Classic Girl Names That Aren't Boring
Quirky classic baby names have attitude and are rarer than their more conventional counterparts. Think Eliza and Juliet rather than Elizabeth and Julia. There will be no accusations of Plain Jane here! (Although we’d like to go on record and say we love the name Jane, too).
Along with Eliza and Juliet, other classic girl names that aren’t boring in the US Top 250 include Audrey, Genevieve, Georgia, Iris, Josephine, Lucia, Ruby, and Vivian. Interesting and unique girl names with traditional origins include Cleo, Guinevere, Ione, and Marcella.
If your tastes run toward classic baby girl names but you want a name that sounds interesting and distinctive, consider these girl names that are traditional but not boring.
Meaning:"she who intoxicates"
Description:Maeve appears in Irish mythology in two forms, one as the powerful Queen of Connacht, the other as the queen of the fairies. Maeve of Connacht was a warrior queen, famous for starting a war in attempt to steal her ex-husband’s stud bull. Other spellings are Meabh, Medb and Meadhbh, which are connected to mead, a honey-based wine that was produced in many ancient cultures.
Origin:Flower name; also Greek
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.
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:In classical mythology, Cora—or Kore—was a euphemistic name of Persephone, goddess of fertility and the underworld. Kore was the name used when referencing her identity as the goddess of Spring, while Persephone referred to her role as queen of the Underworld. Cora gained popularity as a given name after James Fenimore Cooper used it as the name of his heroine, Cora Munro, in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.
Meaning:"laurel tree, bay tree"
Description:In Greek mythology, Daphne was the nymph daughter of Peneus, a river god. Peneus saved Daphne from Apollo’s romantic obsessions by transforming her into a laurel tree. It is from this myth that the plant genus daphne, which contains the laurel species, gets its name.
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.
Description:Ivy is derived from the name of the ivy plant, which got its name from the Old English word ifig. Ancient Greeks presented an ivy wreath to newlyweds as a symbol of fidelity. In the language of flowers, Ivy signifies faithfulness.
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.
Origin:English from French
Description:Genevieve is derived from the Germanic medieval name Genovefa, or Kenowefa, which consists of the elements kuni, meaning "kin", and wefa, meaning "woman." The medieval saint Genevieve, patroness of Paris, defended the city against Attila the Hun through her rational thinking, courage and prayer.
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:Variant of Adelheidis, German
Description:Adelaide is now heading straight uphill on the coattails of such newly popular sisters as Ava, Ada, and Audrey, and in the company of Adeline and Amelia. It was chosen by actress Katherine Heigl for the name of her second daughter.
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:"she who brings happiness; blessed"
Description:Beatrice is derived from Beatrix, a Latin name meaning "she who brings happiness." In the earliest sources it is also recorded as Viatrix, meaning "voyager", so there is some weight in both meanings.
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.
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.
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.
Description:Penelope is a name from Greek mythology; she was the wife of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. It has two possible origin stories—Penelope was either derived from the Greek pēnē, meaning "thread of a bobbin," or penelops, a type of duck. Mythological Penelope was cared for by a duck as an infant, and later was known for delaying her suiters by pretending to weave a garment while her husband was at sea.
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.
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 form of Cecil, Latin
Description:Cecilia is a feminine form of Cecil, which was derived from a Roman clan name related to the Latin caecus, meaning "blind." The martyred Saint Cecilia was designated the patron of musicians, either because she supposedly sang directly to God while the musicians played at her wedding, or because she sang to God as she was dying. The name was popularized in the Middle Ages as an homage to the Saint.
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.
Description:Seraphina is one of the most-searched name on Nameberry, destined for even greater popularity. The highest-ranking angels, the six-winged seraphim, inspired the lovely name Seraphina, which was brought into the contemporary spotlight when chosen by high-profile parents Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck for their second daughter, following the influential choice of Violet for their first.
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.
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.'
Meaning:"woman from Lydia"
Description:Lydia is a very early place name, that of an area of Asia Minor whose inhabitants are credited with the invention of coinage and of having strong musical talent—as well as great wealth.
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:"young green shoot"
Description:Chloe appeared in Greek mythology as an alternative name for the goddess of agriculture and fertility, Demeter. She was referred to as Chloe in the spring months, due to the name’s relation to sprouts and growth. Chloe is also mentioned in the New Testament as the name of a Greek Christian woman.
Origin:Hebrew or Arabic
Description:Delilah has shed the stigma of its Biblical image, and is now appreciated for its haunting, melodic, feminine qualities. Checking out Delilah's popularity graph shows that Delilah's use is heading straight for the top. Right now, Delilah is among the most popular Hebrew names for girls in the US as well as the Number 1 girls' name starting with D.
Origin:Spanish, Italian, German, Greek variation of Helen
Meaning:"bright, shining light"
Description:Elena, a pan-European version of Helen, has roots in Spanish, Italian, Slavic, and Romanian, among others. Helen, the name from which it derives, came from the Greek word helene, meaning "torch." Alternate spellings include Elaina, Ellena, and Alena.
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.
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?"
Description:Esther was derived from the Old Persian word stāra, meaning "star." In the Old Testament, Esther, originally named Hadassah, was the captured Jewish wife of the King of Persia who risked her life to save her exiled people from annihilation. This story is celebrated by Jews on the holiday of Purim, so that it has traditionally been given to girls around that time.
Origin:French variation of Sophia
Description:Sophie is the French form of the Greek Sophia, for which it is also commonly used as a nickname. Sophies are scattered throughout European royal history, including Sophie of Thuringia, Duchess of Brabant, Princess Sophie of Sweden, and in modern times, Sophie, Duchess of Wessex, the wife of Britain's Prince Edward. German-born Catherine the Great was born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, but changed her name to Catherine upon her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy.
Description:Cleo, one of the few girls' names to boast the cool-yet-lively o ending, is of course short for Cleopatra, the name of one of the most powerful women in history.
Origin:English from Latin
Meaning:"from France; free man"
Description:Frances is the feminine form of Francis, the English variation of the Latin name Franciscus. Franciscus, meaning "Frenchman," was taken from the Germanic tribe the Franks, which got its name from the francisca, the axe they used in battle. Until the seventeenth century, the spellings Frances and Francis were used interchangeably for both sexes.
Origin:Latinate form of Helen, Greek
Meaning:"torch; shining light"
Description:Helena is a more delicate and dainty version of Helen, a favorite of Shakespeare, who used it in both All's Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Historically, Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great (and, supposedly, the daughter of Old King Cole), who became a fourth century saint--Evelyn Waugh wrote his only historical novel, Helena, based on her story.
Origin:French variation of Elizabeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elise originated as French diminutive of Elizabeth but is now most commonly used as self-contained name. In English and French speaking countries, Elise is pronounced with two syllables, but in countries with Germanic or Scandinavian languages it is pronounced with three syllables, closer to Elisa.
Origin:Italian, feminine variation of Lucius, Latin
Description:Lucia is derived from lux, the Latin word for light. It is considered to be the feminine form of Lucius as well as the Latinate spelling of Lucy. Due to its connection to light, Lucia was traditionally given to babies born as daylight was breaking.
Meaning:"good fortune, happy"
Description:Felicity is as accessible a virtue name as Hope and Faith, but much more feminine -- and dare we say, happier. The hit TV show did a lot to soften and modernize the once buttoned-up image of Felicity, and it got further notice as the red-haired Colonial doll, Felicity Merriman, in the American Girl series. A current bearer is actress Felicity Huffman.
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:Feminine variation of Claude
Description:A classic name with a hint of ancient Roman splendor that has never been truly in or truly out, Claudia still feels like a strong, modern choice — one of our "sweet spot" names.
Origin:Latin alteration of Berenice, also related to Latin phrase <em>vera icon</em>
Meaning:"she who brings victory; true image"
Description:The name Veronica projects a triple-threat image: at once saintly, sensuous, and strong.
Description:Sophia was derived from sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. The name was first famous via St. Sophia, venerated in the Greek Orthodox church—St. Sophia was the mother of three daughters named Faith, Hope and Love. It was first used in England in the seventeenth century and was the name of George I's both mother and wife.
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.
Description:Blythe originated as a nickname for an upbeat person, coming from the Old English word bliðe, meaning "merry" or "cheerful." Today the homophone blithe shares the same meaning. Blythe was eventually adapted to a surname before it became a feminine given name.
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: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.
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.