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Category: classic girl names

cecilia4

Click here for lots more classic names.

The whole idea of classic girls’ names that are hot right now might seem like a contradiction in terms: How can a name be both trendy and timeless?  It can if it’s an ancient name that’s been well and widely used over the centuries but that’s also enjoying the heat of attention right now.

The 12 classic girls’ names here qualify.  All have deep and illustrious roots yet are also listed by the official U.S. roster of names that were the fastest-rising in the past year.  That makes all of them excellent choices, offering both style and substance.

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Baby Girl Names: Two-for-One Choices

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Maybe because Nameberry attracts such serious name lovers, many visitors to the site can’t settle for choosing just one name for their babies.

I’m not talking about the trend toward picking two middle names but about the taste for baby girl names that have two very different versions: a classic, elaborate, elegant, formal name with a cute, modern, spunky nickname that may be very distinct in sound and feel.

These two-for-one names seem to work best for girls, as evidenced by a recent message board rundown of the possibilities.  And of course it’s a phenomenon we’ve come across frequently on Nameberry before.

Many parents, in fact, say they’re only interested in baby girl names that go two ways.  And most don’t want to settle for the obvious, traditional short form — Penny for Penelope, for example — but are seeking a proper name and an inventive short form.

Some examples of fresh two-for-one names for girls, with thanks to our wonderful berries for some of these creative ideas:

AlexandraLexi or Sasha

AramintaMinty

AureliaGoldie

BeatrixBetty or Trixie

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Nameberry Picks: The 12 best feminizations

georgia

In this era of boys’ or at least boyish names for girls, feminizations — classic feminine forms of male names such as Charlotte and Georgia — seem almost quaint.  Why not just name your daughter Charlie….or George?

Well, there are a lot of reasons.  And choosing a more traditional feminization can give you the best of all name worlds.  Most are distinctly female without being frilly, have deep roots yet feel right for the contemporary world, let you honor a male ancestor without creating any confusion about the gender of his little namesake.

There are so many great feminine forms that it was difficult narrowing the list down to just a dozen.  But these are our current favorites:

Antonia Antonia is a lush and gorgeous name that has not found favor the way sisters Charlotte and Georgia have.  In fact, it fell off the US Top 1000 in 2007 — which may be a very good reason to use it now.  While some may find it too Old World, we think it’s lovely in its full form, not shortened to the considerably less classy Toni or Tonia.

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The Mary Month of May

pam's may idea

For the arrival of May, official month of the Virgin Mary, we revisit her classic name and some of its many variations.

May, as any Catholic schoolchild can tell you, is the official month of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.  Which might make Mary an appropriate name for a girl born this month, except after a four hundred year run, Mary is more than ready for semi-retirement.

The good news is that you can hold onto Mary’s symbolic value by choosing one of her fresh, appealing variations.  And there are literally dozens of them, formal and breezily nicknameish, ultrafemme and down-to-earth.  Some of the options:

MADONNA – There’s only one Madonna – and it’s not the plaster one in the blue alcove at church.  The pop star has all but taken over this formerly holy name and rebranded it with a modern in-your-face sexuality.  Do you dare use it for your child?  Do you want to?  Maybe not yet, but with names like Elvis and Scarlett gaining widespread popularity a generation or two after the fame of their original bearers, we all might end up having grandchildren named Madonna.

MAE and MAY – A mere handful of years ago, Mae was a quintessential old-lady name, barely baby-appropriate, but today it feels as sweetly simple as a warm day in the sun.  Can be a short form for any of the Mary variations and also makes a good middle name.

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classicgirldress

See lots more classic girls’ names.

 

So you’re interested in classic girls’ names for your daughter, and at first what constitutes a classic seems pretty clear: Katherine qualifies, for instance, and so does Elizabeth.

But very quickly, as Linda and I discovered classifying names for our books, what’s classic and what’s not becomes really murky.  Anne, sure, but AnnaAnnie?  If Annie’s in, does that mean that Laurie also gets to accompany Laura?

Then recently, we hit upon a quantitative formula for choosing the classic girls’ names: We’d define that as every name that had been in the U.S. Top 1000 every single year since 1880.

We came up with 114 names, but many on the list will surprise you as much as they surprised us.  Elizabeth is there, for instance, but so are Elisabeth and EliseJenny makes the grade, but not trendier sister JenniferCaroline and even Carolyn, yes; Carol, no.

To make the roster of classic girls’ names easier to digest, we’ve divided it into groups.  If you think we misplaced anything, let us know.  You always do!

Core Classics

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