Classic Girl Names That Aren't Boring
Classic baby names for girls are highly covetable — these names are rooted in tradition and hard to argue with.
But some classic names have been popular for decades, making them feel overused, unoriginal, and dare we say, 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 girl names but you want a name that sounds interesting and distinctive, consider these girl names that are traditional but not boring, ordered by current popularity on Nameberry.
Meaning:"she who intoxicates"
Description:Maeve is a short and sweet name that has become one of the most stylish Irish names for girls in the modern US. Maeve would make an excellent first or middle name choice, with more heft than Mae/May and more modern charm than Mavis.
Origin:French and English variation of Heloise
Description:Along with many other names with the El- beginning and featuring the L sound in any place, Eloise is newly chic. Eloise reentered the US Top 1000 girl names in 2009 after a 50 year nap and broke into the Top 100 in 2022. And she shows no signs of slowing down.
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.
Origin:Flower name; Greek
Description:Iris is one of the bouquet of turn-of-the-last-century flower names that is gradually beginning to regain its appeal: it is now at the highest point ever. Iris is also rooted in the trending mythological class of names..
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:Matilda is a sweet vintage name that has been gently climbing the popularity list for the past 15 years, after a half-century slumber. The spunky children's book heroine Matilda is one factor in its rise, along with others of its class like Eloise and Caspian.
Description:Cora is a lovely, old-fashioned girls' that has been recently rejuvenated by its contemporary-feeling simplicity. In fact, Cora seemed headed straight for the top of the popularity list when the coronavirus pandemic somewhat weakened its appeal.
Origin:French feminine variation of Joseph
Description:Josephine, with its large measure of class and character and a gently offbeat quality, has been on a gentle uphill climb in the US for over 30 years, now ranking in the Top 100. With an intriguing number of vivacious nicknames, from Jo to Josie to Fifi to Posy, Josephine is a Nameberry favorite.
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.
Description:Clara is a strong, lovely girls' name that's always ranked among the US Top 1000 girl names but has been climbing since the turn of this century. Now holding steady around Number 100, Clara is a modern classic, neither too popular nor too unusual.
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.
Origin:Diminutive of Margaret or flower name, English
Description:Daisy, fresh, wholesome, and energetic, is one of the flower names that burst back into bloom after a century's hibernation. 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.
Meaning:"heart; daughter of the sea"
Description:Cordelia is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name for girls that many parents are seeking for their daughters today. The name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, Cordelia has both style and substance along with its Shakespearean pedigree.
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.
Meaning:"she who brings happiness; blessed"
Description:Beatrice is back. Stored in the attic for almost a century, the lovely Beatrice with its long literary (Shakespeare, Dante) and royal history is being looked at with fresh eyes by parents seeking a classic name with character and lots of upbeat nicknames, like Bea and Bee.
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, outshines other revived vintage gem names, with its sparkling resume of cultural references. Ruby is proof of the 100 Year Rule, trending again for the first time since its last heyday in the 1920s.
Origin:German or Turkish
Meaning:"noble, nobility, or island"
Description:Ada is one of the classic baby names for girls that is suddenly super stylish again. A favorite at the end of the nineteenth century, Ada is an alternative to the over-popular Ava. Ada is also part of the trend toward simple, old-fashioned names beginning with a vowel, like Ivy and Ella.
Origin:Feminine form of Cecil, Latin
Description:Cecilia is a lovely classic name deservedly enjoying a new turn in the sun. Always among the Top 500 girls' names in the US, Cecilia is now at its highest point ever.
Description:Audrey is one of the girls' names that have been rising due to their connection to Old Hollywood glamour—in this case the eternally chic and radiant Audrey Hepburn. Audrey has another very different appeal as one of the elite group of girl names that mean strong, brave, or powerful.