Adelaide or Adeline?


By Brooke Cussans, Baby Name Pondering

Both Adelaide and Adeline are beautiful, classic sounding names that have been gaining popularity for the past decade. Although similar, they are also distinct enough that it’s very possible they would both appear on many people’s lists. So how do you choose if you are partial to both? Sometimes it helps to look at them side by side.

Origin and Meaning

Meanings can carry aspirations for our children, or be a way to honour someone or something we love, while origins can be a way of honouring a particular heritage or your ancestry.

Adelaide — Adelaide has quite the European heritage. She’s German, originally Adalheid from the words ‘adal heid’, meaning ‘noble kind’. In Adelaide‘s original context, noble was meant to denote that someone was highborn. These days though we’re more likely to associate nobility with the virtue.

Adeline – Speaking of noble names, Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda tells us that “Adel” names were abundant among the Frankish nobility as it emphasized that their daughters were high-born and hence made them better marriage prospects. So you may have already guessed that Adeline comes from similar roots as Adelaide. Also German, she simply means ‘noble’.

Famous Namesakes & Associations

This stuff matters, if for no other reason than we understand the horrified looks we get when we tell people that we have named our new bundle of joy Adolf, Alcatraz or Jezebel.

Adelaide – For many Australians, Adelaide will always be a pretty and nice but not-so-glamorous city. The city itself was named for the popular Queen Adelaide, married to King William IV of England. She was adored as a modest, charitable queen. Many other noteworthy Adelaides can also be found in history, song and fiction, such as the ditsy but lovable character Miss Adelaide from the musical ‘Guys and Dolls’ or young Australian actress Adelaide Kane from the TV show ‘Reign‘.

Adeline – Adeline seems to be most popular in song – ‘Sweet Adeline‘ being the best known, and also a stage musical. Famous bearers include Virginia Woolf (who was born Adeline Virginia Stephen) and South African model come pop sensation Adeline Mocke. Variant spellings seem to be more popular for our screens, with Bailey Noble playing an Adilyn on ‘True Blood’ and Claire Coffee as Adalind on ‘Grimm’.

Pronunciation and Nicknames

Some people fall in love with a name for its nicknames. Others aren’t too fussed. But if it matters to you….

Adelaide – Pronounced AD-a-layd, immediate nicknames that spring to mind are Addy or Ada. Then there’s AidyDellDella, Ads, LadyAdele, Ley, LaineyLeiaElle or Ellie. Most of the ex-Adelaidians I know living in Melbourne tend to refer to Adelaide as “Radelaide” – it’s an inside joke because Adelaide is not exactly exciting or “rad”. But Rad, Rads or Radelaide would make for a pretty cool nicknames for a spunky little girl.

Adeline – Adeline has a few different pronunciations, which explains why there are so many spelling variants as parents try to make it clearer which pronunciation they prefer. The French pronounce it a-de-LEEN, while English speakers will say ADD-a-line (rhymes with fine) or ADD-a-lyn. Nicknames are almost exactly the same as one would use for Adelaide, although LinLinny and Lina are extra possibilities depending on your chosen pronunciation.


Some want a name that is popular because it means it is familiar and well liked, others prefer a name that is rare and will make their child stand out in a crowd.

Adelaide – Adelaide is well recognized but not super popular. More babies than ever before were named Adelaide in 2013 in the U.S – 1007 to be exact – which still puts her at #321. She’s been slowly rising for the past decade and could continue to climb higher.

Adeline – Adeline has consistently been the more popular of the two. It’s hard to gauge her true popularity with so many variant spellings, although Kelli Brady estimates her popularity to me more like #34 (not #232) in 2013 when alternate spellings are combined. Adeline is also fast moving up in popularity on Nameberry.

Feel and Impressions

These are the things that often attract us most strongly to a name, whether consciously of unconsciously.

Adelaide – Adelaide is often described as elegant, classic, regal, beautiful, feminine, delicate, graceful and timeless. I’d add spunky to that list. People who don’t like it tend to say it feels fussy, fusty, clunky and old lady-ish. They don’t like that it has “laid” in it, or that it reminds them of lemonade, Gatorade and Powerade.

Adeline – Pronunciation matters, as the most common complaint is that it sounds like “add a line”. Of course, this is avoided if you’re using the a-de-LEEN or ADD-a-lyn pronunciations. It also explains why most of the spelling variants seem to be aimed at emphasizing the latter pronunciation – AdalynnAdalyn and Addilyn are all more popular than Adeline is. However for that sweet, classic and old fashioned charm it’s hard to go past Adeline.

How about you – what arguments would you add, and which (if either) would you choose and why?


About the Author

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Brooke Cussans – better known on the Nameberry forums as bluejuniper – is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of name blog Baby Name Pondering. She especially loves rare and unusual names.