Astilbe/Obscure floral names

What do you think of using the flower name Astilbe for a girl? I like the feminine, floral association with the less overtly girly sound. I have before looked at names like Asphodel for this reason, but I felt like that was too much while Astilbe feels more subtle and sophisticated, less like a costumey/flashy name that could possibly lean stripper. Do you agree with this?  Is Astilbe too unfamiliar? Would you know how to pronounce it? Opinions appreciated.


September 3, 2014 10:05 AM

I've never encountered Astilbe before, but have a vague notion that Asphodel has something to do with daffodils.

I would not think "flower" from Astilbe, and would have no idea of the gender of a person with this name. Also, no, I don't know how to say it: as-still-be? (Shades of Puritan naming?)

Your post reminded me of Asenath, an obscure Biblical name (wife of the patriarch Joseph).

By EVie
September 3, 2014 10:34 AM

I had to look up Astilbe to know what it was or meant--I was not familiar with the flower, and I've certainly never heard it as a baby name. I did guess the pronunciation correctly, but I'm very familiar with Greek names and immediately recognized the origin, if not the meaning. I definitely agree that it doesn't read anything like a stripper name--I think stylistically, it fits in with more obscure classical Greek names like Thisbe and Niobe. And your assessment of it as not costumey/flashy is particularly on-point, as the name is derived from the Greek "not glittering" (because it was seen as a small and inconspicuous flower, according to my dictionary).

So, "too unfamiliar" depends entirely on your tolerance--it's highly unfamiliar, but that might be ok. I would encourage you to go for it, just because I like botanicals, I like Greek, and I like seeing people use really unusual but not-made-up names. But I'm not the one who will have to deal with the challenges of a really unusual name every day. I also think Asphodel is really, really cool, for the record, and more familiar as the name of a flower.

September 4, 2014 6:45 AM

I also really like unusual but not made up names. Some of my favourites are Thisbe and Ianthe, which, as already pointed out, are Greek and have a similar feel to Astilbe.

I love the flowers as well and REALLY wanted the lightest pink variation at my wedding, but alas they weren't quite in bloom yet.

So to me, this is an all around winner! (And is going on my favourites list)

I say go for it!!!

By EVie
September 4, 2014 2:13 PM

Serendipitiously, this thread has answered a question for me! I was *just* wondering yesterday what those really cool, feathery red flowers planted outside my apartment complex leasing office were, and then just now I did an image search for astilbe, and lo and behold, that's what they are! And now I will always remember that.

September 3, 2014 2:58 PM

I was already aware of the astilbe flower (I have several in my garden).  The flowers are very pretty, but I have a couple of concerns about using it as a name.  

I've heard different people say it differently, and the uncertain pronunciaiton would bother me.  My other concern (and this also applies to Asphodel) is the starting sound being so similiar to the word ass.  The double whammy of unusual + sounds like a curse word could increase the teasing potential.

I wonder if you'd like Azalea or Acacia?  They seem similar to astilbe & asphodel and don't sound very girly to my ear. Since the flowers are better known amongst the general public, I wouldn't anticipate many spelling & pronunciation issues.


September 4, 2014 3:09 PM

I also immediately thought of the "ass" beginning.

It may be especially troublesome in early years where kids might not "get" swear words yet. They call their friend Alex "al" or "ali" Chelsey "chels" and Astlibe .. "ass"? or worse they're trying to say "ast" but everyone hears "ass" anyway.

September 4, 2014 4:19 PM

The as- beginning doesn't bother me in Astilbe, because the s groups with the t so that the syllables break between the a and the s, and there's no stress on the A: ə-STILL-bee. In Asphodel the syllables break between the s and the f sound and the first syllable is really pronounced ass, so it's much more a problem there. Astrid falls somewhere in between for me, with the str consonant cluster making the syllable break somewhat ambiguous: A-strid or Ass-trid; its popularity suggests that the even less ass-y Astilbe wouldn't be a problem.

September 4, 2014 5:18 PM

I agree with this -- Asphodel has ass problems, Astilbe less so... but people will be unfamiliar with Astilbe and might break the syllables more as ASS-tilb on the first go round, so I think you're still likely to encounter ass-related teasing at some point. (I was not sure of the pronunciation, but would have correctly guessed uh-STILL-bee.) I might consider other obscure non-frilly botanicals instead, myself, but I do think Astilbe is perfectly usable.

By mk
September 3, 2014 4:32 PM

I like Astilbe. I do think not many people will know how to pronounce it. But it will mainly be treating the e as silent, which is easy to explain. Another name would be Cleome. I also like Asphodel.

What about Aster or Amayrillis? Both are floral names that do not seem overtly girly.

September 7, 2014 4:19 PM

Have you considered Phlox?  It is my favorite flower name :) 

September 8, 2014 4:33 AM

Amaranth is another flower name that's off the beaten path but is easier to pronounce. There's also a few nicknames you could pull out of it you wanted, like Mara or even Amy. 

January 16, 2015 5:56 PM

I think Astilbe is a good name because my name is Astilbe.


January 16, 2015 7:13 PM

The jury is still out in my case... Astilbe... I think I need to chew on it some more. I do love Greek and botanicals. I guess I'm having trouble picturing a face? It's such a rare name. However, if you really do adore it, go for it. Unusual names are going to become more and more "common". If you get what I mean. 

January 16, 2015 9:38 PM

interesting, never heard of it before. I would not know how to pronounce it. A little too complicated for my taste but I do like it as well as it is different.

September 18, 2019 1:00 PM

As a teacher I have heard many interesting names. I have a little girl in one of my classes named Astilbe and it it fits her perfectly. Such a beautiful name, her nickname is Tilly. 

September 18, 2019 2:19 PM

I’m not familiar with the name but I guessed the pronunciation correctly. It does seem very unusual but doesn’t have that “made up” feel to me, even having never seen it before. The “as” beginning doesn’t bother me because as someone already mentioned it sounds more like A-stil-be. I’m less keen on Asphodel as it starts off a lot like asphalt...

Oops, old thread. I wonder if they used the name...