Names Like Sophia

by You Can't Call It "It"! on August 25, 2012


Ah, Sophia, Sophia.  You ancient venerable beauty, once a rarity, now found en masse in Kindergartens across the land.  I’ve always stated that the rise of the names Sophia, Isabella, Olivia and the like is evidence that the tide in name taste has turned a corner for the better.  But what do you do when you’ve loved this name forever, but your sister just chose it for her daughter born three months prior to yours?  Well, friends, you choose a different name.

Here’s a short list of Sophia stand-ins.  What would you choose?


Louisa – A steadfast beauty that deserves its rightful place among the top 10, yet isn’t found among the top 1000 most popular girls’ names in the United States (!)

Cecilia – Mellifluous and lovely like Sophia herself, with Classical roots.

Phaedra – A step outside the norm, but with similar cadence and sounds.

Athena – The Greek goddess of wisdom conveys the same meaning.

Minerva – Go with her Roman counterpart Minerva, and get the bonus darling nickname of Minnie.

Flavia – An Ancient Latin name, particular well-suited to the flaxen-haired.

Paloma – Brilliant meaning of “peace” or “dove”, this could appeal particularly to Sophia’s Latino devotees.

Sylvie – You could do Sylvie or the more obvious Sylvia.  I favor the lively -ie ending here.

Sonia – An International variation ready for her audience, this one has many spellings (Sonya, Sonja).

Zosia – A Polish transliteration with zest to spare.


Already have a little Sophia at home, love the name, but would prefer something less popular for her brother or sister?  Consider these complementary names:

Sisters: Beatrice, Imogen, Iris, Juliet, Verity

Brothers: Cosmo, George, Lawrence, Lucian, Theodore


Do you have any brilliant alternatives to Sophia?  I know you do!  What sibling names would you suggest?  


(Pictured: Film Star and character actress Sylvia Sidney, whose given name was Sophia Kosow.  How times have changed!)

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gabrielle Carolina August 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I’ve always thought that Phoebe was the natural heir to Sophia’s crown.


2 You Can't Call It "It"! August 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I completely agree with you Gabrielle. Good one.


3 Sophia August 26, 2012 at 4:59 am

I’m a Sophia who was very nearly a Phoebe!


4 Christina Fonseca August 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I like most of the alternates you’ve listed, with my favorite being Cecilia. I would like to see all of them used more. I think Susannah or Azucena would work either as an alternate or a sister to Sophia.


5 Krysta August 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Louisa & Sylvie are my favorites. I love Verity as well.


6 JessicaD August 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I would totally love to have a Cecilia and Sylvie is a close contender.

Beatrice, Juliet, and Verity are on my list.
I have a (5yo) George and Lucien is in my dreams.


7 Julia August 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I think Julia works, both as a stand in or for a little sister. ;) Also, Maria.


8 Julie August 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I totally agree with Maria! My great-grandma was a Sophia, so I would have probably used the name if it hadn’t taken off… instead we named our daughter Maria!


9 Julie August 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm

There’s also the Biblical rarities Keziah and Apphia.

For more names with a Classical vibe, there’s Flavia, Flora, Lydia, Serena and and Aurelia.

For names that are more exotic there’s Dahlia, Linnea, Saffron and Peony.


10 Kari August 26, 2012 at 3:21 am

Love dahlia !!


11 You Can't Call It "It"! September 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Apphia! Dahlia! Love.


12 K August 25, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I love Phaedra and Athena! Both are pretty unique; I’ve never met a Phaedra and only know one Athena.

Phoebe is an excellent alternative!


13 Nicole Z. August 26, 2012 at 1:04 am

Louisa! So lovely. I like Nina for the same cross-cultural appeal Sophia/Sofia has.


14 Jane August 27, 2012 at 1:21 am

We have friends with a Sofia and a Nina :)


15 Kayt August 26, 2012 at 1:19 am

We’re expecting Fiona soon, and while she’s not as rare as the others you’ve suggested, I think she would make a nice alternative to Sophia. I had seriously considered Louisa for this baby before she made it clear she was Fiona, not Daphne or Louisa.


16 You Can't Call It "It"! August 26, 2012 at 2:09 am

You never know until you see her sweet face! All the names on your list are lovely Kayt, but she may just be a Daphne or Louisa yet…


17 Kari August 26, 2012 at 3:21 am

I like Paloma maybe because I know one and she’s super cute !

Glad you’re back :)


18 Kathryn August 26, 2012 at 7:14 am

I think Sophia is so pretty. I love love love Louisa and wish my husband did too. I think of Sophronia as a more elaborate way to have the old fashioned feel of Sophia.


19 Courtney August 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I LOVE Beatrice or Bea and think that Celia or Camilla would be other good alternatives.

My daughter’s middle name is Soffia (an Icelandic alternative) so I happen to think that the name Maren is great when paired with Sophia. :)


20 Lashley August 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I work with kids, so I see LOTS of little ones named Sophia. They’re really everywhere. I like the idea of alternatives.
My additions:
Lucia (I like the LOO-sha pronunciation, but if Loo-SEE-uh makes it closer to Sophia, that’s lovely too)
Vida/Veda (also have “wisdom” meanings)

I love Dahlia, but the variety of pronunciations makes me worried. I live on Dahlia St now. To hear my southern relatives say DAL(rhymes with gal or pal)-yuh is heart-breaking because I really love DAHL(rhymes with call or mall)-ee-uh as a girls name.


21 Lou August 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Lovely to see a post here! Anna Paquin’s bump is getting bigger, any suggestions for those twins? ;D


22 You Can't Call It "It"! August 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Hi Lou! Do we know the sexes?


23 Loulou August 27, 2012 at 1:51 am

Nope! New Zealand/British parents, Billy+Lilac as siblings, met on a Southern vampire show…absolutely eclectic although I’m hoping for something quirky, non-nickname-y and British!


24 Katherine August 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

Anna’s sister’s name is Katya, and her nephew is called Tadhg – hope Anna chooses some interesting names too.


25 Liv August 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I adore Louisa and Athena, great list!


26 Rita August 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I really like Louisa, Cecilia and Sophiafrom your list, but Sophia still wins for me (although I prefer the so-fire pronubciation).

More alternatives:
(based on sound)
Sophonisba (for the nickname Sophie)

(based on style)


27 Amanda August 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I find Louisa gets a lot of love online, yet it’s not really being used. I’m not complaining though, my great grandmother was a Luisa and my mothers middle name is Louise, so I plan to use Louisa in honor of both special women. My 5 month old son (Theodore) would have been Louisa if he had of been a girl :)


28 nicole b. September 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I recently babysat for a family with a 4-year-old Louisa (nn. Lou Lou); a 9-year-old named Eleanor (nn. Nora); and an 11-year-old named Felix. Very lively bunch, especially Lou Lou – she was a spitfire! ;)


29 You Can't Call It "It"! September 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I have great-grandparents Nora and Felix. They were country folk, but their names are pleasantly international and au courant. And Louisa was my #1 for a first daughter before it got vetoed. *Sigh* Maybe for my grandchildren…


30 Maria January 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

Yvonne – Yep, they are 5 of the cutest KIDS I know! And I’m conlinuatly amazed that Harvey blood flows thru their veins. Having a legacy like this makes me so happy!


31 Siobhan August 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

So lovely to see a new post here! Looking forward to hearing what you’ve been up to Elisabeth! :)

Three of my friends have Sophia/Sofia’s, and I hear the name more and more in the playground. Of the names listed, my picks for alternative names would be Cecilia (I’ve never understood why this name isn’t more popular), Phaedra, Paloma and Sylvie.

I also love the sibling choices of Beatrice, Imogen, Iris, Juliet and Cosmo, Lucian and Theodore.


32 evangelia August 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm

marina, daria, thalia. i adore the name louisa, especially the spanish spelling, luisa. glad to see you back!


33 Blue Juniper September 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I love Paloma – soft but slightly exotic :-)


34 Jane September 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I’d have to add Thea, Saskia and Samara to the list.


35 Jane September 7, 2012 at 5:07 am

Oh, and Leah, Nina, Claudia and Amelia.


36 Jane September 7, 2012 at 5:15 am

Eva. Juliana. Sylvie. Maeve. Clara. Noelle. Lara. Ella. Neve. Zara.
So many great options!


37 You Can't Call It "It"! September 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Such pretty names.


38 You Can't Call It "It"! September 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Saskia did cross my mind from this list. I have a good friend named Saskia, and it’s one of my favorites! I decided the sounds were harder, so I’m saving it…


39 Camilla September 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I love Sophia’s sense of old-fashioned virtue and grace. Cassia, Cora, Cordelia, Dorothea, Honor, Isabel, Letitia, Maud, Miranda, Octavia and Thea feel similar to me.


40 You Can't Call It "It"! September 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Dorothea! Cordelia! Lovely list. I was always surprised Miranda never went top 20.


41 Emily October 31, 2012 at 3:40 am

Well, despite its popularity, we went ahead with Sofia for a middle name, but spelled it the Spanish way (my husband is from Mexico). But I liked seeing Minerva on this list! We used that as a middle name for our first daughter and liked being able to tie the two girls together with “wisdom”-related middle names. So we have Julia Minerva and Clara Sofia. (We also liked “Clear Wisdom” there.)


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