Aussie Names: Big there, not here

Aussie Names: Big there, not here

In her guest blog, Anna Otto, of the popular site Waltzing More Than Matilda, introduces names particular to the land of Oz, explains their origins  and tells us why we might consider importing them.

Australia and the United States share many popular names and name trends, but here are some examples familiar to us that have never made the US Top 1000. A few are popular in Australia, several are fashionable, rising in popularity, or well-used, and a couple are notable for becoming the choice of hip parents. But can any of these names make it in America?  Some might just need a bit more exposure, while others are probably not as usable. Which do you feel strangely drawn to, and which simply bewilder you? 


Allegra: Long a fashionable favourite, but in the United States the name of the allergy medication puts many people off – the same brand is called Telfast here. Luckily nobody wants to call their daughter Telfast.

Allira (a-LEER-ah): Aboriginal name meaning “quartz,” is rapidly gaining popularity. It might remind you of Mira, Aurora, Alyssa, Amelia or Aaliyah; either way, it may not sound too unfamiliar.

Bridie: A pet form of Bridget, very familiar to us through popular actress Bridie Carter and in steady use. It doesn’t seem to have gained much affection elsewhere, perhaps due to concerns that it sounds like the word for a tiny bride.

Eadie (EE-dee): Not a variant of Edie, but a surname; starting to become fashionable after being chosen as a celebrity baby name. This could seem hard to pronounce, or too much like a nickname.

Freya (FRAY-ah): Already in the Top 100 in England/Wales, this Norse goddess name is fashionable here, and would be a hip choice in the United States.

Imogen: As in the UK, this is a Top 100 name here, but it’s never managed to make the US Top 1000, with Americans preferring the more accent-friendly Imogene.

Kirrily (KIR-uh-lee): A modern Australasian name borne by several popular celebrities. Sounding similar to Keira and Kimberley, I’ve had very positive feedback from overseas about this name.

Milla: This short form of Camilla is only popular in Australia and Norway, yet it’s pretty and simple, and not so different from Mila.

Nerida (NEHR-uh-dah): An Aboriginal name meaning “waterlily,” from a romantic legend. Although a little dated in Australia, it might seem not too different from Disney princess, Merida.

Zali (ZAH-lee): Zali Steggall is our most successful alpine skier, and as far as I know, her name was created for her. It’s been hugely popular, and has brought forth numerous variants. It has the  same “exotic yet accessible” feel as Zara.


Banjo: This has garnered much interest since Australian actress Rachel Griffiths chose it for her son’s name, in honour of our beloved national poet, Banjo Paterson. It probably sounds crazy to non-Australians.  Okay, it even sounds alittle crazy to us sometimes.

Bede (BEED): Might remind you of the Anglo-Saxon saint and scholar, Venerable Bede; in Australia, it reminds us of rising surfer, Bede Durbidge. Very cool name with a long history of use here.

Digby: This is fast becoming a hip name, managing to be cute, clunky, and dignified all at once. Do you dig it, or does this name seem a little too doggy?

Fergus: This is just starting to become a hip name for parents who don’t want to use long-time popular Angus. S-enders are fashionable right now, so this might have some appeal in America, where it brings the vintage nickname Gus.

Hamish (HAY-mish): The name of a popular comedian, Hamish Blake; it’s been Top 100 since the early 2000’s, and is also Top 100 in Scotland. Elsewhere, it may seem almost too comically Caledonian to be usable.

Jonty: A short form of Jonathan best known to us through the South African cricketer, Jonty Rhodes. A popular variant is Jonte. I feel this may be perceived as “feminine” in the US.

Lachlan (LOK-luhn): Governor Lachlan Macquarie is known as “The Father of Australia”, and his name has been in the Top 5 since the early 2000s. As Declan is rapidly climbing the US charts, perhaps Lachlan has a chance too.

Quade: A Gaelic surname meaning “son of Walter“; well known to us as the name of rugby union star, Quade Cooper. If you can get the image of Randy Quaid out of your mind, this could not only honour a family connection named Walter, but sounds like Cade, only more quool.

Rafferty: This raffish Irish surname honours iconic Australian screen legend “Chips” Rafferty, and has become a favourite as a celebrity baby name. Names starting with Raf- are currently quite big in Australia.

Tasman (TAZ-muhn): Dutch explorer Abel Tasman lent his name to Tasmania, and the Tasman Sea, and this name, long in use, has recently begun appearing everywhere. It’s a little like Thomas, and has the jazzy nickname Taz. What’s not to love?

Anna Otto is the blogger at Waltzing More Than Matilda, which examines Australian history and culture through its names. Much gratitude goes to Angela Mastrodonato, blogger at Upswing Baby Names, for contributing an American viewpoint on many of these names.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.