We realize that “quintessentially American” is a loaded phrase as we know that “American” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That being said, we do believe that names that originated in the United States are unique and special and many of them deserve consideration from new parents. These baby names can praise American heroes, salute American literature and art, honor Native heritage, emphasize American places, and celebrate the many cultures that have come together to form our collective identity.
Many of these baby names are popular today and some have slipped from memory. We wanted to offer you a variety of names, many of which were created here in the US both old and new, that pay tribute to the diverse nature of our democracy and the 330 million people that identify as Americans. Simply put, these are the best American baby names for girls that you will scarcely find anywhere else but in the US. Check out these quintessentially American baby names for girls that sound like home.
Did Americans invent the word “scout”? No, of course not! But, we were the first ones to popularize Scout as a given name. Scout, a character nickname from To Kill a Mockingbird (her real name was Jean Louise), became a real possibility when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used it for their now-grown middle daughter. The American baby name appeared in the US top 1000 most popular names for girls in 2018 and we hope it comes back to stay!
Did Americans invent the concept or term Justice? Obviously not! However, we are the only country in the world where this concept has been applied to a given name. Making this American baby name truly special. Justice works like a virtue name and it is given to both little boys and little girls today. The name debuted in the US top 1000 since 1994 and has chugged along ever since. We love it!
Alaska’s Denali National Park is the home of the highest mountain in the US, officially renamed Denali in 2014, endowing the name with a lofty feel. There were 20 boys and 55 girls given the name in 2014. From the indigenous Koyukon name of a mountain in Alaska, Denali means “great one.” Expect this American baby name to land in the top 1000 in the coming years. It’s gorgeous.
As memories of the outrageous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly melodious Choctaw name has re-entered the popular lexicon. A modern hipster favorite, it’s been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy, and Sara Rue. Tallulah, in Native American tradition, means “leaping water.”
African-American and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth was born as Isabelle into slavery. She adopted her new name when she began touring and lecturing abolition in 1843. Sojourner is a hero name that may, with the rise of spiritual word names such as Journey and Genesis, finally be ready for prime time. This American baby name has a French word meaning “to stay a while,” to thank!
Kailani is one of the most popular American baby names for girls today. Kailani has Hawaiin origins and means “sea and sky.” After first debuting on the US top 1000 in 2013, this name has proven it has real staying power, reaching into the top 500 in 2018.
Memphis is a girl’s name meaning “enduring and beautiful.” The name Coptic and Greek origins but it belongs to a US city today. Only in America will you find Memphis applied as given name. While this name has never appeared in the US top 1000, we think energy will get behind this name soon enough.
Kierra is an American invented name that is essentially Sierra spelled with a K. Thanks to similar Irish favorites like Kiera, Kierra completely works! We are not alone in thinking this. New parents propelled this American baby name to popularity in 1988 when it debuted on the US top 1000. It stayed on the list in 2010 before it fizzled out. We’d love to hear more of this name!
Winona is an American baby name for girls of Sioux origin meaning “firstborn daughter.” We have actor Winona Ryder and singer Wynonna Judd to thank for putting this awesome name in lights. Winona has been in the US top 1000 appearing from 1880 until 1957. New parents should consider this lyrical name once more.
Used for a free-spirited character on a 1990s sitcom, Topanga is also this name of a beautiful Southern California canyon that does have an offbeat aura. Topanga comes from the Tongva tribe and means “where the mountain meets the sea.” Topanga is so rhythmic and full of life. Give it a shot, parents.
Serenity comes from a Latin word meaning “peaceful.” We did not invent the word but we did invent this American baby name. Serenity entered the US top 1000 in 1997 and today, it’s a top 100 choice by new parents. Serenity has a beautiful sound to match its meaning. Parents in the UK like what we are cooking over here and Serenity landed in their top 1000 list last year.
Malia was a fairly unusual name until one of Barack and Michelle Obama’s young daughters landed in the spotlight. Malia is now a top 500 name and has been since 2000. Malia has Hawaiin origins as a form of Mary. Mary comes from Hebrew and means “bitter.”
This simplified form of the lovely name Georgia was spotlighted by the actress Jorja Fox, and seems to be making inroads as musician Bret Michaels chose it for his daughter. It even made the US top 1000 in 2006. Jorja is an invented American baby name, but Georgia comes from the English name George which means “farmer.” We would consider that applicable here.
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This extra-N variation is hot on the tails of mega popular Brooklyn and takes it a bit further from the New York borough. The American baby name Brooklynn, in its variant spelling, also lands in the US top 1000 today. It’s a top 500 name today and it first landed on the list in 1995. Brooklyn comes from Dutch origin and means “marshland.”
Maya is perfect but if you would like to honor Maya Angelou another way, you can adopt her last name. Angelou was a surname invented by Maya Angelou after she briefly married a Greek sailor named Tosh Angelos. She altered the name but kept it as her nom du pen. We assume this American invented name means “angel.” At any rate, the poet, activist, and icon is reason enough to pick it.
Dyani is a name with Native American origins that means “deer.” This name can be applied to both boys and girls but due to its likeness with Diana, we prefer it for a baby girl. Dyani would be an excellent choice for adventurous parents.
The Native American baby name Tandy means “flower.” Tandy would be a welcome alternative to Brandy or Mandy today. However, this cheerful appellation has never appeared in the US top 1000.
The American name Amia can be viewed in two ways. It could be a combination of the names Amy and Mia or it could be an alternative form of the name Amaya. Either way, you will only find it in the US today. Amia appeared in the US top 1000 from 2013-2018. For our purposes, we’ll adopt the meaning of Amy for this one, which means “beloved.”
Alaska stems from an Aleutian word for the landmass itself. The number of baby girls named Alaska has doubled in the past five years and is sure to continue increasing as more place names are adopted as baby names. This American baby name means “great land.”
Leilani is derived from the Hawaiian elements lei, meaning “flower,” and lani, “heavenly.” The name can also be translated to “royal child.” Leilani was on and off the top 1000 list from the 1880s until the 1990s when it finally stuck. The name has shot up the charts to become of the new parents’ favorite options ranking at 107 last year.
Imala is a Native American baby name meaning “strong-minded.” Who can argue with a name like? Imala has yet to take off and make the top 1000 but we think if more parents discovered it, they would consider it.
African-Americans invented jazz music and with it, the name that would eventually be inspired by it, Jazz. The term jazz comes from a slang term, jasm, which means “pep” or “energy.” Jazz has long been considered a nickname for Jasmyn, but we know it can stand all on its own. Although this name has never appeared in the US top 1000 for girls, most popular nicknames eventually land on the list.
Ashlyn is an American invention, a take on the Irish name Aislinn which means “dream.” Ashlyn is sometimes spelled Ashlynn and, in that context, you can even consider the name a combination of Ashley and Lynn. We are certain new parents were turning to Ashlyn when Ashley was at her height a couple of decades ago. Ashlyn has been a top 1000 name since 1986.
St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American saint, canonized in 2012. St. Kateri was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, born in 1656 in New York. She converted to Christianity at age 20 and died at 24, and was known as “Lily of the Mohawk.” Kateri was the name the saint took on, a native variation of Katherine, upon her baptism. Thus this amazing American baby name means “pure.”
Lyric might be a word coming from Greek origins that mean “lyre,” but Lyric is only used as a baby name almost exclusively in the US. The musical, American baby name has been in the US top 1000 since 1995 and today it is a top 500 pick. If you value music, Lyric would be the perfect choice for your little girl.
There you go! Do you feel like you’ve just had a slice of apple pie, watched a football game, and traveled the US? There are plenty more American names to choose from that did not make this list. If you did not find the perfect name, we urge you to look at more of our lists, and to think of places, people, and things that have shaped this country for inspiration!
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.
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Baby Name Generator
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