We live in a golden age of baby name invention. Every year, scores of new names appear for the first time ever in America’s baby name statistics. Some are imports, some are creative spellings, some are mashups of other popular names. And as you’ll see below, some are demons, palaces, and computer operating systems.
I’ve collected 20 noteworthy examples of girls’ names that just made their historical debuts. (The minimum requirement is 5 boys or girls receiving the name in a single year.) Together, they offer a sense of the extraordinary range of modern name style, and how far parents will go in search of the dramatic and the new. Be sure to check out the remarkable brand-new boys’ names, too!
Imperator Furiosa & the Melanin Goddess.
Image credits: madmaxmovie.com, melaniin.goddess/Instagram
TOTALLY BRAND-NEW GIRLS’ NAMES
Mazikeen. The comics-based tv series Lucifer features a beautiful demon named Mazikeen, a former torturer from Hell. The name’s demonic bona fides go way back, though its use as a personal name is new. In Jewish tradition the mazikeen (singular: mazik) are a whole category of evil spirits.
Furiosa. Charlize Theron’s steely Imperator Furiosa was a popular sensation in the film Mad Max: Fury Road. Nonetheless, this name’s comic book style makes it a baby name surprise. It’s one of the most extravagant film names since Cruella de Vil. (And if you’re wondering, no, Cruella never crossed over to baby names.)
Curie. When I wrote about fast-rising scientist names last year, readers questioned the lack of female scientists on my list. The reason for it was depressingly simple: I had scoured the name stats and couldn’t find any. Not anymore! Marie Curie now joins the growing roster of scientist-inspired baby names.
Million. The nickname Millie is a fast-rising hit, but some parents find its traditional sources, Mildred and Millicent, too old-fashioned. Million is an ultra-modern update, with a style somewhere between exalted names and futuristic robot chic, but a disarmingly simple sound.
Ezria. This may look like just a feminized version of Ezra, but in the world of Pretty Little Liars fans, it’s something more. Ezria is the Brangelina-style portmanteau given to the popular romantic coupling of characters named Ezra and Aria. The couple met in the series pilot back in 2010, and over the past seven years fans have grown accustomed to the mashup name.
Pippi. The book Pippi Longstocking, by master name inventor Astrid Lindgren, was first published in English back in 1950 but only now makes its baby name debut. In the book, Pippi was short for Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking.
Melanin. Just a letter away from Melanie, melanin is the pigment that gives our skin, eyes and hair their color. It likely owes its emergence as a name to Senegalese model Khoudia Diop, whose self-given nickname “Melanin Goddess” proudly celebrates her ultra-dark skin.
Blessence. Mashup names don’t have to be built from other names. In this case it’s two positive words, blessing and essence, that form the building blocks. Some parents of a Blessence may have been inspired by a brand of maternity t-shirts, a product that customers are likely to encounter right at the moment of baby-namer’s block.
Versailles. The sumptuous palace of Versailles has symbolized regal luxury for centuries. The Treaty of Versailles, signed at the palace, ended World War I. But the recent historical tv drama Versailles is what finally turned this name into a baby name.
Franklynn, Zeplyn. These two names take their inspirations from very different sources, but together they prove a new fashion maxim: today, a -yn can turn anything into a girl’s name.
Laniakea. Never heard of Laniakea? You live there – in fact, we all do. It’s the supercluster of galaxies that includes our own Milky Way. Laniakea means “immense heaven” in Hawaiian, and shares its name with an Oahu beach.
Iseult. Tristan and Iseult (or Isolde) were famous illicit lovers of Arthurian legend. Only Tristan, though, crossed over from legend to baby name. Iseult’s appearance today may be due to a Queen Iseult in the tv series The Last Kingdom, or to literary-minded parents’ growing interest in Arthurian names.
Caliber. Firearm-inspired boys’ names have been proliferating for the past decade, but girl’s options are just starting to catch up. If Caliber seems unlikely as a girl’s name, consider the nickname Callie.
Thatcher. This surname ranks in the top 1000 for boys, but it’s only fair that girls should get in on the action. Britain’s “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher, certainly makes for a formidable female role model.
Lagertha. Lagertha was a legendary Viking shieldmaiden whose story was first put in writing almost a millennium ago. This is perhaps the most unlikely of a mini-wave of Norse names inspired by the TV series Vikings.
Hestia. The Greek goddess of the hearth and domesticity, Hestia literally kept the home fires burning while the rest of the Olympians made their mischief. She was the big sister of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and the gang, but incredibly had never registered as an American baby name until this year.
Anakin. The birth name of Star Wars’ legendary villain Darth Vader was already given to hundreds of American boys every year. Now his dark force encroaches on the girls’ side. Can anyone stop him? (Maybe the handful of girls named Luke?)
Veruca. To understand this name, let’s work backwards. Veruca Salt is a rock band known for ’90s hits like “Seether.” The band took its name from the spoiled, tyrannical rich girl in the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl had a wicked little sense of humor, and he created the name as a wicked little joke: verruca is another word for wart.
Linux. Parents seldom turn to technology for baby name inspiration, but the open-source Linux operating system is making an impact. (Apparently the names “OS X” and “Windows 7” don’t pack the same punch.) Why Linux? Well, Lennox is also a fast-rising name, and when you think about it, all baby names are open source.
Read More: 23 Absolutely Brand-New Names For Boys