Gender: Feminine
Origin: English

The name is popularly believed to be invented by Jonathan Swift, he is said to have created the name out of his tutoree’s first and last name, Esther Vanhomrigh. The name was used for a character in his 1726 poem, Cadenus & Vanessa. It has also been suggested that Swift may have been inspired by the Greek mystical name, Phanes or that he elaborated an Anglo-Norman cognate of Veronica, Venisse.

The name has often been erroneously listed as being a name of Greek origin with the meaning of butterfly. This is false. It is, however, the name of a genus of butterfly which was possibly named for the Jonathan Swift character.

The name did not catch on in usage until the 20th-century, it was internationally popularized by British actress, Vanessa Redgrave (b.1937).

Currently, Vanessa is the 32nd most popular female name in Austria, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 38 (Switerland, German-Speaking Cantons, 2010)
  • # 78 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 71 (Croatia, Vanesa, 2010)
  • # 88 (Croatia, 2010)
  • # 106 (United States, 2010)
  • # 355 (France, 2009)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Vanesa (Croatian/Czech/Slovak/Slovene)
  • Vanessa (Dutch/French/English/German/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Vanessza (Hungarian)
  • Wanesa/Wanessa (Polish)


Eng (LEE-nuh; LAY-nuh); Germ (LEH-nah)

The name is currently very popular in German-speaking countries and the most popular consensus is that it is a contraction of Magdalena or Helena.

It also happens to be the name of a river in Siberia, of which, Lenin took his name. Lena’s usage in Russia may be in reference to the river, but I have been unable to confirm if this is so.

In Poland, its usage as an independent given name is recorded as early as 1418, though the name did not become popular in Poland until the last 10 years.

It was also very in vogue at the turn of the 20th-century in the United States.

It is currently the 3rd most popular female name in Austria, (2010) and her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 9 (Poland, 2010)
  • # 10 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 16 (France, 2009)
  • # 44 (Belgium, 2009)
  • # 47 (Hungary, 2010)
  • # 68 (Croatian, 2010)
  • # 83 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 94 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 121 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 382 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Lena Лена (Croatian/Dutch/English/French/German/Hungarian/Italian/Polish/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Ukrainian)
  • Lenka Ленка (Czech/Slovak/Slovene/Serbian/Sorbian)
  • Lene (Danish/German/Norwegian)
  • Leni (Danish/German)
  • Lenette (Danish)
  • Lenna (Estonian)
  • Leena (Finnish)
  • Leeni (Finnish)
  • Lenke (Hungarian)
  • Lejna (Sorbian)
  • Leńka (Sorbian)
The name was borne by singer, actress and civil rights activist, Lena Horne (1917-2010). It is also borne by Swedish actress, Lena Olin (b.1955) and Swedish pop singer, Lena Philipsson (b.1966)


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Swedish
Eng/Swe: (AHN-nik-kah)

The name is believed to be derived from a low German diminutive form of Anna and was popularized in Sweden via a character in Astrid Lingren’s Pippi Longstockings.

The name has experienced usage in surrounding Northern European countries, such as Estonia, Norway and Finland, and has become very popular in German-speaking countries. It is currently the 49th most popular female name in Austria, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 52 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 379 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 466 (United States, 2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Anika (Danish/Polish/Slovene)
  • Annika (Danish/Dutch/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/German/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Anneke (Dutch)
  • Anneken (Dutch)
  • Annikka (Finnish)
  • Annikki (Finnish)
  • Annukka (Finnish)
  • Anniken (Norwegian)
  • Annica (Swedish)


Gender: Feminine
Origin: German
Eng (mar-LEEN); Germ (mahr-LEH-neh)

The name is a blend of Maria and Magdalena, originally, it was usually bestowed in honour of St. Mary Magdalen by German-Catholic parents.

The name experienced a surge in popularity in Germany during WWII due to a popular song, Lili Marleen.

In the United States, the name was introduced by German actress, Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), who was born Maria Magdalena von Losch.

Currently, in German-speaking countries, the name is experiencing a revival, it is the 29th most popular female name in Austria, (2010) and the 41st most popular in Germany. In the United States, she stands at # 902, (2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Marleen (Dutch/German)
  • Marla (English/German)
  • Marlene (English/German/Scandinavian)
  • Marlène (French)
  • Marlen (German)
  • Marilena (Italian)
  • Marlena (Polish/Slovene)


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek/Italian
Eng (AN-je-LEE-nah); It (ahn-jay-LEE-nah)

The name is often listed as an Italian diminutive form of Angela, but seems to have a much longer history as an independent given name stretching all the way back to the Byzantine Empire.

The name seems to have been used as a feminine form of Angelos for the female offspring of the Angelos family. The Angelos family was the ruling dynasty of the Byzantine Empire during the 12th-century, it is believed that their name was either derived from the traditional Angelos or may have been from a toponym (Agel), a district near Amida.

As a result, the name became fairly common among South Eastern European royalty of the Middle Ages, one of whom, St. Angelina of Serbia (15th-century, CE), is revered as a saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Theodora Angelina, Duchess of Austria (d.1246), the wife of Leopold VI of Austria, was from the Angelos family. As a result, the name has had some usage in German-speaking countries, but really exploded in popularity during the last decade, perhaps more to due to the fame of actress, Angelina Jolie (b.1975).

Angelina also seems to have been a common name in 18th and 19th-century America. It was borne by Angelina Eberly (1798-1860) a famous innkeeper during the Texas Archives War. In addition, it was borne by early suffragette and abolitionist activist, Angelina Grimké (1805-1879) as well as Angelina Weld Grimké, (1880-1958), a poet and writer.

The name is currently experiencing a sharp rise in popularity. It is the 59th most popular female name in Austria, (2010) and her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 84 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 86 (Australia, 2010)
  • # 93 (United States, 2010)
  • # 107 (France, 2009)
  • # 224 (Netherlands, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Angjelina (Albanian)
  • Angelina Ангелина Անգելինա (Armenian/Bulgarian/Croatian/Dutch/English/German/Greek/Hungarian/Italian/Macedonian/Polish/Russian/Serbian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Angéline (French)
  • Andżelina (Polish)



Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic

The name is of uncertain meaning but is taken from the name of a cave in Mecca where it is believed the Prophet Mohammed first received his visions and revelations from God through the angel Gabriel.

The name is often used as a feminine given name, bestowed in reference to the event that took place.

Currently, Hira is the 483rd most popular female name in Germany, (2011).


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic/Greek
Meaning: “to gaze at.”

The name could either be from the Arabic, rana رنا, meaning, “to gaze at”, or it could be a Greek contraction of Ourania, the modern Greek form of Urania (sky).

It is currently borne by Queen Rania of Jordan (b.1970)

Rania ranked in as the 489th most popular female name in Germany, (2011). The name is sometimes transliterated as Ranya or Raniya. A Bosnian form is Ranja.



Gender: Feminine
Origin: German/Italian/Swedish

The name could be a form of Magdalena or it could be a composition of Anna and Lena. Currently, Anna-Lena is the 50th most popular female name in Austria, (2010), while Annalena is the 130th most popular female name in Germany, (2011).

The name is also used in Italy and Sweden. It can either be spelled Annalena or Anna-Lena.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “happiness; joy.”
Eng (luh-TISH-ah)

The name is an English form of the Latin female name, Laetitia, which is derived from laeta meaning, “joy; happiness.”

The name was popularized by an early Christian Spanish saint. In Medieval England, the name was used in the form of Lettice, (sounds like lettuce). After the Reformation, it went out of usage but was revived in the 18th-century in the more elaborate incarnation of Letitia. It remained a very popular name in England and the United States between the 18th-century and the 19th-century, leading to the diminutive offshoot of Lettie, which also appears as an an independent given name in records of the same period.

In Rome, it was the name of a minor goddess of gaiety. In modern Italian, the word survives in the form of letizia (joy) and is also used as a given name. Letizia was also the name of Napoleon Bonaparte’s mother.

Currently, its Portuguese form of Letícia is the 20th most popular female name in Brazil, (2011). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • #320 (France, Laëtitia, 2009)
The name is currently borne by Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (b.1972), the wife of Crown Prince Felipe of Spain.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Levenez (Breton)
  • Letícia (Catalan/Hungarian/Portuguese)
  • Letizia (Corsican/Italian)
  • Lettice (English)
  • Letitia (English)
  • Laëtitia (French)
  • Laetitia (German)
  • Letiţia (Moldovan/Romanian)
  • Letycja (Polish)
  • Leticia (Spanish)
  • Leta (Swiss-German)


Dahlia, Dalia

Gender: Feminine

A name with various different meanings and references depending on how you choose to spell it. It is an edgier floral appellation that could overcome a Lily or Daisy any day, as well as a name that can fit into any culture or society. Along with its easy pronunciation and feminine, vivacious sound, the name is pleasing to just about any language on the planet.

If you prefer the Dalia route, then the name can either be Lithuanian, Hebrew or Arabic. If spelled like the flower, the meaning stems from the surname of the botanist who first classified the species, Anders Dahl; Dahl being a common Swedish surname meaning “valley. ”

Dalia by Emily Blivet

Dalia by Emily Blivet

The name could be derived from the Lithuanian word for “fate; luck; lot.” It was the name from the Baltic goddess of weaving, fate and childbirth and she is believed to have been interchangeable with the goddess Laima. The name is still relatively popular in Lithuania, and is currently borne by Lithuania’s President, Dalia Grybauskaitė (b.1956).

The name is also very common in the Middle East. In Israel, it is a more modern Hebrew word name meaning “branch.” In Arabic, it means “grapevine.”

The name is occasionally used in Mexico, where the dahlia is considered the national flower. In fact, the ancient Aztecs used the flower for ceremonial purposes and fashioned its stems into pipes.

Currently, Dalia is the 476th most popular female name in Germany, (2011), and the 969th most popular in the United States, (2010). Its floral counterpart of Dahlia came in as the 650th most popular female name in the United States, (2010).

A possible nickname option is the sweet, yet vintagy Dolly