Popular Dutch Names We Should Steal
Dutch baby names are a small but mighty subset of international baby names. The most popular Dutch name in the US is Skylar, a variation of the surname Schuyler. Rhett, which derived from the Dutch surname de Raedt, and Van, a Dutch preposition, also rank in the US Top 1000.
Dutch social insurance bank SVB compiled the list of the Netherlands’ most popular baby names of 2019. Emma and Noah are the new top names, while Julia and Lucas, the top names of 2018, fell to #5 and #3 respectively.
These names are very familiar to American ears, but the Dutch Top 100 is chock full of interesting choices that rank outside of the US popularity charts. Names so good, we want to steal them!
Most Popular Names in the Netherlands
Names We Should Steal from the Dutch Top 100
Bo: This spunky mini-name is all feminine in the Netherlands but has an androgynous bent in the US thanks to the masculine-leaning names Bodhi, Bowen, Boden, and cousins. As these names continue to increase in popularity, might we see more little girls named Bo? Let’s take a cue from the Dutch.
Fenna: Once considered a fusty grandma name in the Netherlands, Fenna has made a full resurgence, now ranking at #29 on their list. There are no such associations in the US, where it would make a fresh and lovely alternative to Emma or Hannah. Fenne, a less American-friendly variation, ranks slightly lower on the Dutch Top 100.
Fleur: This literally floral name—it’s French for “flower”—has been hot in the Netherlands for the past decade. It’s currently on the decline, but we’d love to see it get picked up in the US, where it was only given to nine baby girls last year. Flora is poised to break into the US Top 1000 this year—could Fleur eventually follow? Spelling alternative Floor also ranks in the Netherlands, but we don’t recommend it for English-speakers.
Lois: Lois still feels like an old lady name in the US, but it’s among the next wave of names set to come back into fashion. It was a Top 20 name in the 1920s, so according to the 100 Year Rule, this should be the decade Lois makes a return. Loïs ranks at #37 in the Netherlands, but that ranking is deceiving—combine it with the Lois spelling and it’d rank even higher.
Lotte: Charlie is most Americans’ nickname of choice for Charlotte, but Europeans love the Lot- names. This includes Lottie—Princess Charlotte’s nickname—and Lotte, a popular choice in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Lotte, which rhymes with variation Lotta, is actually more common in the Netherlands, where short names reign supreme, than fuller form Charlotte.
Milou: A Dutch contraction of Marie–Louise, Milou is 20th on the Dutch popularity list. We love it as an alternative to Mila, #14 in the United States. The similar name Philou is also in the Netherlands’ Top 100—it’s derived from the Greek root philos, which means “love.”
Puck: Puck is best known as the name of Shakespearean sprite in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more recently as a rebellious high schooler on the TV show Glee. Both characters are male, but the Dutch have fully embraced Puck as a girls’ name. Fewer than five children—girls or boys—were given the name in the US last year, so it’s a great choice if you want a truly unique name.
Tess: It’s a mystery why Tess isn’t more common in the US—it’s got vintage charm, femininity, and a classic literary connection. It maintained a 30-year stint in the Top 1000—from 1983-2013—but never reached the Top 400. It was the most popular name in the Netherlands in 2013 and remains in the Top 10 to this day.
Boaz: We wouldn’t be surprised if Boaz cracked the US Top 1000 for 2019—this unique Hebrew boys’ name features the trendy Bo sound and is a great alternative for biblical names such as Ezra and Levi. Boaz is #20 on the Dutch popularity list—the Netherlands is the only country it ranks in.
Bram: This Dutch and Irish variation of Abraham is often associated with Dracula author Bram Stoker, who used it as a nickname. We love it as a short form for names like Abraham and Bramwell, or as an independent full form, as it is mainly used in the Netherlands. The Dutch pronunciation is closer to BRAHM, while in English we rhyme it with Graham.
Cas: Cas– names are having a moment in the US, with names like Cassius, Castiel, and Caspian making big strides in popularity. Cas—full stop—is the favored form in the Netherlands. Use it as a nickname if you wish, but Cas feels fully appropriate as a stand-alone name—a brother for names like Wes and Max.
Lars: Familiar Scandinavian name Lars is #25 in the Netherlands but has been off the US charts since the ‘80s. Ryan Gosling played titular character Lars Lindstrom in the 2007 movie Lars and the Real Girl—his fictional brother was called Gus.
Lenn: Despite the popularity of Leo– names, Leonard is far from trendy. Lenn, the Dutch variation, is a modern spin, and much more unexpected than Leo. As a bonus, Lenn comes with the so-uncool-its-cool nickname Lenny. Similar names Senn and Sem—the Netherland’s answer to Sam—are also in the Dutch Top 100.
Pim: Young American Williams are often called Liam or Will (and increasingly, Billy), but in the Netherlands, young Willems are nicknamed Pim. Americans will more likely associate it with Pimm’s, a spiced and fruity liqueur, named after its creator, James Pimm. Even though it would be non-traditional, we also like Pim for a girl.
Thijs: Thijs, which rhymes with “nice,” is derived from Matthijs, the Dutch variation of Matthew. Thijs is not quite as accessible as popular Matthew variations Mateo and Matias, but we contend that it’s usable in the US. True to Dutch form, Thijs is more popular than its original version, Matthijs, in the Netherlands.
Tygo: One of the coolest names you’ve never heard of, Tygo has ranked among the top boys’ names in the Netherlands for over a decade. It’s related to Tycho, the ancient Greek name associated with Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose given name was actually Tyge.
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on January 15th, 2020 at 4:51 pm
Puck is SUCH a boys’ name in my mind. I love gender-bending names, but I would think it would need to catch on with boys first in the US before it would make its way to the girls.
Love Sem, Thijs, Tygo/Tycho, and Boaz for boys! Sem is a Latinized form of the Hebrew name that is usually rendered as Shem in English. Somewhat like Boaz, it has taken off in the Netherlands/Belgium and pretty much nowhere else in the Western world.
Madelief is not in the Top 100, but it is firmly in the Top 500 and is one of my very favorite Dutch names – it’s a spunky, cute alternative to Madeline or Madison that means “daisy”!
Pamela Redmond Said
on January 17th, 2020 at 10:20 am
@beynotce I hear you. I was really surprised the first time I saw Puck on the girls’ side of the Dutch list. I do love that that gives it more authentic gender neutrality, but I agree, it’s got a ways to go to EVER catch on in the US for either sex.
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