51 Unique Baby Girl Names That Define Each State

Ashley Austrew | Feb 14, 2018 Pregnancy
51 Unique Baby Girl Names That Define Each State
Image: iStock.com/Splendens


Most of the time when we look at baby name trends, we focus on numbers that cover the entire United States. But while popular baby girl names may take center stage across the country, each state has its own defining style and unique flavor that dictates unique name choices for the parents who live there. In some states, certain baby names are chosen much more frequently than they are in others. And certain states even have unusual baby girl name trends that are all their own.

The names on this list represent the quirky and creative picks that uniquely define each state. Laura Wattenberg, the naming expert behind Baby Name Wizard, used national naming data and her expertise to pinpoint the exact baby names that each state chooses at a rate far above the national average. These names give the state its distinct "local style," as Wattenberg puts it, and highlight specific regional trends people won't find anywhere else in the country.

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"Look for natural grandeur in Alaskan names like Aurora and Denali; throwback sweetness in Minnesotan names like Elsie and Greta; and even a firearms slant in Oklahoman names like Kimber and Remington," Wattenberg says. Some may be surprising, but others are old favorites. Check out the full list to see which trending and not-so-recognizable picks represent the defining name choices for baby girls in each state.


  • Alabama: Ryleigh


    Ryleigh is a feminine twist on Riley and is popular in the state of Alabama. Outside of Alabama, the name has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. It peaked at number 198 on the most popular US baby names list in 2015. Other top trending girls' names in Alabama include Mary, Blakely, and the classic Caroline.

  • Alaska: Aurora


    Many will recognize Aurora as Sleeping Beauty's real name, but the title actually has roots in Roman mythology as the goddess of dawn. While Alaskans tend to favor this name for baby girls, it's actually popular all over the country. For parents who want to stick to Alaskan trends but aren't quite loving Aurora, the names Denali, Lena, and Chloe are also popular in the state.

  • Arizona: Mia


    The whole country loves Mia (it was the sixth most popular baby name in 2014!), but Arizonans love it even more. The name comes out on top over other Arizona favorites Ximena, Sofia, and Leilani. Mia is a Danish pet form of the name Maria, which means "sea of bitterness."

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  • Arkansas: Blakely


    Blakely is a feminine form of Blake that's a favorite in both Arkansas and Oklahoma. The name debuted on the most popular US baby names in 2011 and has been steadily climbing the charts ever since. Other Arkansas faves include Paisley, Kimber, and Kaydence.

  • California: Camila


    Camila is a less popular form of Camilla, meaning virgin, and it's actually pronounced Cam-EE-la. The name beat out Mia, Victoria, and Alexa for the title of California's defining baby name. Parents might recognize the name Camila from singer Camila Cabello.

  • Colorado: Aspen


    Aspen from Colorado? Say it isn't so! Despite its western roots, this name actually comes from the Old English aespe, or Aspen tree. Aspen came on the baby name scene in the '90s and has maintained a steady uptick in popularity ever since. In Colorado, it comes out just above Cora, Hazel, and Josephine as the state's defining title.

  • Connecticut: Gianna


    Gianna is the shortened form of Giovanna, meaning God is gracious. In Connecticut, it's favored more than other trending names like Julia, Brooke, and Charlotte. Though the name has only ranked on the most popular US baby names since the 1990s, it's already cracked the top 100 at number 96 in 2015.

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  • Delaware: Riley


    Riley is a gender-neutral fave for parents in Delaware. Interestingly, Riley has been used more often as a girls' name than a boys' name in the past two decades. In 2015, it was the 35th most popular girls' name in the US, and in Delaware it just edges out Aubrey, Elizabeth, and Ava as the state's defining name.

  • Washington, DC: Alice


    Alice, meaning noble one, is a classic name that never really goes out of style. Though the name's popularity has declined in the past few decades, it's still chosen with impressive frequency in DC, as are Zoe, Royal, and Maya.

  • Florida: Valentina


    Valentina is the feminine form of Valentine, which means strong, vigorous, and powerful. It's a bold name, which seems to be a trend in Florida, where names like Gabrielle, Victoria, and Aaliyah also rank high. Valentina has surged in popularity since the 1990s and shows no signs of slowing down.

  • Georgia: Ansley


    Ansley is derived from the Scottish name Ainsley, which means meadow. The name first hit the top 1,000 US baby names in 2007, coming in at number 697, and it's continued to climb the charts. But the name is especially popular with Georgia parents, who also favor trendy names like Skylar, Londyn, Taylor.

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  • Hawaii: Kalea


    Kalea is a favorite in Hawaii, which comes as no surprise since it's actually Hawaiian for joy or happiness. The name has never ranked in the top 1,000 US baby names, nor have other Hawaiian favorites like Mahina and Kailani. But with a unique spelling and a sweet meaning, Kalea seems poised to take over on the mainland in no time.

  • Idaho: Oakley


    Move over, Annie Oakley -- it's time for Oakley to take the stage as a first name. This title, favored by Idahoans, actually means from the oak tree meadow. It's never ranked in the top 1,000 US baby names, but rare names seem to do well in Idaho. Other defining names of the state are Brynlee, Remington, and Aspen.

  • Illinois: Natalia


    Illinois has a thing for sophisticated baby names, where Natalia, Emilia, Maeve, and Sophia dominate. Natalia is actually derived from the Latin diēs nātālis, or Christmas. Famous Natalias include the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg and actress Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy Wheeler on Stranger Things.

  • Indiana: Eleanor


    For parents who think Eleanor is out of style, think again. The name, which means bright, is still a favorite in Indiana and across the US. It even beat out Hadley, Willow, and Piper as Indiana's defining name.

  • Iowa: Nora


    It seems Iowans are taking a nod from parents in Indiana. Nora is a shortened form of Eleanor or any of the names that contain an element of -nora. The name was popular in the US in the early 1900s and has spiked again in the 2010s. It has a classic, feminine feel that's right at home with other Iowa favorites Quinn, Evelyn, and Emery. 

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  • Kansas: Ember


    Ember is relatively new on the baby name scene. It didn't enter the top 1,000 US baby names until 2009. But it took hold as a favorite in Kansas, where moms and dads love other unique names like Lydia, Oakley, and Hayden.

  • Kentucky: Hadley


    Hadley is a great choice for parents seeking a more gender-neutral title, which sets it apart from other Kentucky favorites like Aubree, Adalynn, and Paisley. Hadley is best known as a surname, as in the inventor John Hadley, but these days it's a favorite for first names too.

  • Louisiana: Demi


    Demi is a shortened form of Demetria that's grown hugely popular, thanks to stars like Demi Moore and Demi Lovato. The name peaked in the '90s at the highpoint of Demi Moore's career and then faded into the background until the early 2000s when Demi Lovato got her start in Disney's Camp Rock. In Louisiana, it joins Camille, Lyric, and Journee as the unique girl names that define the state's impeccable taste.

  • Maine: Natalie


    In Maine, they favor classic favorites: Natalie, Nora, Piper, Lydia. Natalie, like Natalia, comes from the Latin phrase for Christmas, and it seems to be a favorite for creative types. Actresses Natalie Portman and Natalie Wood, and singers Natalie Cole, Natalie Imbruglia, Natalie Maines, and Natalie Merchant all share it.

  • Maryland: Genesis


    Genesis, which means beginning, is a rare name across the US, but it's chosen more often in Maryland, where parents also prefer Dakota, Naomi, and Skylar. Most people recognize Genesis as the first book of the Bible, but the name can also be shortened to more secular-sounding titles like Genny, Gene, Nessis, and Sissie.

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  • Massachusetts: Maeve


    Maeve might sound rare to most of the country, but it's a defining name in Massachusetts. It has roots in Ireland, where it was the name of a warrior queen. Maeve has never ranked in the top 1,000 US baby names, which makes it stand out against other Massachusetts favorites, like the popular Lucy, Grace, and Fiona

  • Michigan: Brooklyn


    Brooklyn may be a borough in Manhattan, but the name is actually a defining choice for parents in Michigan. It comes out ahead of other state favorites Mackenzie, Lillian, and Morgan. Brooklyn didn't actually become a popular baby name until the 1990s but parents love it for its versatility. Nicknames include Brooke, Brynn, Rynn, and Lynne.

  • Minnesota: Evelyn


    Evelyn is another one of those popular 1800s names that's seeing a resurgence among millennial parents. In Minnesota, in particular, it stands out as a defining choice, as do similar "old timey" names like Greta, Elsie, and Clara. Does this mean Minnesota is behind the times? Absolutely not! Classic names are the new hipster faves, and these choices prove Minnesotans are actually ahead of the trend.

  • Mississippi: Mary


    Mary is a hugely popular name that's fallen out of favor in the '80s, '90s, and today. But Mississippi proves the name has staying power. Even though parents in the state also favor trendy names with unique spellings like Londyn, Kennedi, and Khloe, Mary is actually the state's defining name choice, which proves a classic never goes out of style.

  • Missouri: Harper


    Harper, meaning harp, was most commonly used as a surname, with one notable exception being To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee. But in the early 2000s, the name hit the top 1,000 US baby names as a first name for little girls, and it's been trending ever since. Parents in Missouri choose it more often than the rest of the country, but they like Stella, Avery, and Josie, too.

  • Montana: Finley


    Finley was most commonly used as a boys' name until the '90s, when its use for girls started outranking the boys. In Montana, it joins Aspen, Lexi, and Ember as the state's defining name picks. Despite its nautical sound, Finley actually means fair-haired warrior and is the perfect fit for a spunky girl who marches to the beat of her own drum.

  • Nebraska: Cora


    Much like Kentucky parents, Nebraskans love the name Hadley, and even the similar nickname Hattie. But a unique top pick in the state is Cora, which comes from the Greek word for maiden. Cora is a classic name that peaked in popularity in the 1800s, but it ranked at number 85 on the top 1,000 US baby names in 2015, which is nothing to scoff at.

  • Nevada: Athena


    In Nevada, parents like recognizable faves, like Mia, Delilah, and Zoey. But they also like the bold and unusual Athena, which is the Greek goddess of wisdom, skill, and warfare. Athena has actually seen a spike in popularity all over the US, coming in at number 157 on the most popular US baby names in 2015. If the future is female, this name is definitely a contender.

  • New Hampshire: Charlotte


    Could it be that New Hampshire is inspired by the royals? They love Charlotte, the female version of Charles, and the name of Kate Middleton's toddler daughter. The state seems to have a flair for stately names, as Lillian, Isabelle, and Violet are also popular choices of note. Charlotte has been a popular choice in the US for decades and doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon.

  • New Jersey: Esther


    Esther is the defining name in New Jersey, and believe it or not, the name's origins are a bit of a mystery. Some think it comes from the Hebrew name Hadassah (myrtle), while others think it is derived from the Persian stara (star). Either way, it's a gorgeous name choice that joins Gabriella, Miriam, and Samantha to round out the state's notable picks.

  • New Mexico: Serenity


    Serenity, meaning calm, joins Natalia, Ximena, and Neveah as the defining name picks for the state of New Mexico. The name didn't actually burst onto the scene until the 1990s, but it's grown steadily more popular across the US ever since. Most of its most famous associations come from the world of sci-fi and fantasy -- it's the name of a ship in Joss Whedon's Firefly and a queen in Sailor Moon.

  • New York: Chaya


    New Yorkers have style and Chaya is no exception. The name, which is Hebrew for life, has surged in popularity since the early 1990s. As Baby Name Wizard notes, it's usually pronounced with a "throat clearing CH," like in Chanukah. Other New York name picks of note are Valentina, Maya, and the classic Rachel.

  • North Carolina: Emerson


    Emerson is a trending gender-neutral baby name that's mostly recognized as a surname (think: Ralph Waldo Emerson). But since the early 2000s, the name has seen a sharp uptick in uses as a first name, especially for baby girls. Parents love it because it lends itself to cute nicknames, like Emmy, Emery, and Em. In North Carolina, Emerson edges out Sadie, Caroline, and Skylar as the state's defining name.

  • North Dakota: Addison


    Addison literally means son of Addy, which may be why it's a favorite for straightforward North Dakotans. It ranks with Hazel, Ella, and Harper as one of the state's defining picks. But the name has seen a burst of popularity in the rest of the US as well. Since 2000, it's consistently ranked inside the top 100 most popular girls' names. After all, who doesn't love an Addy?

  • Ohio: Lydia


    Lydia is another straightforward name -- it means woman from Lydia -- and it joins Quinn, Kennedy, and Nora as the defining girls' names for Ohio. Lydia has remained consistently popular throughout US history, and is common throughout much of the English-speaking world. Still, the name has a unique quality that makes it feel original, no matter how trendy it becomes.

  • Oklahoma: Gentry


    Gentry has never ranked in the top 1,000 US baby names, but it joins similarly unique and Southern-sounding names Blakely, Remington, and Kimber as a defining choice in Oklahoma. The word gentry was often used to describe upper middle class people in earlier centuries. These days, it's a contemporary and cool sounding baby name that not many people will share.

  • Oregon: Ruby


    Ruby, like the deep red gem, sparkles in the state of Oregon. The name has become a quick favorite across the US, since falling out of favor in the '60s and '70s. Other defining names in the state include Aurora, Penelope, and June. How vintage!

  • Pennsylvania: Paige


    Paige means "a boy attendant," but that hasn't stopped Pennsylvanians from loving this pick for baby girls. Despite its classic sound, the name didn't rank in the top 1,000 US baby names until the 1940s. But it's still going strong with millennial parents, which proves it has serious staying power. Other notable name picks in Pennsylvania are Lily, Quinn, and Charlotte. 

  • Rhode Island: Aria


    Aria, meaning song, is an ethereal sounding name that pairs perfectly with Juliana, Violet, and Mila to form Rhode Island's gorgeous defining picks. Despite being immediately recognizable, Aria's popularity has only been acquired fairly recently. The name just broke into the top 1,000 baby names in the 70s.

  • South Carolina: London


    South Carolina has London on the brain. The name, taken from the city itself, is a defining choice for the state, along with Trinity, Caroline, and McKenzie. London is a unisex name that grew popular in the '90s, but believe it or not, Americans tend to favor it as a girls' name instead of a boy's name. While the name has ranked in the top 600 for boys, it cracked the top 100 for girls in 2011.

  • South Dakota: Brynlee


    Brynlee got its start as a popular name choice in Utah, but its since made the jump to South Dakota and beyond. Since 2008, it's jumped from number 895 to number 233 on the top 1,000 most popular baby names. That makes it just as popular as other South Dakota defining names like Nora, Remi, and Emersyn. It can also be spelled Brinley.

  • Tennessee: Paisley


    Paisley, like the pattern, has an unmistakable country feel, which makes it a perfect choice for the defining name of Tennessee (other faves include Piper, Sadie, and Addison). The name is most commonly associated with country singer Brad Paisley, but since the early 2000s it's taken center stage as a top first name pick for baby girls.

  • Texas: Ximena


    Ximena, pronounced hee-MEH-nah or see-MEH-nah, is a Spanish name that means "listener." The name is a defining pick for Texas, along with Camila, Genesis, and Regina. While the name is a popular pick in Mexico, it didn't rank in the top 1,000 US baby names until 2008.

  • Utah: Navy


    Utah is famous for inventing new and unique baby names, and this one is no different. The name has never ranked in the top US baby names but it's striking and has a fresh, hipster vibe modern parents will love. If Navy isn't a fit, parents might consider other defining Utah names: Indie, Oaklee, and the classic Kate.

  • Vermont: Isabelle


    Vermont parents are defined by a penchant for popular names: Harper, Charlotte, and the classic Isabelle. Though, notably, they also love the ultra-rare name Wren. Isabelle, a Spanish variant of Elisabeth, stands out as a choice that's trending all over the country. Maybe it was Bella in Twilight who brought about the sudden resurgence for this classic. Either way, it's here to stay.

  • Virginia: Abigail


    Abigail joins Skyler, Annabelle, and -- surprise, surprise -- Virginia as the defining names for the state of Virginia. The name is derived from the Hebrew for "father is rejoicing" and has been a major player in the baby name scene since at least 1980.

  • Washington: Audrey


    Audrey, meaning noble, is one of those names everyone knows but doesn't see too often -- though it's apparently more common in Washington state. The name has gone through major periods of popularity since the 1800s and has been a mainstay on the top 1,000 US baby names. Washingtonians seem to love these familiar yet unique classics; Eleanor, Olive, and Aurora are also defining picks for the state.

  • West Virginia: Raelynn


    Raelynn is a unique name with a country vibe that just hit the top 1,000 US baby names in 2008. It follows a trend of Southern names in West Virginia, accompanying Paislee, Kinsley, and Gracelynn as the state's defining picks. 

  • Wisconsin: Hazel


    Hazel, which is derived from the hazelnut tree, is a classic 1800s name that's climbing the charts in the 2010s. Wisconsinites, in particular, are fond of this name, along with Nora, Tenley, and Violet. Actors Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have a daughter named Hazel, as does America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts.

  • Wyoming: Piper


    Piper, which means one that plays the pipe, rounds out our list as the defining name for Wyoming. It's a bright, musical name that's moved quickly up the charts in the past 10 years. Other Wyoming favorites include Oakley, Emmy, and Sawyer, but Piper stands out as a name that has broad appeal and true staying power.

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