Names to Substitute for Emma
Emma is a lovely classic name that, after several years in the Top Ten, may deserve a rest. If you like Emma but want something more distinctive, consider these choices.
Meaning:"esteemed, beloved; emerald"
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. Esmé was traditionally as masculine name, as in its original bearer, Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, and Esmée, with the same pronunciation, was the feminine form. Today both spellings are used as feminine given names.
Description:Thea is a diminutive of names ending in -thea, including Dorothea, Althea, and Anthea. It is also the Anglicized spelling of Theia, the Titan of sight, goddess of light, and mother of the moon. She was the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos.
Description:Ada is derived from the German name Adelaide, which came from the ancient name Adalheidis. The root, adal, is a Germanic word meaning “noble.” Ada can also be considered a variation of the biblical name Adah, pronounced AH-da, one of the first girls’ names mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
Origin:Diminutive of Elizabeth, Hebrew
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Eliza originated as a diminutive of Elizabeth and eventually became used as a name in its own right. Despite its similarity to the Hebrew name Aliza, meaning “joyful,” the two are unrelated. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton was the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, recognizable today as one of the lead characters in the musical “Hamilton.”
Origin:Feminine variation of William
Description:Willa has become increasingly fashionable, with its combination of Willa (born Wilella) Cather-like pioneer strength and the graceful beauty of the willow tree.
Meaning:"all, completely; fairy maiden"
Description:Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, “goddess.” In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.
Origin:Latin form of Eve, Hebrew
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.
Origin:Old French form of archaic German Amal
Description:Emmeline is an Emma relative and Emily cousin that is destined for greater use in the wake of the megapopularity of those two names. A recommended Nameberry fave, Emmeline hopped onto the US Top 1000 in 2014 for the first time ever. While it is genuinely an old name, it was rarely used a century ago; only 17 baby girls were named Emmeline in 1915, the same number as were named Ernie!
Description:Gemma is a jewel of a name, an Italian classic that was very popular in 1980s England, but has only recently been started to be used here; it entered the list in 2008.
Origin:Feminine variation of Emil, Latin
Description:Emilia is the feminine form of the Roman clan name Aemilius, which derived from the Latin aemulus, meaning “rival.” In Shakespeare’s Othello, Emilia is the wife of Iago and confidante of Desdemona. Amelia, although homonymous, has a different root and meaning.
Origin:Russian diminutive of Anna
Description:Anya is a Russian variation of Anna, which came from the Hebrew name Hannah. Anya is the form found most frequently in Russia, Poland and other East European countries, while Anja is the spelling usually preferred in Germany Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands. In the Hungarian language, Anya also means mother.
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:Diminutive of Theresa
Meaning:"to reap, to gather"
Description:Among baby girl names, Tessa's much more popular than either mother name Theresa or shorter form Tess. Today, many people may not even remember that Tessa originated as a short form of Theresa as it stands quite nicely on its own.
Description:Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.
Origin:Spelling variation of Emery
Description:Less popular than Emery, this name also attributes to Emory University. Both spellings of the name lean more heavily to the girls' side, but this one is not quite as unbalanced.
Origin:Place-name, from the River Indus
Description:India is one of the first and still one of the loveliest place-names: exotic, euphonious and long stylish in England. It was one of the fastest-rising names on the 2013 list, after jumping 240 spots back into the Top 1000. India was a character in Gone with the Wind, the sister of Ashley Wilkes, and more recently was picked for the daughters of singer Sarah McLachlan, actress Heather Thomas, and Avenger Chris Hemsworth. While not exactly new, India remains one of our highly-recommended favorites.
Description:Amabel is an older name than Annabel and a lot more distinctive. Amabel was a very common name in the twelfth and thirteen centuries, then was revived during the nineteenth century British fad for medieval names.
Origin:Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
Description:Mamie is back. Having finally shorn her Mamie Eisenhower bangs, this insouciant and adorable nickname name is perfect if you want a zestier way to honor a beloved aunt Mary. Meryl Streep's actress daughter, properly named Mary Willa, is called Mamie Gummer. You might think of Mamie as a sister of the stylish Maisie.