In the early 1900s, German names with strong constants were popular. Names such as Bertha, Elisabeth, Gertrud, Frieda, Margarethe, and Maria for girls could be found around the world. In Germany, some classical names remained popular for several decades during the 1900s, although girl’s names were more likely to change over time. Names like Elfriede, Hildegard, Irmgard, and Lieselotte have adapted over the years. You would not and will not find many of these names in the US thanks two a couple of World Wars. Several decades have passed and names that sound typically German are being considered once more.
Germany has stricter baby-naming rules than we have in the US and a baby’s name must be approved by the Standesamt before it’s printed on a birth certificate. Luckily, most states in the US don’t have the same naming rules and you can feel free to go wild! German Americans are the largest of the self-reported ancestry groups by the United States Census Bureau in its American Community Survey. That means nearly 50 million Americans report having partial German ancestry. The largest wave of German immigrants came to America between 1820 and WWI. So, a German name might be an afterthought at this point, but there some excellent options to inspire new parents. Here are 25 remarkable German baby names for girls.
Amalea is the German answer to Emily and it is related to the extremely popular Amelia. Amalea has a bit more romantic sound to it as it’s closer to the Latin root which means “work.”
In most English-speaking countries, you’ll find Anna but for Germans, the preferred form is Anja. The name is pronounced AHN-ya and means “grace.” You’ll find this popular name in Russia, Holland, and across Scandinavia.
Bernadette was hot for most of the early twentieth century but its fortunes changed in the seventies and it quickly slid out of the top 1000 names. Bernadette is a name that’s claimed by German and French. It means “brave as a bear.”
Elske is a very old name that has never captured Americans imagination. The name is pronounced EL-skeh and it’s a form of the name Elizabeth which means “pledged to God.” Show this name some love and we promise it will return it to you.
The German form of Felicity is Felicie. How cute a name is that? The original name can be traced to ancient Roman. It means “good fortune.” If you’re into the name Felicia, go ahead and take the leap and go with Felicie.
Frieda is an exceptional name that enjoyed popularity in the US until 1950. It’s no longer a hot name for girls. This awesome name means “peaceful ruler.” In German, the most common nickname for Frieda is Fritzi. Can you argue with that? We think not.
Gannet is a German name that most Americans will never hear. Although it sounds like Janet, the name is unrelated. It means “goose.”
Gertrude is a rather serious-sounding name that reached it’s peak of popularity in the US in 1900. So, she’s been MIA for a while. We love the name Gertrude as it does give a child a moniker with heft. This name means “strength of a spear.”
Gitta is a German name that has Gaelic origins as it’s a form of Brighid (which also gives us Bridget). Gitta sounds much more playful than its counterparts. This fabulous name means “exalted one.”
Haldis is a female given name that you’ll find in both German and Norwegian. In German, the name means “purposeful.” If you’re in Norway, the name is taken to mean “flat stone goddess.” We like the unusual name Haldis and it would be a welcome alternative to names like Holly or Alice.
If Haldis sounds too severe for you, consider a similar name like Hilda. Hilda sounds sweeter, but it means “battle woman.” Hilda was a very popular name in the US until the 1980s. We think it’s time for a comeback!
The name Ida was popularized a century ago by a poem by Tennyson. The poem was then turned into an operetta called Princess Ida. While the name hasn’t been popular in the US since the seventies, it’s made a big resurgence in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This stellar name means “industrious.”
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The name Katherine has spawned a ton of names. One of which is the German, Katja which is the equivalent of Kate. While the name is still popular in Germany today, it’s never outshined Katherine in the US. The name means “pure.”
Cleo is Greek name that means “glory.” The Germans got a hold of it and swapped in a hard K to make it their own. We prefer this spelling of the name and think it’s rather stylish. While Cleo has been on the charts since records were kept, Kleo has not enjoyed the same popularity in the US.
We like the way in German, you can just add a K to names and it instantly makes them much more interesting. Konstanze is the German form of Constance a name that means “steadfastness.” We love both Constance and Konstanze!
Liesl like Heidi has never shaken its decidedly Alpine image. Most Americans are familiar with the name thanks to the musical The Sound of Music. It’s a nickname-name that’s a diminutive of Elizabeth and it’s the equivalent of Lizzie. The name also means “pledged to God.”
The German language sure does cook up some interesting variations. Here’s another form of Elizabeth that’s one of our absolute favorites. Elizabeth is an English name from Hebrew. Lisbeth sounds sweet and slightly edgy thanks to the main character from The Girl with Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Although the character’s name is spelled Lizbeth, we still think it holds.
Magdalene and Magdalena are now the preferred forms of this name, but we like the simplicity and strength of Magda. Magda is the German form of a name that means “woman from Magdala” or “high tower.” If you’re after a retro vibe for a name, consider Magda.
Meret is a nickname-name that’s the equivalent to Martha. It’s a shortened form of Margaretha a name that means “pearl.” Meret is significant in a number of cultures and you’ll find it in Hebrew, Danish, and Norwegian. There was also an Egyptian goddess with the name that means “beloved.” You can’t go wrong with this one!
Nixie is an absolute blast of a name that’s the name of a mermaid-like sprite in German folklore. Thus, the name means “water nymph.” Nixie would make for a welcome update to Nicki or an alternative to similar, more popular names like Trixie, Pixie or Pixie.
We don’t know how German forms of names evolve to such interesting forms, but it’s a feature. Resi is a cool-sounding form of Spanish name, Teresa. The name means “to harvest.”
Selma was popular in the states until the 1950s. It’s since fallen off of the popularity charts. It’s thriving near the top in both Norway and Sweden at the moment. This beautiful name means “godly helmet.” Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, the first woman to win for literature. A great excuse, among many, to pick this name.
If you’re looking for a fresh spin on the old favorite, Tanya, its German form might be the ticket. Tahnia is a handsome name that actually can be traced to the Sabine-Latin family name Tatius and then evolved as Russians were introduced to it. Tatiana has begun to take hold in the US, but you won’t find any Tahnias.
Wilda is pronounced VILL-dah which might turn some parents off. This elegant name has charm and means “to strive.” In the US, this name has been rarely adopted and is often pronounced wild-ah as if it’s a female form of Wilder. Do you!
Would you believe that this completely adorable name is a German form of Frances? Yes, Ziska’s Latin roots have been fully shaken off here. The name means “from France.” We love how spunky and fun this name sounds. Z-names are hot right now, so get ahead of the trend with this unusual German moniker.
There you go! 25 German names for girls that you should consider. These names are mainly German forms of names you know and love. So, spice it up by choosing one that’s a touch obscure.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Amalea
- 2 24. Anja
- 3 23. Bernadette
- 4 22. Elske
- 5 21. Felicie
- 6 20. Frieda
- 7 19. Gannet
- 8 18. Gertrude
- 9 17. Gitta
- 10 16. Haldis
- 11 15. Hilda
- 12 14. Ida
- 13 13. Katja
- 14 12. Kleo
- 15 11. Konstanze
- 16 10. Liesl
- 17 9. Lisbeth
- 18 8. Magda
- 19 7. Meret
- 20 6. Nixie
- 21 5. Resi
- 22 4. Selma
- 23 3. Tahnia
- 24 2. Wilda
- 25 1. Ziska
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