by Linda Rosenkrantz
So you’re thinking about girls names starting with C for your little bambina. You know all too well that Charlotte is one of the top names in the English-speaking world and that Chloe and Claire and Cora and Charlie are mega-popular too.
But you’re seeking something a little (or a lot) more distinctive.
What we’re offering here is a list of updated names that bear some relation to the popular girls, but will stand out from the crowd. A few of them have been spotted by our brilliant berries, but none has made the Top 1000 list.
Here are 14 of our choice super substitute girls’ names starting with C.
CAIRO –If you like the trendy sound of Kaia and Kaya, you might consider this exotic, rarely visited place name that was used by actress Tia Mowry for her daughter. We’re hearing more and more girl names ending in o—Margo, Marlowe, Harlow, Coco—and this could fit in with that group.
CAMELLIA—Camila, Camilla, Camille and Amelia all are ranked high on the national list. But Camellia puts a distinctive floral spin on the group. A plus: In the language of flowers, the camellia denotes perfection and admiration.
CARLOTTA–With Charlotte ranking at #9 in the US (translating to almost 13,000 little Charlottes born last year), we suggest substituting the Latinate version, a name with lots of history and cultural cred. It hasn’t been heard much here since 1960, so your Carlotta would stand out from among all those Charlottes.
CASSIOPEIA—This name of a mythologically-named constellation doesn’t feel as challenging as it did in the pre-Apollo, Artemis, Andromeda days. Already #428 on Nameberry, it’s still much more adventurous than other familiar Cass names like Cassidy and Cassandra.
CEIL—The shimmery Celia ranks on both the SSA and NB lists, but there’s a lot to be said for going straight to its spunky vintage nickname. (Not to be confused with Ciel, the French word name for sky, which was chosen by model Niki Taylor.)
CELESTIA, CELESTINA—If you want to move beyond the increasingly popular Celeste (#441 nationally, 126 on NB), there are the sparklier Celestia and Celestina, all of them heavenly, ethereal choices. Vintage Celestia made it onto the SSA list in the 1880s; Celestina appears in Harry Potter
CHARMIAN—There are five differently spelled variations of Charlie on the girls’ national list, showing its vast popularity. But what if you want a more substantial name behind it—and you know what we said about Charlotte. Charmian could be your perfect solution—a Greek name that means ‘joy’, it was used by both Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.
CHRISTABEL—Christine and Christina can be considered classics, but Christabel is a more romantic yet modern-sounding cousin, with a history tied to women’s suffrage. And could stand apart from the Isabels and Annabels.
CLARITY—Claire and Clara are both Top 70 names on Nameberry, with clarity in their meaning, so why not cut straight to the word? Clarity is a charming old-fashioned virtue name more usable than Charity or Chastity.
CLAUDE—While Claudia is a perfectly nice sweet spot name, the French unisex Claude would be a real standout. It was surprisingly popular for American girls a century ago, and there has been a Princess Claude on the TV series Reign.
CLEA—Both Cleo and Clio are in wide use, but Clea is a sadly neglected relative. Lawrence Durrell used (perhaps invented?) it for a character in his Alexandria Quartet, and it’s the always-used nickname of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s youngest daughter.
CLEMENTINA—Add an A to Clementine (#65 on NB), and you have a lighter, more delicate and rhythmic name, finally removing those Number 9 shoes from ‘My Darling Clementine’. And if you want to go the virtue-name route, there’s the mild and merciful Clemency, heard more in the UK than the US.
CORAZÓN—Classic Cora is currently riding a tidal wave of popularity–#73 on the SSA list, and way up at #5 on Nameberry. But a more elaborate, cross-cultural alternative might be this Spanish favorite meaning ‘heart’, made familiar internationally via onetime Philippines president Corazón Aquino.
Any of these you would consider?
Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. In addition to contributing stories on trends and celebrity naming, she guides the editorial content and manages the Nameberry Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can follow her personally at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.
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