Category: classic names for girls
Classic baby names can encompass several different categories. There are Biblical names, from Anne to Zachary. There are names rooted in ancient cultures, including Atticus and Juno, which have survived or are being revived today.
And then there are the classic names that have been well-used in English-speaking cultures over the decades and centuries. While classic names by any definition do move in and out of style just like other names, some manage to endure better than others and become, well, the most classic classic names.
Here, our picks for ten of the best classic baby names today.
Catherine – The Duchess formerly known as Kate has done much to swing fashion toward the C-beginning version of this most classic of girls’ names. Catherine, classic in any spelling, has been borne by saints and queens along with some of the most inspiring literary heroines, including Heathcliff‘s Cathy of Wuthering Heights. Greek for “pure,” Catherine comes in countless international variations and with a wide range of nicknames. Most stylish today are Cate or Kate or the vintage-feeling Kay or Kitty.
For the past couple of years, Charlotte has been at or near the top of the list of Berry favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a name at the very center of the Sweet Spot of names with a ton of great attributes and references—literary, historic, and royal. She’s demure, yet solid and strong, classic but not stuffy, British with the slightest trace of a French accent–one of the very best classic girls’ names.
She has so much going for her that we thought that she deserved a whole blog to herself.
Like her cousin Caroline, Charlotte is a feminine form of Charles, but arrived there in a roundabout way. Charlotte is actually the English and French version of the Italian Carlotta, itself a feminine version of Carlo, the Italian Charles, and has been in English-speaking use since the seventeenth century. In the fifteenth century, Carlotta of Savoy married King Louis XI of France, where her name became Gallicized as Charlotte, a form which then emigrated to England during the next century.
With a number of classic names taking a downward turn these days, it’s nice to see that a few are going in the other direction—William, James, Charlotte –and one that we’re especially happy to see making a return: our featured name of the day, Alice.
Alice is unique among the body of traditional, classic girls’ names. She’s more feminine and dainty than Mary and Helen, more substantive than Ann or Jane or Jean, yet with more lightness, sweetness and innocent charm than Margaret and Katharine.
From the late nineteenth century through the 1920s, Alice was an enormously popular Top 20 name–reaching as high as Number 8 several times—then slowly made its way down until 2005 when it suddenly reversed direction again. Tina Fey named her baby Alice the following year, and from then on its upward trend has accelerated, with the name getting to 142nd place last year.
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: