Girl Baby Names: Plain and fancy, from Arya to Tess to Zetta
Some of us probably felt vindicated. Of course you shouldn’t give a boy’s name to a girl!
Others probably thought: If only they’d chosen Justine instead.
Miss Justin might be an extreme case, but this week’s name news reminds us that the range of possibilities for girls is vast. From conventionally masculine names to modern inventions to antique revivals, we are willing to be daring when naming daughters.
So what were the most intriguing girl names from last week? The baby name news included a little bit of everything:
Scout Margery – Kerri Walsh, the much-medaled beach volleyball star, and her husband Casey Jennings, have welcomed a third child. The couple was already parents to sons Joseph Michael and Sundance Thomas. Scout Margery falls somewhere between Joseph and Sundance – it’s not a traditional pick for a girl, but with its literary ties, Scout feels like a stylish, modern possibility.
Zetta – High School Musical alum KayCee Stroh is expecting her first child, and she’s already shared the name: Zetta. Stroh explained that she’s always loved the letter Z and double ts in names, and Zetta just came to her. It reminds me of the Italian saint’s name Zita, and of course, the jazzy Etta.
Giordana – Plenty of girls are called Jordan, and I’ve met a few named Jordana, too. But this alternative came up in the forums, and I’ll admit I’m intrigued. If we can have Giada, Giuliana, Giovanna, and Gianna, why not Giordana? Like Scout, Calla, and Zetta, she’s just a little bit different.
Kenzie – That’s true of Kenzie, too, the name Seventh Heaven alum Beverly Mitchell chose for her new daughter. No word on how Mitchell and husband Michael Cameron arrived at the name, but it is often heard as a short form of the mega-popular Mackenzie. It also brings to mind Kinsey, a rapidly rising surname name.
Ivy – From z to v, and the US to Australia … Waltzing More than Matilda analyzed fast-rising names in her home country and found that Ivy was the biggest gainer for girls. Could she catch on throughout the English-speaking world? We’ve fallen in love with Ava and Evelyn, so Ivy feels like a logical next choice.
Tess – Meanwhile, the first quarter data for the Netherlands indicates that Tess is the new #1 name. (Can you imagine if the US released data every three months?) The previous top name was Emma, an international favorite. Tess isn’t common in the US, but she’s short, sweet, and complete – a sister for Jane or Kate.
Miriam – Proof that everything old is new again, For Real Baby Names found a birth announcement for a baby Miriam Agnes in Louisiana. She might strike some as fusty, but we’re always discovering new names ready for revival. Miriam peaked back in the 1910s. With short forms Mimi and Miri, she sounds ready for a comeback.
Arya – From the vintage to the fantastic, let’s end with Arya. Game of Thrones is back for its third season of intrigue, so I can’t resist talking about Arya. Pretty Little Liars also features the name, spelled Aria – the more traditional spelling, and the one that is rising rapidly in the US. Still, I suspect the heroic character is a big part of the name’s appeal.
Spotted any great new names for girls lately? And why does it seem like there are more options for our daughters than our sons?
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on April 7th, 2013 at 11:57 pm
I think Calla is due for its day in the sun. It’s often mentioned on this site and it’s only a matter of time before Calla is seen in the same way as flowery names Lily and Violet. Speaking of nature names, I’m disappointed Ivy is becoming so popular (particularly in Australia, where I’m from). I think it’s a gorgeous name, but it’s newfound popularity means I won’t choose Ivy for my daughter.
on April 8th, 2013 at 12:13 am
I love Miriam – it was my great grandmother’s name and i recently taught a very bright student named Miriam (coincidentally with the same surname as my great grandma) Miriam was in the uk top 1000 in 2011. Unfortunately don’t think it is one I can use with my Lillian , but a favourite of mine for sure. Ivy is also beautiful.
on April 8th, 2013 at 12:33 am
Giordana (jore-DAH-nah)is a legite italian name 🙂 just not on the rise yet 🙂 I think its lovely… also I think the serbian Jovana is another lovely additon to the “Jo” list 🙂
on April 8th, 2013 at 5:38 am
Calla may be unique, but I have a 17 year old cousin named Calla. I thought it was beautiful and different when she was born and it’s well overdue to make it a more popular name!!
on April 8th, 2013 at 5:55 am
Calla is a great twist on Lily (too many Lily’s in your life? Want to honor a Lily? How about Calla?)
I don’t like Jordan, but Giordana is kind of nice.
I’ve liked Miriam for awhile now. I once knew a Maryam.
Tess and Tessa are both cute.
I don’t like Ivy, Ava or Evelyn…am I the only one?
Love Scout, Margery not so much, nor Kenzie or Arya.
on April 8th, 2013 at 6:08 am
why ignore Jax Copeland? Yes its a boys name, but no point in shutting the blinders
on April 8th, 2013 at 6:58 am
I really love Kenzie! Beautiful name and really spunky too. The others I liked include Ivy and Scout but I never like Tess(guess I am in the minority here).
I also like Lark and Gwen as short, fancy names.
on April 8th, 2013 at 7:02 am
I am impressed with these nine!
Scout Margery – prefer Marjorie spelling, but I think it’s a great combo, and I love Scout!
Calla – I really love Calla. Don’t get popular though – it’s the downfall of too many great names!
Zetta – Interesting, but too random for me. Sounds made up. I prefer Jetta.
Giordana – I don’t like this, actually. It looks awkward. I’m not sure how to pronounce it; torn between jor-Dah-Nuh or something like jee-or-dah-nuh. I don’t know. I prefer Jordana.
Kenzie – too nicknamey for me. I know a lot of Mackenzie’s/Mckenzies.
Ivy – I really like Ivy! Very cute and spunky. Brings to mind nice green color.
Tess – I used to love this, and I still appreciate it, but not my fave anymore.
Miriam – Not a fan.
Arya – I like Aria/Arya a lot. I’m a PLL fan, which may contribute, but it seems distinctive from Arianna and whatnot.
on April 8th, 2013 at 7:11 am
@skizzo, that would be very odd in a post on girls’ names. My guess is that they’ll do a separate blog on boys. But yes, I hope they’ll discuss, because it’s the second celebrity baby in recent memory with the name Copeland, which fascinates me.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:03 am
Aria and Arya are pronounced differently between the two shows.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:17 am
I’m a little bit disappointed in Kerry Welsh’s daughter’s name. I thought after having a few boys they would want a more feminine name. I’m sure she’ll be a great athlete though.
I’ve always loved the name Tess and Tessa. So glad to see it rising so well!
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:20 am
Every time I see the name Calla I think it’s a respelling of Kaia/Caia (Spanish double L being a Y sound). It really doesn’t resonate as a flower name to me unless it’s blatantly paired with Lily. I’ll take Caia.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:24 am
Calla has been a favorite of mine for a while. Love Miriam too.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:32 am
I’m the one that posted about Giordana in the forums. It didn’t get much response =( That doesn’t discourage me though. Giordana has moved to the top of my list. She’s perfect. If I were pregnant and delivering today, Giordana would be the name.
You have a great list here. I love Aria, Tess, Calla, and Ivy. I wouldn’t use Aria because I know it’s going to be trendy in 5-10 years. I wouldn’t use Ivy because of Blue Ivy Carter (love Beyonce and Jay Z, just not celeb name associations). Tessa nn Tess is always on my list, but never makes it to the top for some reason. Calla is on the short list… She will also be very popular in the next few years. Spanish speakers will have a lot of trouble pronouncing it- Calah could be an alternative.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:36 am
Oh and Zetta… reminds me of the infamous drug/crime organization. I’m sure Zeta and Zetta are pronounced differently… but I could never shake the association I make between the two.
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:43 am
Joseph, Sundance and Scout… such a random sibset…
Sundance is pretty cool though
on April 8th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
I love the name Calla but it always reminds me of callous or caul. Still amazingly pretty though.
I’ve never seen the name Sundance used for an actual child, but wow I really like that one as well.
on April 8th, 2013 at 12:24 pm
We named our daughter Tess three years ago, and still love her name so much. Please don’t let it get too popular! I find it funny it’s #1 in the Netherlands because sometimes when I tell people here in the US her name, they look at me funny and say, “Test?” I guess they’ve never heard it before!
on April 8th, 2013 at 12:59 pm
Ivy has been a popular choice amongst my friend/peer-set lately; I know several but don’t know any Avas!
I like the traditional spelling of Aria a bit better, but it’s a lovely name regardless.
Tess always reminds this English teacher of Thomas Hardy’s sad novel – it would be hard for me to name my daughter after a rape victim! But it has a sweet, old-fashioned feel so I definitely understand the appeal.
on April 8th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
I dislike Scout Margery it seems strange and in a way I only like Scout as a nickname for Scarlett. Also in another way I think Scout sounds pretentious the whole point of book was that Scout became Jean-Louise.
Calla I really like this choice, Calla sounds really pretty and upbeat. She’s a fresh inviting choice.
Zetta just no! Okay maybe Zita, and I love Etta manly because of Etta James but Zetta jeez it’s awful.
Giordana – Unattractive I’m not a ‘Jordan’ fan including her/his wide range of variants.
Kenzie – Really dislike this name. Feels too informal unlike other nickname choices that work (example Hattie) and also I dislike Kenzie original Mackenzie.
Ivy – Lovely, stunning light choice. Ivy is perfect.
Tess – never liked Thomas Hardy’s rape victim first thought, second thought how bland and third really why?
Miriam – Gorgeous!!
Arya – I like Aria the ‘y’ seems trashy.
on April 8th, 2013 at 3:14 pm
I don’t think Ivy is that rare in the USA. Its been in the top 1000 for many decades, and its in the top 300 now. Now I know that’s like .00003% of babies but that’s still relatively high and it’s going to keep going up (prediction).
Calla- the flower is called Calla Lily. To me Calla seems incomplete with the lily part. I would use Callalily as name instead.
I like Zetta. Its cool.
Is Giordana Italian for Jordan or is it a made up name? If this a translation for Jordan, I like it. My first thought was it sounds made up.
Kenzie is not my style. It sounds like something a fundementalist Christian would name their kid.
Tess and Kenzie and Scout are all sound like nicknames to me. If I was name a girl after the one in TKAMB, I would name her Jean and call her Scout (like they did in the book).
I love Miriam! I think Lillian and Miriam work fine as sisters. As for myself, I wonder if I could use it since I am not Jewish. Then again my mom felt the same way about Rachel, but they used it anyway and it got so popular it wasn’t a Jewish thing as much anyway.
I love Aria but prefer the other spelling vs Arya.
Alexia Mae Said
on April 8th, 2013 at 3:21 pm
I spotted an Iva, which is like a smoosh of Ivy and Ava.
on April 8th, 2013 at 4:23 pm
Just lately I’ve been thinking about Margery/Marjorie, wondering if she’s ripe for revival. Maybe so! Margery isn’t quite my style, though it may become so (my preferences change a good deal), but I’d love to meet someone else’s little Margery. I don’t care for it that much paired with Scout. Joseph, Sundance and Scout is a rather strange sibset, though each name has some merit individually.
@EmilyVA, I’m very interested in knowing why you think Kenzie sounds like a fundamentalist Christian name. It isn’t my style at all (and I’m a Christian who could probably be labeled fundamentalist), but lately I’ve been thinking about the baby name trends among other Christians I know. The two most popular trends are easily a) Biblical, i.e. Elijah, Rachel and Caleb, and b) trendy, i.e. Riley, Kinley and Jaden. Kenzie does fit right in with the second trend.
on April 8th, 2013 at 6:11 pm
@skizzo – Jax will be in next week. I write the posts Saturday mornings. Jax’s birth announcement came out about 30 seconds after I put this one to bed …
@Poppy528 – I never thought about that! It could be an issue here.
@Alexia Mae – Iva – great sound!
on April 8th, 2013 at 8:36 pm
I love Miriam. It is on the top of my list, with the nickname Mim. When I saw Kenzie, I thought it was Kezia at first, and Kezia was one of the daughters of Job, so the fundamentalist Christian thing to me sounded apt. Kenzie sounds like a nickname to me though.
I don’t like Scout, but I don’t like TKAMB names in general. They do come off as pretentious to me. Which is funny, seeing as how we named our son after a character from Anna Karenina. Talk about pretentious! But then I don’t tell anybody that and nobody has recognized it yet.
Calla seems so close to callow to me. I like that Zetta is an actual name in Hebrew. I wonder if the actress knows that? I heard about some lady who named her son Mazen meaning it as a unique way to spell Mason without realizing that it is a legitimate Arabic name. I can’t imagine not googling that at some point?
@auroradawn- I agree with you, though I would further divide Biblical into Bible Lite (Caleb, Hannah, Jacob, etc) and Bible Heavy (Nehemiah, Hezekiah, Ephram, etc).
on April 8th, 2013 at 9:39 pm
I love Tess!
on April 8th, 2013 at 10:43 pm
Honestly not quite sure. I don’t know a lot of Christian fundamentalists. One family I am familiar with is the Duggars. They have a lot of bible names (john, James, Jedidiah, etc.) and a lot of names that aren’t (Jinger, Jana etc.). One of their youngest is Jordyn both biblical and trendy.
Their first granddaughter is MacKynzie (sp. not sure what they use I know its not the standard MacKenzie). They call her Kynzie. Maybe I was thinking of them.
I would also divide into biblical names (like Rachel, Hannah, Mary, Martha, Joseph, Abraham, etc.) and stuff from the bible, like Jordan, Eden, Manna, Cana, etc. (A lot of those are place names, but there are things in the bible people use as names and I am having trouble thinking of any). Basically in my area/family/among people I know if you want to use biblical name, you use a name of a person from the bible. The first time I heard some say I have biblical name and it wasn’t a person. I was very surprised by that. It’s just not what I think as a biblical name.
on April 8th, 2013 at 11:22 pm
Calla has been at the top of my list since high school. I now love it as a nn for Calista.
I have to mention that Kenzie/Kinsey/Kinsley (and about 100 other spellings) is epidemic here in the Midwest where I live. It’s crazy how popular it suddenly is. So trendy here that I can’t appreciate it.
on April 9th, 2013 at 4:13 am
An Australian celebrity has just had a baby, and the name hasn’t been announced yet.
On a forum where people were trying to guess what the name would be, or just suggesting names they thought would sound nice, it’s amazing how many of them suggested Ivy!
Comment after comment was along the lines of “I’ve got a little daughter/niece/cousin/sister etc called Ivy, and I think it’s the nicest name!”
Even if you had no idea, you would automatically know that Ivy was a rising name from these comments alone. I love it when real life just backs up the data like that.
on April 9th, 2013 at 4:41 pm
@EmilyVA, thanks for the reply. The Duggar association could explain it. Of course Jim Bob and Michelle’s theme is obviously the letter J, but in sticking to that theme they’ve used an interesting mixture of the Biblical and trendy trends. It looks like the oldest son could be headed in the same direction with the M names he and his wife have chosen so far.
@tarynkay, thanks for the subdivision into Biblical Lite and Heavy–I think you’re right. Families tend to use either one type or the other, though I know some mixtures–for example, I myself have a brother Barnabas (Bible Heavy) and a sister Sarah (Bible Lite.)I think EmilyVA’s further subdivision into Bible Person or Bible Other is also helpful, though again I know mixtures–a family with Hope (Bible Other?), Adonijah (Bible Heavy/Person!), Eden (Bible Other), and Elisha (Bible Person/Heavy, if you go by popularity, or Lite, if you go by the similarity to Elijah.)
Seriously, I’d love to run a nationwide poll of evangelical Christians just to study the baby name trends.
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