Times have changed.  The top 100 baby names in the United States at the moment are very heartening.  When we see lovelies such as Emma, Isabella, Sophia, and Olivia in the top 10, it’s momentous.  Taste has evolved for the better.  

Yet I still lament that many parents chose these beautiful names unwitting that they were so very very popular.  If you would like your child to be the only one in his or her class, try these alternates on for size.  I’ve tried to maintain similarity between history, style, and/or meaning.  Most will surprise your friends, but I’ll wager that many will garner more attention over the years.  Better to be ahead of the pack I say.  

Anyone else have some ideas we could tap into for great substitutes?  


  1. Emma  –> Rose
  2. Isabella –> Araminta
  3. Emily –> Cecily
  4. Madison –> Emerson
  5. Ava –> Wren
  6. Olivia –> Louisa
  7. Sophia –> Thalia
  8. Abigail –> Susannah
  9. Elizabeth –> Beatrice
  10. Chloe –> Thisbe
  11. Samantha –> Matilda
  12. Addison –> Auden
  13. Natalie –> Elodie
  14. Mia –> Pia
  15. Alexis –> Tamsin
  16. Alyssa –> Calista
  17. Hannah –> Keturah
  18. Ashley –> Holly
  19. Ella –> Isla
  20. Sarah –> Ruth
  21. Grace –> Jane
  22. Taylor –> Landry
  23. Brianna –> Chiara
  24. Lily –> Iris
  25. Hailey –> Harper
  26. Anna –> Laura
  27. Victoria –> Eleanor
  28. Kayla –> Kyra
  29. Lillian –> Laurel
  30. Lauren –> Devon
  31. Kaylee –> Paisley
  32. Allison –> Imogen
  33. Savannah –> Marietta
  34. Nevaeh –> Kalila
  35. Gabriella –> Francesca
  36. Sofia –> Rosa
  37. Makayla –> Nicola
  38. Avery –> Waverly
  39. Riley –> Rowan
  40. Julia –> Delia
  41. Leah –> Willa
  42. Aubrey –> Ellery
  43. Jasmine –> Sorrel
  44. Audrey –> Penelope
  45. Katherine –> Genevieve
  46. Morgan –> Rhiannon
  47. Brooklyn –> Astoria
  48. Destiny –> Verity
  49. Sydney –> Bristol
  50. Alexa –> Alethia
  51. Kylie –> Esme
  52. Brooke –> Greer
  53. Kaitlyn –> Maireed
  54. Evelyn –> Violet
  55. Layla –> Lelia
  56. Madeline –> Jacqueline
  57. Kimberly –> Bellamy
  58. Zoe –> Xanthe
  59. Jessica –> Yessenia
  60. Peyton –> Arden
  61. Alexandra –> Helena
  62. Claire –> Alice
  63. Madelyn –> Marianne
  64. Maria –> Marina
  65. Mackenzie –> Connolly
  66. Arianna –> Renata
  67. Jocelyn –> Bronwyn
  68. Amelia –> Cecilia
  69. Angelina –> Celestina
  70. Trinity –> Haven
  71. Angela –> Irena
  72. Maya –> Mina
  73. Valeria –> Valentina
  74. Sophie –> Noemie
  75. Rachel –> Esther
  76. Vanessa –> Valencia
  77. Aaliyah –> Eliana
  78. Mariah –> Mireya
  79. Gabrielle –> Giselle
  80. Katelyn –> Gillian
  81. Ariana –> Alessia
  82. Bailey –> Bronte
  83. Camila –> Paloma
  84. Jennifer –> Juniper
  85. Melanie –> Coralie
  86. Gianna –> Giulia
  87. Charlotte –> Josephine
  88. Paige –> Sage
  89. Autumn –> September
  90. Payton –> Larkin
  91. Faith –> Blythe
  92. Sara –> Lucy
  93. Isabelle –> Juliette
  94. Caroline –> Vivian
  95. Genesis –> Evangeline
  96. Isabel –> Mirabel
  97. Mary –> Susan
  98. Zoey –> Pax
  99. Gracie –> Sadie
  100. Megan –> Teagan

21 Responses to “Top 100 Alternates, Ladies First”

  1. Polly Says:

    You make a good point that a lot of parents choose ‘classic’ names not realising how popular they are.

    Matilda is actually really popular in Australia, so it’s funny to me to see it mentioned as an alternative to a popular name.

  2. Jess Says:

    I LOVE this post. What a great idea and your choices are so inspired. I can’t imagine how long it took you to write this! Instead of Grace, use Jane. Instead of Alyssa, use Calista. Instead of Gabriella, use Francesca. Perfect suggestions of realistic, usable names and quite brilliantly done if you ask me.

  3. smismar Says:

    Great post and great suggestions! Many of the “alternate” names were on my list (and still are for a potential DD#2).

  4. Kim W Says:

    What a terrific, thoughtful post! You captured the essense of these popular names perfectly…thanks!

  5. Marilyn Says:

    Wow, I love these ideas. I want to go through the list again and look more in-depth at meanings, etc. I can’t wait to hear the boys’ names, too! Thanks for all your work on this!

  6. Nan Says:

    Please! Don’t give away so many good ones. I saw one of mine on there that I haven’t seen anywhere before.

  7. brooke Says:

    great list! good job!

  8. Polly Says:

    What was it? All of the above I’ve seen mentioned by name fanatics.

  9. Jodi Says:

    Wonderful list! You’ve got my Juniper listed as an alternative for Jennifer, and now I have the Donovan song stuck in my head :)

  10. ShellyOk Says:

    Many names you listed as alternatives I really love, a few I really detest—wow! Still, an intriguing list.

    A serious contender if my next one is a girl is listed (Kalila), but as an alternative to Neaveh–kind of scary. Some of your other alternatives are on my long list. You are never dull with your name choices–part of the reason I follow your blog!

  11. Patricia Says:

    I *really* like Phoebe and thought it might be among the alternate names, but it’s not… I think Phoebe might work as a substitute for Chloe. What do you think?

  12. Patricia Says:

    And how about Sylvie as a substitute for Sophie? (I love them separately and together.)

  13. youcantcallitit Says:

    Phoebe definitely occurred to me as a substitute for Chloe! It was a near miss. It’s not on the list in part because I DO love the name, and don’t want it to get overexposed. I’ve talked about Phoebe in other posts. She made the Sweet Spot list–

    Sylvie is also the perfect alternate for Sophie. Well done!

  14. Emmy Jo Says:

    Lovely post!

    I’ve always thought Cora and Clara would make great Emma-substitutes. They’ve got the two-syllable A-ender thing going, and they feel like they belong to a similar era. I think Elsa works, too. Slightly different feel (not quite as “homey”), but very similar sound.

    I was intrigued to see what you would recommend as a Nevaeh-alternative. I think Kelila works well! It’s Christian, it’s very unfamiliar and “new” sounding, and it has a modern multicultural sort of appeal (the way names like Maya, Leila, and Nevaeh do). Good job!

  15. babynamelover Says:

    I love your girls list just as much as the boys :)

    Araminta, Beatrice, Keturah, Iris, Rowan, Genevieve, Esme, Alice, Lucy & Evangeline caught my eye and made me smile. Pity hubby will only consider Rowan on a boy.

  16. Nan Says:

    I don’t want to say for fear of bringing more attention to it. Mind you, it was pretty far down on the list.

  17. blissfully caffeinated Says:

    I keep coming back and reading your posts today! What a great alternate list. You have some of my faves on here, like Rowan, Harper and Cecily. Also, Wren is really growing on me. How adorable!

  18. Elsa Says:

    Some lovely alternatives there – especially Helena and Esther – but then I’m biased! ;)

  19. Bronwyn (MayB) Says:

    You picked my name!!! It is an awesome name. Until you’re 10 and you find one definition of it “Milky White Breasts”. And then you live with that forever.

  20. Pamela Redmond Says:

    This is brilliant, Elisabeth. My favorite: Marietta for Savannah.

  21. Sara Says:

    AHHH!!! So excited!! My 6 month olds name is Rowan! I fell in love with this name in 6th grade and now almost 20 years later got to use it, but have been disappointed that the only three Rowans I have heard since my child’s birth have been BOYS. Finally, my little Rowan girl is noticed by someone out there beside those of us who love her madly. Thank you so much! You have no idea how happy I am with her name and how happy I am to see it becoming more known.

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