Eclectic American Girl Doll Names: Cecile, Kanani, and Marie-Grace

Eclectic American Girl Doll Names: Cecile, Kanani, and Marie-Grace

by  Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

My seven-year-old daughter didn’t inspire my interest in American Girl dolls, one of their names did.

My daughter hasn’t expressed any interest in American Girl dolls and doesn’t own any.

But an American Girl doll has one of my favorite names. A retired doll from the historical line has an emerging name that has been slowly climbing the Social Security list. More about that later.

For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with American Girl dolls, here’s the rundown:

They’re American.

They’re high-end.

They’re somewhat controversial.

American Girl dolls are 18-inch doll representing different ethnicities. Each doll comes with a book. The books focus on controversial topics from the perspective of a nine to eleven-year-old girl.

There are two major lines of American Girl dolls. The Historical Characters focus on different periods in American history. The Girl of the Year Dolls represent modern American Girls.

Of course some of the names caught my attention. But with American Girl doll names, as with most manufactured characters, among the name gems are the unsurprising names. Names excluded from this list are:

  • The nice but established: Caroline, Elizabeth, Emily, Molly, Rebecca, and Samantha.

  • The familiar contemporary hits: Addy, Isabelle, Ivy, Mia, and McKenna.

  • The retro hits of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s: Chrissa, Jess, Julie, Kailey, Kirsten, Lindsey, and Nicki.

  • Names that made this list are fashionable choices that manage to meet that “different but not too different” ideal:

    Cecile – is the best friend of another doll whose name made this list: MarieGrace. Cecile is from a rich African American family. This French form of Cecilia hasn’t been in the US top 1000 since the ‘60s, but as Cecilia steadily climbs the charts, names like it (Celia, Cecily, and Cecile) have potential.

    Felicity – One of the first dolls in the historic line, this is the doll that started my fascination with American Girl doll names. Felicity could have become trendy in the late ‘90s, with launch of the TV teen drama, but that never happened. The name saw a temporary surge from the show and then its popularity leveled off. After a few years on the downlow, Felicity looks like it could be making slow a comeback.

    Josefina – is just slightly removed from fashion-favorite Josephine and fashion-newcomer Serafina. This doll is a young Mexican girl living in 19th century New Mexico.

    Kaya – has a simple style well-represented in the top 200 (with names like Kaylee #34, Maya #63, Kayla #70, and Clara #136) yet Kaya has never hit the top 200 or even the top 500. Kaya is a 1700s period Native American doll. Her full name is Kaya‘aton’my (She Who Arranges Rocks).

    Kanani – is a striking Hawaiian name. The 2011 Doll of the Year hails from Hawaii and is the second multiracial American Girl doll. She is a mix of Japanese, Hawaiian, French and German.

    Kit – as in Kit Kittredge. This Depression era doll has a name for fans of alliteration. Her name is one of the most memorable of the American Girl doll names. Kit also makes a spunky nickname for Katherine.

    Lanie – is an old name that sounds new. Surprisingly Lanie hasn’t been in the US top 1000 since 1894 (and it has always ranked near the bottom of the chart). This 2010 Doll of the Year is a girl from Massachusetts who would have been born circa 2000 when only 112 Lanie’s were born in the US.

    MarieGrace – is a terrific example of what could become one of the next wave of combo-names alongside GraceLynn and EmmaLynn. MarieGrace lives in 19th century New Orleans.

    Marisol – was the 2005 Doll of the Year with a name expected of a young Latina girl. This Latina favorite could easily be adopted by other cultures, a pleasing combination of Maria and sol, a poetic word for “sun”.

    Nellie – makes the perfect fill-in-the blank for “if you like Maggie, you might like…” or “if you like Sadie, you might like…”. Nellie is a working-class Irish immigrant from early 20th century New York.

    Ruthie – is perfect for those who love homespun granny nicknames. Ruthie is another Depression era American Girl doll and Kit Kittredge’s best friend.

    Saige – The name of 2013’s Doll of the Year fits in nicely with both Juniper and Rosemary. Saige is a variation on Sage, the fragrant herb. The Saige spelling is less common than the more conventional Sage, but both names are stylish without being common.

    These American Girl doll names represent a mix of old-fashioned and exotic, perfect monikers for in-the-flesh American girls.

    About the Author



    Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.