Popular Girl Names And Their Meanings

Unique or unusual names tend to be given to baby girls 40% more of the time than to boys. Perhaps parents feel that since boys will have more pressure in life to succeed educationally and financially,  there is less of a desire to risk giving their son a name that could hinder them. Girls, on the other hand, have a bit of an advantage if they stand out in some way. A unique name for a girl is interesting, exciting, and memorable. Since girls are not expected to go as far in the "prim and proper" corporate world as are boys, parents are more willing to be creative and trendy when it comes to naming daughters.

The Top Ten

According to the U.S. office of Social Security, the top ten girl's names in the year 2006 were Emily, Emma, Madison, Isabella, Ava, Abigail, Olivia, Hannah, Sophia and Samantha.  This is not a collection of "classic" names, as compared to the top ten boys' names. The only biblical names on this list are Abigail, Hannah and Ava.  The name Abigail has been a popular name since the early 1990's, and comes from the Hebrew "Avigayil", which means "my father is joy".  Abigail was the third wife of King David.  Hannah has been a fashionable name since the early 1980's. It comes from the Hebrew word Channah, which means "favor or grace". Channah was the mother of the prophet Samuel. Ava was almost unheard of as a name until the year 1998, when it suddenly doubled in popularity and has been steadily climbing ever since. Ava is a variant of Eve, the name of the first woman.  Emily is the medieval feminine form of Emil, meaning "rival". Emma is from a Germanic word meaning "whole" or "universal". Emma and Emily can both be called "classic", and they have been quite popular throughout the entire 20th century.

Now for Something Really Different

Madison is an example of a name that was never used as a first name until a character in a movie (Splash-1984) adopted it as her name. It means "son of Maud".  Isabella was also unheard of until the early 1990's. It probably comes from the Italian "Isabel", meaning "devoted to God". It might, however, come from the name Jezebel, the wicked Queen of Israel.  The name of Olivia was created by Shakespeare to be a character in his play, "The Twelfth Night". It either comes from the male name "Oliver" or the word "oliva", meaning "olive".  Sophia is from the Greek word for "wisdom".  Olivia and Sophia have been fairly popular throughout the 20th century, entering the top 20 names in the years 1999 and 2003 respectively. Samantha may be from the name Samuel, and was rarely given as a girls name until the 1960's. This change might have occurred because of a television show called "Bewitched", in which the lead character is a happily married suburban witch by the name of Samantha.

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