If you like melodic girls' names with a classic but individualistic style, you're in good company today. From Emily to Olivia, pretty sounds and vintage vibes are especially prized. But that doesn’t mean all the good names are taken - they’re just hiding in plain sight!
The 15 girls' name below were chosen for their harmonic tones and cultural substance. They feel timeless, yet unlike Emily and Olivia, they've yet to reach the top-1,000 names list. Let’s take a look.
Image via StockSnap.io
Briony. This literary name came to national attention with Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, featuring a curious and determined main character named Briony (played by Saoirse Ronan in the film adaptation). The name is also botanical in origin, referring to a type of flowering vine. Briony is bright and beautiful - and rare in the United States.
Jemima. While it’s long been associated with the eponymous Aunt, Jemima could surpass its syrupy links with such a pretty sound. It’s similar to Gemma, but with a Biblical twist - Jemima was the daughter of Job, and means “dove” in Hebrew. Quirky yet classic, Jemima is a fabulous choice for lovers of literature, too (Beatrix Potter and William Thackeray both used the name).
Mirabelle. Dozens of -elle, -ella, and -bella names rank in the top 1000, but Mirabelle has stayed far under the radar. How has it avoided such popularity with an attractive melody, the meaning of “wonderful,” and a few great pop culture connections? It can also shorten to Mira or Belle, both excellent vintage picks.
Cecily. Sweet and sincere, Cecily has all the gorgeous qualities of Cecilia with a personality all its own. Cecily was popular during the Middle Ages, but has since been eclipsed by its Latin sister. Though it bears the trendy -ly ending, Cecily’s retro vibe makes it more friendly than faddish.
Isadora. An elegant alternative to Isabella, Isadora maintains the aural harmony with an uncommon ending. The name comes from the Greek for “gift of Isis,” and showed up recently in the children’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s got quite a lot of nickname potential - Isa, Izzy, Dora - but the long form Isadora is truly stunning.
Elodie. Not Melody, Emily, or Eloise - Elodie is a hit in the UK and France, but hasn’t ranked in the United States since 1886. It’s a feminine, French pick that fits in with the El-names, but has a more subdued, melodic sound. There are plenty of great namesakes too, from athletes to actresses - Elodie is bound to find an audience soon!
Camellia. With Spanish Camila becoming a popular pick, why not floral Camellia? It’s soft and graceful, but allows for the edgier nicknames Cam and Cami. It’s especially perfect as an alternative to blossoming Amelia. In Korea and Japan, the camellia flower is a symbol of faithfulness and longevity - another fantastic connotation.
Juno. Mythological yet modern, Juno feels like a twenty-first century choice - but its numbers disagree. Europeans have taken to the name, but the recent indie film starring Ellen Page made Juno a nonstarter in the states. Now that the spotlight has passed, however, Juno could use its queenly history and accessible sound to gain a different kind of notoriety.
Beatrix. Since 1902, Peter Rabbit and his friends have delighted families everywhere, thanks to the impeccably named Helen Beatrix Potter. Beatrix’s connections extend from the literary to the cinematic (Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill) to the royal, with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands reigning until 2013. If you want something energetic but more offbeat than Beatrice, look no further than this Latin choice.
Coralie. A favorite among francophones, Coralie is a lovely and poetic name that could be an alternative to vintage Cora (or a route to the nickname Cora). French chanteuse Coralie Clément is one notable wearer, with others appearing in film and fiction. It’s derived from “coral,” giving it an attractive nature link as well.
Marlowe. Sitting just under the top 1000 is this appealing surname option, with spelling variations Marlow and Marlo on the rise as well. It sounds like celebrity darling Harlow, but lends itself to being a unique honorific name as well, for Marys, Margarets and Marias alike. Noir detective Philip Marlowe adds an element of mystery to this cool unisex name.
Tamsin. The “in” sound is in, with Quinn, Brynn, and -lyn dominating the popularity charts - but Tamsin’s background gives it real substance, not flash. It’s a traditionally Cornish name derived from Thomas, with a plethora of namesakes in the UK. Tamsin is unexpected yet engaging, a choice that will will with all kinds of personalities and styles.
Avis. It’s got the sassy sound of Mavis and the contemporary feel of Avery, with a bonus connection to birds - in Harry Potter, the spell used to conjure a flock of birds is literally “Avis.” Though the rental car company has monopolized this charming name for a while, Avis may be ready to spread its wings with the rise of Ava and Alexis.
Jessamine. Originally a form of Jasmine, Jessamine is a great discovery for today’s namers: it’s similar enough to Jessica and Jessie to feel familiar, but the botanical link and old-fashioned -mine ending gives it character. Jessamine is a favorite among modern authors, too.
Cleo. Fearless and affable, Cleo works well for parents who like the sound of Chloe but want something with a little more spirit. There’s the obvious namesake Cleopatra, but Cleo names were also popular in the beginning of the twentieth century - Cleola and Cleona among them. Variant Clio is another option, with an ethereal edge.
Read More: Quirky Classic Names for Girls
"If only there were more names like Scarlett." That's a common refrain of expectant parents, judging by internet search traffic. Users scour this website and the whole wide web for "names like Scarlett" at a remarkable rate. It's not just that the name is popular. In many ways, Scarlett truly is one of a kind.
BabyNameWizard.com readers rated Scarlett as the #1 sexiest name for girls. That bold, confident sexiness is the name's hallmark. Yet in sound and style, Scarlett doesn't fit the usual mold of sensuous names. After Scarlett, the rest of the "sexiest girls' names" list was silky, lacy, and overwhelmingly French and Italian. Scarlett is steely, with a rat-a-tat sound and thoroughly American heritage.
Scarlett owes its unique position to Katie Scarlett O'Hara, the indomitable heroine of Gone With the Wind. She was a dangerous beauty: desirable and vain, charismatic and manipulative, resourceful and ruthless. The name choice was inspired. The word scarlet is the boldest of colors, with sinful connotations via phrases like "scarlet woman" and "The Scarlet Letter." Yet the double-T ending showed that Scarlett was a surname in classic Southern family style. (The book character was named after her grandmother.)
Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara: Wikimedia Commons
Upon the release of Gone With the Wind, Scarlett instantly became a recognized girls' name. Over the decades it maintained modest popularity, moving in and out of the top-1,000 rankings. The name's sultry/dangerous edge was reinforced starting in 1949 by the board game Clue (aka Cluedo) which named its femme fatale character Miss Scarlet.
That was the name Scarlett as of the year 2003. Then actress Scarlett Johansson had a breakout year, and the name had a new standard bearer. Johansson, with her glamorous looks, outspoken activism and roles like the superhero Black Widow, gave Scarlett a perfect update. Even more importantly, she reintroduced the name at a point when the double-T name style was poised to explode. (Read more about the rise of double-T names.) It was the perfect meeting of fame and fashion, and the name soared.
If you love Scarlett but can't use it, how can you capture its magic? Other sexy word-based names like Heaven are more soft than steely, and have less of classic image. Other -TT names like Elliott and Beckett sound masculine or androgynous, whereas Scarlett is all woman. In short, there is no perfect match – but one of the names below may show enough of the same spirit to win you over.
Read More: More names like Harper
Names are important. Choosing a name can be remarkably difficult. But if your baby naming conflicts are keeping you up at night, I'm going to suggest something that sounds like heresy coming from a Baby Name Wizard. Maybe names aren't really the issue.
Names tap into a lot of deep, emotionally fraught social currents. They reflect culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, taste, values and family. That makes baby naming a natural point for latent relationship and family dynamics issues to bubble to the surface. If there's a broader problem to address, no name alone can solve it.
How can you tell if your apparent naming dilemma is really a family or relationship dilemma? As long as your angst is focused on finding or choosing the right name — even if you and your partner have wildly conflicting tastes — chances are you're just in routine baby-naming purgatory. Don't worry, that's what we're here for at BNW. If your problem sounds more like one of the situations below, though, you may need to take a step back.
"He won't help think about names at all. It's like my job is to suggest idea after idea, and his job is to say no."
"My family doesn't like the name I've chosen for my daughter and they've vowed that they won't call her by it."
"She says that since she's the one who has to give birth she gets to choose the name, and I don't have any say."
"I just learned that my sister-in-law is planning on giving her baby the same extremely unusual name as our son, and she didn't even ask us about it."
"His parents are from a different culture and expect us to follow their totally rigid naming system, and even though neither of us want that he won't tell them so."
I've heard stories like each of these many times. If you read over them again, you'll find that none of the parents are asking for name suggestions. They're asking for guidance in navigating the rocky waters of relationships and family.
Most importantly, none of the conflicts they describe are likely to stay within the boundaries of baby naming. Choosing a name is a kind of trial run for the many difficult decisions you'll have to make throughout a lifetime as parents. Partners have to be able to brainstorm, negotiate, and compromise together. Extended families should support and respect and listen to each other, and understand the limits of their control.
As fraught as a name choice may be, it's still a relatively small sandbox that gives you a chance to work out better ways of interacting. If you can make this trial run a model for future decision making, you'll all be happier for it. Better yet, you'll have a chance to make the baby-naming process what it really should be: a joy.