A few weeks ago, someone mentioned looking for one-syllable middle names for girls besides Grace, Rose, and Anne.
Plenty of them came to mind, but just how many were there? I challenged myself to make a list of 100 one-syllable middle names for girls. And by the time I stopped, I’d reached 125. Note: And I’ve added (many) more since then, so this list just keeps on growing!
I know the creativity of our community will probably make this list twice as long, but for now, I’m sharing my favorites. While I think there’s room to use long middles – in fact, it’s one of my favorite rhythms – if you’re after one-syllable middle names for girls that go beyond the expected, this list is for you.
Beth – Never quite as predictable as Ann/e or Lee/Leigh, Beth might work well for parents worried that Elizabeth is too long.
Claire – Also spelled Clare and Clair, though the six-letter spelling is presently the most popular. It means clear or bright, and Claire has appeared in the US Top 1000 every year since 1880.
Eve – Short and sharp, Eve has been associated with femme fatale characters from the Garden of Eden onward. But the image of Eve as temptress feels dated today, and instead, Eve brings to mind the anticipation of major events, or the name’s original meaning – breath or life.
Jane – Austen and Eyre make this name literary; the fact that it’s a long-used feminine form of John ensure Jane’s status as a classic. A bonus? It’s the given name of Stranger Things’ powerful character Eleven.
Kate – Katherine appears as a middle fairly often, but how about just Kate? It’s crisp and every bit as traditional among one-syllable middle names for girls.
Lee, Leigh – A go-to middle for generations.
Lyn, Lynn, Lynne – Time-stamped by 2020s standards, Lynne opened the door for a long list of names ending with this soft sound.
Ruth – Loyal Ruth appears in the Old Testament, and we’ve been using the name for our daughters ever since. A Top Ten favorite from the 1890s into the 1920s, Ruth is ready for revival as a middle – or even a first.
Blair, Blaire – Claire’s more tailored cousin, Blair has been favored for the snooty rich girl on the small screen, from the 1980s The Facts of Life to the more recent Gossip Girl. And yet it’s far from a negative association. My first thought: Disney legend Mary Blair, the visionary behind It’s a Small World.
Blake – Credit Blake Lively with making this name feel like a feminine possibility.
Greer – Originally a Scottish form of Gregory, Greer Garson made the name familiar in Hollywood during the 1940s. Today it feels edgy and modern, and pairs well with softer firsts, like Anna or Ella.
Lane – Also spelled Laine and even Layne, this name feels more restrained than Journey, less conventional than Jane.
Penn – As in William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Not sure if it sounds like a name? It does rhyme with Jen and Ben, and it does seem like a nod to Penelope, too.
Quinn – A Top 100 favorite for girls as a given name, Quinn also feels like an update for the once-ubiquitous filler middle Lynn. Bonus? Cool middle initial Q.
Reese – Reese Witherspoon put this name on the map.
Reeve – Reeve is to Eve as Blair is to Claire.
Sloane – Sleek Sloane brings to mind the fashionable London square as well as Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend and E’s love interest on Entourage.
Tate – Polished and preppy, and perfect in the middle spot.
Teague – In Ireland, Teague is Tadhg – and strictly masculine. But as a surname, it has unisex potential. Some sources say it means poet; others say it means fair.
Beau – Wait, you ask, isn’t Belle the feminine form of the French word? Absolutely! And yet, Beau brings to mind bows, a feminine, even frilly image. It suggests that Beau has unisex potential.
Dale – More common for boys, but truly unisex, Dale originally was a place name for someone who lived near a valley.
Drew – Andrew is impeccably masculine, but Drew Barrymore – and the ancient name Drusilla – makes this name feel rich with potential for a girls’ middle.
Finn – A hero name from Irish legend, Finn means fair – and works every bit as well as Lynn or Quinn in the middle spot.
James – Despite plenty of controversy, James is continuing to gain in use as a girls’ name, especially in the middle spot. Paired with a conventionally feminine first, it works.
Jett – A modern pick inspired by a love of flying, but also a traditional nickname for -et ending girls’ names in Dutch.
Jude – A Biblical – and Beatles-inspired – boy name that also brings to mind classic girl name Judith.
Rae/Ray/Rey – Ray feels most masculine, while Rae feels like the feminine form. And Rey? Well, it’s the Spanish word for king and the name of the newest Star Wars hero, played by Daisy Ridley. Any of the spellings is almost a conventional choice, but still a cool one.
Tex – Dixie Chick singer Emily Robison named her daughter Juliana Tex way back in 2005. The musician grew up in the Lone Star state, making Tex feel like a logical choice for a child’s middle – and a cool one, too.
Bea – Beatrice is enjoying a revival, so how ’bout just Bea as a middle? You could spell it with a double ‘ee’ and go full honeybee, but Bea remains slightly more name-like than Bee.
Elle – No, not the middle initial L. The name Elle, short for so many El- names and worn so famously by Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods.
Kit – A mini name associated with Christopher and Katherine, Kit feels spirited and lively. (Suggested by kburgan220. Thanks!)
Liv – It might be short for Olivia, but Liv also coincides with a Scandinavian word meaning life. It’s a powerful, deceptively simple middle.
Lo – Spotted on a birth announcement as a middle name, Lo rhymes with Joe and could be short for any Lo- name. It might also be borrowed from an archaic word, one that meant “look!”
Lou – Sure, Louise works in the middle spot. So do lots of other Lou/Lu names. But isn’t the simplicity of just Lou appealing? It’s a little bit borrowed from the boys, and almost-but-not-quite traditional, too.
Lu, Lue – Another take on Lou, and an appealng mix of new and old for single-syllable middle names for girls.
Viv – Short for Vivian, or any related name Viv is all energy and verve.
Zo, Zoh – Zoe is two syllables, but Zoh? Rhymes with Joe. We’ve used Jo as a filler middle over the years, but I think Zoh, with the initial Z, makes for a fresh take on the familiar sound.
MODERN NATURE NAMES
Air/Aire – It might also be musical, but Aire seems mostly likely to bring to mind clear, breezy skies on a beautiful day.
Ash, Ashe – As in the tree. The world is filled with Ashleys and Ashtons, but just Ash/Ashe feels a little bit different.
Blaze – Blaise is an old school boy’s name, but fiery Blaze feels potentially unisex.
Bay – A straightforward nature name with a strong sound.
Bird – Birdie is trending, but just Bird has potential, too.
Breeze – A windy, light option.
Cloud – A daydream kind of middle.
Doe – A deer, of course, but also a rarity that works in the middle.
Elm – We’ve embraced Willow and Rowan as firsts, so how ’bout Elm as a middle?
Fawn – Another borrowing from the animal kingdom, a little old school, but still on track with one-syllable middle names for girls. Spelling it Faun or even Faune might make it feel slightly more twenty-first century.
Fleur – The French word for flower, plus a Harry Potter heroine.
Frost – A wintry little middle.
Jade – This gemstone named spiked in use after the oh-so-glamorous Mick and Bianca Jagger gave it to their daughter in 1971.
Lake – Completely unexpected, and yet an obvious nature name choice.
Moon – If Luna is such a popular first, why not Moon as a middle?
Neve – Either a simplified spelling of Irish Niamh, or a romance language word meaning snow.
Oak – Oakley and company are rising fast, but the spare strength of Oak makes an appealing middle.
Pine – Yet another tree-inspired choice.
Rain, Raine, Rayne – A long-time favorite, a mix of stylish sound and weather-inspired pick.
Rue – It’s an herb, but the word also means regret; The Hunger Games gave us a young contestant by the name. Spell it Roux and it’s a culinary term, but also the French word for the color red.
Sage/Saige – Another herb, but also a word meaning wise.
Sea – It sounds like the initial C., but brings to mind all of the ocean blue.
Sky/Skye/Skai – An obvious nature name choice, often spelled with an ‘e’. Young Disney Channel star spells her name Skai.
Snow – A winter name, with a Disney princess to match.
Sol – From the Spanish word for the sun.
Spring – The least-used of the seasonal choices, but Oscar-nominated actress Spring Byington suggests that it can wear well.
Star – A shiny, center-stage kind of middle that fits right in with all of those night sky names.
Storm – A little bit X-Men, a dash Kardashian, but still an intriguing choice – especially for a child who arrives in a tumultuous moment.
ECOVINTAGE ONE-SYLLABLE MIDDLE NAMES FOR GIRLS
Fern – A nature name with more history of use than most, and the human heroine of Charlotte’s Web, too. It’s sometimes spelled with an extra E: Ferne.
June – Sweetly vintage, and just right for a summer baby. It’s sometimes spelled Joon, as in 1993’s Benny & Joon. In that case, it’s short for Juniper.
Pearl – A lady-like nature name with meaning well beyond the gemstone.
FROM THE BIRDS
Dove – Love bird names? Lots of us do. But Dove also benefits from its use as a symbol of peace.
Lark – An appealing avian option.
Swan – A surname for popular heroines (thin Bella and Elizabeth), and the inspiration for more names that you might guess, Swan also makes an intriguing middle.
Wren – The most popular of the bird names currently soaring in use.
COLORFUL ONE-SYLLABLE GIRL NAMES
Blue – Beyonce’s daughter answers to Blue Ivy. But plenty of parents have used Blue as a middle for years. It brings to mind loyalty (true blue) and positivity (blue skies).
Bronze – A precious metal, and a surprising color choice, too.
Gray/Grey – There’s something soft and maybe even sad about Gray, but it strikes me as calm and sophisticated. With Grayson – in several spellings – on the rise, it’s easy to imagine Gray catching on as a middle.
Gold – There’s Goldie, of course. And lots of names that mean gold. But the straight-up word name works every bit as well.
Mauve – Maud’s been in use for over a millennium, but Mauve is nearly unknown as a name.
Plum – A color name with ties to the natural world, Plum also means something excellent – making this a triple threat of a middle.
Teal – A pretty blue-green color, Teal feels nicely name-like; in fact, it’s sometimes heard as a first. It’s also a type of duck.
Bean – Inspired by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s daughter, Frances Bean.
Bloom – A traditional surname for an iron worker. Today it feels more like a botanically-inspired verb.
Bright – Clara and Lucy carry similar meanings, but why not use the word name Bright for a shining middle?
Chai – Borrowed from the Arabic and Russian word for tea, and now broadly used in English to refer to spiced tea, Chai is an unexpected alternative to rising favorite Kai, with plenty of warmth.
Day – Tuesday works. And Wednesday Addams wore it well. But Day offers an intriguing twist. Bonus? Billie Holiday was nicknamed Lady Day. Oh, and one more? The Feast of the Annunciation was once called Lady Day, and the religious observance made its way into general use.
Dream – There’s a little Kardashian by the name, but Dream might work even better in the middle.
Faith – Among the most traditional of word names.
Gem – Torn between Pearl and Jade? Embrace all the glittery things with Gem. Spell it Jem, and you have either a medieval nickname for James, or a fictional 1980s rocker.
Hope – As expected as Faith, but with a more of a modern virtue name vibe.
Jazz – A musical middle that seems more name-like thanks to thousands of girls named Jasmine. (And Jazmin and Jazlyn …)
Jewel – The singer made it familiar-ish, but it remains sparkling and rare.
Kin – It means family, from an Old English word. It might honor anyone with a surname like McKinney or Kinley, too.
Mint – It’s part-nature name, part-color name, and maybe a little bit of praise, too – after all, “mint” condition means something is flawless.
Muse – Muse carries two appealing meanings: first, the goddesses, known for inspiring the arts in the ancient world. But it also means to ponder or reflect, to be absorbed in thought. Both make this an intriguing option. (Suggested by Isadora Vega – thank you!)
Peace – A powerful virtue pick, and a word that feels right as a name, too.
Queen – Boys have Duke and Earl, but girls rule.
Quest – We love Journey, so why not this equally adventurous middle?
Reign – Regal Reign feels perfectly reasonable in age of kids called King.
Roam – It sounds like the ancient city, but Roam could travel anywhere – and probably will.
Rhyme – Literary, with an edge.
Scout – Literary and adventurous, Scout makes a richly meaningful middle.
Shine – While Shine is rare, it might wear nicely. As word names go, it sparkles – but doesn’t overwhelm.
Star – A celestial name more obvious than Stella, but still more rare – and a great choice for parents seeking one syllable names for girls.
Swift – Another of the multi-layered one-syllable middle names for girls, Swift can refer to speed, to the high-flying bird, or to the eighteenth century writer, Jonathan Swift.
Verse – As in a line borrowed from a poem.
Way – Sometimes a Way is a small street; other times, it’s a statement of capability, almost a modern virtue choice. Think where there’s a will, there’s a way …
Wish – A seldom-heard word name that might be overwhelming as a first, but as a middle, might express the way so many of us feel about starting a family. (Suggested by Maree – thank you!)
Wreath – We associate them with winter, but wreaths appear year-round, a sort of pan-botanical middle than also suggests the appealing image of a circle.
Lux – The Latin word for light, and the central figure in Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.
Pax – Paxton is popular for boys, but Pax was the Roman goddess of peace. That’s literally what pax means, too.
Nyx – From the Latin word for night, though it might also bring to mind all of those Nicholas/Nicole names from an earlier generation.
France – A place name less expected than Paris.
Lille – A French place name, Lille rhymes with seal. (Though some pronunciations make it almost sound like two syllables.) It might be confused for an alternative spelling of Lily, but it actually comes from a word meaning island.
Rome – The eternal city, and a strong sound for a middle name, too.
Vail – As in the famed Colorado ski resort, a natural entry for this list of one-syllable names for girls.
Belle – The French word for beautiful, and the heroine of Beauty and the Beast.
Brie, Bree – A breezy name made heroic by Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson.
Brooke – Socialite Brooke Astor inspired model-actor Brooke Shields’ mother … and the latter made it a modern staple.
Brynn – From a Welsh name meaning hill, also spelled with just one ‘n’ – Bryn – though the double ‘n’ is far more common.
Cai/Kai – Kai comes from the Hawaiian word for sea, but this short name claims several possible origins, and can be spelled with a C, too.
Joss – A nickname-name for Joseph or Jocelyn, and a possible middle name, too.
Paige – A 1990s favorite, Paige might appeal in the middle spot.
Shea – The perfect middle name for many a long-time New York sports fan, or simply an appealing Irish choice. Also spelled Shay.
Bess – You might use Beth, of course, but Bess is even less expected.
Bette – Bette Davis pronounced it like Betty, but Bette Midler rhymes Bette with jet, putting it on this list.
Blanche – It’s Bianca in Italian, but this name becomes the far briefer Blanche in French.
Blythe – With a lovely meaning – happy – and an antique sound, Blythe could balance out a longer middle. It’s also sometimes spelled Blithe.
Dot – A nickname for Dorothy, or a sweetly vintage middle.
Fae/Fay/Faye – Fae sometimes refers to a fairy, or perhaps to fate. Either way, it’s a romantic image for a mini middle.
Jean, Jeanne – In French, Jean is the masculine form of John; and Jeanne, the feminine. Combinations like Billie Jean might feel a little bit dated, but with the right first, Jeanne makes a great middle.
Joan – As in Joan of Arc and Joan of Mad Men, a short and thoroughly capable name.
Joyce – Joyce clearly fits with one-syllable middle names for girls, but it’s not quite a virtue like Joy, despite the shared sounds. Instead, it’s a medieval masculine name that became feminine thanks to Joy.
Mae/May – Originally short for Margaret and Mary, today Mae is more likely to bring to mind the month. That’s true even though the ‘e’ spelling – as in Mae West – is far more popular.
Maude – Spelled with or without the final ‘e’, Maude is a medieval form of Matilda. William the Conqueror’s daughter answered to Maud.
Meg – A Margaret nickname that transforms the classic name into a minimalist gem, and puts it on the list of one-syllable middle names for girls.
Nan – Originally a nickname for Anne, though now it’s more likely to be associated with Nancy.
Nell – Once short for plenty of names beginning with El, Nell now feels like a sweet and complete possibility, as a first or a middle.
Peg – Minimalist Meg meets retro Peggy.
Prue – Originally short for virtue name Prudence, Prue almost feels like a stand-alone thanks to 1900s cult favorite series Charmed.
Tess – Originally short for Theresa, Tess could make an intriguing and brief middle.
Bliss – Another word for joy, worn by Ellen Page in 2009 roller derby flick Whip It.
Brave – A strong sound and a quality we all want our children to cultivate.
Charm – Either for your daughter’s charismatic personality, or possibly for luck.
Dare – It has more history of use than you might guess, perhaps thanks to the mysterious Virginia Dare of American history, or maybe author Dare Wright.
Free – More direct than Liberty, and maybe a little less name-like, too – but I think it works.
Glee – Joyful, sing-out-loud kind of name.
Glow – Rhymes with Jo, but also makes this list thanks to the youngest daughter of blogger Rubyellen at Cakies.
Joy – An old stand-by virtue name, but made freshly appealing by the Disney-Pixar character in Inside Out.
Love – We love names that mean love, so why not the word itself?
Peace – Pax and Dove feel more subtle, but Peace works, too.
Praise – A spiritual possibility with a bold sound.
Psalm – An old word that feels like a twenty-first century Christian possibility.
Soul – Richly meaningful, and deceptively brief.
True – A bright sound combined with a virtue with universal appeal.
Truth – Slightly less name-like than True, but still works.
Wise – A common surname, often meaning smart. (Though sometimes it comes from other surnames meaning white.) If Sage works, Wise fits in the middle, too.
Zeal – Enthusiastic choice with a certain religious overtone.
Zen – An ancient concept, and a modern virtue, too.
Boo – As in the term of affection, not the go-to scare word for ghosts.
Roo – Maybe it’s a little bit Kanga. And the spelling Rue might be slightly more expected. But Roo appeals on sound alone, and isn’t so different from Lou or Sue.
Sweet – It sounds like Sweetheart, though it’s a surname name, too – and that might explain why it sometimes surfaces as a middle. But it’s a term of endearment akin to Darling or Dear, and might be a charming surprise in the middle spot.
20th CENTURY THROWBACKS
Lynn – Once it was everybody’s middle name. Now it’s more likely to end a first – Brooklynn, Madilyn, Oaklynne.
Sue – A throwback that feels tied to another place and time, to Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” It’s so tied to an earlier era, that it might feel like a retro charmer in a few more years.
Ayn – The most famous figure to wear it is controversial author Ayn Rand. It’s generally considered a form of Ann, though she rhymed her name with line.
Bex – If Jax is a modern spin on John, maybe Bex could be an update for Rebecca?
Bree – Breezy and authentically Irish.
Britt – Scandi short form of Bridget, by way of Birgitta.
Cher – Made famous by the actress-singer and the Clueless character, Cher is a French term of affection, literally meaning expensive or dear.
Dree – She wasn’t the first to wear it, but model-actor Dree Hemingway helped raise this Bree-soundalike name’s profile.
Eyre – As in Jane Eyre, making this a literary, light possibility.
Gal – Actress Gal Gadot puts this Hebrew name on the list. It means wave.
Gwyn/Gwynn/Gwynne – A quirkier take on Lynn, every bit as Welsh. Like Lynn, the ‘y’ spellings are traditionally masculine in Wales.
Lace – Lacy is sometimes heard as a girls’ given name, but just Lace has potential as a middle.
Lis – Might rhyme with bliss, but I’m think of fleur-de-lis, which makes this the French word for lily, one that rhymes with Lee.
Maeve – Strong and stunning, Maeve makes a great first – but also a commanding middle.
Min – Possibly borrowed from Chinese, in which case it means clever. Or maybe it’s short for Minnie – which is already a nickname. Either way, it’s the ultimate mini name.
Noor – From an Arabic name meaning light. It’s also spelled Nur.
Reem – As in designer Reem Acra. The Arabic name means white antelope.
Reine – Rhymes with Wren, more or less, Reine is the French word for queen.
Reve – The French word for dream. Reve rhymes with Bev.
Tai/Ty – Tai Babilonia was a celebrated ice skater in the 1970s and 80s. Her success pushed the name into wider use. Ty works, too, though it might seem slightly more masculine.
Tal – A unisex Hebrew name, Tal means dew.
Vai – From a Polynesian word meaning water, and also the Romani equivalent of Eve.
Vale – As in the poetic word for valley. Television’s Savannah Guthrie gave the name to her daughter.
Vere – An aristocratic surname from eighteenth century England, with a fresh and vibrant sound today.
Vrai – The French word for true.
Wray – As in the original scream queen, Fay Wray – carried to the top of the Empire State Building in the first movie version of King Kong.
Wynn/Wynne – Cousins to Gwynne, and obvious candidates for one-syllable middle names for girls.
East – Easton ranks in the boys’ Top 100, so how ’bout just East for a middle?
North – The fame of Kim Kardashian’s first born might discourage you, but North remains a name rich with significance.
South – A romantic middle name possibility for parents from the Southern states.
West – West might be the most name-like of all, a common surname and element in fast-rising choices like Weston.
Dee – A throwback choice, Dee sounds like a mid-century choice ready for rediscovery.
Jay – More commonly masculine, Jay works as a nickname for any girl name beginning with J, and could also stand alone.
Kay – Often short for Katherine, and familiar to a generation of Kaylas and Kaylees. Add an ‘e’ to make Kaye.
What would you add to this list of one-syllable middle names for girls?
Originally published on July 2, 2018, this post has been updated multiple times, most recently on February 17, 2023.