Poetic Names for Girls: Christabel and Corinna
April is National Poetry Month. And if you’re seeking a name for your daughter that’s lyrical and poetic, romantic and feminine and not at all trendy, a good source would be those that inspired the poets of the past. Some are idealized Greek or Latinate appellations used by the early English pastoral poets in verse dedicated to their “coy mistresses,” some are found in later works by the Romantic poets, some of them are completely creative inventions.
Here are a dozen great examples.
As long and flowing as a name can be, one syllable longer than Samantha, this is a rare Greek botanical name recalling the sacred plant of Artemis, Richard Lovelace composed a ‘Song to Amarantha’—“Amarantha sweet and fair/ Ah braid no more that shining hair”
- Samantha, this is a rare Greek botanical name recalling the sacred plant of Artemis, Richard Lovelace composed a ‘Song to Amarantha’—“Amarantha sweet and fair/ Ah braid no more that shining hair”" >
- Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee—‘For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams/Of the beautiful Annabel Lee’. This lovely old extension of Ann and variation of Amabel is now #320 on Nameberry. Actor James Van Der Beek did a switch on the poem by naming his daughter Annabel Leigh." >
- Christabel, which has never taken off in the US (but which could in this age of Isabel), was originally popularized by a poem by Samuel Coleridge-- ‘The lovely lady Christabel whom her father loves so well’. Its most famous bearer was the poet’s own granddaughter, UK suffragist Christabel Pankhurst." >
- Constance a little stiff, consider the more poetic and unusual Constantia, used by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in his ode To Constantia –‘In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie’." >
- Corinna is a delicate, underused name that’s been a favorite of poets going back to Ovid, but most famous via Robert Herrick’s Corinna’s Gone A-Maying. The Corinne version of the name has been much more popular here, as high as Number 249 in the 1920s and now Number 486 on Nameberry." >
- Longfellow in his widely esteemed narrative poem Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie, and is now riding a wave of popularity-- Number 261 nationally, Number 36 on Nameberry-- (props also to Evangeline Lilly). Mia Farrow has a granddaughter named Evangeline." >
- Ianthe has inspired a number of poets, including Byron and Shelley. In fact Shelley liked it so much that he used it for his daughter." >
- Lila, Lola and Leila and make room for the rhythmic Arabic name Lalla. It was featured in the romantic poem ‘Lalla Rookh’ by Thomas Moore, about a Mughal princess. Possible problem: hit film La La Land." >
- Lucasta was invented by seventeenth century poet Richard Lovelace for a collection of poems dedicated to a lover named Lucy, and makes a nice addition to the list of light-filled Luc/Lux names." >
- Shakespeare for a character in The Tempest, Miranda was used poetically in more modern times by W. H. Auden for an eponymous poem. Widely inhabited by book, movie and TV characters, and now ranking a relatively high Number 278, Miranda still manages to retain its romantic luster." >
- Philippa and it’s not Phyllis, it’s Phillida, the Latin variation of Phyllida, which is the memorably distinctive name of Emma Thompson’s actress mother Phyllida Law. Poet Nicholas Breton wrote a pastoral poem called Phillida and Coridon-- “And Phillida with garlands gay/ Was made the Lady of the May.”" >
- Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and wondered how the heck the stylish protagonist spelled her name, now you know. The great 17th century metaphysical poet John Donne wrote a poem titled Phryne." >
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on March 31st, 2017 at 1:06 am
I love Ianthe and Amarantha. Incidentally, there’s a book series with characters with those names who are both villians.
I am disapointed that the slide shows are back though. They take so long to get through, and the pictures add no value whatsoever. I would much prefer them as a list with comments on each one.
on March 31st, 2017 at 8:50 am
I love these romantic names. On my guilty pleasures list is Millay for a little girl’s mn in honor of Edna St Vincent Millay.
on March 31st, 2017 at 10:31 am
What an absolutely beautiful list. They’re all so feminine and elegant. There was not one name on the list I didn’t like!
on March 31st, 2017 at 11:44 am
I love Christabel, Corinna and Miranda.
on April 1st, 2017 at 9:11 am
I’ve always loved Miranda! Lots of the other names are also pretty, especially Evangeline and Aramantha. Not so keen on Lalla or Christabel though, they just don’t do it for me.
So many of the pictures were so pretty! All these adorable little girls in flower crowns with long gorgeous hair, so cute!
on April 1st, 2017 at 12:17 pm
Corinna, Lalla and Phillida are pretty, but I prefer Corinne, Lola and Phillipa.
My favorite though is definitely Evangeline <3 it's on my list as a middle name choice. Love it so much!
on April 1st, 2017 at 11:57 pm
Phillida is very interesting and I love it! I love the name Phillipa, but I’m already dead-set on Theodosia for a future daughter. Theodosia and Phillippa (like Philip) might be too Hamilton-y, so Phillida is a great alternative!
on April 3rd, 2017 at 7:08 am
I love this style, and love lists like this full of names I haven’t discovered!! Phyllida is beautiful.
How is Phryne pronounced though?
on April 5th, 2017 at 1:15 pm
This is definitely my naming style. Christabel has had a spot on my list since I discovered it was the middle name of a great-great-aunt Zenobia! I’m also always looking for inspiration amongst family names, poetry, and nature. I’m adding all of these to my list! In particular, I think I’ve found a new favorite combination with Phyllida Garland. Wouldn’t it be nice to always have a beautiful verse of poetry to celebrate your daughter?
on April 5th, 2017 at 1:27 pm
Lovely names, but why mention Ovid’s Corinna and not the actual poet herself? Corinna was a greek poet in the 600s or 500s BCE, and one of the few female poets from antiquity whose work we still have. Girls can write poetry as well as have poetry written about them, after all. 🙂
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