No-Frills Girl Names for the New Year

Claire, Jane, Kate and Rose

By Abby Sandel

January is the month for resolutions. We want to increase our health and simplify our lives. We look at our new calendar and set goals to make 2017 better than the year before.

Is there a baby name style that goes along with all of this January determination?

There just might be. Call them straightforward girl names. Girl names that feel almost timeless, but are enjoying some popularity today. They’re one-syllable, frills-free options that wear well on children and grown women alike.

If you’re expecting a daughter this month, perhaps one of these fresh start names for a girl will appeal.

Ann, Anne Anna and Ana are both more popular, but there’s something about Ann – with or without the e. Anne of Green Gables longed to be Cordelia, but in an age of girls named Savannah and Sophia, Olivia and Victoria, Ann sounds surprisingly crisp.

Claire – Classic Claire has ranked in the US Top 100 since the late 1990s, but it still feels distinctive. From Molly Ringwald’s teenage character in The Breakfast Club to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, it’s easy to imagine Claire at any age. The meaning also helps Claire feel like an auspicious New Year pick: bright or clear.

Elle Ellie and Ella are everybody’s favorites, but it’s spare Elle that makes this list. The French word for she, it’s the title of a fashion magazine established in Paris in 1945, and now published around the world. Elle feels like the ultimate minimalist name for 2017.

Grace – A simple virtue name with plenty of Hollywood gloss, Grace has become a go-to name for girls in the early twenty-first century – just like it was in the late nineteenth. Elegant and meaningful, Grace makes for an enduring choice.

Jane Jane was the girl in every child’s school book. Along with her brother Dick, they taught the Baby Boomers to read. Long before that, Jane was a short-lived Queen of England. Add in activist Jane Addams and literary giant Jane Austen, and this makes for a no-nonsense name with considerable depth.

Kate – Argue Katherine versus Catherine all you like, it’s straightforward Kate that feels most appropriate in January. Kate carries a certain classic air. After all, Petruchio uses the nickname for Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew, giving it Shakespeare’s seal of approval. Even as Kaitlyn fades, Kate remains a timeless choice for a daughter.

Liv Liv’s recent rise in the US might be attributed to actress Liv Tyler, or to our affection for all of the OliviaOlive names. But Liv also fits right in with slim, trim names like Kate and Claire. Popular in Scandinavia, it’s a modern name with history and another great meaning: life.

Mae June is sweetly vintage, but Mae feels more vibrant. Credit saucy Hollywood icon Mae West for the name’s energy. A favorite in the middle spot, and sometimes short for Mary or Margaret, Mae stands confidently on her own, too.

Rose – Like Mae, Rose promises springtime in winter. It’s every bit as clear and simple a name as Grace or Kate. In an age of nature names, Rose fits right in – and yet feels like more than another flower name, too. There’s a strength and self-possession to Rose that makes it a natural choice for a daughter born early in the New Year.

What are your favorite short, simple, strong names for girls? I’m sure I’ve left some great ones off the list! Do you feel like this style is particularly appealing at this time of the year?

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