Once in a while, a baby name hits the bullseye. It clicks with parents in a unique way and sends them hunting for more name ideas that can fill that same space in their hearts. Harper for girls is one such name.
Don't just take my word for it, ask the whole internet.
I turned to Google to find top completions for search phrases like "baby names like..." The result is a collection of unique baby name fashion flashpoints, including Harper. I recognize many of them as names that BabyNameWizard.com users look up at a tremendous rate, much higher than the names' actual usage would suggest. Most importantly, each of them is the epitome of a particular hot style with a character that's hard to match.
I'm taking up the challenge of finding alternatives for these names, starting today with Harper. Let's break down the elements of Harper's special appeal.
Harper Lee: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Name Harper Is:
Unconventionally feminine. Harper is not a traditional girl's name, either in usage or sound. But because the most prominent Harper, author Harper Lee, was a woman, it doesn't come across as a boy's name being "repurposed." It's confidently if non-traditionally feminine.
Fresh for this generation. Have you ever personally met an adult woman named Harper? Mostly likely not, so it has no negative associations and nobody's gotten tired of it.
An action surname that doesn't get its hands dirty. Harper is one of a new generation of -er names that keep the "doer" energy of the suffix but lose the workaday connections of a Cooper or Tannner.
An artistic homage. Again thanks to Harper Lee, the name has a literary style that broadens its appeal and deepens its sophistication.
No other name will be a perfect match for all of those qualities, but each of the names below captures parts of Harper's allure.
17 GIRLS' NAMES LIKE HARPER
Pop culture names have reached a new height in recent years. We're reaching beyond everyday sources to realms of fantasy and imagination with names like Khaleesi (from Game of Thrones) and Leia (from Star Wars).
With this newfound appreciation for the fantastical realm, let’s check out some ideas for girls' names that haven’t yet reached playground ubiquity. Some of the names below are modern inventions, while others are as old as Greek myths. What all of them have in common is a feminine sound and heroic vibe - perfect for any future #girlboss.
Morgan le Fay, by Frederick Sandys, 1864
Morgana. Despite the popularity of gender-neutral Morgan, its variant Morgana has never made it onto the top 1000. The Arthurian enchantress Morgana le Fay is one notable namesake, but this lovely name can be found in dozens of books, films, and video games. Morgana is aristocratic and feminine, perfect for a confident personality.
Elora. With the trend towards Liquid Names rising each year, it’s no surprise that this ethereal pick has gained followers. It’s also a part of the El-names group with Eleanor, Eliana, and Ella. Elora is the name of the baby princess in cult classic Willow, a fantasy novel and film, and the name is accessible enough to work for all kinds of little princesses.
Hermione. Many names from the Harry Potter series have made the leap from the page to the birth certificate with grace, but Hermione hasn’t quite achieved that yet. Now that a bit of time has passed since the series’ debut, this noble and uncommon name deserves another look. Hermione is mentioned both in Greek mythology and a Shakespearean romance, giving it further literary and cultural credibility.
Merida. The striking Scottish heroine from Disney/Pixar’s Brave actually has a Spanish name; Merida relates to the Latin for “respected” or “esteemed.” A few cities boast the name of Merida, too! While it’s still relatively under the radar, Merida is a pretty choice that exudes both friendliness and creativity.
Eilonwy. Lloyd Alexander introduced audiences to this charming, Welsh-inspired name with the publication of The Chronicles of Prydain beginning in 1964; Princess Eilonwy made another appearance later in Disney’s The Black Cauldron. This name, however, has only been given to real little girls in recent years - five each in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Could Eilonwy ride the coattails of Welsh names into notoriety?
Arwen. A half-elven queen in Lord of the Rings, Arwen is known for her insight and dignity. It’s fitting, then, that JRR Tolkien created a name for her that means “noble maiden” in the invented language of Sindarin. While Arwen has yet to reach the top 1000 in the United States, it did briefly rank in France. Such an attractive, compelling name may entice American fans in the next few years.
Galadriel. Another Sindarin name from Tolkien’s series, Galadriel translates to “maiden crowned with a radiant garland” - emphasizing the character’s blonde hair. But blondes and brunettes alike can appreciate this elegant choice, a kind of embellishment of popular Gabrielle. Galadriel has been bestowed upon dozens of baby girls since 1969, and more are sure to appear.
Minerva. The Roman goddess of wisdom, war, and art, Minerva’s image can frequently be found on school campuses and other institutions. Perhaps that’s why JK Rowling chose this bewitching name for the character of Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter. Though Minerva was popular at the end of the nineteenth century, it’s never reached the height (or delight) of diminutive Minnie. Both forms would be charming vintage options for girls today.
Daenerys. This literary invention was brought forth by George RR Martin in the Game of Thrones series, using both Korean and Welsh elements to create a name meaning “greatness.” Daenerys is celestial and delicate, a graceful alternative to courageous Khaleesi or energetic Arya. Though the spelling may initially trip one up, the name is bound to achieve national attention.
Xena. Now that the eponymous television show about the warrior princess has begun to fade, Xena may soon be a viable option in today’s name landscape. It comes from the Greek for “foreigner” and can also be connected with xenia, the concept of hospitality in Ancient Greece. This bold choice has a sympathetic sound, ideal for socially-conscious individuals with pizzazz.
Carmilla. Before Dracula, there was Carmilla - an 1871 Gothic novella about a young female vampire. This story set the stage for Bram Stoker, and introduced the English-speaking world to a new, glamourous name. Since then, romantic Carmilla has been used in the world of Marvel Comics and vampire video games, and it’s been on birth certificates for over 100 years. Still, this name has more sophistication to offer than its connection to the morbid.
Eowyn. Beautiful and approachable Eowyn has never ranked in the top 1000 despite consistent use and similarities to popular Owen and Evan. The name is another Tolkien creation, inspired by Old English, adorning a brave and spirited character in the Lord of the Rings series. Now that unusual spellings are becoming more commonplace, Eowyn could be an excellent contender.
Brienne. This gorgeous option has roots in medieval France, along with a namesake in Game of Thrones, making it both attractive and substantial. It shares a suffix with fashionable Adrienne and Vivienne and a beginning with trendy Brianna. While the long form of the name is appealing, nickname Bree is a cute choice, as well as a favorite of many fantasy series, including the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and even Twilight.
Cressida. Melodramatic and moralizing, Troilus and Cressida relates a Greek myth through the pen of Shakespeare - and offers today’s audiences a lovely alternative to Cassandra or Cassidy. Cressida also features in The Hunger Games trilogy; it’s elegant but not pompous, and unusual but not unheard-of. The name was given to ten little girls last year.
Korra. A thoroughly modern choice, Korra’s notoriety can be attributed to the popular Nickelodeon shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. The character’s name was inspired by the name Cora, and many may assume this name is a creative spelling variation. But Korra - a fearless and inspiring woman - is a fabulous twenty-first century namesake in her own right.
For more fantasy and sci-fi names, check out these relevant articles:
Toby, Tobiah, Tobias. According to most baby name dictionaries, the three are identical: just different ways of writing the same biblical name. But in terms of fashion and impact, one stands apart. Tobias is a fast-rising hit, far more popular than the other two names put together, thanks to the power of that final -s.
Classical -s endings appeal to parents with a distinguished antique style, accented with a pinch of mystery. Depending on the name, the effect can be scholarly (like Atticus), mythic (Atlas), saintly (Matthias), or downright dangerous (Barnabas). Even in a short, simple name like Jonas or Silas, the -s ending lends a sophisticated edge.
The ending has worked its magic on dozens of names in recent years, reviving neglected classics and turning mythological and biblical obscurities into contenders. Names like Silas, Elias and even Maximus now rank among the top 200 names for American boys.
Additional antique -s options are below, arranged by number of syllables. As a rule of thumb, the longer names tend to sound more aggressively antiquated.
Read More: 20 "Quirky Classic" Names for Boys