Aldith, Edith, Elisabeth: Girls Names Ending with th

by appellationmountain on July 5, 2013

English: Queen Elisabeth of Romania

Queen Elisabeth of Romania

Elizabeth is evergreen, but as a general rule we’re not big on baby names that end with -th.

Ending with -y and -ie, yes.  Girls’ names with an -a?  Naturally.  Even girls’ names ending with -o have gotten quite a bit of attention in recent years.

But -th feels clunky, lispy.  Different.  It’s the kind of sound that parents have avoided in recent years.  But why?  Elizabeth has worn beautifully, on queens and commoners, saints and everyday women.  And while her nicknames are ample, plenty of women answer to Elizabeth, -th ending and all.

With the arrival of celebrity baby North, could -th names for girls get more attention?  There aren’t tons of them, but they do make for an interesting list.

Aldith – She comes from an Old English name, the inaccessible Ealdgyd.  Aldith works just fine by American standards.  She’s clunky like Ingrid, but shares her first syllable with girls’ favorites like Alexandra, Allison, and Alyssa.

Annabeth – Any compound name ending with -beth fits: Jobeth, Maribeth, Sarabeth.  But it is Annabeth in the spotlight these days, thanks to the Percy Jackson novels and film adaptations.

Ardith – She feels like a cousin to Aldith, but I’m not sure she’s Old English.  Instead, I’ve seen Hebrew and Old Norse origins to for this name, though I can’t confirm their accuracy.  With choices like Arlene out of favor, Ardith has two strikes against her.  And yet she intrigues me.

Beth – She’s a short form of Elizabeth.  Beth was a high profile baby name in an early season of Glee, and there’s the Kiss ballad by the same name.  Most little Elizabeths are answering to something else these days, but Beth remains a viable option – either as a short form or an independent name.

Blithe, Blythe – A happy, poetic name, Blythe is obscure but not unknown.

Cherith – On the downside, Cherith sounds like a lispy form of Cherish.  But Cherith is a stream in the Old Testament, a significant place for the prophet Elijah.  There’s some debate about her pronunciation – is she Kerith or Sherith?  But she’s definitely seen some use as a given name.

Edith - The -th name most likely to make a comeback, vintage Edith should follow Abigail and Eleanor back into greater use.  With the swingy short form Edie and loads of antique charm, the next decade could be Edith’s moment – especially now that a new generation of parents won’t remember Archie Bunker.

Elizabeth, Elisabeth - I’ve long had a preference for the Elisabeth spelling of this name, the French, German, and Dutch form.  The ‘s’ rules out Liz and Liza, and feels slightly less expected – though introducing yourself as “Elisabeth with an s” must get old.  Regardless, both names are impeccable classics and haven’t been held back by their -th ending.

Elsbeth, Elspeth, Lisbeth – Forms of Elizabeth, all retaining their -th ending.  Lisbeth got a big boost from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels.

English: Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2011 Venice Fi...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Elswith, Elswyth – I really want these to be real names, but I have my doubts.  The only place I can confirm its use is the fantasy role playing game Guild Wars, where it was used by a masculine character.  Some sites claim it is an Anglo-Saxon name related to the willow tree.  I have my doubts, but I want this one to be real.

Faith – Nearly as enduring as Elizabeth, as brief as Beth or Blythe, Faith is a meaning-rich name in heavy use today.

Gwyneth – There’s only one Oprah, and parents haven’t dared borrow the names of celebs like Madonna or Whoopi.  But Gwyneth Paltrow has attracted admirers, and her Welsh name has been on the upswing ever since Ms. Paltrow’s career took off in the 1990s.

Hyacinth, Jacinth – Two forms of the lovely floral name, though my personal favorite is Jacinta or Jacinda.

Judith – Call her a neglected classic.  The Old Testament heroine has had a good run in recent years.  Judy has a retro vibe, but Judith feels elegant and timeless.

Leith – Like North, this is rarely bestowed as a given name, but has a fascinating story – and some history of use.

Lilith – She’s buoyed up by all of the Lily names, but Lilith has different origins.  She’s an ancient Akkadian name referring to the night.  Some say that she was Adam’s first wife, booted from paradise for her headstrong ways.  In recent decades, Lilith has been revised, first as the frosty wife of Dr. Frasier Crane on television, and later as a feminist icon thanks to the musical Lilith Fair.

Meredith – Like Gwyneth, she’s a Welsh name, one that feels almost as classic as Margaret.

Ruth – Another Biblical ends with -th choice, this time of a Biblical good girl.  Ruth sounds serious and steadfast; Ruthie feels zippy.  Together, it is the kind of name that will serve a woman well, from childhood and beyond.

Tanith – An obscure ancient goddess name, Tanith makes for a tailored, frills-free choice for a daughter.

Truth – Call it the ultimate virtue name, though parents seem more likely to embrace Truly or True.

There you have it – a dozen and a half names girls names ending with th.  From the classic to the obscure, there’s something for everyone.

Would you consider one of the girls names ending with th for your daughter?  Which ones?  Are there others that should be on this list?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Panya September 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

So you know I like to make my own lists… With alternate spellings and forms my -th list has over 1700 names! =8-O When I set out gathering the names I *never* thought I’d end up with so many — and I didn’t even search all of my sources, I sort of gave up after a while!

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caroline July 7, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I love, love Blythe and it’s a strong contender for my baby due in Dec, but I have a similar problem to Hettie. My name begins with Str (think Kelly Ripa’s cohost), and it’s just kind of an unattractive smoosh of lispy sounds.

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appellationmountain July 7, 2013 at 8:08 PM

That’s too bad – but I see what you mean about it not really flowing …

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Jonquil July 6, 2013 at 6:05 PM

There’s also Delyth – a Welsh name meaning “pretty”. It’s got a pretty nickname in its root word, Del.

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Julie July 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Judith and Ruth are two of my favorites. Another, rarer Biblical name I love is Aseneth (Joseph’s Egyptian wife.)

Ailith is a really lilting variant of Aldith that I find charming. Sound-wise it’s a cross with Gwyneth and Ayla. It’s different, but not weird.

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appellationmountain July 7, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Aseneth is a great add! And I like the idea of Ailith.

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Goomba July 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

I really like Ardith! To me it sounds like a warrior chick version of Edith. I rather like Leith too, it’s very similar to my favorite -th name, Neith.

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Hettie July 5, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Ahh, ends in -th names, how I love you. Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are off limits :( My last name ends in th and two th names heightens the lisping effect to near comical. So I will just have to enjoy coming across the odd little Ruth or Judith or Gwyneth.

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Madelyn July 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM

How about Embeth?

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Mirth July 5, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Elswith – OE Aethelswyth. Perfectly genuine.

:)

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K July 5, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Elisabeth with an “s” is just pretty. I prefer it as well.

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Danielle July 5, 2013 at 2:17 AM

Name of the day Elswith, please?

:-)

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