Names Like Sophia

August 25th, 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 Responses to “Names Like Sophia”

  1. Gabrielle Carolina Says:

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

  2. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    I completely agree with you Gabrielle. Good one.

  3. Christina Fonseca Says:

    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.

  4. Krysta Says:

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

  5. JessicaD Says:

    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.

  6. Julia Says:

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

  7. Julie Says:

    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.

  8. Julie Says:

    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. K Says:

    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!

  10. Nicole Z. Says:

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

  11. Kayt Says:

    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.

  12. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    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…

  13. Kari Says:

    Love dahlia !!

  14. Kari Says:

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

    Glad you’re back :)

  15. Sophia Says:

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

  16. Kathryn Says:

    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.

  17. Courtney Says:

    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. :)

  18. Lashley Says:

    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.

  19. Lou Says:

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

  20. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Hi Lou! Do we know the sexes?

  21. Jane Says:

    We have friends with a Sofia and a Nina :)

  22. Loulou Says:

    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!

  23. Katherine Says:

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

  24. Liv Says:

    I adore Louisa and Athena, great list!

  25. Rita Says:

    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)

  26. Amanda Says:

    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 :)

  27. Siobhan Says:

    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.

  28. evangelia Says:

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

  29. Blue Juniper Says:

    I love Paloma – soft but slightly exotic :-)

  30. Jane Says:

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

  31. Camilla Says:

    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.

  32. nicole b. Says:

    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! ;)

  33. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    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…

  34. Jane Says:

    Oh, and Leah, Nina, Claudia and Amelia.

  35. Jane Says:

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

  36. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Such pretty names.

  37. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

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

  38. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    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. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Apphia! Dahlia! Love.

  40. Emily Says:

    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.)

  41. Maria Says:

    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!

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