Names Like Isabella

September 9th, 2012


Isabella, oh beautiful Isabella.  When my parents named me your French/German equivalent in 1979, Isabella was perceived as too flowery, too over-the-top.  Now, you are just shy of on top at #2 nationwide.  You are lovely.  ”Is a bella” sounds like “is a beauty.”  You are worthy of queens and movie stars.  But you must step aside now, and let others have their chance to shine.


Araminta – This four syllable English gem has all the makings of a star.  Perhaps it’s that “mint” sound people can’t get past?

Casilda – An old Spanish saint with a lovely name and the ready-to-wear nickname Cassie.

Cosima – This Italian patron of the arts made its way onto three famous newborns in as many months.  Sofia Coppola, Claudia Schiffer, and the royal Windsors all have Cosimas.

Delphine – A hot ticket in 1970s France, Delphine missed the boat ride.  She’s as objectively pretty as any other.

Eleanora – Add an A and this stately classic sings.

Fiorella – Here’s a fun undiscovered Italian friend with that “ella” ending you all love so much.

Isadora – Lop off the “ella” and trade it for our favorite cartoon friend and you get Isadora.  You’ll be in creative company, Bjork gave this name to her child.

Isolde- Tristan’s love is deserving of more attention.

Isotta – This actually *is* the name of Isabella Rossellini’s twin sister, who chose being a professor of Italian over acting. I’m besotted.

Mirabelle – This one screams “look! I’m beautiful!” (in a good way).

Serafina – Bennifer Affleck yadayadayada.  Spell it with an “F” for more cultural authenticity, or use a ‘PH’ in the French Seraphine.


Sisters: Calantha, Guinevere, Marina, Penelope, Valentina

Brothers: AnatoleBalthazarCasimir, Lorenzo, Paolo


For more strictly Italian substitutions, please visit Le Tante Sorelle di Isabella

Above: Portrait of Isabella d’Este by Titian

22 Responses to “Names Like Isabella”

  1. Christina Fonseca Says:

    Names like Isabella:
    Arabella, Antonella, Catalina, Magdalena, Isela, Selena, Celina, Deyanira

  2. Kirstin Says:

    I wonder if one of the reasons that it’s becoming so popular these days is (coincidental with Twilight) the easy “Bella” nickname? Mirabelle would definitely satisfy that, Serafina could be Sera, Casilda could be Cassie, and all of the Isa/Iso names could have Izzy as nicknames.

  3. Cate Says:

    I love Araminta – I went to school with a girl who had a little sister called Araminta… but we all called her Mintie. It was cute…

  4. Cate Says:

    I’ve always thought that Isadora was a nice Isabella alternative – you get the Izzy nick name, but without the Twilight Bella connection.

  5. Ichunddienamen Says:

    I love Eleonora and Mirabelle from your list. Other names which I think have a similar style are: Floretta (the name of a Lowell factory girl), Leandra (nickname Lea), Amalia, Philomena, Ornella (uncommon Italian name), Henrietta, Louisa

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

    Philomena! Brilliant. Wish we would hear it more often.

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

    I love Minnie as a possibility for Araminta too.

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

    Love these!

  9. Kristi Says:

    So, if I have an Arabella, how would an Eleanora fit in? I might die of adorable frilly-ness. And Minnie for Araminta is just precious! On the same note as Ornella, what about Ophelia?

  10. Bek Says:

    Yes! I was going to suggest Philomena as well, and Philippa. So lovely and strong.

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

    I love the idea of Arabella and Eleanora as sisters, but say it aloud 20 times. You might find yourself tongue-tied! Love Ophelia, she’s on Olivia’s list. :-D

  12. Eponymia Says:

    The first two that came to mind were Isabetta and Isola.

  13. nicole z Says:

    I think a lot of these names are gorgeous but they feel medeival compared with Isabella. I think her popularity has to do largely with that sleek first portion of the name, Isa. There are lots of Bella names, why THIS one, KWIM? Generally speaking, Isabella has a sister named sophia or Ava,much less frilly names. I actually prefer something a little more archaic and over-the-top Florentine princess, but the only one that sounds like it could be a modern crossover is Serafina which has that same sleekness in Sera.

  14. Anna Mae Says:

    Woah! very nice stuffs…

  15. evangelia Says:

    i think mirela/mirella (popular albanian name) would be a nice alternative :) also, the greek marinella (marina variation).

  16. British American Says:

    I think Araminta is lovely, especially with Mintie or Minnie for a nickname. I totally have middle name regret with my daughter. I wish her middle name was Araminta.

  17. waltzingmorethanmatilda Says:

    I thought of Allegra, but maybe Americans wouldn’t like this name.

    I also think Clementine or Penelope have that same “too frilly but will get popular nonetheless” feel that Isabella once had.

  18. Jane Says:

    Lots of great suggestions here! Love lots of these names.
    And I am loving the latest celeb baby names too – Theodora for Robbie Willliams, and Tennessee for Reese Witherspoon. Cute!

  19. pree Says:

    Gah I love all of these names so much!
    Isadora and Araminta were always my dream sibset. *sigh*….I guess they’re a bit too similar, though. Like naming your kids Isabella and Isabella.

  20. Junia Says:

    I really need your help. I am currently pregnant with my second and we need to choose boy and girl names because we are one of those people that like to wait and be surprised with the gender.
    When we chose a name for our first we need a name that could be easily pronounced in English, Spanish and Portuguese (I’m from Brazil). We didn’t want anything that was made up, alternative spellings (k, y, w are not even part of the portuguese abecedary), and we didn’t want anything too popular. We loved Sophia, Olivia, Madison (I know), and ended up choosing Veronica Isabel P…
    Veronica we just liked and at that point we needed a name starting with a “V” (you’ll see why). Isabel is a popular and dear Portuguese/Brazilian name, and she was the princess that signed the emancipation of slaves in Brazil.
    We are dorks and loved how our daughter initials are VIP. Some of my friends even call her that. Now that’s the problem. How do you find initials as cool as those for a second child? If is a boy I don’t think it would be much of a problem, but I think a second girl could come to resent that her sister is VIP and she is NAP (or anything else).
    Can you help at all? Am I making it bigger than it is? Thank you soooooo much for any help you can give us.

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

    Hmm, maybe don’t focus on the initials of your second child, but on a nickname that derives from their given name, or a middle name like Noble or Hero that’s super cool? Make the name interesting and fun for a child in its own way. It doesn’t have to match exactly.

    What names are you thinking about? You could also have to VIPs perhaps. Victor or Valentina?

  22. Issy Says:

    My nameis Isabella and I get the Twilight connection a lot. I’m thirteen and I hate Twilight because of the connection from my name. The name Isabella was around a lot longer than the books were.

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