10 Extremely British Baby Names for Girls

Princess pacifier

Not that we’re trying to influence world events or anything, but should anyone extremely British be on the lookout for suitable names for a female baby any time soon – can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but you never know – here are some suggestions that may help.

What they lack in regality, they more than make up for in, y’know, other stuff.

Amelia
Meaning: work
The most popular girl’s name in Britain last year isn’t actually a real name at all. It’s a portmanteau creation, a fusion of the Latin Emilia with the German Amalia, with the middle e being added to represent merrye Englande.

Amelias are good at flying things over things, whether it’s the Atlantic or the time vortex.

Note: the middle e thing isn’t true. But don’t you wish it was?

Gladys
Meaning: Country; nation
A Welsh name that comes from the name gwladus, from gwlad, meaning nation. Unless it comes from gwledig, meaning ruler. Or it’s just Welsh for Claudia.

In any case, if you call your child Gladys, she will literally add Glad-ness to every room she enters. Suppose it’s a room with only one other person in it: she will increase the Glad-ness in the room by 50%. If there’s no one there, the score goes up to 100. It’s like magic.

Myrtle
Meaning: A shrub.
Yes, that’s right, somewhere back in the mists of time, someone decided that it would be a good idea to name their baby girl after a flowering shrub. Not a flower itself, not a delicate orchid. A solid, scrubby little shrub, albeit a shrub with firm roots and staying power.

Consequently Myrtles are often reluctant to bend to other people’s wishes, and drawn to express themselves creatively.

Frideswide
Meaning: peaceful
As we all know, Frideswide is the more recent form of the Old English name Friðuswiþ, which is a juxtaposition of frið, meaning peace with swiþ, meaning strong. Frideswides are therefore quite muscular, but very quiet. Like  Saint Frideswide, a princess in the 8th century who became a nun, and then, apparently, established Christ Church, in Oxford. That’s an interesting precedent for a princess, is it not?

Note: Yes, OK, this one has fallen by the wayside, popularity-wise, but it was among the 50 most popular girl’s names in Elizabethan times.

Agatha
Meaning: Good, honorable
The influence of the Greeks is strong in this name, which derives from agathos, which means good. So Agathas are literally good girls. The name came to England via the Normans in the 11th century, who were partial to Saint Agatha, a 3rd century saint, and therefore a very good girl indeed.

Agatha Christie was particularly good.

Olivia
Meaning: Olive. Literally olive.
This is either the female version of Oliver, which also means olive, or an olive seller. Or the female human version of olive, meaning olive. Some names don’t have deep or hidden meanings, and this is reflected in the characteristics of people called Olivia. They tend to be quite easy to see through as characters, especially when young, often needing a more astringent – practically balsamic – personality to bond with to really bring out the best in them.

That, and some bread for dipping.

Boadicea (or Boudicca)
Meaning: Victory
Hard as nails. Call your baby Boudicca and watch her kick the world in the nads, then run off giggling.

Edith
Meaning: Rich in war
The twin cores of this name come from the Old English ead, meaning riches, and gyth, meaning strife. If you’re an Edith, you will therefore be highly adept in the ways of battle.

Even in the modern world, Ediths are very good at bickering, and will sometimes pick a fight for no reason at all. If there is no one else there, they will turn on themselves, embarking on a long trail of psychological self-destruction, if they are not distracted with something shiny, chocolatey, or floral.

Interesting fact: The wife of William the Conqueror was called Edith. Edith the Conqueror.

Nora
Meaning: Honor
Most likely to have been derived from the Latin honora, from which we also get the word honour (although there are claims that it derives from the Irish name Fionnula, which means fair shoulder). Noras tend to have something of a split personality, especially if they are also born under the star sign of Gemini. They carry a heavy load, and are often very stoic about this, especially if they feel it’s their duty to carry on. But sometimes they get blisters from the straps, and that can be hard.

Lettice
Meaning: Joy
That’s right, Lettice means joy, and I’m not even on a diet. It’s derived from Letitia anyway, so shush.

People called Lettice tend to be quite defensive, and perhaps a little withdrawn, as if maybe they’ve spent a lot of time having to fend off other people’s idea of humor about what is a perfectly acceptable Latin-derived name, actually, and in no way related to a salad vegetable whatsoever.

See also: Beatroot. Karet. Thomata.

Ada
Meaning: Of noble kind
This is probably a variation of Ida, a name that comes from Old German origin and is said to mean hard working. It was brought over to Britain by the Normans and was made popular in the 19th century by the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson when he gave the name to the heroine in The Princess.

What? He did! I didn’t mention princesses on purpose. Who said princess?

Coming soon: 10 Extremely British Baby Names for Boys

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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