From the experts:
Agnes, though it was the third most common English girls' name for four hundred years, has long been stuck in the attic. But now it looks like Agnes was so far out it's just about ready to come back in. It did look cute on a little girl in Despicable Me, and nickname Aggie has lots of retro appeal.
Agnes has also been making inroads in the celebrisphere—first actress Elisabeth Shue chose Agnes for her third child, and more recently Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany named their daughter Agnes Lark.
In medieval times, St. Agnes was a very popular saint, leading to its popularity as a girl's name. Agnes Grey is the title of one of the two novels written by Anne Brontë.
The French pronunciation—ahn-YEZ—could make it more attractive, but few Americans would comply. Other interesting variations: the Welsh Nesta, the Latin/Scandinavian Agneta, the Spanish Inez/Ines/Ynez, and the Scottish Senga—which happens to be Agnes spelled backwards.
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