European names, meaning names drawn from European languages and countries, are among the most fashionable in the English-speaking world. Names with their origins in France and Spain, Germany and Italy, Russia and Scandinavia can all be considered European.
Even Latin names, with origins in ancient Rome, can be considered European names.
The full collection of European names, then, is massive – so many thousands of names that it would be meaningless to list each and every one of them.
Instead, what we define as European names here are baby names that are popular throughout Europe but are still uncommon among English speakers. European names are growing in popularity in the US and elsewhere as the world becomes more diverse and parents look to original sources for baby names.
Origin:Danish and Norwegian variation of Severus
Description:This gentle Scandinavian name, soft and sensitive, is being discovered in a major way by parents in the US. It's most closely identified with the nineteenth century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, but there have been modern fictional Sorens as well, in The Matrix Reloaded and the book series Guardians of Ga'Hook, Charlie and Lola, and Underworld.
Description:Felix was originally a Roman surname but was adopted as a nickname by the ancient Roman Sulla, who believed that he was especially blessed with luck by the gods. It is the name of four popes and sixty-seven saints; in the Bible, Felix is a Roman procurator of Judea.
Origin:Feminine variation of Otto, German
Meaning:"prosperous in battle"
Description:Ottilie and its diminutive Ottiline are a pair of names heard among the British upper crust, but have rarely been seen here since the 1880's. Though it has German roots via Otto, Ottilie has a distinctively delicate French feel.
Origin:French, variation of Greek Alodia
Description:Elodie derives from Elodia, the Spanish variation of Alodia, a gothic German name associated with Saint Alodia. Saint Alodia was a child martyr in 9th century Spain, along with her sister Nunilo. In France, Elodie is spelled Élodie, with an accent over the E.
Origin:Latinized form of Hugh
Description:Hugo, the Latin form of Hugh, has more heft and energy than the original -- and of course we love names that end (or begin, for that matter) with an o. This one is especially appealing because it's backed up by lots of solid history and European style.
Description:Cutting-edge parents have revived this German name a la Oscar.
Origin:Italian diminutive of Nicholas, Greek
Meaning:"people of victory"
Description:Nico is one of the great nickname names, full of charm, energy and effortless cool -- a neo Nick.
Description:Astrid is derived from the name Ástríðr, which is made up of the Old Norse elements that mean "god" and "beautiful." Astrid has been a Scandinavian royal name since the tenth century, and many people associated it with the Swedish author of the Pippi Longstocking stories, Astrid Lindgren. Related names include Asta, a diminutive used throughout Scandinavia, and Astride, the French form. Despite their similarities, Astrid is unrelated to Astra, a Latin name meaning "of the stars."
Description:Elio is a sunny and spirited Italian and Spanish name that makes a great crossover prospect, which could catch on as Enzo has. Elio is also currently popular in France, ranking in the Top 250.
Origin:Italian variation of Henry, also diminutive of Vincenzo and Lorenzo
Description:Enzo originated as the Italian variation of Heinz, a German name derived from Heinrich, related to Henry. It has historically been used as a short form for Italian names such as Vincenzo and Lorenzo. The most famous bearer of the name is Enzo Ferrari, founder of the luxury sports car brand.
Description:Ronan is the compelling legendary name of twelve Irish and Scottish saints that is now drawing some deserved attention; this cousin of the ascending Roman and Rowan was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller in 1998, and more recently by actress Catherine Bell.
Origin:Scandinavian from Latin
Description:Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.
Origin:Greek, Italian, English
Description:We all heard it on Seinfeld as the long-concealed first name of Kramer, then considered a punchline. Now some pioneering parents are embracing this expansive Greek name, which makes a creative and cool choice for a baby. Influential celebrity couple Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost chose it for their son, born in 2021, which will likely drive Cosmo up in popularity. In the UK, it currently ranks within the Top 1000 boy names and is trending upwards.
Description:Saoirse originated as a baby name in 1920s Ireland as an applied use of saoirse, the Gaelic word for "freedom." The name was first adopted during the Irish War of Independence, when the Irish Republican Army fought the British Army for the liberation of Ireland from British rule. In modern times, Saoirse, as well as a host of other Gaelic names, are being revived in Ireland, the UK, and the US.
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:Latin diminutive of Durant
Description:Though closely associated with the great medieval Florentine poet Dante Alighieri -- who's so famous most people skip the last name -- it's not as much of a one-man name as you might think. Heck, it's not even a one-poet name, thanks to British pre-Rapahaelite Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Though especially well used in the Italian-American community, it would make a striking name for any little boy.
Origin:French variation of Latin Sylvia
Meaning:"from the forest"
Description:Although Sylvia seems to be having somewhat of a revival among trendsetting baby namers, we'd still opt for the even gentler and more unusual Sylvie. Despite being dated in its native France (where it was popular during the 1950s and 60s), in English-speaking regions it still feels fresh and international without being unfamiliar and has a cosmopolitan, international air. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2016.
Description:A beautiful modern Cornish nature name that is rapidly picking up steam in the States: even spawning variant spellings like Elowyn and Elowynn. In its native region, it wasn't widely used as a name before the twentieth century, when the Cornish language was revived. A (currently) unique member of the fashionble El- family of names, it has a pleasant, evocative sound.
Origin:Greek variation of Leo
Description:Leon is one of the leonine names that is extremely hot in Europe right now. Although it peaked here in the 1920s, it is slowly making its way back, and it could climb further with parents wanting a more serious and studious alternative to Leo.
Description:This Old Testament female name has been one of the most popular girls’ names in Israel over the last decade. Also highly popular in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, and a new entrant to the US Top 1000, it may be misunderstood here as an attempt to streamline and feminize the more familiar Noah – although it's a separate name with a separate derivation.