Sep 20th 2008

Here are a dozen girls' names.  Can you spot any patterns in the list?


Go with the obvious: half of the names on the list start with L.  You're looking at the top dozen names in Austria, just one of the many countries infatuated with the lovely letter L.  Lena and Leonie are particularly hot in German-speaking areas; Lea is huge in France and Quebec; Lucia is the top name in Spain, with Lucy and Lucie soaring elsewhere; Laura is a favorite just about everywhere (good taste, world!)  Take any short name that starts with an L and ends with a vowel, and you're sure to be in style.

Regular readers of this blog may be experiencing a little deja vu right about now.  Yes, you've heard something like this before.  The same pattern came up in my discussion of rising names I've taken off my "Why Not?" list.  Names like Luna and Lila were rare in the U.S. just a few years back, but are suddenly in contention.  The global figures suggest that's not just a fluke.  L is the world's hottest letter for girls' names, and the U.S. is just hitching a ride on that bandwagon.


p.s. to those of you who've asked me about that mysterious little "login" button...no, it doesn't do anything quite yet, but stay tuned!



By Susan (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:52 AM

Brigitte- what about Coco as a nickname? Too girly?

By Valerie (not verified)
September 22, 2008 1:50 AM

Laura, I regularly read a blog www.dooce.com where the author Heather has a daughter named Leta, who appears frequently and hilariously. Totally recommended to those of you who are not too easily shockable...

By Austin (not verified)
September 22, 2008 2:50 AM

Zoerhenne, an L name that is big in Europe for boys is Luca. I wonder what other male L names fit the trend?

Several names in this forum hit close to home. I recently picked the name Luna for one of my friend Laura's kittens. My sister Lena picked Coco for our family dog. My friend Rob picked the name Lotte for his dog. Perhaps a Lilo or Leona will pop into the circle soon.

By Keren (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:11 AM

Louis and Luca both popular in the UK.

By Guest (not verified)
September 22, 2008 7:28 AM

OK, don't laugh. I am an author, true, but "real job" is a professional singer. Own/operate Karaoke Company in Colorado's ski areas (we cover large area -- Glenwood, Aspen, Vail, etc.) Been doing this for TWENTY YEARS. Do you realize how many Lolas I've met ... yes, because of the song! I've also met boys named (again, please don't laugh) LYNRD (you can sing "Sweet Home Alabama" now if you'd like!) Not Leonard, Lynrd -- I have seen three different variations of the spelling. SCARY. Leah (pronounced Lee ah) is a difficult one at my shows because I am a Star Wars fan and want to say "lay ah!" The name Lana (Lah nah) is also making a huge comeback! YESSS! Love it. S.S. VanLeeuwen

By Guest (not verified)
September 22, 2008 7:32 AM

P.S. First name is Samantha, named for Samantha Eggars from an old TV show (think it was Maverick.) She also played Worf's human mother on Star Trek next generation. I apologize if I misspelled his name, I'm the Star Wars fan of the family. Three way split: brother is a trekkie and sister loves Doctor Who. I mentioned earlier that I am an author ... I just saw a book online writen by somebody named Taardis! Sis didn't think of that one!

By Guest (not verified)
September 22, 2008 7:46 AM

Dear Kristi, I am an author and my baby name books are a MUST HAVE! I love the name Soren. It has a nice feel. I have a habit of putting my characters' middle names in the novels because it gives them more life. I recently wrote a novel about a family that had Norwegian heritage. The name Dyer, which is an old Viking name that means both "deer" and "dear," has a nice ring with Soren. Soren Dyer (It is traditionally pronounced Dih -ruh (Dira) but Die-er is accepted in this country and it sounds better.) If I can be of help, please let me know. I have to pick snazzy names for my books. Just to let you know, my leading lady in my trilogy is named McCartney Starr. Best wishes and take care of yourself. S. Susan VanLeeuwen.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:12 AM

Kristi, I think I have mentioned before that Lucian was my GGGgrandfather's name. I like it with James as mn. I think Soren works best with Jonas. For a girl, I like Rhianna Carolyn or Sorenah Caroline. Both are lovely! And yes I think you could still say that she is named after your SIL if you spell it differently.

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:37 AM

Brigitte -- Congrats on Francesco Vittorio! I love the suggestion of Chess. That's a cool nn.

Danielle -- Even up to the birth, we were still considering between two names for a girl. Once our daughter was born, we chose. Don't worry that you don't have a name picked out yet.

Melanie -- I, too, find names and naming fascinating, but the whole process was turned on its head when it came time for *me* to choose a name for my own kid. So much harder.

Kristi -- I love Soren, and think it sounds great with James. Of the names you list for a girl, I like Lena best (in keeping with the topic of this post!), but that doesn't work as well with Carolyn/line as the mn. However, you could spin Lena as a tribute to a Carolyn, I think.

By Sarah (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:39 AM

new baby alert:

Ors0n (no middle name)
little brother to F0x

Mother said she'll have to have at least one more to honor my suggestions of Raven or Dolphin (if you have a theme, might as well stick to it!)

By Jan (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:28 AM

I've always liked Lena and Leona. I was hesitant to use Lena as a given name rather than a nn (Helena, Magdalena) and didn't like any of the full names I came up with. Leona needs some better associations than Helmsley though.

I know a Luca and Lucian both born this past year.

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:00 AM

There is a Lena in my son's preschool. Her mother is German and pronounces her name Layna. Her father is American and pronounces her name Leena. I love it that the parents say her name differently!

By DelinaRose (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:01 AM

The 'L' name that has captured my attention right now is 'Lovisa'. It is the Swedish variant of Louisa, and is pronounced Loo-VEE-sah. I also like Louise or Louisa. Louise/Louisa seem spunky to me, while Lovisa is a bit softer.

My mother's mn is Louise, and I've considered Louisa/Lovisa/Louise in her honor. However, the apparent supersaturation of 'L' names on a world scale may put me off it.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:43 AM

Sarah-I must be missing something. How are Ors0n and F0x a theme. I understand that Fox and Dolphin and Raven are all animals, but what is Orson?

By Lorelei Leigh (BDL) (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:56 AM

Orson is related to the ursa/ursine/ursula words that all have "bear" meanings.

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:15 PM

Love your new screen name, LL, BDL, SO'M (etc.).

By Lucie la Morena (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:18 PM

"If you were to hear Shakespeare's plays properly pronounced (which you never do), you would think all the characters are from County Cork." (Miriam)

I'm glad you brought it up; I have always found the cut-glass accent Shakepeare is always performed in to be jarring. The Globe Theatre in London actually put on a couple of plays in 2005 in the original accent, which they say is

"...somewhere between Australian, Cornish, Irish and Scottish, with a dash of Yorkshire - yet bizarrely, completely intelligible if you happen to come from North Carolina."

Having listened to a brief clip, I'm not convinced about the North Carolina bit, but here's a short article about it (audio clip included):

The article also claims that there was no class distinction between accents 400 years ago - now I am dying to see one of these productions because I get so annoyed with the servant characters invariably being modern-day Cockneys while the other characters talk in old-fashioned RP!

Back on topic - I like a lot of these 'L' names; the trend holds true for me!

By Christine (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:19 PM

I know of many new Lea's (Lea with an accent on the e) - born to bilingual parents (English/French Canadian), a Leah , and a Lola all born this year.

By Joni (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:26 PM

Jennifer and Miriam, thank you so much for sending me on my latest web-mining trip to learn about The Great Vowel Shift. Fascinating stuff! Why, oh why am I not a philologist - in the sense of historical linguistics?? (And here I was thinking that word had gone out of use!) I love to learn about how words migrate through languages (Like John: Jean, Sean, Jan, Johan, Ioannes, Yochanan...) And how it gets interpreted and spelled in that language. For words would have had to be heard first and then spelled later, yeah?

I love it too when Eastern Betty and Miriam get talking about Hebrew.

Regarding Lilou, I didn't realize that this name had a 'following' in France, though it makes sense since the creator is a french man. I've seen it used here once or twice (in the US I mean) but it was spelled Leeloo. :-| I like Lilou better, though it kind of reminds me of the Disney movie character Lilo.

Regarding L names, I hope that Louisa gets picked up in the trend. As I've grown older I've really come to like that name and would love for it to get used. It would NEVER get used in my family (dh would never go for that!) but I'd name someone else's child that... :)

By Jennifer (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:27 PM

That was fascinating, Lucie!

By Lucie la Morena (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:54 PM

Thanks, Jennifer! I should make a small correction, though: the accent is estimated to be 80% accurate, so perhaps "the original accent" is slightly misleading as it implies that we know for sure exactly how the Elizabethans spoke.

By Lucie la Morena (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:57 PM

^^ oh, and I found your posts very interesting too!

By Lorelei Leigh (BDL) (not verified)
September 22, 2008 1:07 PM

There are parts of the rural Coastal North Carolina and Virginia where the longtime local (white) residents do have an accent that's sometimes described as Irish-sounding--not because they're from Irish ancestry, but because they have an accent that holds over some vowel sounds and other features from long back. But it's rapidly disappearing, already long gone in a lot of places, and most residents of North Carolina would find it just as odd to hear as any other American.

BTW, this is the accent Demi Moore was trying to approximate (with dubious success) in the movie "The Butcher's Wife." Her character is supposed to be from a lighthouse on an island off North Carolina, with little exposure beyond there.

By Jane (not verified)
September 22, 2008 1:44 PM

Also, the original list of names at the top of the post all end in "a" or "ie." I feel almost shocked when I meet a little girl whose name ends in a consonant these days.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 2:04 PM

LL(BDL)-Thanks for the clarification on Orson. I knew I was missing something, sorry Sarah. And btw, I love "The Butcher's Wife" it's nice to know I'm not the only one who's ever seen it!

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 22, 2008 2:22 PM

"I feel almost shocked when I meet a little girl whose name ends in a consonant these days." (Jane)

I take a certain pride in being the mother of one of those little girls whose name ends in a consonant. She definitely stands out from her friends, whose names almost all end in -a.

I can't believe I forgot Lindsay in my earlier list of girls I know whose names begin with L. One of my co-workers added one to his family this summer.

By Tirzah (not verified)
September 22, 2008 3:26 PM

Elizabeth T: The Leena/Layna thing would drive me batty! I know parents who do the same thing with AHN-i-ka/ANN-i-ka.

By KRC (not verified)
September 22, 2008 4:08 PM

Amy3 - can you tell what the other name you were considering for your daughter was? I know you have an Astrid, which is my favorite name and hopefully the name of my daughter someday. Just curious.

Lucie - that BBC article and audio clip were fascinating!

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:34 PM

Can someone list a few more consonant ending names? I am drawing a blank at this time. Thanks!
Astrid, Charlotte, Iris, Ingrid, Brigitte,...

By Miriam (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:45 PM


Miriam :-), Susan/Suzanne, Carol/Carolyn/Caroline, Marilyn, Marian, Marlene/Kathleen/Darlene/Arlene, Ann, Lynn/Lynette, Judith, Sigrid/Gudrid/Gudrun. Rose, Louise, Sybil, Margaret, Janet, Jeanne, Catherine, Eileen, Gabrielle/Danielle, Edith, Eleanor, Blanche, Mildred, Gertrude, Elizabeth, etc., etc.

(Ending in a consonant by sound, not by spelling)

By cara (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:46 PM

Just to add to the L names- my daughter is Leia (Lay-uh). She's 4, and we actually did meet 1 other Leia this past winter, at Disney World.

I posted a few weeks ago about a name for my baby. SHE was born about 2 weeks ago, and her name is Sadie. Apparently a name that's on the rise, but I've only met 2 others. I work with families with young children/newborn babies, and I see 20-30/week. so 2 out of that isn't bad. My Sadie looks like a Sadie to me already :). Congrats to all the other new parents!

By Opal (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:51 PM

Zoerhenne - I assume you mean female names ending in consonants? The first that come to mind for me are Helen, Elizabeth, Juliet, Edith, Meredith, Ruth, Brynn, Susan, Carys, Marin, Shannon, Raven, Harper, April, Marisol, Rachel, Hazel, Miriam, Jillian, Vivian, Lillian, Isador, Isabel, Gabrielle, Caitlin (all of the -bel(le) & -lyn names).

Caroline, Madeline, Josephine and the like do end in a vowel, but they don't have the -a or -ie/-ey ending or sound that most vowel-ending girl names do. Same for names like Eve, Maeve, Noelle, Alice, etc.

By KRC (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:53 PM

Eleanor, Allison, Hazel, Jean, Lauren, Laurel, Carolyn, Kathryn, Carol, Lynn, Ann, Soren, Averil, April, Evelyn, Gretchen, Susan, Jennifer, Karen, Marisol, Margaret, Elizabeth, Frances

By yet another Jenny (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:58 PM

Beth, Belle, Coral, Candace, Esther, Faith, Grace, Heather, Jasmine, Jade, Lane, Miriam, Opal, Reese, Star,

By Maggie (not verified)
September 22, 2008 5:59 PM

When we were picking the name for our DD born 18 months ago, we had an "L" name and her current name which starts with "T". I wanted the "L" name, but DH preferred the "T" so we said the next girl would be "L".
It's not on that list of top Austrian names, but it's VERY close and I wish we had used it last time instead of waiting. We're expecting again, (but it might be a boy) and I'm not sure I want to use a name that will sound just like every other little "L" girl her age. Drat. Our timing sucks!
Also, I love the name Lydia and think it's long overdue for a comeback, but cannot use it becuase DH detests it.

By Miriam (not verified)
September 22, 2008 6:04 PM

Lucie (and others)--

If you are interested in learning more about the historical pronunciations of English, may I recommend checking out the Chaucer Studio recordings available from Brigham Young University at nominal cost:


I begged and pleaded for them to do some Shakespeare, and finally they did. All of the recordings are of course our best shot at scholarly re-creations. The recordings cover a lot more than Chaucer. The Shakespeare is a 2-CD set for $15.

I keep forgetting to mention that the little girls I know in the five and under set include Lela(h?) Zoe, Lily, Elisabeth Adelaide, Elizabeth, Anneliese, Francesca, Emma Paulina Jacqueline, and Isabelle Emma. Some of them have Dutch parents, some American of assorted ethnic backgrounds.

By Eimi (not verified)
September 22, 2008 7:40 PM

Baby Watch!

Japanese immigrant model (aspiring to be a paediatrician) has had twin girls: Yuna & Momo

I think Yuna means "Hibiscus flower" and Momo means peaches? I could be wrong--she had a strong accent.

Wow, all the baby alerts I give seem to be of multiples...

By Jane (not verified)
September 22, 2008 8:55 PM

Yuna is pretty. I kind of like it.

I like everyone's list of consonant-ending girl's names. (Although names like Kathryn and Kaitlyn are always shortened to Kathy and Katie, which gets back to that trendy ie/y sound.)

I'm wondering now how many girl's names in the top hundred US names end in a/ah or ie/y and how many are consonants?

If you counted, you'd almost have to keep a third category for names like Maddylyn which are sure to be shortened to Maddy. Maybe that would make it uncountable...

By Opal (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:24 PM

Jane, I don't think that among today's kids that most or all Catherines & Caitlins & Madelines would become Cathy or Kate or Katie or Maddie. In fact, most of the little ones with those names that I know go by their full, given names, even those who have been in school several years.

We can't rule out all names with nn potential. That would get quite lengthy depending on who deems what nicknames inevitable per full/given name. For instance, Ruth could become Ruthie, Charlotte could become Charlie or Lottie, Isabel could become Izzy, and so on & so forth.

By jes (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:50 PM

i could use a little help. baby number two (a girl) is due in a few months and i'm feeling stumped. i had a few names on my list: jane, eleanor, violet -- but recently (as in the past week) women in our church group have named their babies jane, eleanor, and violet. i'm not trying to have the only daughter with a certain name, but i don't want to look like a copycat either. any suggestions? i want something classic, feminine, and off the top ten list. [her older brother is henry dan.]

thanks baby name wizards!

By B (not verified)
September 22, 2008 9:56 PM


I'll suggest: Cecilia, Hazel, Stella, Amelia, Iris, Annabel, Eveline, maybe Vivien?

I would put all of these in the same style category as Jane, Eleanor, and Violet.

By Jill C. (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:24 PM

@jes, how about Louisa (to continue with the L theme)? Someone mentioned Dahlia upthread, which I have to say I quite enjoy...

Charlotte, Clara, Anna?

By Coll (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:34 PM

Oh, Joni, I hope Louisa (and Louise) don't become newly popular, as they are two of my favorites, along with Lydia (a favorite on this board that seems primed for a surge).

What's everyone's thought on "S" as a name-starting letter? In my totally biased and un-random survey, the "S" section of my cell phone is the largest of any letter in my speed-dial saved numbers. Though if I read Name Voyager correctly "S" was at its peak of popularity in the '60s.

By Coll (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:36 PM

Jes, I'd suggest Frances, Alice, Margaret, and Ruby

By Aybee (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:37 PM

Here's a few possibilities that I think have the same feel
Eloise or Elise

Good luck!

By Aybee (not verified)
September 22, 2008 10:38 PM

Interesting sibset I met this week
Older daughters: Kaelynne and Rylee (I'd say about 8 and 6)
younger brother: Jacob, 3.

By Lorelei Leigh (BDL) (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:00 PM

If you like Jane, Eleanor, Violet, maybe also try Joanna, Helen, Harriet, Flora, Iris, Ada, Clementine, Nell, Bess, Audrey, Agatha, Louise...

By Lorelei Leigh (BDL) (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:01 PM

Ooh, I like the suggestions of Frances and Alice very much, too!

By Sarah R. (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:12 PM

Kristi--my vote is for Soren and Lena. They are the easiest to pronounce (in my book) and that value goes a long way in a person's life.

Jess--I like Hadley, Lotta, and Ruby. Each very different, yet quite feminine, and definitely not over-used.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 11:52 PM

Thanks everyone for the consonant ending sound girl names. I guess my brain was just not "doing names" at that time because most of those names I said "of course" to when I read them.
Coll-As far as the "S" names, I am an S child of the sixties and was in fact going to suggest my name to Jes.
Jes-Here are some name choices for you that haven't already been suggested.