Choosing a name for your baby girl is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy and with a new year, thankfully, arriving in the coming days, there is an opportunity to impart a sense of fresh excitement for your child with a thoroughly modern baby name! While old standards hold their own vintage charm, names that bring modern sensibilities connote progressive hopes and appeal to parents who want to celebrate the promise the future holds.
When we use the term “modern,” we do so loosely as it can mean all kinds of things. For our purposes, we’re after names that stray from the likes of Sarah, Jessica, and Elizabeth and instead veer into a more exotic lane. Secular names for baby girls are on the rise as well as names adopted from languages and traditions previously unexplored. Names inspired by nature are also a huge hit and we’ll be sure to check all of those boxes in this list! Here are 25 modern baby names for girls born in the new year. Ring in the new!
You’ll hear the name Seren all over Wales as it is a popular Welsh classic but virtually unheard outside of the UK. Seren is derived from the name Sirona who was an ancient goddess of the hot springs. This name is also a well-known Turkish surname. Seren means “star” or “sail mast.”
You’ll find Calypso in Greek mythology. She was an island nymph who delayed Odysseus from returning home. It is also a genre of West Indian music, originating in Trinidad and Tobago and largely popularized in the US by Harry Belafonte. The name is Greek and means “she who hides.”
Contemporary parents can find versatility in traditional names but should flip the script. The perfect example is Zane, a name that’s traditionally given to baby boys. Zane is an excellent choice for girls as it has contemporaries like Jane. Zane can also be spelled Zayn which is the Arabic form of the name and means “beauty.”
Gender-neutral names are on the rise and Zephyr is shaping up to be an option for many modern parents who are considering them. Zephyr has Greek origins and means “west wind.” And, this name does, indeed, feel warm and breezy.
Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie put this name of a geographical feature on the baby name map when she chose it for her newborn daughter, Vale Guthrie Feldman. If you’re after a subtle nature name, this would be an excellent choice.
Another nature name that doesn’t smell like burning sage and patchouli is Freesia. It’s a German surname that was given to a flower after physician Friedrich Freese. Freesia sounds very cool with its “freeze” sound but is warmed by the thought of the elegant flower.
Slate would be a bold choice for a baby girl as it’s mostly reserved for boys. We love this tough name that sounds similar to Kate. New parents should consider playing with similar word names that are appealing and resemble time-tested names. It feels so solid and modern.
Zandra has an exotic vintage feel and it has made the US top 1000 baby names a couple of times last century. It’s a form of Alexandra and Sandra that seems completely divorced from its proper-sounding roots. The name takes its meaning from Alexander and means “defending men.” Feel free to get really weird with it and spell the name Xandra.
A forgotten Roman classic, Anona was a name that belonged to the goddess of the harvest. It sounds like a more romantic form of Anna and we welcome parents to popularize this name. It has not appeared in the top 1000 since 1905. Bring Anona back!
Another name that’s appropriate for fall is Arista. Arista is Greek and also means “harvest.” However, this name shares its root with the word aristocrat. The name can also mean “star” as it pertains to Aristotle.
Birdie is a retro classic that fell off the charts in the late 1940s. How did we let this happen, America? Birdie was most popular in the 1880s but we see it as a possibility in modern times, thanks to Busy Philips who chose the name for her daughter. It’s an English name that means exactly what you think it does.
The unisex Blake, which indeed has two conflicting meanings, has a briskly efficient image when used for a girl. It can mean “fair” or “dark one.” Blake Lively helped fuel the popularity of this name for girls and we could not be more excited about it. This name is as English as it comes! We also encourage expecting parents to consider the nature name in the same vein, Lake.
Tavi is considered a shortened form of Octavia or a diminutive of David. Tavi sounds perfectly playful and it’s because of its modern sound that we recommend the name for new parents. If you’re drawn to this name but fear it could be “too out there,” go with Octavia and call her Tavi instead.
Calla is a lily-name that is much more distinctive and delicate than Lily. Rarely heard today, it did appear in the popularity lists in the last decades of the nineteenth century. As the name implies, this one means “beautiful.” Make this old name modern in 2021!
Arbor is an original unisex tree-related choice we’re sure to hear more of. Highly unusual now, Arbor takes its place alongside other new arborial names ranging from the mighty Oak. Hazel is another tree name that’s a great option but we think Arbor has more promise these days.
Yara is a name you’ll find in the top 1000 these days and we can’t help but love it. The name has Arabic origins and means “small butterfly.” You’ll also find the name in Brazilian folklore as it belongs a mythological goddess.
Keeli is another form of the Irish name Keela and you, unfortunately, don’t hear enough of either outside of Ireland. Keeli is way more fun than Kayla and the strong”K” sound doesn’t hurt anything. Keelis means “slender.”
Names just look better when they end in an “I,” right? We love the classic Yiddish name Golda and the names it gives us, Goldie and Goldi. The name hasn’t been popular in the US since the thirties and we think that’s an absolute shame.
There’s a brand of hummus with this name, but don’t let that hinder your love for the amazing name Sabra. We love Sarah and have for decades. It’s time for parents to look a little deeper. Sabra is a Hebrew name that means “prickly pear.”
Sunshine was seen as a quintessential hippie name of the seventies, reaching as high as number 536 in 1975. Let’s bring back this sunny word name! Sunshine sounds beautiful and will impart some cheer.
With the very popular name Amelia continuing to dominate the popularity charts, you might be looking for something a touch different. Adelia and Adela are more traditional forms of the name Adele which is German and, like Amelia, also means “work.”
An old Irish surname cousin of Tierney that makes an unusual and appealing Irish gender switch. We’re all about a switch these days! Tiernan means “little lord” and would be a great alternative to names like Karen or Tara.
Ivria has never garnered tons of favor in the US and it’s criminal! Ivria is a completely wonderful Hebrew name that means “of the land of Abraham.” It contains the desirable “ria” ending that brings so much charm to any name.
As flower names become more exotic, so can gem names move beyond Ruby and Pearl to names like Topaz, Sapphire, and Peridot. Amethyst, the purple birthstone for February, has never been in the top 1000, but we see that changing in the years to come. If you’re expecting a baby in February, this handsome name is ripe for the taking.
We, at MU, will not stop until we hear more of the name Yael in the US. There’s no reason this excellent unisex name should not be picked. It sounds great. It’s casual. It’s fun. It’s warm. What’s not to love? Yael has Hebrew origins and you’ll commonly find it in Israel today. The name means “to ascend.”
There you go! Choosing a name for your baby is one of the most exciting aspects of a pregnancy. We hope you find unique baby names from this list and will consider them alongside some more conventional choices. We think each of these names offers character and variety and feel fresh enough for 2021.
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. Seren
- 2 24. Calypso
- 3 23. Zane
- 4 22. Zephyr
- 5 21. Vale
- 6 20. Freesia
- 7 19. Slate
- 8 18. Zandra
- 9 17. Anona
- 10 16. Arista
- 11 15. Birdie
- 12 14. Blake
- 13 13. Tavi
- 14 12. Calla
- 15 11. Arbor
- 16 10. Yara
- 17 9. Keeli
- 18 8. Goldi
- 19 7. Sabra
- 20 6. Sunshine
- 21 5. Adelia
- 22 4. Tiernan
- 23 3. Ivria
- 24 2. Amethyst
- 25 1. Yael
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