Fairytale/ Fantasy Names

Expecting a baby in Dec and my husband and I definitely know that a boy will be named Rowan, but we are stuck on girl names, because we like so many!

I'm curious about what other fairytale/ fantasy-inspired names you can think to add to this list. No actual Disney princess names or "Khaleesi" -type names (aka names that modern fantasy authors have invented). Last name sounds like McLin.

Faye

Maeve

Alanna

Tamsin

Larkin

Astrid (?)

Replies

1
May 3, 2016 11:48 PM

Rhiannon, Morgan/Morgana, Iseult/Isolde, Guinevere, Vivian/Nimue/Vivien/Viviane/Nivian/Elaine/Nyneve (the Lady of the Lake), Avalon, Titania, Ariel, Gloriana, Belphoebe, Brigid, Ceridwen, Undine, Tanaquil(l)

2
May 10, 2016 11:28 AM

Miriam, how would you pronounce Nimue? I've always liked the look of this variation, but I'm not sure how it's pronounced...in my head it's something like nim-you-AY or nim-oo-way, but I have no idea whether that's even close. And what about Nyneve--two syllables? Or more like Nineveh? I've seen that used as a name in fiction, I think.

3
May 10, 2016 11:57 AM

NIM-oo-ay

For Nyneve, I think most people say something like Nine (like the number)-eve (like the character in Genesis).

It should be remembered that Vivian/Nimue/Vivien/Viviane/Nivian/Nyneve are all scribal variants of the same name.  The variations/confusions are due to the fact that i, v, u, n. m and w are all written with minims.  A minim is a vertical stroke, and in a handwritten manuscript it can be difficult to tell which letter is meant.  The word minim itself is written solely with minims, and only the spacing can indicate which letter is which.  In handwriting the spacing is not always precise, so confusion is almost guaranteed as manuscripts are copied and re-copied.  Today if I were naming a daughter and wanted to evoke the Lady of the Lake, I would just go with Vivian. 

4
May 11, 2016 12:13 PM

I love the transcription error -> name variant origin story... Imogen also suffered from similar, with Innogen, is that right?

5
May 11, 2016 12:29 PM

Another transcription confusion from the days before printing:  In the unique manuscript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the lord of the castle is named Bertilak--or is it Bercilak?  In the scribe;s hand it is very difficult to tell a t from a c.

It was the advent of printing with movable type that led to the development of standard literary dialects and standardized spelling.  The printer either selected a t or a c from the type case, no more ambiguity allowed.

6
By EVie
May 11, 2016 10:11 PM

And Annabel from Amabel, I think.

7
May 11, 2016 10:22 PM

Does that mean that Annabel has a different origin than Annabelle or that the French version came after?

8
May 11, 2016 11:34 PM

Withycombe says that Poe's "Annabel Lee" is what introduced the name in France, so the French version is basically modern.

(She presents the Annabel < Amabel derivation as a theory: "this puzzling name has always been primarily Scottish and was apparently not known on the Continent until modern times.... It was in general use in Scotland at a time when Anne was practically unknown in Great Britain, and there is almost certainly no connexion between the two names. The most probable explanation is that Annabel was derived by a process of dissimilation from Amabel. It is in favour of this explanation that Amabel seems not to occur in Scotland, in spite of its popularity with the Anglo-Normans in England.")

9
By EVie
May 12, 2016 9:32 AM

Yup, that's the theory I was referring to.

10
May 12, 2016 1:49 PM

Thanks! That's really interesting.

11
May 13, 2016 12:09 AM

It is interesting, thanks! (I can recommend Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies for a fun running gag involving a child Amabel and the constant confusion engendered by use of the older name.)

12
May 4, 2016 12:11 AM

Can you define "modern"? To me, this means Tolkien & everyone after him, but you might mean "the past 20 years" or some other time period, which would change my recommendations!

 

The problem is that cinema keeps snapping up fairy tale names. "Aurore" is drawn from Perrault's version of Sleeping Beauty (where it is the name of one of her daughters, iirc), and then Tschaikovsky used it in his ballet, and then Disney took it. Giselle (see the ballet of the same name) was used in Enchanted.  Marian from Robin Hood was turned into a fox. And so on.

A few they haven't gotten yet:

Talia (another name for the heroine of Sleeping Beauty)

Gerda (from The Snow Queen)

 

14
May 4, 2016 9:59 PM

I like a lot of Miram's suggestions, especially Avalon, Elaine, Morgan/Morgaine, and Vivian/Viviane.   I'm especially partial to Avalon; the nickname Ava would give her a more mainstream option if she wanted it.  

Other suggestions: Wendy, Gretel, Alice, Glinda, Piper, Marian, Cinder, Flora, Ivy, Irene, Ida, Galadriel, Sara, Leia, Padme.  

 

15
By EVie
May 5, 2016 10:02 AM

Cressida/Criseyde comes to mind. Are you interested in names from Greco-Roman mythology? There are so many there that we'd have to narrow down the criteria a bit more to make a productive list. Shakespearean names might be another good category to explore (Imogen, Cordelia, Juliet, Ophelia). 

16
May 5, 2016 9:46 PM

Thanks for all of the ideas so far! Mythology and Shakespeare are both totally in for me. The name doesn't have to directly come from a fariy tale, just more of sounds like she could be the heroine of one. 

I agree that I'm counting "modern" as Tolkein and afterwards. Names like Arwen, Katniss, and Khaleesi are too single-source for me, the names have only ever been used for one specific character in one specific series by one specific popular author. Even if you just like the name Katniss, you and your kid will forever be asked if they are named specifially for that character. Although the Disney princesses all got their names from history as well, not new inventions, I think that, for the most part, their characters are too popular to divorce the name from them. Too me, that's too limiting for now. I can totally see them being very popular in a couple hundred years when our modern stories feel more like lengends. Does that make sense? 

Older stories (myths, fairy tales, Shakespeare), I don't feel the same way. Because the names have been around longer? Because they aren't as pop culture? Because I'm elitist? (jk, but no really, am I?) 

17
May 6, 2016 1:29 AM

I was just recommending Corisande elsewhere, and Rowena also comes to mind!

18
May 6, 2016 8:20 PM

I think there's a huge difference between like... Cinderella and Briar though. Even Belle or Ariel will remind some people of Disney, but not everyone. 

 

Otherwise, I think Mythology is a huge draw. Freya is getting bigger, I've met a little Athena as well. 

19
May 10, 2016 11:11 AM

An awful lot of Welsh names sound like fantasy character names--or maybe it's fairer to say that a lot of fantasy names are similar to Welsh names. For example, for Arwen there is Anwen or Eirwen; for Katniss, you could substitute Carys; for Eilonwy, Eilwen or Aeronwy; and for Glinda, Gwenda.

One of my favorite could-be-a-fairytale-queen names is Morwenna. I've always thought it sounds fairytale-esque even though so far as I know it's not from any particular tale, probably because it combines some of my favorite elements from two other mythic-connected names, Morgana and Rowena. Nerys is another in this category, which also brings to mind Shakespeare's Nerissa.

A couple from actual Welsh mythology/legend are Gwendolen and Luned--the latter is pretty obscure (at least, I'd never heard of it before), but I think the similarity in sound to Luna gives it a fantasy feel even without knowing its Mabinogion-cred.

If you like any of these, you can browse more Welsh names at http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/welsh. And you can browse mythological names here: http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/mythology. (You can also narrow that one down to just names from a particular mythology.)

20
May 13, 2016 12:49 AM

I would like to express extreme enthusiasm for both Maeve and Avalon.  It sounds like you have a Celtic surname, yes?  That turns these names up to 11 for me.

A couple of other suggestions that I don't see so far... Cerridwen (ancient Welsh goddess, hard C like carrot, so this name lends itself to more familiar nicknames like Cerri/Carrie and Wendy), Valkyrie (Norse), Solveig (Norse), and on the ancient Greek/Roman front, Demeter, Andromeda, and Calliope.

What about Rowan for a girl, since you like that name so much?  That's gender-neutral these days; I know a little girl named Rowan and it's brilliant for a girl, too! And unless you would save the name Rowan for a future boy - do you like Rowena?

 

 

21
May 17, 2016 1:16 PM

Another vote here for Rowan as a girl's name - a gorgeous name I think, and works for a girl as much as a boy.

Shakespeare names, how about Cordelia, Perdita or Ariel (genderless fairy, but could be feminised as Ariella) 

22
May 17, 2016 3:41 PM

Actually Ariel is referred to by the gendered pronoun 'his' in all texts of the play.  Of course Ariel was originally played by a male (boy) actor, since all parts were played by males in Shakespeare's day.  Since then the part has been played by both males and females, as, for example, has been Peter Pan who is nonetheless a gendered male character.  Whether played by a male or female actor, Ariel is generally portrayed as epicene.

The Hebrew name Ariel (Lion of God) is currently used for both genders.  The Hebrew name may have the source of Shakespeare's choice, but it may simply be a play on aerial 'airy' with nothing to do with the Hebrew name--or Shalespeare may have been inflienced by both possible sources.  Disney's Ariel is of course a merMAID.  Unambiguously feminine versions of the name include Ariela and Arielle.

23
May 22, 2016 8:59 PM

So far, Rowan is literally the only boy name that my husband and I both like, so we have to reserve that one for a boy.

24
May 17, 2016 4:05 PM

What about some more nature sounding names like Laurel, Rosemary or Linnea? For some reason those always sound Fairytale-ish to me.

 

Or classic saint/queen names: Catherine, Bridget, Veronica?

 

To me, the names Raina and Cecily always have sort of a fantastical edge to them. I don't know why exactly though.