There’s a reason newborns are referred to as “bundles of joy” - the optimism and hope that come with new life are universal feelings that transcend language and culture. When naming such blessings, many parents want to find a way to express that glee in an accessible but unique way - but how?
These fifteen names vary in their histories and styles, but all of them embody the feeling of happiness. Whether virtuous, botanical, retro, or modern, you’re sure to find a joyful name that suits your taste.
Joy. This word name is short, sweet, and upbeat, ideal for parents who want an unadulterated expression of happiness in their child’s name. Joy’s use as a name began in the seventeenth century, but modern audiences will be drawn to its friendly and chic style.
Bonnie. From the Scottish word for “pretty,” itself derived from the French bon, Bonnie is a bright and shining choice. From Gone With the Wind to Bonnie and Clyde, pop culture connections abound for this energetic choice, making it accessible yet memorable.
Maisie. While Maisie originally developed as a nickname for Margaret, it’s now standing out as a lovely name in its own right - thanks especially to Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams. The name is particularly popular in the UK, but US namers will also enjoy Maisie’s spirit and sass.
Lark. An historic symbol of the dawn, the lark is also associated with the positive idioms “on a lark,” referring to carefree fun, and “happy as a lark,” inspired by its pleasant song. All of these links contribute to Lark’s image as a cheerful, animated choice with the potential to soar.
Poppy. Another favorite in the UK, Poppy is a charming floral option that may appeal to fans of Lily, Violet, or Scarlett. The name has gotten quite a bit of celebrity attention in recent years, but Poppy has just enough charisma and flair to keep from being a flash in the pan.
Dulcie. It’s derived from the Latin dulcis, meaning “sweet,” and its popularity in the nineteenth century gives the name a beautiful vintage vibe. While the Spanish variant Dulce has a number of fans in the US, delightful Dulcie still ranks just outside the top 1000 - perfect for parents who want an uncommon name.
Felicity. This virtue name exudes optimism and elegance, thanks to its lilting melody and Puritanical roots. Over the past few decades, Felicity gained attention due to namesakes in the toy and television industries, making the name familiar but not too trendy.
Clover. If your name style is botanical but not flowery - think Hazel, Sage, or Olive - pretty Clover might be right up your alley. The plant has long been associated with luck and prosperity, and the name feels fresh and unexpected.
Belle. Though Isabelle and Annabelle are well-used, old-fashioned Belle has become more appealing for its simplicity and meaning - it’s the French word for “beautiful.” One popular association is the bookish Disney princess, but Belle is versatile enough to work for all kinds of personalities.
Mercy. The dust is shaking off historically Puritan names, with today’s parents appreciating the inspiration found in virtuous names like Mercy. A literary favorite, Mercy combines compassion and strength in one graceful package.
Blythe. Originally a surname meaning “cheerful,” Blythe has become an amiable, feminine choice ideal for an intrepid namer. Some of Blythe’s familiarity comes from its actress namesakes, yet this gorgeous name remains under the radar for most Anglophone communities.
Daisy. Calling to mind summer days and colorful meadows, Daisy balances classic vibes and modern attitudes. The name offers something for everyone, from links to the natural world to literary and historical namesakes to a pleasant yet vibrant sound.
Clementine. Although it’s bound to spark choruses of “Oh my darlin’, Clementine,” the name is too enchanting to remove from consideration. Cute Clementine comes from the Latin clemens, meaning “merciful,” and it was fairly popular at the turn of the century, too.
Amity. Another virtue name, Amity fits in aurally with playground favorites like Emily or Serenity, while maintaining its own warm personality. It’s an often-used place name in the United States, as well as a potential honorific for a familial Amy or Amanda.
Sunny. Once just an adorable vintage nickname, Sunny jumped back onto the popularity charts this year - perhaps the series A Series of Unfortunate Events is to blame? Radiant in form and style, Sunny is a name that’s sure to bring a smile to your face.
Mom names are like mom jeans. We expect them to be built for comfort, not style. While new baby names aim for dramatic flair, mom names provide the steady backdrop. You know, cozy names like Diamond and Tyler.
Not the kind of maternal style you were thinking of? If not, it's time to adjust your thinking to a new generation of mom names.
Diamond and Tyler are just two of the new/old names that define this wave. They were popular a generation ago but have since declined sharply, so you're at least five times as likely to meet a 25-year-old woman than a newborn girl with one of those names.
I've identified 20 of these new mom names that represent their naming era. It was an era of creative spelling and androgyny, styles that are still going strong today. Some of the individual names are still quite popular; Taylor, for instance, ranked #112 in the most recent name stats. But as you can see from this graph, the style heart of the group lies 25 years in the past.
The new mom names have a few "dad" counterparts in names like Dillon, Kody and Devonte. But boys' name trends have historically changed slower than girls, so it's the mom names that are the dominant symbols of '90s style. Below is the full group of 20. Expect to see them in your local PTA soon.
Taylor Swift. Image: Wikimedia Commons
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There are the names you put on your baby name list, and then there are the names you wonder about. You hear them and can't help but think: "What kind of name is that? Where does it come from? Do people actually name their kids that?"
All that wondering brings readers to our Namipedia, making the pages for names like Katniss and Django as popular as pages for trendy baby names. We've scoured our stats for the most wondered-about names—names with heavy Namipedia traffic that are rare-to-nonexistent in the baby name realm. Here are some of the girls' names the American public is wondering about right now.
Zazie Beetz. Image: foxmovies.com
(* = appears in the most recent U.S. baby name stats)
Zazie. Actress Zazie Beetz was the breakout star of the Marvel film Deadpool 2. As the superhero Domino she captured attention with her insouciance, her showstopping look, and her name. The name Zazie is a French nickname (sometimes short for Isabelle), but run through a German filter. Beetz was born in Germany, and her parents took her name from the 1960 French film Zazie dans le Métro and pronounced it with a German twist: ZAH-see.
Nymphadora. Even in the exotic naming realm of the Harry Potter books, the name of shapeshifter Nymphadora Tonks stands out. Nymphadora is an old saint's name, from the Greek for bride/nymph + gift. Its resemblance to the word "nymphomania," though, has helped keep parents away, and the Harry Potter character herself preferred to go by her surname Tonks.
Tully. In the 2018 film "Tully," Tully is the name of a female nanny who helps out an overstressed mother. Outside the film, Tully is an occasional male nickname, an Irish and Scottish surname, and a name that was once commonly used to refer to the Roman orator Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero). It's rare but familiar, and the movie usage could help it catch on for girls.
Stamatina. Tina has been familiar as a given name for decades, but it started out as a nickname. Most often it was short for Christina, Martina, or Katarina. In the case of comedian Tina Fey, though, Tina comes from Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. Stamatina is a Greek name coming from a root meaning "stop"; Fey was named after her Greek great-grandmother.
Nike. Ah, if it weren't for the swoosh! Nike was a Greek goddess, the personification of victory. The name's appealing roots, simple, spiky sound, and fashionable Grecian -e ending would likely make it a hot baby name today, if not for the sports apparel company. As it is, Nike remains much-researched but seldom-used.
*Nymeria. In the Game of Thrones world, Nymeria is a legendary warrior queen. Her name became a classic in her native land, and is carried into the present in two suitably warrior-like namesakes: whip-wielding rebel Nymeria Sand, and a wolf companion of young swordfighter Arya Stark.
*Cressida. The recent interest in Cressida was sparked by Cressida Bonas, a former girlfriend of Prince Harry who attended his royal wedding. Previously, the name was linked to the Toyota Cressida, a sedan sold from the 1970s-'90s. But before all that, Cressida was steeped in classic literature. Cressida is the medieval English form of Chryseis, a woman of Homer's Iliad, and was immortalized by the Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida.
Gamora. The green-skinned Guardian of the Galaxy, Gamora is called "the deadliest woman in the whole Galaxy." As embodied by Zoe Saldana in a series of Marvel films, she is also one of the most charismatic. The smoothly sinister sound of Gamora's name, fueled by the "mor" root, is echoed in other super-powered names like Amora the Enchantress.