Fairy Tale Names Cast Magic Spell
Fairy tale baby names are gaining interest, particularly those of fairy tale heroines such as Aurora, Anastasia, and Alice. We’re not at all surprised—who wouldn’t want their daughter to share an enchanting name with a badass princess or rabbit-hole traveling renegade?
However, many of the fairy tales we’re most familiar with feature characters with common, everyman and everywoman type names—think Jack, as in Jack and the Beanstalk, Tom, as in Tom Thumb, and Anna, from a modern fairy tale, Frozen.
Despite the prevalence of more familiar choices, if you want a baby name that really speaks to the magic of fairy tales, you’re going to need a more distinctly mythical name—something like Aurora and company. The magical element of these names is very attractive and explains some of the popularity of other rising fairy tale names such as Briar and Magnus.
Fairy Tale Names for Girls
Elsie — Elsie is the titular character in the Brothers Grimm story Clever Elsie, about an opportunistic woman who takes a nap instead of working in the sun. Elsie is a hot name on the rise, having shed her bovine image, and now ranks at number 280. The related name Elsa has a modern fairy tale connection thanks to Frozen, which has contributed substantially to its decline.
Eulalie — The French fairy tale La belle Eulalie is the story of the Devil’s daughter, Eulalie, who helps her suitor Jean escape from her father. It’s a striking and uncommon French name, and the fairy tale character makes a worthy namesake. Eulalie would be a winning choice for a daughter.
Gertrude — Gertrude’s Bird is a Norwegian story of a stingy woman who gets turned into a woodpecker. Gertrude still feels too clunky for revival, but we see a lot of potential for the nickname Trudy. Trudy is featured in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Mother Trudy, as the name of an evil—but victorious—witch. Don’t let that deter you.
Gretel — There are few fairy tales as classic as Hansel and Gretel, the story of two siblings who escape from a witch’s candy house. Hansel maintains a very antiquated Germanic image and is heavily tied to the story, but Gretel has more versatility. It’s similar to the internationally trendy Greta and has added associations. The alternate spelling Gretl was used for the youngest von Trapp child in The Sound of Music.
Kisa — The name Kisa is of uncertain origins, but it is very similar to the word for “cat” in some Scandinavian languages. That would make sense, given Kisa is the name of a feline character in the Icelandic fairy tale Kisa the Cat. In this story, Kisa rescues her human sister and later turns into a princess herself. It would make a cool and unexpected name for a daughter, however her sister’s name, Ingibjorg, is better left untouched.
Margery — Margery is more commonly spelled the Scottish way, Marjorie. Each peaked in the 1920s, making them ripe for a comeback. The Margery variation was given to fewer than five girls in 2018, but has a more classic look than Marjorie, thanks to the similarities to its mother name, Margaret. Margery is featured in the Cornish fairy tale Saint Margery Daw.
Polly — Polly and Molly, those once-ubiquitous Mary diminutives, frequently pop up in Irish fairy tales. Polly is most prominently featured in a Southern Irish story called Polly Shone Rhys Shone, about a seamstress whose ghost appears in the church yard. The name Molly has been a long-popular choice among Irish and Jewish families. It’s recently taken a dip in popularity—Polly feels like a fresh successor.
Red — The feisty fairy tale character Little Red Riding Hood may be exactly the sort of namesake you want for your child. It’s a very rare first name, especially for a girl, but Red has considerable appeal for a middle name.
Rosette — And speaking of middle names, why don’t you consider Rosette as an alternative to the ever-popular Rose? It’s the name of Princess Rosette, heroine of the fairy tale of the same name. In her story, Princess Rosette overcomes a myriad of hardships in order to marry the man of her dreams—the King of the Peacocks.
Fairy Tale Names for Boys
Abdullah — The name Abdullah is featured twice over in the Arabian Nights tale “Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman.” In this story, the Abdullahs become business partners until they discover humans and sea-people have different funerial customs. Abdullah is a popular Islamic name, as it is the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s father.
Asmund — Asmund and Signy is an Icelandic fairy tale about two royal siblings who outwit a witch and marry siblings from another kingdom. Both names are Scandinavian in origin and Signe, a spelling variation of Signy, is quite popular in Sweden. Asmund, related to the name Osmond, is a familiar choice in Scandinavia, but would be considered quirky and unique in the US.
Bran — The Birth of Bran is a 20th century Irish fairy tale based off of an ancient folk story. It recounts the birth of two puppies, Bran and Sceólan, by the beautiful Tuiren, who had been turned into a dog. Bran can stand on its own or act as a nickname for Brandon, as it is for Game of Thrones character Bran Stark.
Cormac — Cormac is a jaunty Irish name, best known on this side of the pond as the name of American author Cormac McCarthy. It’s the name of the protagonist of the Irish fairy tale Cormac and Mary, about a young man who breaks a spell and revitalizes his beloved.
Fitzgerald — Fitzgerald is most commonly seen as a surname or middle name in the US—The F in John F. Kennedy stands for Fitzgerald—but it also makes a dashing first name. Particularly with the nickname Fitz, which feels much more wearable for a baby or child. Fitzgerald is featured in the Irish fairy tale Fitzgerald and Daniel O’Donoghue, about an old gardener who enlists the help of the chief of the fairies to determine what is killing his plants.
Merlin — Merlin is typically associated with the wizard of Arthurian legend, but in this case, it refers to Georgic and Merlin, a French fairy tale. In this story, a young man named Georgic rescues a bird name Merlin, who returns the favor by helping Georgic out of life-threatening situations. It’s still up for debate whether or not Merlin is too sorcerous as a baby name, but if you like the sound, we say to go for it.
Myles — Despite its modern look, Myles has a long history as a variation of Miles. It was used in the 19th century Irish fairy tale Myles McGarry and Donal McGarry, about two brothers who go to work for a deceitful master. Another worthy namesake is Myles Standish, the famed Pilgrim.
Ned — Ned features prominently in two fairy tales, the Irish legend Ned Sheehy’s Excuse, and the Manx tale Ned Quayle’s Story of the Fairy Pig (coincidentally, the last native speaker of Manx was also named Ned). Ned was traditionally a nickname for names such as Edward and Edmund, but with today’s trend of mini names, feels substantial enough on its own. Like Bran, Ned is a member of the Stark family in Game of Thrones, which could probably be considered a fairy tale in its own right.
Vasili — Vasili is the Russian form of Basil and the name of the hero in the Russian fairy tale Vasili the Unlucky. In the story, poor-born Vasili is adopted, and subsequently given up by an evil rich man named Marko. Vasili ends up quite lucky—marrying Marko’s daughter and finding tons of gold—while Marko is subjected to labor. Vasilisa, a feminine variation of Vasili, is used in two Russian fairy tales, Vasilisa the Priest’s Daughter and Vasilisa the Beautiful.
What are your favorite fairy tale names?
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