Strong Girl Names: Matilda, Fiona, Adair
Their daughter is facing surgery immediately after birth. Let’s help her mama find a strong name for this little warrior!
We recently found out that our baby girl has a rare condition that will require surgery and a NICU stay when she finally greets the world.
I’ve always loved powerful female names in history and fiction. Now I need help picking the perfect one for our little warrior! The names on our current list happen to be associated with characters (not purposefully – but they fit!) and I also like names with strong meanings.
Our last name sounds like seal, so any nature, color or S names tend to sound weird (or like a friendly zoo animal) – but I’m open to suggestions!
Lydia – Brave and awesome character from Beetlejuice – and also one of the few women mentioned in the Bible, which doesn’t hurt.
Thanks so much for your help!
The Name Sage replies:
We all know that our children have great things to do in this world, and many challenges to face along the way. But your daughter is starting out with a battle, so let’s help her find a name that summons strength and energy for all of the work facing your family.
The first question, though, is what makes a name strong? Sometimes it’s meaning. In other cases, a fictional or historic figure transforms the way we see a name. And sound, too, plays a part.
The trouble is that the names that inevitably come to mind, like Brunhilde, aren’t exactly playground-ready picks for 2018.
I think you’re on the right track with your current list. Let’s see if we can add a few more options, and then let’s pick a few favorites, too.
Adair – Adair started out as a surname, but it’s also used as a Scottish form of Edgar. Regal Edgar means wealthy spear. But I also like the way Adair sounds like “dare” – as in “to brave danger.” It’s a confident, capable name. Re-arrange the letters, and you’ll have Adira, which comes from the Hebrew for mighty.
Diana – Nothing says that traditionally feminine names, like Lydia, Fiona, and Diana, can’t be powerful choices. In Roman myth, she’s goddess of the hunt. But for 2018, it’s also the given name of Wonder Woman. And that transforms this lady-like name to a twenty-first century powerhouse faster than you can say Gal Gadot.
Matilda – It sounds like a storybook kind of name, but Matilda means “strength in battle.” Medieval queens answered to Matilda. More recently, the most famous fictional Matilda is Roald Dahl’s creation, a child both brilliant and kind, and one who endures much to find her happily ever after.
Ramona – Since your list ranges from the Top 100 (Lydia) to the daring (Cleo), I wonder if you’d like Ramona. It means wise protector. A 1930s favorite, today it’s just slowly starting to come back into favor. Like Matilda, there’s a storybook character that adds to Ramona’s appeal.
Thora – Thor might be too much to live up to for a son. but Thora carries all the Norse god’s power while masquerading as a vintage sister to Nora and Cora. With Thea bounding up the popularity charts, Thora – and other Th- names – might be just behind.
Happily, there are dozens and dozens of strong girl names with ties to admirable women. But let’s return to your original list. The name that keeps coming to mind is Fiona. It just plain sounds strong, doesn’t it? And the Shrek association is, as you note, a positive one. If you don’t have a middle name chosen, I love the sound of Fiona Arwen.
From my list, I keep returning to Diana. It sounds like many of your favorites, and has been used for capable, powerful women across millennia.
But I know our readers will have some amazing suggestions! Let’s hear your best ideas for strong, powerful names for a daughter.
(And if you’re looking for names in this spirit for a boy, see this post on Strong Boy Names.)
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on March 7th, 2018 at 12:17 am
When you called your daughter your little warrior I immediately thought of “Louisa”, which means renowned warrior. It is beautiful and fits in with the other lovely names on both lists.
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:22 am
A lovely list! I just wanted to add Valentine as my favourite variation on that group of names meaning strength. I know that traditionally it has been more used as a boy’s name, but there has always been some usage as a girl’s and I do love it for a girl. It has 2 pronunciations: one like the day, and the other ‘teen’, mostly in France. I love both pronunciations.
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:24 am
Just another thought, the lovely Bridget also means strong.
on March 7th, 2018 at 6:27 am
A little more common but I’d add Audrey (noble strength), Emmeline (for Emmeline Pankhurst), and Amelia for names that imply strength!
on March 7th, 2018 at 6:39 am
I have an Esther, and she is exactly what her name implies: strong and courageous.
Wishing you and your little one the very best!!!
on March 7th, 2018 at 7:47 am
My vote would go to Fiona.
on March 7th, 2018 at 7:58 am
Another thought: My vote stands assuming that surgery you’re talking about is not related to being intersex (if it’s an intersex baby I’d be more inclined to consider a unisex name to make things easier in case you’re wrong).
on March 7th, 2018 at 8:29 am
From the posters list, my favorites are Fiona and Lydia. I agree that Arwen would be a great middle name.
I also think Matilda is an excellent choice.
on March 7th, 2018 at 10:54 am
@namefan FYI it is no longer recommended to do any surgery on intersex children, as, it turns out, we are so frequently wrong. See here: http://www.isna.org/faq/patient-centered
on March 7th, 2018 at 11:04 am
I love Bree and the meaning is strength. Maybe you would like Bree or Brea/Bria.
A few others that come to mind are: Freya, Marcella, Isa (it can be short for Isabella, Isabelle or Isadora), or Aila/Ayla (in Scottish means “from a strong and resilient place”) I like Aila for you – pronounced like Ale la, not like Eye -la (Isla)
on March 7th, 2018 at 11:12 am
I’ve always loved Letitia Louise, which together means “joyful warrior”.
You mentioned that you liked the Biblical names. Deborah was a prophet, leader, and actual warrior.
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Pari or Parisa- Parisatis was a female general
Artemisia- a Renaissance feminist painter and an ancient general
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:07 pm
What about Theodora (“gift of God”) nicknamed Thora?
Heda – nickname of Hedwig (“battle, combat”); on the TV show, The 100, Heda means “commander”.
Bellatrix – “[female] warrior” + great nicknames (Trixie, Bella, Bel).
Lovisa – another version of Louisa, it can be pronounced exactly like Louisa or with a V sound, which I adore because it sounds like LOVE.
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:10 pm
Diane feels a bit fresher now and a stronger choice. A sixteenth century French woman of influence, “Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566) was considered an ardent feminist sure of her own worth. She had all the attributes a successful woman needs including a strong will and great strength of purpose…necessary skills for survival.”
on March 7th, 2018 at 12:33 pm
Éowyn was the real Shield Maiden in the LOTR books…IDK if you’d consider that?
Brianna means strong.
If you like Biblical heroines, you can’t get much more badass than Judith whacking off Holofernes’ head!
Real-life heroines: Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller
Some of my favorite strong female book characters: Hermione (Harry Potter), Sabriel (from Garth Nix’s The Abhorsen Trilogy), Josephine (Little Women)
Sending healing vibes & thoughts of strength, courage, & perseverance your way…
on March 7th, 2018 at 3:04 pm
I feel your stress about finding a name for your beloved daughter that will be reflective of your hopes for her life. With the sound of your last name, “Seal” I do find longer, three-syllable names work best. I also prefer names which do not end with an “L” sound, just to flow better with “Seal”.
I really like Fiona, Lydia, Ramona, Matilda. But more than the meaning, I feel you should love the name: the middle spot is a good place for a special meaning.
on March 7th, 2018 at 3:16 pm
How about Beatrice (from Divergent), which means “she who brings happiness”
Or Hermione (Harry Potter), meaning “messenger, earthly”?
They are both very strong female book characters.
on March 7th, 2018 at 3:47 pm
on March 7th, 2018 at 5:07 pm
I think that Ramona, Fiona or Thora are beautiful.
on March 7th, 2018 at 5:58 pm
Another vote for Louisa!
on March 7th, 2018 at 6:13 pm
What about Cordelia?
on March 7th, 2018 at 6:38 pm
I’m shocked I haven’t seen ARTEMIS suggested yet. Similar to Arielle and Arwen… Artemis is Diana’s Greek equivalent and is the goddess of hunting, wilderness, animals, child birth, AND young girls. To me Artemis is quirky but strong and has many adorable nicknames (Arie, Artie, Missy, etc)
on March 7th, 2018 at 9:55 pm
I know a little girl named Valentina. She needed several surgeries after birth, and she wears her name so perfectly. She is a fighter. This name from Abby’s list has my vote!
on March 7th, 2018 at 10:39 pm
Best of fortune to you and your baby. 🙂
It’s really interesting to see which names berries find strong. It’s so subjective. I think whatever name summons up strength in your mind will be best.
For me, I find clunky, old-fashioned names often to be strong. I mean, the whole thing: Winifred, Bertha, Gertrude, Mildred, Agatha. To me, those names kick ass. It is hard for me to imagine a weak Winifred or a fussy Mildred. Of course, those names can be a lot to handle.
I like names of strong fictional characters as do you. I think of Anne and Cordelia, Nancy and Jo, Geneva and Portia, Petrova and Garnet, from some of my favorite books.
There are the queen names like Boudicca and Elizabeth.
The goddesses like Artemis, Athena, Minerva, Hestia, Vesta.
I find names with many consonants which are self-contained sound strong to me: Magdalen, Rosamund, Clarimond, Guinevere, Endellion.
Political figures. Gloria is strong for me because of Steinem and Maude because of Bea Arthur.
I’m sure whatever you choose will be right for you and your baby!
on March 8th, 2018 at 12:22 pm
Names that come to my mind when I think “strong” or “badass” are:
Amelia, Arya, Athena, Catherine, Elizabeth, Harriet, Victoria. All names of strong women from history (except for Arya).
on March 8th, 2018 at 3:08 pm
How about Hero for a middle name?
on March 8th, 2018 at 5:40 pm
I love Josephine, (jo from little women)
Natasha(Natasha Romanoff aka black widow- from marvel comics movies)
And Jael-pronounced yay-el- is a strong woman from the Bible.
From your list I like Arwen and cleo
Birdie Largo Said
on March 8th, 2018 at 5:49 pm
How about Joan as in Joan of Arc?
on March 8th, 2018 at 8:58 pm
oh my goodness Lydia is beautiful.
on March 8th, 2018 at 9:05 pm
Aloisia — variation on Aloysius meaning famous fighter
on March 11th, 2018 at 8:38 am
Our daughter’s name is Cleo and we love it! Also like Fiona, Lucie / Lucy, Diane
on March 13th, 2018 at 10:42 pm
Elizabeth- This, of course, calls to mind the Queen of England, who is the longest reigning monarch. This name is strong and associated with a powerful woman, however it allows your daughter to have her own freedom of expression. Elizabeth allows for many nicknames that fit your girl’s personality.
Victoria- This brings to mind another long serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was the second longest reigning British monarch. Like Elizabeth, Victoria allows your daughter to have freedom in choosing her own spin on the name/nickname.
Amelia- This name is climbing in popularity, and may not necessarily bring any specific woman to mind. However, there was Amelia Earhart, who was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic. There is a benefit, of course, to not having your child’s name be immediately associated with someone else, it allows your child to be her own person without having to carry the weight of living up to someone else’s accomplishments.
Athena- Athena is the Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Military Victory and is the patron of Athens. Athena was born from the head of Zeus dressed in full armor and fully grown. She was born ready for battle, just as you hope your little girl will be.
I think my favorite on list for your little girl would be Athena. Athena is a strong name that is ready to face whatever is in her way.
I hope all turn out well for your family, and I wish all the health to your little girl! Congratulations! Good Luck on your naming journey.
on March 21st, 2018 at 12:38 am
I want Maeve. It’s a very beautiful name for a girl.
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