By Emily Cardoza
Though summer vacation has just about ended, visions of white sand beaches and gentle waves endure – even if only as screensavers. Why not continue the summer holidays through an exploration of island-inspired baby names for girls?
Each of these names corresponds to one of the thousands of islands abiding worldwide – but they’re more than just place-names. Many islands were named for inspiring individuals, historical events, or geographical phenomena. Let’s travel through them!
Rosario – Colombia
A classic Spanish name, this one is even more special because it ends in O – only more modern girls’ names like Willow and Harlow seem to have this trait. It translates to “rosary,” and could work as an honorific for a familial Rose. Actress Rosario Dawson brought this name into the spotlight recently, but Rosario still has its own individuality.
Félicité – Republic of Seychelles
This lovely French name meaning “happiness” has an English version in the US Top 1000 –Felicity. This foreign variation is très mignonne, and if you can get past the pronunciation confusion, it’s a very pretty choice. Felicia and Flicka are other variants heard in the English-speaking world.
Palma – Colombia
A breezy botanical name, Palma calls to mind swaying palm trees and Easter Sunday – summer and spring all in one. It ranked in the US until 1942, but has been very uncommon since. With Alma and Paloma in play, perhaps lovely Palma will rise again! It also offers the vintage nickname Polly.
Magdalena – Chile
A religious name with thousands of years of history, Magdalena has yet to again reach its peak rank of #311 in 1882. It’s rarely been heard outside of the Spanish-speaking community, but as more and more Spanish speakers emigrate to the US, more and more Spanish names will follow! Magdalena is an excellent alternative to Margaret or Madelyn, with the cute nickname Maggie.
After already having had a few different names, Catalina was named in honor of Saint Catherine by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno, a name that stuck. Today, Catalina is growing in popularity as an alternative to Caitlin or Catherine, with the bonus nickname Lina. Another option – the only city on the island is Avalon, a beautiful choice.
While the etymology of the island name is unclear, Skye has the feeling of exploration and possibility. It’s been used for both boys and girls, but is currently trending feminine at #385 on the girls’ list. This largest Scottish island has long been celebrated in film and literature – only time will tell whether its brisk sound and attractive aura will climb the charts even higher.
Montserrat – Caribbean
Another popular name for Spanish speakers, Montserrat translates to “serrated mountain”, referring to a mountain range near Barcelona. In the United States, it’s already reached #650, having been on the list since 2005. The island itself became a getaway for Western musicians, and is also known for its active volcano.
Eleuthera – Bahamas
Looking for a totally original pathway to the nickname Ellie? Eleuthera could be your answer! It means “freedom,” and it feels elusive, ethereal, everlasting (too much?) Eleuterio is the masculine form, used occasionally in Spain and Italy, but Eleuthera is lovely and ought to rank on the Top 1000 someday – it’s just too pretty!
Pearl – Nicaragua
A vintage name with all sorts of desirable traits: the connection to nature, the gleaming jewelry reference, the rare use today, and the feminine sound. The Pearl Cays in Nicaragua are home to endangered turtles, just to make it even more adorable. Pearl is also a great alternative to popular Ruby or fading 1990’s Diamond.
Carmen – Mexico
Ciudad del Carmen, on Carmen Island, is a city with an exciting history – it was named in celebration of the eviction of pirates from its borders! (After the Virgin Mary of Carmen, of course). It loosely translates to “garden”, and has maintained consistent usage since name recording began. It’s a great name to cross English and Spanish-speaking cultures, and will continue as a classic choice for a while.
Ginger – British Virgin Islands
Check this out – Ginger Island is currently for sale! Its breathtaking views and amazing location aside, it’s got a fabulous name. Ginger has historically been a nickname for Virginia or for a redhead, but it could easily work on its own today (perhaps as an honorific?) It’s sweet, spunky, and sympathetic – a very friendly name.
The Emerald Isle, known for its unique culture and breathtaking scenery, still has an effect on many US families today – more than 10% of Americans identify themselves as being part Irish. So why not honor your ancestral home by choosing the name Ireland? It’s at the bottom of the Top 1000, so it’s relatively unpopular—known mostly via Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s now grown daughter–but it’s still quirky and friendly.
Guadalupe – Mexico
Found off the coast of Baja California, Guadalupe Island hosts a few fishing camps and military outposts today. Guadalupe is a religious name with a lot of history, originally translating to “river of the wolf” in Spanish but now mostly referring to the Virgin Mary, “Our Lady of Guadalupe“. Nicknames Lupe and Lupita add a bit of feminine frill to this serene choice.
Are there any island favorites of yours that didn’t make this list?