by Emma Waterhouse
The 2019 Women’s World Cup has captured the world’s imagination, with record numbers of viewers — around 1 billion (!), according to FIFA — tuning in over the course of the competition.
It’s been a great month for women’s sport, and a fantastic opportunity for some inspiring international namespotting too! From Aitana to Ysis, here is our pick of some of the most intriguing and appealing names belonging to these inspirational sportswomen: one from each national squad.
Aitana (Spain): An exotic alternative to Ariana, this popular Spanish name (currently at #36 in its home country) comes from the name of a mountain range in Valencia. It entered the US Top 1000 in 2015.
Georgia (England): A double geographical name, Georgia has long been popular in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, but has only just started to really catch on in the US. Harrison Ford, Mick Jagger and Felicity Huffman all have daughters with the name.
Ingrid (Norway): There are not one, not two, but three Ingrids in the Norwegian national team! It may be commonplace in its home country (ranking in the Top 10 for the past three decades), but it retains a certain steely, Scandi-chic charm in the US.
Kika (Netherlands): As a child, Dutch soccer star Kika van Es tried to fit in by playing under the male pseudonym “Randy”. But we much prefer her energetic birth name, which feels like a more formal version of cute nickname Kiki.
Kirsty (Scotland): This modern Scottish classic, which reached peak popularity in the 80s and 90s in Scotland, has never been widely used across the pond. It derives from Kirstin, a Scottish variant of Christina.
Merle (Germany): Pronounced with two syllables in German, this double nature name derives from the Irish name Muirgel (Muriel), meaning “bright sea”. It also happens to coincide with the French word for “blackbird”.
Sabrina (Canada): Widely familiar but never overused, sweet Sabrina has a surprisingly tragic backstory: it’s the name of a drowned princess in medieval English legend, and probably derives from the name of the river in the story — the Severn (Habren in Welsh).
So-hyun (South Korea): A popular South Korean name which can be formed from various combinations of hanja characters to give different meanings. In the case of South Korean captain Cho So-hyun, it’s a combination of ? “bright” and ? “wise; virtuous”.
Sunisa (Thailand): A surprising way to the cheery nickname Sunny, Sunisa is a traditional Thai name meaning “good woman”.
Teagan (Australia): There’s both a Teagan and a Teigen in the Australian squad, and a third spelling (Tegan) ranked in the country’s Top 100 during the 80s and 90s, thanks to an Australian character in the British sci-fi series Doctor Who.
Xiaolin (China): Pronounced like the Shaolin Monastery, Chinese goalkeeper Bi Xiaolin’s soft-sounding name is formed from the characters ? “dawn” and ? “jade; gem”.
Ysis (Cameroon): The name of the powerful Ancient Egyptian mother goddess Isis is now sadly off-limits in anglophone countries, but could this gorgeous French and Spanish variant be a wearable alternative?
What are your favorite World Cup names? You can find the team lists here: what would your 24 top picks be?
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