within the top 10 in Finland, Galicia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.
Sofia Vergara is a favorite famous Sofia, but there’s also filmmaker Sofia Coppola and a handful of Olympic medalists to revere. The name Sophia means “wisdom” in Greek, and it’s also the name of an early saint. It saw early popularity during the middle ages in Europe, and carried into the rest of the world soon after. If you like the simplicity and elegance of Sophie, Sofia is a modern take that is widely popular.
If you want to give your little lady a name to grow into, Teresa certainly poses an admirable challenge. Saint Teresa of Avila was a Spanish nun who wrote spiritual books and reformed monasteries. Then, of course, there was also mother Teresa who worked with the poor and lived a selfless existence- although she chose the name herself in honor of the French saint and patron of missionaries, Therese de Lisieux.
All of this according to Behind the Name, which also noted that Teresa has stayed in the top 1000 since basically forever. Its peak was in the 1960s, but today it’s still noteworthy enough to show up on lists. While most English-speaking Americans are likely more familiar with Theresa, dropping the H is a modern choice that also echoes traditional Spanish spelling conventions.
This name might be a mouthful, but Valentina is a dignified and historical name that is perfect for little girls with big dreams. It was the name of the first woman who visited space, Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet astronaut who ventured into space in 1963. The name ranks on lists in Spain, Mexico, Galicia, Chile, Catalonia, and Austria, but even in the US it’s within the top 200.
Adriana Lima chose the name for her little girl, as did Salma Hayek Pinault, and with seriously cute nicknames like Val and Tina, how can you resist? It’s also a relatively trendy name, as the top 1000 list picked it up in 1994 and hasn’t dropped it off since. In 2016, the name was ranked 106 in the United States, while it stayed hugely popular in other countries worldwide.
Vivian or Vivienne may be an American staple, but Viviana is a Spanish variation that sounds more melodic. The name Vivianus, which Behind the Name posits Viviana came from, was derived from the Latin word “vivus” which means “alive.” There was a Saint Vivian, and occasionally English-speaking countries use it as a boys’ name.
With just adding one extra letter, Viviana gives parents more nickname choices- like Vivi, Viv, or Ana- and a regal air. That said, despite the relative popularity of Vivian, not many parents are choosing Viviana today. Even with Angelina Jolie’s daughter, named Vivienne, the alternate spellings and pronunciations haven’t taken off. Even Rosie O’Donnell and Rosie Pope, both of whom also have Viviennes, chose a more traditional European spelling, leaving Viviana up for grabs for parents who want a short and sweet name with meaning.
Sources: Behindthename.com, Namecandy.com, Latintimes.com