International names

Like Valentina, Matilda, Helena, Nora, Astrid, Morgana, Paloma, Pandora, Ravenna, Magdalena... basically, names that are easy to pronounce in Indo-european speaking countries.


October 12, 2017 6:30 PM

Specifically feminine names?

October 13, 2017 9:04 AM


October 12, 2017 6:39 PM

Nina   Amira  Bianca

Anya  Freya  Celeste

Caitlyn  Isabella

Juliet  Maria  Greta

Hannah Ingrid  Isabelle

Heidi Genevieve Kirsten

Larissa Natalia Selena

Marissa Maribel  Natalie

Zoe  Yasmin Rosa Mia

Monica Simone Stephanie

Naomi Natasha  Nadia

Melina Michelle Sophie

Teagan Suzanne Melissa



October 12, 2017 9:21 PM

Some of these names are pronounced differently in different Indo-European languages. Would that bother you or are you looking for names that are pronounced exactly or very nearly the same in various languages? For example, I can think of at least three distinct pronounciations for Helena.

Also, there are many names that are international in the sense that there is a variant of the name in nearly all European languages. For example, there's Sophia, Sofia, Sofie, Zofia, etc. Are you open to these types of names as well?

By EVie
October 13, 2017 11:13 AM

Try browsing through the Latin lists on Behind the Name:

Latin was a lingua franca in Western Europe for so long that most of these names will be intelligible all over, or else there will be very close variants. Click on the name to see the list of variants if the original seems too Roman (e.g. Aemilia -> Emilia, Caecilia -> Cecilia). 

A number of Greek-derived names would also fit the bill. Katerina, Alexandra, Anastasia, Cassandra, Corinna, Irene/Irina, Nicola, Theodora/Dorothea. If you want names that travel well in Eastern Europe, I highly recommend looking at names of Greek origin, as the Greek Orthodox church had the equivalent influence on naming there that the Roman Catholic church had in the west.

Of Germanic origin, I'll throw out Amalia, Adela, Emma, Gisela.


October 13, 2017 7:37 PM

I like your list so far, particularly Valentina, Helena and Nora. Some other names - Hannah, Anna, Liana, Liliana, Natalia, Maria, Ella, Alma, Ingrid, Alexandra, Veronica, Chiara, Francesca, Erica, Anastasia, Clara, Nova, Luna, Louisa, Nicola, Nicoletta, Henrietta, Marisa, Rosa 

October 14, 2017 8:56 AM


Here are a few I like for you, mostly with Latin roots. Most have a close variant in many languages worldwide. 

Agnes, Alexandra, Anastasia, Anna, Antonia, Camilla/Camila, Cecelia, Claudia, Diana, Emilia, Helena, Irene, Julia, Lucia, Marina, Martina, Paula, Sabina, Tatiana, Valentina

November 9, 2017 6:17 AM

I'm a regular on this site, but was (mostly) offline for a few weeks so I realize I'm chiming in late.  I'm a middle-aged American who works in international affairs and has spent most of my adult life working across Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.  So I have some definite (and well-informed) opinions on this!  And I'm taking your reference to 'Indo-European' languages literally, i.e., include Indian and Persian languages, not just European ones per se.

All that said, the expat naming formula for 'international' names that work across many languages tends to emphasize those which are easy to spell and pronounce globally. This means: alternating consantants and vowels (NO consonant clusters, and avoid many dipthong vowels), no hard-to-pronounce sounds like V, Z, TH, R, X, A-as-in-apple etc. and ideally a short call name that is embedded in a long one so that you have a backup in case your chosen name happens to be a random word in some other language in the next country you're posted to.  (My own name means 'hill' and 'carpet' in two separate Indo-European languages so I'm sensitive to this.  And I know a little 'Lili' who got that name because her given Li---- name meant 'underpants' in the country she moved to when she was two.  Her parents intended to go back to the full given name when they moved again, but by then she was six and Lili just stuck.)  Anyway, examples of names that fit the formula are Alana / Lana and Philip / Phil.



November 9, 2017 11:15 AM

A-as-in-apple is a hard-to-pronounce sound?

(I know a Russian couple whose surname unfortunately means "shitting person" in Catalan. They've added an accent to try and shift the pronunciation -- but it remains unfortunate)!

By EVie
November 9, 2017 11:32 AM

That's pretty bad! Sometimes it's the most common, innocuous-seeming names, too. My mom grew up as an expat in Iran where Anna means "sh*t" in Farsi. She always disliked her own name because of it -- not Anna itself, but an -ana ending name. 

November 9, 2017 12:50 PM

Yes, [æ] (ash, a-as-in-apple) is absent from many languages. Hungarians often substitute [ε] (epsilon, e-as-in-get) for it, or even simply hear it as that, but can usually learn to pronounce it. (It's much easier for them than /th/.)

Nothing's foolproof, but you'll have the easiest time internationally if you stick to the "canonical" sounds found in phonetically-sparse languages like Latin. (Latin made an excellent international language because of this. The flip side is that it made a horrible basis for everyone else's writing systems: the alphabet simply doesn't have enough letters.)