Girl Baby Names: Something Old, Something New
The good news about naming a girl: the options are limitless.
The bad news about naming a girl: the options? Limitless! How do you choose?
In the US, around two-thirds of all newborn girls are given a Top 1000 name. We play it safe with our sons, with 79% – nearly four out of five – parents sticking with something in the Top 1000. Sure, Cortez, Kamdyn, and Garrison are included in that Top 1000 definition of safe – but they’re not nearly as out-there as some of the rarities given to girls.
When it comes to baby naming, rules were made to be broken. But three principles hold true:
First, there will always be innovation in names. Some of those names will seem fanciful, even silly, early days. Remember the first time you heard of a baby named Paisley or Summer? Wait a decade or three and those names feel like well-established choices, the kind of name you barely notice when you spot them on your kindergartener’s class list.
Second, any name can make a comeback. Yes, any name – let’s stop counting out Ethel and Gertrude, because much as might they feel hopelessly stodgy today, it’s only a matter of time until they feel interesting and fresh again.
Lastly, innovation and revival can co-exist beautifully. (Or awkwardly – see Drew and Brittany Brees’ Rylen Judith.) My favorite something-old, something-new name of the week? Nope, not Alyssa Milano’s new daughter, but this birth announcement for a (swoon) Edith Honeybee!
Let’s take a look at two high profile arrivals, plus a second sighting of the new it-girl name, Vale, and a handful of other developing trends.
Crimson – We know that favored name vary state to state, but this analysis by Republic of Names digs deep. I found it via Nancy’s Baby Names, and immediately paused at one of the outlier names in Alabama – Crimson. Sure, the University of Alabama is home to the Crimson Tide, so this colorful name is a go-to for alumni. But in a week when a mama named Scarlett welcomes a baby called Rose, doesn’t every red name feel very wearable? Of course, about a quarter of those Crimsons are boys, too.
Dylan – Speaking of boy names, Alyssa Milano and husband David Bugliari chose a boyish, artistic, surname name for their new daughter’s middle. Despite a steady minority of girls given the name – including Drew Barrymore’s character in the rebooted Charlie’s Angels – Dylan has remained far more popular for our sons.
Vale – I’m still loving the name that Savannah Guthrie chose for her new daughter. And surprise! Just weeks later, professional golfer Graeme McDowell and wife Kristin named their daughter Vale. Since Graeme is originally from Northern Ireland, it’s perfectly possible he’s never seen Today, and might have missed the headlines about Guthrie’s girl. Either way, this is another sign that Vale is a name to watch.
Esme – Then again, lots of names are watched – but never boil. The stylish, literary, triple-starbaby name Esme cracked the US Top 1000 back in 2010, but languishes in the 900s. Could it be Twilight backlash? The vampire connection hasn’t hurt Rosalie or Alice. Or maybe Esme’s best years are still to come? In any case, it is the middle name chosen for Vale Esme by the McDowells, and the combination is as charming as it is unexpected.
Elizabella – After Alyssa Milano and David Bugliari chose the modern Milo for their firstborn, I expected something more restrained for a daughter. Instead, the couple went with Elizabella, a frilly confection created from an international classic. Elisabetta is the Italian, Isabella the Spanish, and Elizabeth the English – but of course, the name has seen many forms and spellings over the centuries. Eliza and Bella are the more popular pieces in use today, so no surprise that they’ve been smooshed together.
Dolly – Here’s a trend from the UK that could be big – the rise of Dolly. British parents are all about nickname names. Americans like them for their girls – think of Sadie and Hattie – but we’ve yet to embrace Alfie and Archie. All of this means that Dolly could have a chance at popularity throughout the English-speaking world. The numbers in England and Wales suggest that she’s one to watch.
Dorothy – Think Dolly is too cutesy for a given name? Dolly is traditionally short for Dorothy, a name already on the upswing in the US. The name re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2011, and climbed to #808 by 2013. Now it is the middle chosen by Scarlett Johansson and Romain Dauriac for their new baby girl. With all of her over-the-rainbow Dorothy Gale innocence, this name still retains a certain strength.
Dahlia – Elea points out that Dahlia is an undercover member of the Dolly club. A botanical name with a vintage feel, she’s part-Sophia, part-Lily. Along with Delia, this name seems to be coming up more and more often.
Rose – How many times has someone said, “Oh, I love Rose! Why is this lovely name always stuck in the middle spot?” If stars really do spark trends, then maybe Rose is a bridesmaid no more. Ever since Kate Winslet survived the Titanic in 1997, I’ve been waiting for her character’s name to move up the rankings. And she’s slowly inched, from #391 in 1997 to #224 today. Sex and the City gave us another baby Rose in the big screen version. Now Scarlett and Romain have combined elements of their own first names – Romain’s Ro and Scarlett’s colorful red – to find an elegant, but not extravagant name for their daughter. Nicely done!
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on September 8th, 2014 at 7:31 am
I’m sorry, but Elizabella is awful. Way to butcher one of the most classic names ever.
on September 8th, 2014 at 8:11 am
Rose Dorothy is lovely. Elizabella is not. And Crimson? What’s the nickname, Dumbo? (Sorry, I can’t stand the Crimson Tide.)
on September 8th, 2014 at 8:16 am
I am typically more drawn to the classic names, but I do appreciate and love names that can be perceived as a little different, even if historically they’re right on target. I absolutely love the name Dorothy. Love love love. My husband wasn’t as big a fan. Some of the argument of others is that it’s a “dated” name, but I find that ridiculous. I love seeing its rise in the charts. My all-time favorite name is Josephine. Just Josephine. No Jo, and certainly no Josie. The nicknames for Josephine do it a disgrace. Josephine is classic and beautiful and has a sound that just rolls off the tongue. If only my hubby had the same passion for the name as I do…
With all that said, I too am a huge fan of Vale. Perhaps it is its simplicity in sound and spelling that draws my appeal, but it’s beautiful. As for Rose, I hadn’t yet heard that Scarlett Johansson had named her baby Rose. I think it’s gorgeous! A name that is far too often under-used (which I suspect is swiftly on the rise… as soon as the excitement of Ella and Sophia and Olivia and Lucy and Lily wear off).
on September 8th, 2014 at 9:17 am
I really love classic names. I think my taste is more the frilly names compared to something a little more tailored. I think my all time favorite has to be Florence. To me, it has the perfect balance of frillyness, but yet is so elegant and pretty. I can imagine a little girl, a middle aged woman and a little old lady with it.
on September 8th, 2014 at 11:43 am
I love both Elizabella and Rose! But prefer Dahlia over Vale. So sad to hear the negativity for Elizabella, I think it’s a beautiful name, very feminine, a little bit romantic, with classic feel but yet modern – and I’d prefer to be named Elizabella 1000 times more than Elizabeth or Isabella for instance! I’m happy to see somebody thinks similar (I’m talking about Alyssa Milano).
I also really like Dylan and Esme from this week.
on September 8th, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Rose Dorothy is a lovely name! But is Elizabella is not. I do love Dylan but it’s far to masculine for a baby girl.
on September 8th, 2014 at 2:31 pm
Elizabella is too much for my taste. It’s components are pretty, but it sounds made up and five syllables is too many imo. I prefer Eliza.
Esme is pretty, but I find that some people say Es-mee while others say Es-may. I think an accent over the last e would clarify, but Americans seem reluctant to embrace accented names.
Rose is pretty as well, much more for its imagery than its sound.
As for Dolly, it’s an adorable nickname, but I wouldn’t use it as a given name. And I always thought it short for Dolores (as one of Humbert Humbert’s many pet names for Dolores Haze). I’ve never heard it used for Dorothy.
on September 8th, 2014 at 5:29 pm
My daughter’s name is Rose 🙂
» Girl Baby Names: Something Old, Something New Baby Name Suggestion Said
on September 8th, 2014 at 8:46 pm
[…] Scarlett’s Rose Dorothy, Alyssa Milano’s Elizabella–lots of interesting celebrity and other name news from Abby Sandel this week. Nameberry – Baby Name Blog […]
on September 8th, 2014 at 8:58 pm
Is Elizabella pronounced like Eliza or more like Elizabeth? I softly prefer it with the Eliza pronunciation.
on September 9th, 2014 at 4:49 am
@Anotherkate – I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait for Alyssa to give a post-baby interview! I’m actually saying it both ways … and changing my mind about which I like better every second.
@jenjenbarnes – What a gorgeous name!
@mayday – Re: accents. While I believe it varies by state, most official records in the US don’t recognize diacritical marks in personal names. I feel like the rise of Spanish as a second language should change this. But for now, I think that’s why we don’t use them – and we really don’t know what to do with them when we do see them, leading to oddities like Raven-Symone, with the accent always over the ‘e’ – but the pronunciation just like Simone. Je ne comprends pas. Anyhow, I usually hear Esme like “may,” but you’re right – in our Zoe/Chloe era, that’s not obvious.
@amylette – Florence is lovely!
@miloowen – Once again, my knowledge of sports extends only as far as they might impact baby names! When I see Crimson, I think Crimson and Clover – both outlandish as baby names twenty years ago, and today? Maybe not so much …
on September 9th, 2014 at 5:35 am
I used to like Esme, but Twilight ruined it for me. And I like Elizabella, but I’m afraid it’ll be a mouthful for my future daughter. I also like Crimson, but only for a story character. I LOVE the name Dahlia, and I love Dorothy, being Dorothy was my maternal grandmother’s name.
I’d have to say my name taste is a mix of both frilly and tailored. Some of my favorites are:
on September 9th, 2014 at 9:37 am
I far prefer tailored names. My favorite girls names are ones like Clare, Kate, Jane, Sarah, etc.
on September 9th, 2014 at 12:41 pm
I am all about the “red” names lately, Ruby, Crimson, Rosalie (I prefer this to to Rose), Scarlet. *love*
I think Elizabella sounds awfully pretentious.
Florence and Dahlia don’t do it for me either, but I’m really liking Vale.
Don’t like Dolly, and Dorothy is ok, but I’d use the nickname Dotty. 🙂
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