Heroine Baby Names
Along with Gloria and Simone, other heroine baby names in the US Top 1000 include Athena, Dorothy, Eloise, Frida, Harlow, Louisa, Rosie, and Zora. Distinctive names that immediately call heroines to mind include Angelou, Lovelace, Moana, and Sojourner.
A heroine name can give your daughter a figure to look up to and impart particular values and lessons. Browse our collection of heroine names below. For more strong baby girl names, consult this list of names that mean strong or powerful .
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.
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.
Origin:Greek mythology name; Central American Indian empire name; Latinate variation of May; Spanish, diminutive of Amalia; variation of Maia; Hebrew
Description:In addition to being the name of a Central American culture, Maya was the legendary Greek mother of Hermes by Zeus, and means "illusion" in Sanskrit and Eastern Pantheism. It can also be spelled Maia, though both names have so many possible origins and meanings that not all of them are related. To the Romans, Maia/Maya was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring, after whom they named the month of May.
Origin:English variation of French Provencal Alienor, meaning unknown
Description:While some think Eleanor is a variation of Helen via Ellen, it actually derives from the Provencal phrase alia Aenor, meaning "other Aenor," used to distinguish the original Eleanor, who was named after her mother Aenor. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine brought it from France to England in the twelfth century. Other spellings include Elinor and Eleanore.
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: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.
Description:Long relegated to an Olde World backwater, the European-flavored Clara has been speeding up the charts on sleeker sister Claire's coattails for the past few decades. Now, many would say the vintage chic Clara is the more stylish of the two names. Actor Ewan McGregor was an early celebrity adopter of the name for one of his daughters.
Origin:French feminine variation of Joseph
Description:Josephine is the feminine form of Joseph, a name ultimately derived from the Hebrew Yosef, meaning “Jehovah increases.” In French it has an accent over the first E, which was omitted in the English, German, and Dutch translations of the name. Empress Joséphine du Beauharnais was born Marie-Josephe-Rose, but called Josephine by her husband, Napolean Bonaparte.
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.
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:English, virtue name
Description:Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for “grace.” It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace—the love and kindness of God.
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.
Origin:Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
Meaning:"bitter or pearl"
Description:Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.
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.
Origin:Greek mythology name
Description:The given name Athena was derived from the city name Athens, which is of uncertain origins. In Greek mythology, Athena is the name of the daughter of Zeus who was the goddess of wisdom, warfare, handicrafts, mathematics, and courage, among others. She was the great patroness-goddess of the city of Athens. In the Odyssey, Homer describes her as 'sparkling-eyed Athena.'
Description:Florence, which has been neglected for decades, has a lot going for it, both for its floral feel and as a place name connection to the lovely Italian city (after which Florence Nightingale was named—it was her birthplace). The association to the city seems to be helping Florence stir back to life, along with cousin Flora.
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:"she who brings happiness; blessed"
Description:Beatrice is derived from Beatrix, a Latin name meaning “she who brings happiness.” Beatrice was the name of Queen Victoria's youngest child. And in Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Beatrice is his guide through Paradise and is idealized as the embodiment of the spirit of love. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is the witty, high-spirited heroine. Other variants of the name include the French Béatrice and the Spanish and Portuguese Beatriz.
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:Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Ethelred. St. Audrey was a seventh century saint who was particularly revered in the Middle Ages. Her name led to the term tawdry, as cheap lace necklaces were sold at the St. Audrey fair. Shakespeare bestowed her name on a character in As You Like It.
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.
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.
Meaning:"prosperous in war"
Description:Edith was a hugely popular name a hundred years ago that's being revived among stylish parents in Stockholm and London. It's currently beginning to gain traction in the US among those with a taste for old-fashioned names with a soft but strong image.
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva, formed by the components ’el, meaning “God,” and shava’, “oath.” In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and two of England's most notable queens have been Elizabeth I and II. Another memorable bearer was Elizabeth Taylor—who hated to be called Liz.
Origin:Feminine variation of Emil, Latin
Description:Emily was derived from the Roman name Aemilia, which may have evolved from the Latin word aemulus, meaning “hardworking” or “rival.” Amelia, although similar, has separate origins — it was derived from the Germanic name Amalia. Emilia, however, has the same Latin root as Emily.
Meaning:"rock hill or army hill"
Description:Jean Harlow (born Harlean Carpenter), the original platinum blonde bombshell, was a symbol of 1930s glamour, a factor that first Patricia Arquette and then Nicole Richie and Joel Madden probably had in mind when they gave their daughters the distinctive surname name Harlow.
Description:Margaret is derived from the French Marguerite, which in turn came from Margarita, the Latin form of the Greek Margarites. Margarites was based on the Old Persian word margārīta, meaning “pearl.”
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:Vera was the height of exotic fashion in 1910, then was for a long time difficult to picture embroidered on a baby blanket. Now, though, some hip parents are beginning to quietly revive it along with other old-fashioned simple names such as Ada and Iris.
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. It has been largely associated with Beatrix (born Helen) Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, and Beatrix has been Queen of The Nethelands since 1980.
The main character in Quentin Tarantino's movie Kill Bill was Beatrix Kiddo, played by Uma Thurman.
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).
Description:Diana, the tragic British princess, inspired many fashions, but strangely, not one for her name. For us, Diana is a gorgeous and still-underused choice.
Origin:English, feminine variation of George
Description:Georgia is so rich, lush and luscious, it's almost irresistible. Georgia's now a rising star among the feminizations of George, helped by associations with the southern state (named for British King Geogre II) and painter Georgia O'Keeffe, with the Ray Charles song "Georgia On My Mind" or maybe "Sweet Georgia Brown" playing in the background.
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.
Description:Ruth, with its air of calm and compassion, was the third most popular name in the 1890s, remaining in the Top 10 through the 1920s. It's still in use today as some parents tiring of Rachel and Rebecca are giving Ruth a second thought. Some see such Old Testament girls’ names as Ruth and Esther rising on the heels of boy equivalents Abel and Moses.
Description:Eve, the oldest name in the Book, is now coming back into style, having the virtues of simplicity and purity, yet with more strength and resonance than other single-syllable names like Ann. British actor Clive Owen chose Eve for his daughter, as did Jessica Capshaw.
Description:Octavia began as the Latin, then Victorian name for an eighth child. While there aren't many eighth children anymore, this ancient Roman name has real possibilities as a substitute for the overused Olivia; recommended for its combination of classical and musical overtones. It was chosen for his daughter by Kevin Sorbo.
Origin:English and Scottish, feminine diminutive suffix of Henry
Description:Etta, once a short form of Henrietta, has long been used on its own, and we wonder if it could follow the progression of Emma to Ella to...Etta.
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:"of the mind, intellect"
Description:Minerva is the long-neglected name of the Roman goddess of wisdom and invention, the arts and martial strength, one of the mythology names for girls that might appeal to adventurous feminist parents.
Origin:Latin, Feminine variation of Valentine
Description:Valentina is a more exotic and artistic ballerina-type successor to Valerie; a pretty, recommended choice. Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault named their daughter Valentina Paloma.
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:Feminine variation of Theodore
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:Theodora is one of the most revival-worthy of the charmingly old-fashioned Victorian valentine names, softly evocative but still substantial, as is the reversed-syllable Dorothea. It was borne by several saints and by the beautiful ninth wife of the Emperor Justinian, who became the power behind his throne. A later royal was Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, the older sister of the present Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Description:Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Origin:Short form of names that end in -nina
Description:Nina is as multiethnic as you can get: Nina is a common nickname name in Spain and Russia, a Babylonian goddess of the oceans, and an Incan goddess of fire. Here and now, it's a stylish possibility that's been underused. "Weird Al" Yankovic chose this decidedly nonweird name for his daughter.
Description:Serena, a name used since Roman times, was given fresh life by tennis star Williams, and then again with the leading character on Gossip Girl, Serena van der Woodsen. There have also been Serenas on soap operas and other shows from Bewitched to Law & Order.
Origin:Hebrew or Egyptian
Meaning:"drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved"
Description:Mary is the English form of Maria, which ultimately was derived from the Hebrew name Maryam/Mariam. The original meaning of Maryam is uncertain, but theories include "drop of the sea" (from Hebrew roots mar "drop" and yam "sea"); "bitter" (from Hebrew marah "bitterness"); and "beloved" (from the Egyptian root mr).
Origin:Latinate feminine variation of Louis
Description:Louisa, a quaint vintage name, is an example of the idea that these days, old-style girls’ names are more fashionable when they end with an a rather than with an e, as in Julie/Julia, Diane/Diana. So for the next generation, Louisa may rise again, especially with the growing popularity of other Lou/Lu-starting names, like Lucy and Luna. Louisa reentered the US Top 1000 in 2014 after a 45 year absence.
Description:Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.
Origin:Spanish and French pet name
Description:Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.