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British Girl Names

British Girl Names
Do British girl names have a distinct style? You bet, and often the style of British names is a step or two ahead of the style of American names.

Along with longtime top name Amelia, girl names that rank among Britain's Top 100 include Poppy, Freya, Phoebe, Elsie, Imogen, Harriet, Nancy, and Florence. Olivia, Sophia, and Charlotte are popular in both the UK and the US.

Along with Sophia and Charlotte, other British girl names in the US Top 1000 include Alice, Annabel, Clementine, Esme, Gracie, Matilda, Ruby, and Zara. British parents are more likely to use nicknames as proper names for their daughters, with names like Evie, Hattie, Millie, and Rosie widely used on their own for girls in England and Wales.

Here, some of the most intriguing British baby names for girls. You might also want to consult our master list of English names for girls.

OttilieHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of German OTTO,
  • Meaning:

    "prosperous in battle"
  • Description:

    Ottilie and its diminutive Ottiline are a pair of names heard among the British upper crust, but have rarely been seen here since the 1880's. Though it has German roots via Otto, Ottilie has a distinctively delicate French feel.

IslaHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish place-name or Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "island"
  • Description:

    Isla, the Spanish word for island, is also the name of a Scottish river, an island (spelled Islay), and the red-haired actress Isla Fisher, married to Sacha Baron Cohen. A top girls' name in the US, Isla is also popular overseas, especially in England, Wales, and her native Scotland.

IrisHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name; also Greek
  • Meaning:

    "rainbow"
  • Description:

    Iris is directly derived from the Greek word iris, meaning “rainbow.” In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Zeus and Hera who rode the rainbow as a multicolored bridge from heaven to earth. In ancient times, the Iris was considered a symbol of power and majesty, the three petal segments representing faith, wisdom and valor. This colorful image led to the naming of the flower and to the colored part of the eye.

FreyaHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "a noble woman"
  • Description:

    Freya is derived from the Old Norse name Freyja, meaning "Lady, noble woman." It is the name of the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Freya can be considered a feminization of Frey or Freyr, the name of the goddess’s brother.

ElodieHeart

  • Origin:

    French, variation of Greek Alodia
  • Meaning:

    "foreign riches"
  • Description:

    Elodie derives from Elodia, the Spanish variation of Alodia, a gothic German name associated with Saint Alodia. Saint Alodia was a child martyr in 9th century Spain, along with her sister Nunilo. In France, Elodie is spelled Élodie, with an accent over the E.

EsmeHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    Esmé comes from the past participle of the Old French verb esmer, meaing "to esteem" or "to love." It can also be considered a derivative of the Spanish name Esmeralda, which means "emerald".

AmeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "work"
  • Description:

    Amelia is derived from the German name Amalia, which in turn is a variation of Amalberga. The root, amal, is a Germanic word meaning "work," and in the context of female given names suggests themes of fertility as well as productivity. Aemilia, the name from which Emily is derived, is unrelated to Amelia.

PhoebeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "radiant, shining one"
  • Description:

    Phoebe is the Latin variation of the Greek name Phoibe, which derived from phoibos, meaning “bright.” In classical mythology, Phoebe is the by-name of Artemis, goddess of the moon and of hunting. The masculine version of Phoebe is Phoebus.

ArabellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "yielding to prayer"
  • Description:

    Arabella was used as a given name beginning in the 12th century with the birth of Arabella de Leuchars, granddaughter of William the Lion, King of Scotland. It is derived from the Latin orabilis, from which Arabella gets its meaning. Some scholars tie Arabella to Amabel, claiming that the former developed as a variation of the latter in Scotland, much like the name Annabel.

ClementineHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine version of Clement, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "mild, merciful"
  • Description:

    Clementine is a Nameberry favorite that has finally broken back into the US Top 1000 after more than half a century off the list. Still, its style value may mean there are more Clementines than you might guess in your neighborhood—it may be a name that raises Mom's eyebrows, but it won't surprise your friends.

MaisieHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Maisie, a hundred-year-old favorite, is in perfect tune with today. Spelled Maisy in a popular children's book series, Maisie is rising in tandem with cousin Daisy. While Maisie might be short for Margaret, Mary, or even a name like Melissa or Marissa, it stands perfectly well on its own.

FlorenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flourishing, prosperous"
  • Description:

    Florence is back, returning to the US Top 1000 girl names in 2017 after a nearly 40 year absence. Other English-speaking countries have been quicker to welcome Florence back into fashion.

MatildaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "battle-mighty"
  • Description:

    The comeback of this sweet vintage name, one of the most stylish girls' names starting with M, has been prompted by a boomlet of starbaby Matildas, beginning with chef Gordon Ramsey's in 2002 and Moon Unit Zappa's two years later. But the renaissance of this name of the charming Roald Dahl heroine was assured when Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger chose Matilda for their daughter.

PoppyHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "red flower"
  • Description:

    Poppy, unlike most floral names which are sweet and feminine, has a lot of spunk. Long popular in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #5 in 2014, Poppy is just starting to catch on in a big way in the US, where it entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2016 and – just three years later – the Top 500 in 2019.

ImogenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    The story goes that Imogen originated as a Shakespearean printer's misspelling of the traditional Celtic name Innogen, used by him for a character in one of his last plays, Cymbeline. The Innogen of legend, who Shakespeare’s character was based on, was the wife of Brutus of Troy, the first king of Britain. Earlier versions of her name, including Ennoguent, Innoguend, and Innoguent, were found in Brittany from the 9th-11th centuries. They are probably derived from the Gaelic word inghean, meaning "daughter" or "maiden," and possibly have a connection to the Proto-Celtic word for "white," from which the suffixes -gwyn and -gwen evolved.

ElsieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth via its Scottish variation, Elspeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Not so long ago, Elsie might have been on a list of Names Least Likely to Succeed—but look at her now! She is currently ranked very highly in the U.K., and in the US, she's widely used as well, having returned to the popular names list in 2005 after a thirty-year hiatus. Elsie is now one of the fastest-rising girl names starting with E.

RubyHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "deep red precious stone"
  • Description:

    Ruby, vibrant red, sassy and sultry, has definitely outshone the other revived vintage gem names, with its sparkling resume of cultural references.

PersephoneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. After she was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, it was decreed by Zeus that she would spend six months of the year with her mother, allowing crops to grow, and six in mourning, thus accounting for the seasons.

EvaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin form of Eve, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Eva is found in many different languages as a variation of Eve—the Old Testament name recognizable as the first woman in Abrahamic religions. Short forms of the name include Evie and Evita. The diminutive Evita is still strongly associated with Evita Peron, wife of the Argentine President Juan Peron.

FloraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flower"
  • Description:

    Flora, the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, who enjoyed eternal youth, is one of the gently old-fashioned girls' flower names we think is due for a comeback--alongside cousins Cora and Dora. Also the name of a saint, Flora has long been a favorite in Scotland where it was the name of the young heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie make his way to France. Florence, Fiorella, Fleur, and Flower are translations, but we like Flora best of all.

MillieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mildred or Millicent
  • Meaning:

    "gentle strength; strong in work"
  • Description:

    Millie is back. It's a Top 100 name throughout much of the English-speaking world, though not yet in the US. Millicent would be an appealing long form, but many people are using Millie all by its cute self -- so many, in fact, that it returned to the Top 500 in 2015 for the first time since World War 2 and continues to climb.

ZaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew and Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "blooming flower; God remembers"
  • Description:

    Zara has multiple origins, but most notably is a variation of Zahrah, a name derived from the Arabic zahrah, meaning “blooming flower.” Zara can also be a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, a feminine form of the Hebrew Zechariah. Today, Zara is heavily associated with the Spanish fast-fashion empire of the same name.

CloverHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name, from Old English
  • Meaning:

    "key"
  • Description:

    Clover is a charming, perky choice if you want to move beyond hothouse blooms like Rose and Lily, and it's recently become a new celeb favorite, chosen by both Neal McDonough and Natasha Gregson Wagner, who used it to honor her mother, Natalie Wood, one of whose most iconic films was Inside Daisy Clover.

BeatrixHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness; blessed"
  • Description:

    Beatrix has a solid history of its own apart from Beatrice, with that final x adding a playful, animated note to the name's imposing history.

EvieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Eve or Eva
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Evie was derived from Eve, which in turn comes from Chawwah, a Hebrew name related to the concept of life. Evie can be used as a nickname for any name that starts with Ev-, including Eva, Evelyn, and Evangeline, but also for names such as Genevieve and Maeve. Evie is typically pronounced with a long E sound, but a short E is also valid.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

LottieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Charlotte
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Lottie is a nostalgic great-grandma name that conjures up lockets and lace, and -- like Nellie, Josie, Hattie, Tillie, and Milly -- has considerable vintage charm. A Top 100 name at the end of the nineteenth century, Lottie fell off the popularity list around 1960, but well might climb back on most likely as a diminutive for the currently popular Charlotte. It's already an amazing Number 85 in England and Wales.

WinifredHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "blessed peacemaking"
  • Description:

    One of the few remaining unrestored vintage gems, with a choice of two winning nicknames--the girlish Winnie and the tomboyish Freddie--as well as the slight stretch Freda. Winifred, the name of a legendary Welsh saint, was a Top 200 name into the mid-1920's.

LaylaHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Leila, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    Layla is derived from the Semitic element layl, meaning "night." It has roots in the Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian languages. In the Arabic story Qays and Layla, Layla is the subject of the poet’s unrequited love. Among the many alternate spellings are Leila, Laila, Laela, Laelah, Laylah, Leyla, Lejla, and Leighla.

AoifeHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful, radiant"
  • Description:

    Aoife, pronounced EE-fa, is derived from the Irish word aoibh, meaning "beauty." Aoife was borne by several different heroines of ancient Irish legend. In one tale, she was the fiercest woman warrior in the world and enemy of her twin sister, Scathach.

EiraHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "snow"
  • Description:

    This Welsh nature name that can be pronounced exactly like the male Ira. Or, to avoid confusion, you could just name her Snow.

LaviniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, from ancient place name Lavinium
  • Description:

    Lavinia is a charmingly prim and proper Victorian-sounding name which actually dates back to classical mythology, where it was the name of the wife of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who was considered the mother of the Roman people.

HattieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Harriet
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    In the USA, Hattie is one of those nicknames that is now more popular than its parent name, Harriet. In England, however, Harriet is still by far more popular than Hattie, while in Australia, Harriet is highly popular while no data exists on Hattie. In the US, we’d like to see Harriet get more usage but we’re happy to see Hattie again.

HarrietHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of French Henriette
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    Harriet has long been considered a stylish, upscale name in England, but it's still waiting to be revived in the US—though some parents seeking a solid, serious semi-classic are beginning to consider it.

AlbaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "white"
  • Description:

    Alba is quietly making a behind-the-scenes comeback, perhaps thanks to actress turned baby-product mogul Jessica Alba. Last on the Top 1000 a century ago, the name was given to more than 150 baby girls in the US last year. Alba might be tomorrow's successor to Ava and Ella. In Spain, Alba ranks among the Top 10 girls' names. Alba is the name of a character in The Time Traveler's Wife.

CaoimheHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful"
  • Description:

    Caoimhe, pronounced (more properly) kwee-va or kee-va, is a pretty and distinctive Gaelic name but one that could well lead to no end of confusion outside the Irish community. Even in its native habitat, it is sometimes spelled Keeva.

EilidhHeart

  • Origin:

    Gaelic form of Eleanor
  • Description:

    Long popular in Scotland, this attractive name is strictly-speaking the Gaelic version of Eleanor, but is also often considered part of the Helen family of names. After the Normans introduced it into the British Isles, it was transformed into Aileen or Evelyn. It has rarely been heard in the US, but it is slowly starting to be used here too.

PrimroseHeart

  • Origin:

    English flower name
  • Meaning:

    "first rose"
  • Description:

    A quaint and quirky flower name, until recently considered a bit too prim for most American classrooms but brought back to life in recent years by the attractive character of Primrose "Prim" Everdeen in the Hunger Games series. In the Top 300 girl names in England and Wales and on Nameberry, Primrose remains rare in the US, but is made more accessible by a raft of sweet nickname options, including Rosie and Posy.

HermioneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine version of Hermes, "messenger, earthly"
  • Meaning:

    "messenger, earthly"
  • Description:

    Hermione's costarring role in Harry Potter has made this previously ignored, once stodgy name suddenly viable. Hermione could really take off once today's children start having kids of their own.

FernHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    Of all the botanicals, Fern has been one of the slowest to move back from the front parlor into the nursery, despite the appealing girl character in the children's classic Charlotte's Web. Fern was most popular from the turn of the last century through the 1940s, reaching a high of #152 in 1916. We can certainly see her rejoining the long list of popular greenery names.

FleurHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "flower"
  • Description:

    Fleur is a generic, delicate flower name that emigrated into the English-speaking world when John Galsworthy bestowed it on one of the Forsytes in his celebrated saga. More recently, there was Fleur Delacour, a French witch and the Beauxbatons champion for the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter.

CressidaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gold"
  • Description:

    Cressida is a pretty mythological and Shakespearean heroine name much better known in Britain than it is here — an imbalance the adventurous baby namer might want to correct. For although the Trojan heroine of that name in the tale told by Boccaccio, then Chaucer, then Shakespeare, didn't have the greatest reputation — she was faithless to Troilus and broke his heart — the name today sounds fresh, crisp and creative.

PippaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Philippa
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Pippa, a peppy condensation of Philippa that turns it from serious to sprightly, has come into the public eye in a big way via the former Kate Middleton's sister. Heard far more in the UK (where it's currently just outside the Top 100) than the US, Pippa has been used on its own since the nineteenth century, popularized by Robert Browning's dramatic poem, Pippa Passes. A recent book and film was titled The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

VerityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    If you love Puritan virtue names and want to move beyond Hope and Faith and Grace, this is a wonderful choice, both for its meaning and its sound. A rare find here, though occasionally heard in England. It was used in Winston Graham's Poldark novels, was Madonna's name as James Bond's fencing instructor in Die Another Day, and made a brief appearance in Harry Potter. Not to mention being a fixture on British and Australian soaps. Verity also appears in one of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries.

XantheHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "golden, yellow"
  • Description:

    X marks the spot in names these days, usually at the middles or ends of names, but here is one that puts it squarely up front.

RosieHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "rose"
  • Description:

    Rosy-cheeked and cheery, Rosie (also spelled Rosy) has been standing on her own for many decades, back to the days of 1943 musical Sweet Rosie O'Grady. She's one of the perky nickname-names that are filling the popularity lists of other English-speaking countries. In the US, she came back to the Top 1000 in 2013, after a 30 year hiatus.

SaskiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch
  • Meaning:

    "Saxon"
  • Description:

    From the first time we saw the name Saskia attached to a portrait of Rembrandt's wife (her full name was Saakje van Uylenburgh, but she was always called Saskia), we have found it utterly charming and wondered why it hasn't attracted more fans In this country--she's appreciated by the Brits, who have moved her to Number 392. Saskia is one of those names that's been used in Europe since the Middle Ages, but has never crossed the ocean.

TabithaHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "gazelle"
  • Description:

    Though never as popular as the name of her Bewitched mother, Samantha, Tabitha has its own quirky, magical charm. The name of a charitable woman who was restored to life by Saint Peter in the Bible, it was a popular Puritan choice. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick chose it for one of their twin daughters, which gave it a slight boost. Nonetheless, Tabitha remains in decline.

AramintaHeart

  • Origin:

    Invented hybrid name from Arabella and Aminta
  • Description:

    Araminta is an enchanting eighteenth-century invention familiar in Britain and just beginning to be discovered here. It was used in 1693 by William Congreve in his comedy The Old Bachelor, and in 1705 by the versatile Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace as well as a playwright, for his comedy The Confederacy.

RomillyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "citizen of Rome"
  • Description:

    Originally a surname deriving from the Roman twin Romulus, this attractive name was introduced to the English-speaking world as a first name by painter Augustus John who used it for his son. Romilly John became Admiral of the Fleet in England.
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