Alternative Top Ten Names for Baby Girls
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You're having a baby. You've trawled the Top 100 List of Names
, which has just been released this week. You like the names, but you don't want your child to be in a class with 5 other Sophies, Emmas and Olivias. So, why not use some of the most popular baby girl names as inspiration, but give them an exotic or unusual twist?
In this article is a selection of the top twenty most given female names in the UK for 2012, followed by my suggestions for an alternative top ten baby names for girls, derived from the most popular list but very different.
1. Sophia – this name means wisdom in its Greek roots. Look around for other names with a similar meaning but with a less popular origin in the name list. You could choose Athena
. A goddess of wisdom, she might make your daughter stand out in the playground.
2. Emma – a classic Jane Austen heroine, and a name which has retained an appeal through the decades. Originally from the German group of names that began with Ermen, meaning whole or universal. Try another classic Jane Austen heroine. It starts with the same letter, but has been less popular as a given name lately: Elinor
3. Olivia – the etymology of this one is unclear. Is it Latin, from Olive; German, meaning "elf army, or did Shakespeare coin it based on Oliver? Pick another Shakespeare character instead. There are so many to choose from, but I've always been fond of Ophelia
. It has similar sounds to its more popular sister Olivia, but it's far more distinctive.
4. Isabella – Originally, a Hebrew name, meaning God's Promise. It found fame through a Queen of Spain, and more recently as the central character in Twilight. The Spanish version of a similar name, and an equally famous set of Queens: Elizabeth. I'd dispense with both and go really old-school with the anglicised name of an ancient Queen in Roman Syria: Zenobia
5. Ava – This is another name whose derivation is unclear. Potentially it could be Persian, or German, or related to the Biblical name Eve, or the Irish Gaelic name Aoife. The name rose to prominence with the film star Ava Gardiner. Pick a different film star (not Sophia though!) from the classic era of cinema. There are loads to choose from, but I'd suggest Brigitte
6. Lily – You could go for a different flower like Rose, or Violet, but that would be too obvious. Instead, expand upon the name as given and go backwards a few thousand years to find Adam's first wife in Hebrew legend: Lilith
. She was also a near-Eastern deity called Lilitu, a hand-maiden of Inanna, who came to be demonised in Hebrew tradition as the slayer of first-borns.
7. Zoe – Here's another Greek name with a simple meaning: life. I'm going to stick with the meaning, but take a Latin turn and choose Vivienne
. As a bonus, under a different spelling, this could also be used for number 5, a former Hollywood starlet.
8. Chloe – Reverse the sounds and pick Cleo
instead of Chloe. I wouldn't necessarily take the next obvious step and call her Cleopatra though. Anyone who watches Horrible Histories will know that Cleopatra is not the finest example a young girl could hope for. Unless you're hoping for incest, infamy, and eventual suicide, of course. In which case, go ahead.
9. Mia – I'm quite fond of this name, a term of endearment meaning darling, dear, or endearing. So, on this one I'm going to suggest that you look into some of the Slavic sub-forms of the name. I love the Slavic languages where, unlike English, the pet forms of names are often longer than the original names themselves. A similar name, with a similar meaning, is Milenka
, which means lovely.
10. Madison – This is an interesting exception to the other popular girls' names, because it comes from a surname and ends with a consonant. Names from surnames are more usually associated with boys' names rather than girls', as are names ending in consonants. My first thought when I saw this one was "like the street!" and when I looked into the history it does seem to have risen in popularity after the mermaid in Splash! picks it from the sign for Madison Avenue. I toyed with famous street names (Oxford, Regent?), but they didn't work. So, why not just go for Daryl
, after the actress who played the mermaid.
So, there you go, my alternative Top Ten names for girls, if you don't want to go along with the crowd:
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