The Girls' Names Fashion Alphabet

Aug 15th 2018

Want to know what kind of names are in fashion today? We'll give you a tour, from A to Z.

We've selected a full alphabet of girl's names to represent American name style. Since that style has many faces, we've listed four names for each letter. First, we divided names based on popularity. Every name on our alphabetic list has fashion momentum, but they're at different points on their trajectories. The "bullseye" names below are popular names in full flower, while the "upcoming" names are fast-rising but still relatively uncommon.

Our second division is about parents' approaches to name style: traditional vs. contemporary. As straightforward as that distinction sounds, the line between the two can be hard to draw. A name may be traditional in one culture but sound brand-new in another, or familiar as a surname but newly popular as a given name. In some cases, a simple spelling change can flip a name from one column to the other. But the basic goals of the two approaches—tapping into generations of culture vs. striking a fresh, new note—are undeniably different, and real.

Put the two criteria together and you have four names representing a broad range of style and usage. Read across a row in the alphabetic table, and you'll get a snapshot of how an individual initial is being used today. (A few initials may have some blanks where no name fit the criteria, but that says something about the letter as well.) Read down within a column to browse one slice of the American style spectrum.

Photo: Getty Images

Initial   Traditional Bullseye Traditional Upcoming Contemporary Bullseye Contemporary Upcoming
A Amelia Alma Aria Amora
B Bella Bonnie Blakely Briar
C Camila Celeste Charleigh Collins
D Delilah Dorothy Delaney Dream
E Evelyn Esme Everly Emberly
F Fiona Flora Finley Freedom
G Gianna Guinevere Gracelyn Goddess
H Hazel Harriet Harley Haisley
I Isla Irene Izabella Indigo
J Josephine Jewel Journee Jovie
K * Kalliope Kinsley Kehlani
L Luna Leona Logan Lennox
M Millie Marcella Malia Maisyn
N Nora Nola Nova Navy
O Olive Octavia Oakley Oaklynn
P Penelope Persephone Paisley Promise
Q * * Quinn Quinnley
R Rosalie Rosalind Remi Reign
S Stella Selene Sawyer Sutton
T Thea Tallulah Teagan Tate
U * Ursula * Unique
V Vera Violeta * Vesper
W Willa Winifred Willow Waverly
X * Ximena * Xena
Y * Yolanda Yaretzi Yuleimy
Z Zoe Zelda Zara Zaylee




August 15, 2018 11:16 AM

I could totally see myself using this list without the column labels to start a name conversation with my fiance if we ever decide to have kids.  I know which side of the traditional/contemporary line I am on (and one of my current faves is listed), but not actually sure where he stands.  I think this could work well to get a sense of overall opinions about names in general, without bringing an emotional aspect in with favorite names.

August 17, 2018 12:19 PM

I have to quibble with calling "Kamila" a traditional name but calling "Izabella" a contemporary name.

August 19, 2018 3:54 PM

@TheOtherHungarian you're absolutely right, that's inconsistent. I've dropped Kamila.

August 20, 2018 8:50 AM

If I may, I'd like to point out along the same lines that Jewel and Kalliope really aren't traditional names either.  Not to be overly picky or anything.  

August 20, 2018 11:08 AM

@Michaela Grey as I said in the post, the definition of a "traditional" name is surprisingly hard to pin down. Take Jewel--it may not sound like a classic, but it would be hard to call a name that was most popular from the 1890s-1930s "contemporary"! Jewel has essentially the same usage curve as Ruby but at a lower popularity point:

There are surely some argument starters on this list (which is half the fun, right?) But overall, I think each column does take on a clear and distinct identity.

By EVie
August 20, 2018 7:05 PM

I don't see what's non-traditional about Kalliope! It's an ancient name from Greek mythology, and the K spelling is a more direct transliteration from the original Greek, not modern at all.

August 26, 2018 8:43 AM

Nice analysis! I'm struck by how many "noun names" or "words with meaning"'names are in the contemporary upcomimg categiry like Godess, Freedom, and Navy   Thats exactly the current Kardashian naming style:  Reign, Dream, True, Stormi, Saint etc  


September 3, 2018 3:45 PM

Had the same thought about the Kardashian kids! Other than Penelope, all the children have a word or place name.

April 11, 2019 12:55 PM

And that moment you’re sitting there feeling all badass taking your exam is the moment we work so hard to make happen for our readers:) Keep kicking ass and being awesome,!