More Names Like Scarlett: The Search for Alternatives

Apr 12th 2017

"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. 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.






















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April 13, 2017 1:45 AM

Originally, 'scarlet' was a type of fine cloth, not a color. However, it was so frequently dyed the most expensive type of red that it eventually became synonymous with the shade.

April 13, 2017 6:22 AM


April 13, 2017 2:37 PM

I always confuse Scarlett with Savannah and Shannon.  They seem quite different when I put them side by side, but when faced with just one person, I have to think first and then use the name.

April 13, 2017 5:14 PM

Another association with the name Scarlet(t) is Will Scarlet, one of Robin Hood's merry men. He is portrayed as much younger than the others and quite a handsome dandy. So another source of names with a similar vibe might be medieval romance: Iseult, Guinevere, Morgana, Enide, Blanchefleur (or simply Fleur), Ygraine, Elaine, Lynette, Cressida.

April 18, 2017 8:25 AM

I have a male association to the name Scarlet, due to the novel "The Scarlet Pimpernel" where Scarlet Pimpernel was the pseudonym of the male protagonist.

April 18, 2017 2:32 PM

Hmm, maybe Wallis? It's a surname-turned-first name, with a double letter, a femme fatale namesake (Wallis Simpson, the woman King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for), and a medieval ballad namesake (Sir William Wallace, of minstrel and Mel Gibson fame). The surname has traditionally been given to males, but its derivation ("Welsh" or "foreigner") and sound don't strike me as unremittingly masculine.

May 7, 2017 8:34 PM

Very interesting! I haven't thought about the uniqueness of Scarlett before. To me some sound-alikes are: Natalia, Viola, Petra, Eve, Liv, Ingrid, Celeste, Sabra, and Valentine.

July 11, 2017 3:27 PM

How 'bout Cleo? Short for Cleopatra which would be too much...