Literary Girl Names
Along with Eloise and Scarlett, other literary girl names in the US Top 300 include Daisy, Harper, Juliet, Maisie, Harriet, Bella, Arya, and Evangeline. Distinctive literary names with strong ties to their characters include Cosette, Snow Flower, Hermione, and Lolita.
Literary names for girls from books that have become television shows or movies such as Game of Thrones or Hunger Games have also found widespread use, with names such as Aria and Katniss used for non-fictional baby girls.
In the literary baby names category, as always, feel free to think about your own personal favorites.
Literary Names for Girls
Description:The name of the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna is derived straight from the Latin word for moon, luna. Luna’s divine complement is Sol, the god of the Sun. In Roman art, Luna is often depicted driving a chariot.
Origin:French and English variation of Heloise
Description:To some, Eloise will forever be the imperious little girl making mischief at the Plaza Hotel, while the original version Heloise recalls the beautiful and learned wife of the French philosopher Peter Abelard, admired for her fidelity and piety.
Along with many other names with the El- beginning and featuring the L sound in any place, Eloise is newly chic. Eloise jumped back onto the popularity list in 2009, possibly thanks in part to the Eloise Hawking character on the popular TV series Lost. Eloise was the name of Jennifer Aniston's character in Love Happens. Denise Richards named one of her daughters Eloise.
Description:Aurora is the name of the Roman goddess of sunrise whose tears turned into the morning dew. She was said to renew herself by traveling from East to West across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun each dawn. Aurora is also associated with the scientific term for the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis.
Description:Alice was derived from the Old French name Aalis, a diminutive of Adelais that itself came from the Germanic name Adalhaidis. Adalhaidis, from which the name Adelaide is also derived, is composed of the Proto-Germanic elements aþala, meaning "noble," and haidu, "kind, appearance, type." Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland popularized the name in modern times.
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".
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.
Meaning:"bearer of good news"
Description:Evangeline is a romantic old name enjoying a major comeback, thanks to its religious overtones, Eva's popularity, and the star of the TV megahit Lost, Evangeline Lilly. Evangelia and Evangelina — two variants of Evangeline — are sure to tag along for the ride.
Meaning:"heart; daughter of the sea"
Description:Cordelia, the name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, has style and substance, and is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name that many parents are seeking today. If you're torn between Cordelia and the equally lovely Cora, you can always choose Cordelia for long and then call her Cora for short—or Delia, Lia, Del, or even the extremely different Cordie. Cordelia is a Nameberry favorite—Number 106 on the site—and it reentered the US Top 1000 in 2014 after a 60+ year absence.
Origin:Scottish diminutive of Margaret or Mary
Meaning:"pearl or bitter"
Description:Maisie, a hundred-year-old favorite, is in perfect tune with today, rising in tandem with cousin Daisy. Spelled Maisy, it's a popular children's book series.
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.
Meaning:"the hazelnut tree"
Description:Hazel is a name applied from the English word hazel, referring to the hazelnut tree. The word was derived from the Old English hæsel of the same meaning. Historically, a wand of hazel symbolized protection and authority.
Origin:Diminutive of Margaret or flower name, from English
Description:Daisy, fresh, wholesome, and energetic, is one of the flower names that burst back into bloom after a century's hibernation. Daisy is now second only to Delilah among most popular girl names starting with D. Originally a nickname for Margaret (the French Marguerite is the word for the flower), Daisy comes from the phrase "day's eye," because it opens its petals at daybreak.
Origin:English from Latin
Meaning:"youthful or sky father"
Description:One of the most romantic names, the lovely and stylish Juliet seems finally to have shaken off her limiting link to Romeo. In Shakespeare's play, it was Juliet who said "What's in a name?"
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:Calliope is the name of the muse of epic poetry -- and also the musical instrument on the merry-go-round. Bold and creative, it would not be the easiest name for a girl lacking such qualities. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016. While Americans usually pronounce this name with a long I sound and the emphasis on the second syllables, Greeks pronounce it with the emphasis on the third syllable -- ka-lee-OH-pee.
Origin:Variation of Hannah, Hebrew
Description:Anna is the Latin form of Hannah, a Hebrew name that derived from root chanan, meaning "grace." European Christians embraced the name for its associations with the Virgin Mary’s mother, Saint Anna — known in English as Saint Anne. While Hannah and Anna are the most common forms of the name, variations including Annie, Annalise, Anya, Anika, Nancy, and Anais also rank in the US Top 1000.
Description:Harper is a red hot name for girls, having jumped from obscurity to near the top of the popularity list in less than a decade; it entered the Top 10 for the first time in 2015, and has stayed near there since. Harper is a prime example of the trend of surnames that turn into boys' names and then become girls' names. Harper was rarely heard for either sex before the mid-2000s, entering the girls' list in 2004. (For boys, it was in use until 1906 when it dropped off the scope and didn't reappear until a full century later.)
Description:Emma originated as a diminutive for Germanic names beginning with the ermen root. A very old royal name well used throughout the centuries—Queen Emma married King Ethelred the Unready in 1002—Emma is also historically associated with Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson and muse of painter George Romney.
Description:Scarlett originated as an occupation surname, designating a person who sold scarlet, a luxury wool cloth produced in Medieval Europe. The word is thought to derive from the Arabic siklāt, referring to silks dyed with kermes. The fanciest, favorited color was scarlet red.
Description:This name of the Cretan goddess of fertility is most popular now as the more melodic Ariana, but Ariadne has possibilities of its own. It first entered the US Top 1000 in 2014. The renewed interest in the name falls in line with the revival of other mythological names like Apollo and Athena. The trendy nickname Ari doesn't hurt either.
Origin:Botanical names or word name
Description:Rue has gone from Golden Girls actress to Hunger Games heroine. This botanical name is also a coincidental double word name, meaning "regret" in English and "street in" French. Despite these unfortunate secondary meanings, Rue has real potential to be one of the most popular new middle names for girls.
Origin:Flower name, from Swedish surname
Description:One of the flower names, used occasionally in Britain (where it's pronounced DAY-lee-a). It seems to have recovered from what was perceived as a slightly affected la-di-dah air. The flower was named in honor of the pioneering Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl, which means dale.
Description:Now that Tristan has been rediscovered, maybe it's time for his fabled lover in the Arthurian romances and Wagnerian opera, a beautiful Irish princess, to be brought back into the light as well.
Meaning:"queen of the heavens"
Description:Juno is an ancient name that feels as fresh as if it had been minted — well, not yesterday, but in 2007. Since the release of the popular indie film Juno, this lively but strong o-ending Roman goddess name has become more and more prominent as a potential baby name — Coldplay's Will Champion chose Juno for one of his twins (whose brother is the kingly Rex).
Origin:Flower name, from English
Description:Marigold, once found almost exclusively in English novels and aristocratic nurseries, is beginning to be talked about and considered here. It has a sweet, sunny, quirky feel. The marigold was the symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Description:Among a small shower of rain-related names, this pure version can have a cool, refreshing image.
Description:Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real-life possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now grown middle daughter, followed by Tom Berenger a few years later. A unisex choice that is growing in popularity for both genders -- but given to girls about four times more often than to boys -- it was picked by skater Tai Babilonia for her son and Kerri Walsh for her daughter Scout Margery.
Meaning:"gift of Isis"
Description:Why is Isabella megapopular while Isadora goes virtually ignored? Too close a tie with tragic modern dancer Isadora Duncan (born Angela Isadora), who was done in by her long flowing scarf, perhaps, or with fusty male version Isidore. But we think Isadora is well worth reevaluating as an Isabella alternative. Quirky couple singer Bjork and artist Matthew Barney did just that and named their daughter Isadora. Isidora would be an alternative, just as proper but not quite as charming spelling--the one used as the spelling of a fourth century saint's name.
Meaning:"white shadow, white wave"
Description:Guinevere was the name of the beautiful but ill-fated queen of Camelot, for so many years eclipsed by its modern Cornish form Jennifer. Today, Guinevere could be a cool possibility for adventurous parents intrigued by this richly evocative and romantic choice.
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.
Origin:English variation of French Henriette
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.
Origin:Sanskrit; Modern variation of Aria
Description:Arya was derived from an Indo-Iranian word meaning "Aryan" or "noble." It is a masculine given name in Iran, Indonesia, Bali, and Sanskrit-speaking regions of India. In Hindu- and English-speaking parts of the world, Arya is more often a feminine name, the latter influenced by the similar Italian name Aria, meaning "air" or "song."
Origin:French nickname and Japanese
Description:Kiki is one of the Coco-Gigi-Fifi-Lulu bohemian-type French nickname names from the turn of the last century, which have endless energy and sparkle. Artist Kiki Smith is its most well-known contemporary representative, and Kiki was the inspiring heroine of Zadie Smith's On Beauty. Kiki can be a nickname for any name beginning with the K sound, from Katherine to Christina to Kayla.
Description:If you love both unique baby names and flower names for girls, Amaryllis might be a perfect choice for you. A showier flower name than Lily, but in the same botanical family, Amaryllis is not as outre as it might at first sound. It was used in Greek poetry as the appellation of pure pastoral beauties; Amaryllis is the heroine of Virgil's epic poem Ecologues, after whom the flower was named. Other references are characters in the George Bernard Shaw play Back to Methuselah and The Music Man. James Bond-creator Ian Fleming had a half sister named Amaryllis Marie-Louise Fleming, who was a noted British cellist.
Origin:Greek, feminine version of Hermes, "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.
Origin:Diminutive of Isabella, Italian
Description:Bella derived as a diminutive of Isabella and other names with the suffix -bella. While Isabella is a variation of Elizabeth and thus means "God is my oath," Bella is considered to mean "beautiful." This is because Bella is related to the word for "beautiful" in languages including Spanish, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Greek, as well as the name Belle, which means "beautiful" in French.
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.
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.
Description:Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Description:This name of a character played by Kirsten Dunst in the movie Virgin Suicides, originally a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, is gaining attention, also thanks to the heroine Lux, Lady of Luminosity in the League of Legends games. Luz is the Spanish version.
Description:Alma is a somewhat solemn, soulful name that had a burst of popularity a century ago, then faded into the flowered wallpaper, and is now finding its footing once more.
Origin:Arabic feminine form of Ali
Description:Alia is most classic and feminine form of Ali, one of the 99 attributes of Allah. The name is used by Christians, Muslims and Jews; the word Aliyah means to make a pilgrimage to Israel and the words in both languages mean sublime, lofty, or exalted. Alia is also the name of the heroine of Frank Herbert's science fiction classic Children of Dune
Origin:Spanish, feminine variation of Ramon
Description:Ramona is a sweet spot name – neither too trendy nor too eccentric. Kids will associate it with the clever Ramona Quimby character in the series of books by Beverly Cleary, also seen on TV. It was chosen by starcouple Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard for their little girl, who would be joined by sister Gloria.
Origin:Spanish variation of Catherine
Description:This name of a touristed island in sight of Los Angeles makes an attractive and newly stylish variation on the classic Catherine or overused Caitlin.
Description:Rosalind has a distinguished literary history --it started as a as a lyrical name in early pastoral poetry, probably coined by Edmund Spenser. It was further popularized by Shakespeare via one of his most charming heroines, in As You Like It --and, along with a bouquet of other Rose names, might be ready for a comeback.
Description:Peyton is a unisex surname that's not only survived but continues to grow in popularity because of its rich southern-accented softness combined with the pre-Desperate Housewives naughtiness of Peyton Place. In recent years, more boys have been named Peyton thanks to football star Peyton Manning, but the projected film of William Styron's Lie Down in Darkness which features heroine Peyton Loftis may further popularize Peyton as a girls' name.
Origin:French literary nickname
Description:Cosette is best known as the heroine of Les Miserables. In the Victor Hugo novel, Cosette was the nickname given to the girl named Euphrasie by her mother. Although Hugo invented the name, some etymologists believe it's a spin on Colette, originally a female short form of Nicolas.
Description:Blue suddenly came into the spotlight, as the unusual color name chosen by Beyonce and Jay-Z for their baby girl Blue Ivy. Blue is also a starbaby middle name du jour, used for both sexes in different spellings and forms, from John Travolta and Kelly Preston's Ella Bleu to Alicia Silverstone's Bear Blu. Dave 'The Edge' Evans named his daughter Blue Angel back in 1989.
Meaning:"meadow of quivering aspens"
Description:Waverly, with its literary resonance and lilting three-syllable sound, could well become the next generation's successor to Kimberly. Its upper-crusty surname feel places it among the new stylish English names for girls, successors to Ashley and Whitney.
Origin:English, contracted form of Thomasina
Description:Tamsin is an offbeat name occasionally heard in Britain and just waiting to be discovered here. U.K. actress Tamsin Greig is a star of the show Episodes, Tamsin Olivier is the daughter of Joan Plowright and Sir Laurence Olivier..