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Time To Be More Greta!

December 12, 2019 Emma Waterhouse

Greta Thunberg: TIME Person of the Year 2019

92 years ago, TIME magazine named American aviator Charles Lindbergh its first “Man of the Year”. Fast-forward to 2019, and not only has the feature been renamed “Person of the Year”, but it’s been announced that the chosen candidate this year is a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl from Stockholm.

How the world has changed! And this sixteen-year-old Swedish girl, pictured on the magazine’s cover alongside the slogan “The Power of Youth”, is a potent symbol of that change — both for better and for worse.

The Greta Effect

SayGreta” in 2019, and everyone knows who you’re talking about.

We’ve seen clever slogans like “Be More Greta!” and “Make The World Greta Again!” on placards and posters all over the world. We’ve watched the “Greta Effect” inspire real political change, and we’ve witnessed hundreds of thousands of young “Gretas” taking to the streets in protest.

It’s the name that has defined a new generation of socially and politically engaged young people, disgusted with the inertia of the status quo and determined to spark real action.

And, it has to be said, it’s a pretty perfect name for the role.

Greta is simple, strong and streamlined, traditional but still fresh and youthful, and very international without feeling anonymous. It’s also been trending steadily upwards over the past two decades, and ranks in the Top 200 girls’ names here on Nameberry — suggesting that the “Greta Effect” might soon extend to baby names, too.

Inspired by Greta

Our Namehunter tool gives some great suggestions for names that share Greta’s steely, sassy retro appeal: cool Euro-chic classics like Ingrid, Beatrix, Agnes, Willa, Margot and Zelda.

But what about other iconic, international, inspirational names like Greta? Below are ten choices we think fit the bill, plus a bit about the brilliant women behind them.

Angelou: Writer, poet, singer and activist Maya Angelou no doubt helped to inspire a generation of parents to fall in love with the name Maya, but we think the beautiful adopted surname of the “black women’s poet laureate” is also worthy of consideration.

Corazon: Fellow TIME nominee Corazon Aquino rose to prominence during the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines, which resulted in the restoration of democracy to the nation, with Aquino herself as the country’s first female president. A strong and striking option with a sweet meaning: “heart”.

Emmeline: Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst spearheaded the movement to win women the right to vote in the UK. Her name is a stylish alternative to popular picks like Emma, Emily and Emilia, and currently sits all the way down at #783.

Gloria: Dubbed “the world’s most famous feminist”, Gloria Steinem has been a leading light of the American feminist movement since the 1960s. Her name is currently ranking at its lowest point for over a century, but it’s starting to be revived by fashion-forward parents, like actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.

Indira: A powerful but controversial figure in Indian political history, Indira Gandhi served as Indian Prime Minister for fifteen years — the only woman ever to hold the post. It makes for an intriguing and exotic route to the trendy nickname Indie.

Malala: Just like Greta, Malala Yousafzai started her activism young. She began blogging at the age of eleven, and became the youngest Nobel laureate in history at seventeen — winning the Peace Prize for her advocacy for girls’ and women’s education.

Nadine: Another Nobel laureate, Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer and activist who was a vocal opponent of apartheid. Her name, with its appropriate meaning of “hope”, is incredibly underused in the US today, but would make for a chic, international choice.

Ruth: Almost as iconic a figure as Greta over the past couple of years, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has even had a film made about her long career advocating gender equality and women’s rights: RBG. Quiet classic Ruth has been making a modest comeback of late, alongside other old-fashioned and Biblical revivals.

Rosa: A simple action which sparked a revolution, Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger became an iconic moment in the American civil rights movement. Despite the growing popularity of sister name Rose, especially in the middle spot, this sweet international pick still ranks well below the Top 500 in the US.

Shirin: A charming Persian name with a meaning to match, Shirin is famously borne by Iranian lawyer, judge and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, who became the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

Would you use any of these Greta-inspired names? Which other strong female role models would you nominate for this list?

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

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