Break has continued to be a whirlwind of activity flying under the title of ‘relaxation’. Hunkering down during today’s snowstorm, helping Dad give his head a shave, and hosting the traveling company of Yale’s Ballroom Team yesterday for numerous rounds of mafia and numerous pizzas.
Despite being fairly exhausted and feeling a bit of apathy about writing, I’ve decided to just pin myself down for a bit and churn out a post from an idea I had a little while ago- the feminine counterpart to the Flower Names for Boys post.
Obviously flower names for girls are rather more common- we’re all very familiar with classic flower names like Rose and Lily, Violet and Jasmine. But there are many more flora sources if you’re looking for more whimsical/spunky, less standard/traditional girl names.
Amaryllis- numerous nickname opportunities if you’re worried about wearability (Amy, Ama, Rilla, Mari, etc.). The botanical is from the same family as the lily. It’s also quite rare as an appellation, but not unheard of.
Azalea- I’ve a red azalea in my yard and it never quite gives in but never flourishes, which is too bad because a thriving azalea is a thing of beauty. Though not in the top 1000, Azalea is certainly more familiar than Amaryllis, which may be a benefit or a drawback, depending on how you look at it. Other benefits: Azalea has that zazzy ‘z’ sound.
Begonia- Lovely flowers, completely unexpected as a name, but I think it could be pulled off with a certain panache. Probably by someone who wouldn’t be my own child. But if you don’t have a begonia I recommend them. They overwinter here very well if you let them be dormant in a dark and cold basement.
Bougainvillea- Could Bougainvillea really ever be a given name? At a whopping 5 syllables and 13 letters, it;s a stretch, but I think it could be done.
Clematis- I honestly do think Clematis would be a lovely name for a little girl and even an adult, along the lines of Clemence and Clementine. It’s not too far from these traditional names, retains a simple character, and the flower is gorgeous.
Columbine- I love the small woodland columbines that are native to my area, but the school shooting at Columbine has to be mentioned as something that will color the perception of the name for a few years to come- but maybe not so very many, it was a while ago, and unfortunately there are always new tragedies (Gun Control, people. Let’s get on it.)
Cornflower- There was a mouse named Cornflower in Redwall and though I watched the animated show only once and read exactly none of the books, I remember that she was kidnapped and tied to a mill wheel? I did have a friend who was completely obsessed with the series, so that may have had something to do with it. She was a nice mouse, I think, and this could be a sweet and pastoral name for a girl, though problematic in the potential nickname ‘Corny’ and the literal floweriness of the name.
Daffodil- Everyone knows the daffodil, those bright yellow early spring flowers of which I have a few behind me on the dining room table. In a mason jar. I picked them out from Trader Joe’s just a day or two ago. It’s a bit forcefully optimistic, but the thought of a goth girl named Daffodil is strangely compelling. And Daffy Duck already demonstrated that the name pairs well with black. 😉
Delphinium/Delphine- The delphinium is one of my favorite flowers and is also the flower of my birth month (July). A photo I had taken of a bunch of stalks at Mohunk Mountain House was the banner of this website, for a while. While the English name is a bit quirky and grand, the French version is sleek, much more popular (while still rather rare) , and also connected to an animal, the dolphin. Bonuses of both names? Nicknames like Delia, Della, and Delphi, Finny, and Fina.
Daphne- Daphne is better known as a name than a flower, but I’ve heard that the flower is lovely both in scent and appearance. There are even perfumes inspired by it. You may be familiar with this name as belonging to the redhead ‘pretty one’ in Scooby Doo, and she is maybe not the best role model. But raise your girl to be a badass Daphne. Reclaim the name.
Edelweiss- The Sound of Music. Christopher Plummer will make you cry every time. Downsides: Pronunciation and spelling issues. Ada and Adie make for appealing nicknames. The flower is odd and fuzzy like a sheep.
Forsythia- One of my favorites. I love forsythias and their sprays of feathery yellow blooms in the spring. and the name has nice similarities with traditional Cynthia, making it out there but not too unfamiliar.
Gardenia- A lovely tropical white flower with a distinctively tropical scent. Tahitian varieties are called the tiare flower. Exotic but not too pushy, and a potential homage to the great Billie Holiday, who always wore a gardenia or two in her hair.
Gladiolus/Gladiola- Not too far from Gladys- and even though Gladys is securely associated with a “certain decade that is not this decade” these days, Gladiolus could fit in with todays crop of highly individual nature names. Potentially easier to fill as a grown woman than as a little girl, i.e. it’s a lot of name.
Honeysuckle: One of the harder names on here to carry, I think, given that it can be divided into the words ‘honey’ and ‘suckle’. But the vine has lovely trumpet-shaped flowers with a delicious nectar (and swoon-inducing scent) that you can suck out if you pinch off the back of the flower (just make sure there are no ants first).
Hydrangea: Another plant that does less well in my garden than one would hope. It’s familiar as a plant but rare as a name, and a bit long to be taken lightly. Also would not recommend Hydra as a nickname. But Hyde? Literary, scary, and fun. Heidi? A possibility. Angie? Why not. It feels lovely and natural (to me) in spite of its length and small complexities.
Jonquil- Jonquils, daffodils, and the more traditional narcissus, all members of the same floral family. It’s less frilly than a lot of flower names and gives access to edge-pushing nicknames like the masculine Jon or Jonny (what with all the young lady James’ being born these days) and Quill. Downsides: Potential taunting about family member Uncle NyQuil and Aunt DayQuil (Medications ruin so many names, why?).
Liatris- Liatris is a beautiful spiky purple-pink flower. As a baby name it remains simple and famine. Short in terms of letters but long and fluid in terms of syllables. It would be quite lovely as a given names and I’m surprised we don’t see it more.
Lilac- A lovely flowering shrub that presents in colors from deep red-purple to light purple to light pink to white, but that is most associated with the light purple color (you know, lilac). It’s an appealing option given commonalities with popular names in the Lila family, but that extra ‘c’ on the end takes it just a step further into the english cottage garden, with a few extra breaths of fresh air.
Linnaea-You may be familiar with this name from the Linnaea children’s books (Linnaea’s Windowsill Garden, Linnaea in Monet’s Garden) and if not, I very much recommend them. Even discovering a teen I loved the first enough to steal it from Mom and the second enough to hunt it down and buy it at a thrift store (and I’m very choosy when it comes to book buying- I prefer to just exhaust the library). It’s also spelled Linnea, but I prefer the more Latinate Linnaea, because of how it clarifies the pronunciation. And the flower: it’s sweet, humble, and unassuming.
Magnolia- Southern charm and the nicknames like Maggie and Nola. What more could you ask for? But truly, magnolias are very beautiful- there are many at my university and I’ve really appreciated being around them. Very bare trees except for these lovely large-petaled pink-white blossoms.
Marguerite- Marguerite is one of the most common names on this list, but I find it’s story so interesting I had to include it. Marguerite is the French form of Margaret and also the French word for Daisy. Which is why Daisy is a nickname for Margaret. Crazy, right?
Marigold- My Mom loves the name Marigold and I love it too- the small golden flowers aren’t ones you would usually think of smelling, but I am here to tell you that they have this spicy sappy scent, a bit like Fall chrysanthemums (speaking of unusual flower names, but a bit too closely tied to the children’s book by Henkes (also starring a mouse, interestingly enough)).(We need to think about what we’re doing to children when we ask them to identify with mice).
Pansy- There was a character named Pansy in Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady and she was completely lovable. I had never really considered the name before that, but since then it has seemed eminently doable. But Henry James may have blinded me- the connotations of ‘pansy’ aren’t entirely positive. On the other hand, pansies are some of the most wonderful flowers, very small little faces with very velvety petals. I hope the name sees a resurgence.
Petunia- Forget about the Harry Potter character and this name gets a kind of Old World charm. Not to mention that I just took a short jaunt around the web listening to the pronunciation differences between American English and British English. I don’t like the flowers much- they get absolutely raggedy in the rain. But maybe you’re the indoor type and hope to keep your Peh-choon-ee-uh close to the hearth.
Poppy- Poppy is another of the more familiar floral names that I’m tackling. A favorite of celebrities and the British, it is also a completely delightful flower. All of the P- sounds make the name equally delightful, but perhaps a little too playful for some tastes.
Posey- Posey is a pan-botanical word referring not to one flower species but multiple flowers in a little bunch, called a posey. You should, according to a popular nursery rhyme, have a pocket full of them to protect against the plague. Also a nickname for Josephine (because Josephine cane be shorted to Josie, which rhymes with Posey. Same as how Margaret can be shortened to Meg/Meggy which then rhymes with Peg/Peggy. Hence, Margaret becomes Peggy).
Tulip- Tulips are a perfect spring flower that always blooms for a much shorter time than I would wish. They also have a lovely waxy pollen smell that you have to be very difficult to pick up (and some people insist they can’t smell it even when I shove the stamens right up their nostrils?) Everyone knows tulips, so even if it isn’t commonly used as a name, the word is still quite familiar.
Wisteria- Wisterias are beautiful, strong, and long-lived vines with dangling bunches of bluish purple flowers. They smell lovely and look even lovelier. The name also sounds very wistful. Full of wist.
Zinnia- Zinnia, like Azalea, is very zazzy. Not only does it have the zazzy ‘z’ sound but the flowers also look like tiny fist-sized fireworks in bright hot pinks and oranges and reds and yellows. Another one that is unfairly underused, rare, but full of a perfect energy, zest, and spark.