Alternatives to Every Popular Baby Name

Dec 3rd 2015

You’ve always loved the name Sophia, but you know four little Sophias. Now what?

If you're in that bind, here's help. I've sought out less common alternatives that match the style and impact of Sophia, and every other top baby name.

It's easier said than done. Every name is its own world, with it's own unique combination of look and style, history and cultural imagery. The balance among those elements varies, too. Sound is more central to Jayden than to William. Biblical style is more upfront in Elijah than Andrew. And any match for Alexander should contract neatly to nicknames.

Then there's the constraint of popularity itself. Some styles, like biblical patriarchs, have been so thoroughly explored that most of the remaining rarities are rare for a reason. And for many names, popularity is style. No obscure name can sub in for Elizabeth or Joseph, since timeless, steady familiarity is at their essence.

So no name is a perfect match, but the suggestions below may just fill that Sophia-shaped hole in your heart. Each alternative is less than a quarter as popular as the original name. 


Rank    Hit Name          Alternative          Alternative
1 Emma Cora Willa
2 Olivia Lavinia Miranda
3 Sophia Lydia Josephine
4 Isabella Arabella Liliana
5 Ava Ada Lana
6 Mia Ria Ivy
7 Emily Daphne Laura
8 Abigail Rosemary Annelise
9 Madison Emerson Carrigan
10 Charlotte Georgia Juliet
11 Harper Marlowe Larkin
12 Sofia Lucia Marina
13 Avery Emory Verity
14 Elizabeth Susannah Dorothy
15 Amelia Eleanora Eliza
16 Evelyn Marian Cecily
17 Ella Lena Reba
18 Chloe Phoebe Isla
19 Victoria Anastasia Veronica
20 Aubrey Darcy Bellamy
21 Grace Rose Hope
22 Zoey Zara Esme
23 Natalie Marjorie Noelle
24 Addison Ellison Campbell
25 Lillian Helena Marian


Rank    Hit Name          Alternative          Alternative
1 Noah Jonah Theo
2 Liam Eamon Callum
3 Mason Lawson Pierson
4 Jacob Jules Simon
5 William Elliott Harris
6 Ethan Rowan Abel
7 Michael Paul Mitchell
8 Alexander Benedict Theodore
9 James Graham Philip
10 Daniel Joel Martin
11 Elijah Tobias Gideon
12 Benjamin Harrison Gregory
13 Logan Bowen Keegan
14 Aiden Kieran Egan
15 Jayden Kylan Jamison
16 Matthew Timothy Spencer
17 Jackson Paxton Beckett
18 David Jared Reid
19 Lucas Jonas Micah
20 Joseph Simon Peter
21 Anthony Victor Gregory
22 Andrew Bennett Alec
23 Samuel Saul Louis
24 Gabriel Raphael Gideon
25 Joshua Judah Tobias



December 3, 2015 4:32 PM

I love lists of this theme, thankyou! More 'alternatives' that 'sound like' the original could be:

Emily - Romily

Olivia - Viola

Alexander - Lysander

Lucy - Alice, Celia





December 4, 2015 9:37 AM

For the most part,  think these are good alternatives.  I do question Verity for Avery a bit.  The sounds & cadence are right, but I think the styles are off.

On the boy side, I think something like Solomon would be a better alternative than Louis for Samuel.  Gregory also feels off as a sub for Benjamin.  I think Benedict or Bennet would have worked better.  A lot of people I know who are interested in Benjamin specifically want the nickname Ben.

December 4, 2015 10:38 AM

I suppose that's why there are two alternatives per name, because each name can appeal to different people for drastically different reasons. Louis for me would be a better alternative to Samuel because Samuel appeals to me as a classic, "grandpa" name rather than for its Biblical connotations (which would be a negative point for me, and hence Solomon wouldn't appeal).

Some of these seemed right on and some hit the wrong note for me. For example, I agree with the commenter above who suggests Viola for Olivia, much more than the option of Lavinia. I think Viola can have a mass appeal that I wouldn't expect Lavinia to have.

Juliet was right on as a substitute for Charlotte for me, while Georgia just felt bizarre. I tracked it down to my associations for Charlotte being very British, and Georgia being a state, but obviously other people see both names differently.

A very interesting exercise, anyway.

December 4, 2015 10:51 PM

Harper & Marlowe is right on IMO. Love harper but know one. We chose Marlowe. Concerned about its seeming popularity right now. :)

December 7, 2015 7:03 PM

Charlotte and Georgia have very similar vibes to me, and it definitely doesn't hurt that they're feminizations of Charles and George. Depends on the person, I guess.

Jacob and Jules feel very off to me--is there some sort of connection I'm not seeing, besides the "J"? Ella and Reba also don't make sense IMO, I would have suggested something like Lila. Is that too popular?

As far as Avery and Verity, I agree that they sound quite alike but may not actually appeal to the same crowd. However, I would have been so excited to see Amity as an alternative for Avery, as it's so close in sound and has a similar light, cheery feel. Could VERity have come from the "ver" in aVERy?

Overall I am extremely impressed with this list. I never would have thought of a lot of the options and I think most of them are right on.

December 8, 2015 11:14 AM

These are amazing! A few strike me as a bit off but overall this is a masterful list.

Agree with the others that Verity doesn't match up with Avery since Avery is trendy with the modern names types who wouldn't touch a virtue name with a ten foot poll.  The families I know that ended up with an Avery considered names like Casey and Izzy.

Louis is right on for Samuel.  Disagree with the poster that thinks Solomon is better since Sam-lovers are mainstream and Solomon feels more right for the hipster or super-religious crowd.

What I find interesting in this list is if I look at a name that is popular around here (mostly traditional names), I also know a few kids with Laura's alternatives.  But if I look at the names in the popular list that aren't heard around here, I don't know anyone with the alternative names.  Proof again of Laura's brilliance. Bravo! 

December 8, 2015 1:44 PM

I have an Andrew, and I dislike both Bennett and Alec.  Bennett feels like a random surname, and Alec is too attached to the cranky Mr. Baldwin for my taste.  There are a number of other alternatives on that list that I like and that seem closer in style to Andrew, like Timothy or Paul.

December 8, 2015 2:05 PM

I can't think of Tobias without thinking of Arrested Development.  I don't know if anyone else feels that way, how strong the connection is, or how long it will last.  It would be intresting to see a graph of how long a negative impact lasts.  (It's got to vary by name and negative association, but it'd be cool to see some of them graphed.  I think maybe she's already done this, though?)


December 10, 2015 1:53 PM

For me, Charlotte and Georgia share a similar "southern US" vibe.

December 15, 2015 2:21 PM

Great list!  Gideon,listed as an alternative here twice, has so much going for it for those of us that are fans of biblical names.

December 22, 2015 2:53 PM

I got a real chuckle out of this - Number 19 for boys - Lucas - has alternatives Micah and Jonas. My sons' names are Micah and Jonas, and I adore their names. I've never seen them grouped together before, and I'm interested in how they ended up here. Many people think Jonas would be Jonah, but we much prefer Jonas to Jonah. Lucas, I like in theory, but we are Jewish and wouldn't pick it due to the New Testament connections with Luke and its variants.

January 5, 2016 2:23 PM
  • Emma> Esma and Esra
  • Olivia> Opal
  • Lavinia> Lalin, Lavin and Ledenya
  • Sophia> Sofya, Samia and Sonay
  • Lydia> Lidya and Likya 
  • Ava> Ada, Ala and Aya
  • Lana> Lara 
  • Daphne> Defne
  • Ella> Ela and Eda
  • Lena> Lema
  • Isla> Alya and Ilya
  • Noah> Nuh
  • Theo> Teo
  • Jacob> Yakub
  • Ethan> Ethem
  • Michael> Mikail
  • Alexander> Iskender
  • Daniel> Danyal
  • Elijah> Elyasa
  • Aiden> Aydin
  • Joseph> Yusuf
  • David> Davud