by Linda Rosenkrantz
Looking for girl names starting with F, but want to move beyond the obvious suspects, like the high-ranking Faith, Felicity, Freya, Finley, Frances and Francesca or classica like Florence or Flora? Here are some fresher faces, several of them what we call exotic light–accessible but with alluring foreign flair.
FABIENNE—A lovely French option, feeling much crisper than former faves like Adrienne, Danielle and Gabrielle. You just might remember Fabienne as the name of Bruce Willis’s girlfriend in Pulp Fiction. Also Fabian-related: FABIANA, widely used in Italy, especially around Naples. FABIA is an appellation used by early Roman nobility.
FABLE—One of the recently coined unisex literary word names, with an enchanting fairy-tale edge. It could make a meaningful middle.
FANTINE—If you’ve seen ‘Les Mis” or read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, you’ll recognize this as the name of Cosette’s mother. A passerby in the street gave her the name Fantine. FANCHON is another possibility.
FANYA—This Russian/Slavic diminutive of Frances, more distinctive than Tanya, but with the same Eastern European energy. It can also be a nickname for the Spanish Estefania.
F NAMES FROM NATURE
FAUNA—Though Flora has long been used, Latin twin name Fauna, referring to the animal life of an area, has yet to be discovered. But Fauna could bloom now that specific animal names are so trendy. Fauna is the Roman goddess of nature and woman and is the fairy who gives Aurora the gift of song in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
FAWN—As gentle and doe-eyed as the baby deer it is, Fawn hasn’t been used much since the 80s, but might be due for a reappraisal. Another sweet nature name is FERN–Fern Arable is a likable character in Charlotte’s Web.
FAY/FAYE—Fay comes from the old Middle English word meaning fairy and has been a first name since the 1800s. Most popular in the US in the first three decades of the 20th century, it’s been off the list since 1968–but is still in the Top 100 in Netherlands. Fay Wray was the original captive of Kong King; Faye Dunaway bears the alternate spelling. Question: Can Fay join May on the comeback trail?
MULTICULTURAL F NAMES FOR GIRLS
FENELLA– Fiona and Finola have had success but the Scottish Fenella is an undiscovered treasure, especially with its fashionable ella ending. Another is FIORELLA, a lovely floral-scented, rarely heard option.
FEODORA—A unique Slavic variation of Theodora, with the wonderful short form pronounced FAY-o. Queen Victoria had a half-sister named Anna Feodora.
FIA—A multicultural choice, pronounced FEE-a, this would make a light and lacy alternative to mega-popular Mia. The original Irish form FIADH entered the Irish pop list in 2013 and rose up quickly. Also consider FIANNA (FEE-na), a name with mythological resonance, chosen by Bijou Phillips and Danny Masterson for their daughter.
FLAVIA—An ancient Roman name perfect for a blonde (because that’s what it means) that’s very rare here, but still a Top 100 choice in Italia and popular in Brazil. The novelist Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca) had a daughter named Flavia. Pronunciation is FLAH-vee-a or FLAY-vee-a.
FLOWERY F NAMES FOR GIRLS
FLEUR-Generic flower names like Flora and Posy have joined the specific Lilies and Daisies and Fleur could fit right in. It entered the English-speaking world via the Fleur in Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga. More recently was the Harry Potter witch character Fleur Delacour.
FLORRIE—An adorable vintage nickname—one of several for the classic Florence—that dates back to the Bobbsey Twins children’s book era. Both Florrie and her twin FLOSSIE were surprisingly popular on their own a century ago. Florrie was #678 in 1900.
FREDERICA—An old-fashioned, slightly formal F name for girls, seldom heard in this country, despite its subtle vintage charm. A noted bearer is opera mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Nicknames that can stand on their own: FRITZI and FREDDIE. In fact Freddie once reached as high as 245, and could certainly have playdates with Frankie and Charlie.
FREESIA—A name that would be found on lists of exotic flower names, the Freesia is a delicate perennial. In the language of flowers, Freesia symbolizes innocence, friendship and thoughtfulness—and also implies freedom.
Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. In addition to contributing stories on trends and celebrity naming, she guides the editorial content and manages the Nameberry Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can follow her personally at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.