7 Classic Power Names for Girls

Jul 19th 2018


Let's not even call them girls' names. The names we're talking about today are women's names. They're all grown up, and they mean business.

The seven names detailed below are classics with a formidable heft. There's nothing lacy about them, and they don't end in the vowel sounds commonly associated with feminine style. Yet they're not boyish either. Names like Margaret and Helen project strength in a confidently female form.

What's more, these names stand tough against the fickle winds of fashion. While trendy unisex names rise and fall, the formidable classics quietly maintain their character. And as familiar as they may sound, most are actually quite uncommon. An American girl today is more likely to be named Symphony or Dior—or traditionally male names like Carson and Noah—than Joan.

Here are our top picks for pure classic power names, along with some historical exemplars. None rank among today's top 100 girls' names, and none will be taken lightly.

1. Margaret
Current popularity rank: #132
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1911
Power precedents: U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; birth control activist Margaret Sanger

2. Joan
Current popularity rank: #1680
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1932
Power precedents: French heroine Joan of Arc; rock star Joan Jett

3. Helen
Current popularity rank: #418
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1911
Power precedents: Author/activist Helen Keller; "First Lady of the American Theater" Helen Hayes

4. Frances
Current popularity rank: #438
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1911
Power precedents: U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins; Actress Frances McDormand

5. Judith
Current popularity rank: #846
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1940
Power precedents: Choreographer/dancer Judith Jamison; the biblical Judith, who slew the general of a conquering army

6. Carmen
Current popularity rank: #405
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1968
Power precedents: Opera title character Carmen; jazz singer Carmen McRae

7. Ruth
Current popularity rank: #265
Year of U.S. popularity peak: 1909
Power precedents: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; author/screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

 

 

Image credits: Judith Jamison via alvinailey.org, others via Wikimedia Commons

 

Comments

1
July 19, 2018 11:26 AM

Wow! I've identified my name style- power names. I love all of these. Helen, Joan and Judith are my favorites. 

2
July 19, 2018 8:36 PM

I confess; I'm a fan of all of these; I'd add Elizabeth and Katherine (any spelling).  Ruth made the short list for our kids, but we had boys!

3
By tp b
July 20, 2018 12:32 AM

AVISO - @Laura, you've got an issue w/ your numbering. You go 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 6, 5.

4
July 20, 2018 11:24 AM

@Megan W. I had a feeling that people would wonder about the absence of Elizabeth and Katherine! They're clearly dignified classics, but they missed the cut for this list on grounds of popularity. Both names have remained so consistently popular that they can be taken for granted a little bit.

5
July 24, 2018 11:15 AM

Maybe it's become too common to be included on your list, but I've always put Eleanor in this same category.  I've always liked these names but my husband is less inclined towards them.

6
August 17, 2018 2:04 AM

The seven names point by point beneath are works of art with an impressive haul. There's nothing fancy about them, and they don't end in the vowel sounds usually connected with female style. While popular unisex names rise and Whiteboard Animation Videos fall, the impressive works of art discreetly keep up their character. Furthermore, as natural as they may sound, most are quite unprecedented.