22 Vintage Baby Girl Names Inspired by Shakespeare

Emily Cardoza | May 26, 2017 Pregnancy

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Though Shakespeare famously wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," the truth is that having a unique baby name does matter to parents when they're naming their little one. We have Shakespeare to thank for all sorts of popular names we hear today. From Jessica to Juliet, the Elizabethan author's influence extends far and wide. But some of the poet's most beautiful names fell into disuse without hope of resurrection -- until recently!

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From Ophelia to Desdemona, these Shakespearean baby names are sure to impress both literary diehards and their future English teachers. They evoke a sense of intelligence, old world sophistication, and drama -- as Shakespeare's work was always meant for the stage. A child with a Shakespearean name is sure to get lots of interested name-admirers. 

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These elegant choices have been approved by the Bard, and are starting to gain fans for their unique and beautiful sounds. Check out these Shakespearean names -- along with info from BabyNameWizard.com -- to inspire visions of literary heroines and turn-of-the-century stars.

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  • Ophelia

    1

    This beautiful name jumped back into the top 1,000 US baby names in 2015 -- perhaps it's time to revive Ophelia! Though it has long been associated with the tragic heroine, parents today love the sound of this elegant and unique name. Why not reclaim it for a passionate and strong daughter?

  • Patience

    2

    Virtue names ending in Y rank among current favorites -- SerenityTrinityDestiny -- but returning to Puritan roots can offer more vintage choices. Pretty Patience appeared in Henry VIII, and more recently it's been reclaimed by geek-chic trendsetter and Hollywood director Joss Whedon for his films and series.

  • Rosalind

    3

    Prominent in Elizabethan poetry, classic Rosalind gained fans in the 1940s thanks to the lovely and witty actress Rosalind Russell. Parents today may like the -lind ending to differentiate from trendy -lynn, with the adorable nickname Rosie as an option, too.

  • Cordelia

    4

    With so many positive associatons, it's a wonder that Cordelia hasn't become as ubiquitous as Elizabeth or Victoria! There's the kindly character in King Lear, the endorsement from Anne in Anne of Green Gables, and a plethora of namesakes, from artists to activists, just to name a few.

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  • Lavinia

    5

    Though it nearly disappeared from birth certificates in the 1990s, Lavinia's sophisticated sound and scholarly connections have kept it from obscurity. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus includes the iconic line "She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov'd" -- and indeed, luminous Lavinia has been loved by authors Shaw, Dickens, Thackeray, Eliot, and Lovecraft.

  • Beatrice

    6

    From the Latin for "she who brings happiness," Beatrice is a literary and cultural powerhouse. Already ranking at #559 on the American top baby names list, Beatrice has roots in Shakespeare and Dante, support from celebrity parents (including Paul McCartney), and a retro, friendly sound without parallel. Nicknames Bea or Trixie stand out, but the long form is absolutely gorgeous as well.

  • Viola

    7

    While Violet and Olivia rank in the top 100 girls names in the US, Viola has yet to catch up in popularity. But this stunning, resolute choice shares sound qualities with both fashionable picks, while maintaining its own attractive personality. Modern actress Viola Davis is another great connection as well.

  • Phoebe

    8

    Many current fans will connect this name to the quirky character in Friends, but Phoebe's roots go much deeper: from Greek mythology to the New Testament to As You Like It, Phoebe has cemented its style and substance in history. Beyond that, the name is simply appealing and amicable in form.

  • Helena

    9

    Quite popular at the end of the nineteenth century, Helena deserves another look. Graceful and refined, Helena has adorned royalty, athletes, and musicians; though its aura is vintage and feminine, it can work for all kinds of tastes and personalities.

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  • Gertrude

    10

    For many, Gertrude has been deemed "permanently out," but its history has helped it stay in the game. Namesakes from all sorts of realms -- religious, literary, and political -- have given this name an uncommon kind of gravitas and appeal. Perhaps nicknames Gertie or Gigi could keep it viable for the contemporary era?

  • Imogen

    11

    Despite its origins -- Imogen was the result of a printer's misspelling of Innogen -- Imogen has become a classic in the United Kingdom, already in the top 50 girls' names in England. Americans took to the similar Imogene for a while, but the (semi-) original has more function and flair in today's world.

  • Paulina

    12

    A Spanish feminine diminutive of PaulPaulina is an attractive option that's never gotten too popular. It's not far from the melody of Alina or the sounds of Penelope, and could also work as an honor name for a familial Paul or Paula. In The Winter's Tale, Paulina appears as a virtuous and courageous friend -- not a bad connection at that!

  • Octavia

    13

    Refined and sophisticated, Octavia is a gorgeous choice that was popular in the late nineteenth century. After a brief revival in the 1980s, Octavia has once again become an uncommon name. Could contemporary actress Octavia Spencer push this name back into play?

  • Charmian

    14

    From the Greek work for "joy," Charmian is an energetic and upbeat choice. One notable namesake is Sound of Music actress Charmian Carr, but this name has always been a rare gem. If Cameron is too trendy and Charlotte too popular, why not Charmian?

  • Portia

    15

    Arguably one of Shakespeare's strongest leading women, Portia impersonated a lawyer in The Merchant of Venice -- and won her case. Mature and elegant, this name is perfect for any brave little girl and will wear well into adulthood.

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  • Lucetta

    16

    Do you love Lucy, but aren't enthused by the popular long form names? Check out Lucetta. This pretty, feminine name has both flair and integrity. It briefly hit the top 1,000 baby names in 1882, but has flown under the radar ever since.

  • Nerissa

    17

    This sweet name has a lilting melody and a lovely etymology. It's Greek for "from the sea," making it especially ideal for coastal babies. Nerissa is a worthy update to Melissa or Marissa, but has a personality all its own. 

  • Cressida

    18

    Cressida has become a pop culture pick in recent years -- from The Hunger Games to How to Train Your DragonCressidas abound more than ever before. This appealing choice could be a fabulous option for fans of Cassandra and Cassidy, with a more ethereal and alluring vibe. 

  • Titania

    19

    Confident and cool, Titania is the modern answer to Tiana; it's feminine and ornate, but has a strength and boldness found in few other names. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania is queen of the fairies -- and your little one is bound to rule the playground with such an inspiring name. 

  • Hermione

    20

    In just a few years, the Harry Potter sheen is likely to fade from this remarkable and attractive name, leaving it open for increased use. Could pretty Hermione find favor once its most popular namesake has left pop culture? Derived from the Greek for "messenger," this name is a friendly choice that's sure to work for all kinds of personalities.

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  • Desdemona

    21

    Melodramatic and stunning, Desdemona is much more than its tragic Shakespearean backstory. It's become a favorite among other literary giants, from authors Toni Morrison to Jeffrey Eugenides. Nicknames Desi, Demi, and Mona could mitigate its magnitude, but the full name is simply unforgettable.

  • Thaisa

    22

    While Greek original Thais is popular in France, delicate Thaisa was preferred by the Bard. It's only been recorded for six little girls, making it a fabulous choice for fans of the uncommon. Thaisa is similar enough to Thalia or Theresa to fit in well today, with a unique and graceful style.

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