Awesome, inspiring girl names besides Jane or Moana or Katniss
August 25, 2017 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for a first name for our baby girl. I've been reviewing lists of women scientists, activists, feminists, kick ass literary characters but nothing yet that we love.

I wouldn't mind a gender neutral name but also have liked some more feminine names. Lately I've been wanting a name that could be linked to an inspiring woman, but not necessarily so unique that it would always invoke that person (i.e., Katniss. Not that I'd name her that).

Our last name begins with G and is two syllables. We come from a mix of a Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and German background.
posted by inevitability to Society & Culture (58 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Marie (Curie)?

Joan (of Arc)?
posted by hydra77 at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2017

I've been a big fan of the name Eleanor lately.
posted by palomar at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2017 [9 favorites]

Grace (Hopper)
Ada (Lovelace)
Amelia (Earhart)
Katherine (Johnson)
Margaret (Hamilton)
posted by nickggully at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Joan (as in, Jean d'Arc)
Nerilka (I love Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, ok?)
Bree (as in, Bree Newsome)
Marie (Curie) (or any from here
posted by jillithd at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2017

Rosa (Parks)
Diane (Nash)
Ruth (Bader Ginsburg)
posted by Fig at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by phunniemee at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by scratch at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

US Navy Admiral and huge computer nerd Grace Hopper springs to mind first, though "Grace" has been holding steady at around the 19th most popular name for US girls.

Starting at the 200th most popular girls name in 2016 and working downward to less popular, maybe Georgia, Madeleine, Helen? As in O'Keefe, Albright, and Thomas?
posted by turkeybrain at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Atalanta was an awesome badass from Greek mythology who shattered many a belief of what a woman could or could not do. And you could call her Laney for short.
posted by ejs at 11:17 AM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

On second look, there are two alternate spellings of Madeleine in the top 100
posted by turkeybrain at 11:19 AM on August 25, 2017

This is quite common, but we ended up naming our daughter Abigail after Abigail Adams, founding mother, businesswoman, and all around awesome lady. Dr. Abigail Bartlett was another inspiration.
posted by House of Leaves of Grass at 11:24 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Willa (Cather)
posted by Sassyfras at 11:25 AM on August 25, 2017

posted by vunder at 11:26 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ellen (Wilkinson)
Ellen (Ripley)

did I mention that I like the name Ellen?
posted by rd45 at 11:32 AM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Emma (like Goldman - she'd even have the last initial down)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:33 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just had a baby boy but if I had a girl I would have named her Hilda after my favorite intelligent and powerful saint and called her Hildy. I had this really thought out.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:34 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe something from this list of kickass Japanese women. I like Chiaki (#10, Japan's first female astronaut). I also thought of Yoko, if you're a fan of Ms. Ono.
posted by FencingGal at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Rosa or Rosalind
posted by theora55 at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wanted something that would look good on an election sign and went with Marjorie, thinking vaguely of well-known Canadian politician Marjory LeBreton (but I don't much care for Tories, so that helped with solidifying the spelling).

Middle name is Helen, largely after Helen Sweetstory, the author that Snoopy gets a crush on in Peanuts. No great "of Troy" backstory; I just really liked Schulz.

As a person with a hard-to-pronounce "unique" name: it was important to me that the names be "normal." Myfirstname Lastname has never ever had a resume paid any mind; M. Middlename Lastname gets interviews, but then it gets weird because I don't go by my middle name. I hate to say it, but a non-standard name is a handicap. Would recommend reading the Freakonomics bit on baby names, too, so you don't end up with a nice name that turns out to be at the wrong moment of the zeitgeist.

Barbara Ehrenreich's daughter is named Rosa, after, says Wikipedia, both Parks and Luxemburg.

There are some good options amongst French literary theorists and fellow travellers there: Julia (Kristeva), Clarice (Lispector -- plus, the Clarice of Dykes to Watch Out For), Hélène (Cixous), Luce (Irigaray), Avital (Ronell). Speaking of Dykes to Watch Out For, the main characters might be good to mine; at one point I realised that a lot if not all seem to be subtly named after someone: it is hard to think there is no connexion between the strip's Clarice Clifford and the artist Clarice Cliff. Unfortunately I've forgotten most of the others and have never seen a list anywhere, nor any claim by Bechdel that my theory is true, but, an awful lot do line up neatly with someone from history...
posted by kmennie at 11:49 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Emma (Goldman).
posted by praemunire at 11:50 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

michelle lavaughn robinson
posted by poffin boffin at 12:02 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Diana, as in Wonder Woman? (Although, for all I know, that'll become a trending name because of the movie.)
posted by kimota at 12:10 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Aloy...from the Horizon Zero Dawn game. She's such a kickass character and I love the name now.
posted by FireFountain at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2017

Friends of ours just named their daughter Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird) and I love it.
posted by amro at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Also, Greek myths are fertile ground for this. I have always loved the name Calliope, and there are many other great ones.
posted by amro at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Omg Scout <3

I like Hild, from this wonderful novel, inspired by the real-life, and mentioned upthread, Hilda of Whitby.

Lyra after Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials.

Seconding Rosalind, after Rosalind Franklin, and Amelia after Amelia Earheart.
posted by Ziggy500 at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Artemisia (Gentileschi)? Which also makes me think of Judith, as in Judith Slaying Holofernes.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2017

Omg Scout <3

And Scout's legal name is Jean Louise, for more inspiration. Or, heck, Harper. Which is my cat's name and I think it's the awesomest name and everyone should use it for everything.
posted by capricorn at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sophie (Germain) was hard core. She created a male pseudonym (Monsieur Antoine-August Le Blanc) to study math, then did important work on Fermat's Last Theorem.
posted by middlethird at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have an Ada who is now 6 years old. (Guess what industry I work in!) Our requirements were for a name that was less than four characters in the Roman alphabet and would be easy for Japanese and Spanish speakers to say.

I guess it's weird to write a review of your kid's name, but that's what I'm going to do here. We like that the name Ada is short because we had to write it on everything that went to daycare or school. It's a good name for yelling over long distances. She had an easy time making friends in preschool partially because all of the little ones could say her name and remember it. No name-related mockery yet, but there was a period where she wanted to be called "Orange Pookie" instead. The one issue is that the name Ava is now really popular so occasionally she gets called the wrong thing.

I'm surprised at how few people recognize the name as Lady Ada Lovelace. It's chiefly computer scientists to comment on the connection. She's just Ada most of the time

Rating: A+ would name my child that again
posted by Alison at 12:49 PM on August 25, 2017 [16 favorites]

posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2017

Dorothy (Parker) which could be shortened to Dot.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2017

I'm guessing if your last name starts with a G and has two syllables, Hermione is out?

As a German married to a Japanese man and sometimes thinking about baby names, I think Luna would work very nicely in both contexts. (For the inevitable person to pop and tell me that the Japanese writing system has no L, it would be Runa in Japan, but pronounced more or less Luna.)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:21 PM on August 25, 2017

Just a thought, but if you are aware of/concerned about unconscious bias towards girls from their teachers in regard to maths and sciences, you may want to consider a male sounding name. Girls with male sounding names benefitted from that unconscious bias. Anecdotal, but my daughter's name is Deryn and she feels maths and sciences are her strongest subjects.
posted by poppunkcat at 1:34 PM on August 25, 2017

I also like Harper! Have you considered Ella for Ella Baker?
posted by TRUELOTUS at 2:05 PM on August 25, 2017

Angela (Davis)
Bell (Hooks)
Maya (Angelou)
posted by vunder at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

After the election, I felt sad thinking that there will be lots of little girls named Melania and Ivanka in the future. Then I saw Wonder Woman and thought maybe there will also be a lot of Dianas and that would be okay. If you haven't seen it, it's not just that she kicks ass and is physically strong. She's well read and knows dozens of language. She's curious about the world around her and questions things that don't make sense to her. She also loves babies and believes that for all of our flaws, humans are capable of wonderful things and their lives are worth fighting for. So if Diana appeals to you at all, I'd consider it.
posted by kat518 at 2:27 PM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Ruth, Sonia, Elena.
posted by vunder at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

My favorite female scientist is probably Emmy Noether,. Her name checks a couple of your boxes: it's feminine-sounding, and it's obscure enough that the name is not automatically linked with her by most people.
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:15 PM on August 25, 2017

Leslie (Lisa Leslie, Leslie Burke, Leslie Odom, Jr.)
posted by epj at 3:20 PM on August 25, 2017

One of our family friends have a daughter named Justice. My own daughter's middle name was Hope.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2017

Ines? Like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, an extraordinary woman.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:38 PM on August 25, 2017

Strong vote here for Ada. That was our #1 girl name (we had a boy). After Ada Lovelace. It's not super-common, but not super-weird. I think it's just a really great name.
posted by Aquifer at 6:22 PM on August 25, 2017

Julia, for Julia Morgan
posted by vunder at 6:23 PM on August 25, 2017

Harriet (as in Harriet Tubman)

Also, there's no way to know if this would come up with your child, but I went through a "tomboy" phase as a kid, and I was always super envious of girls who had names that could turn into more masculine (or at least gender neutral) nicknames like Sam (for Samantha) or Jessie (for Jessica). A Harriet could always go by Harry if she wanted something like that.

There's also Harriet from Harriet the Spy. She's a great fictional character for a little girl to have a connection to.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:44 PM on August 25, 2017

Ahh! There was one name posted above that we both like! :) I won't share it now but I'll come back and post if we use it. Thanks everyone! Please keep adding if you think of any.
posted by inevitability at 5:37 AM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Cathay (Williams)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:25 AM on August 26, 2017

Layla (layla and majnun)
or Judith
posted by speakeasy at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2017

posted by Toddles at 3:31 PM on August 26, 2017

Clara (Campoamor).
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:16 PM on August 26, 2017

My chickens are named after women super heros so I have

Rachel (Carson)
Margaret (Sanger)
Rosie (the riveter)
Diana (wonder woman)
Dolores (Huertes)
Jones (Mother)
And Elenor (Roosevelt)
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:14 PM on August 26, 2017

My wife and I named our third daughter after one of the scientists mentioned earlier in this thread. Daughter's middle name is the last name of the aforementioned scientist, so the origin of the name only comes up when we fill out official forms, which is just often enough for us.
posted by msittig at 12:18 AM on August 27, 2017

Audre (Lorde), though the Audrey spelling might be more common.
posted by divabat at 2:33 AM on August 27, 2017

Simone (Veil, Weil, or de Beauvoir -- all three were heroic in their way).
posted by tully_monster at 4:42 AM on August 27, 2017

Nthing Lyra. A friend's friend just named her baby that and it was the first we'd heard it used (besides the book) and were insanely jealous that we don't have a baby girl of our own.

Or Meg from A Wrinkle in Time.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:04 PM on August 28, 2017

Ida! For Ida B. Wells.
posted by meggan at 7:33 PM on August 28, 2017

Baby is here! We named her Elinor. :) we did debate intensely about Eleanor.
posted by inevitability at 6:58 AM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

posted by Fig at 8:33 AM on June 21, 2018

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