Rose Names: Rosalie, Rosemary, Primrose

Rose names

Rose names range from the spare and elegant Rose, a classic with history galore, to elaborate and fanciful confections, from Harry Potter’s Rosmerta to Hunger Games’ Primrose.

Of course, Rose reigns as the middle name of the moment. From celebrities to the family next door, plenty of parents have embraced it as a go-to middle.

But not so long ago, Rose stood proud as a first name favorite. A century ago, it regularly ranked in the US Top 20. Up until 1960, it appeared in the Top 100. As of 2017, the name had climbed to a respectable #141. But there’s still plenty of room for this lovely botanical choice to grow – and bring lots of other Rose names along for the ride.

In the botanical world, roses abound – there are well over 100 varieties. Rose names are equally plentiful, with at least two dozen possibilities. Some feel timeless; others lean literary; but every one of these Rose names has potential for a daughter born today.

Rose Names: The Classics

Rose – The timeless original. Like Jane or Grace, it’s a single-syllable choice that feels feminine, traditional, elegant, and strong. Equally suitable for a ballerina or a district attorney, Rose seems open to reinvention, a name that can suit nearly any child, and grow with any woman. With so many girls named Ava Rose, Mia Rose, and Olivia Rose these days, it’s often heard – though not often enough as a given name. Rose ranked #141 in 2017.

Rosa – The Latin version of the classic, Rosa seems at home in the Spanish- and Italian-speaking worlds, but it’s also heard throughout Europe. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks makes it a hero name. At #672 in 2017, it’s rare – but plenty familiar.

Rose Names: Almost as Traditional

Rosanna: A Rose-Anna mash-up, Rosanna was the title of a smash hit song for Toto back in 1982. Not surprisingly, the name peaked in the 80s, too. Today it’s outside of the US Top 1000, along with Roseanna and Roseanne, as in Barr. That last one is almost certainly going to hibernate for a while. But Rosanna feels every bit as romantic and traditional as Isabella or Olivia. Besides Rosie, there’s also spunky nickname option Roxy.

Rosemary: Hamlet’s Ophelia told us that Rosemary is for remembrance. It’s a softly vintage name, both a Rose-Mary smoosh and a borrowing from the herb, which was named from the Latin rosmarinus – dew of the sea. Plenty of songs feature the name. (This is my personal favorite, from Interpol in 2005. Yes, it’s about a twisted serial killer, but I’ve managed to mostly overlook that tiny hiccup.) Romy is the German nickname, a fresh and vivacious spin on a gentle antique. As of 2017, Rosemary ranked #457. Rosemarie is another, similar option.

Rosamond, Rosamund: In use since at least the 12th century, and probably a few hundred years prior, this name has more in common with the equestrian-tinged Rosalind than the botanical Roses. Still, it’s tempting to translate this as “rose of the world” – in fact, the 12th century mistress of England’s King Henry II was named Rosamund Clifford and nicknamed precisely that. These Roses last appeared in the US Top 1000 in the 1930s, making them true throwbacks.

Rose Names: The Imports

Rosalba: Used mainly in Italian, this one means “white rose.” It has the romantic feel of Arabella, but remains far less expected. The name has never cracked the US Top 1000, and doesn’t seem especially common in Italy today, either. I’ve also found Rosalva listed on Spanish language name sites.

Rosario, Rosaria: The term “rosary” literally translates to rose garden, but refers to a Catholic devotional prayer practice counted out on beads. Rosario is feminine in Spanish and masculine in Italian; Rosaria is the Italian feminine. Despite the success of actress Rosario Dawson and the lively sound of this name, neither version has recently charted in the US Top 1000.

Rosetta: An Italian pet form of Rose, Rosetta is often followed by Stone – the ancient stele that provided the key to reading Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as a widely-known language learning program. It was discovered in 1799 by the French, who had conquered Egypt under Napoleon the year before. The port city was called Rashid, but the French referred to it as Rosetta. It’s been out of the Top 1000 since the 1970s, but never say never to a comeback.

Róisín: Pronounced ro sheen, this Irish name means “little rose.” Róis – rosh – is the literal translation for the flower. With authentically Gaelic names like Niamh and Saoirse on more parents’ shortlists, maybe Roisin’s moment is coming. So far, it’s never made the US Top 1000. A bonus? The name has patriotic and poetic associations, making it a worthy Irish heritage pick. It’s sometimes translated Rosaleen, which feels like it’s waiting with Darlene and Arlene for a future wave of revival.

Rose Names: Literary Roses

Rosalie: In the 1920s, Rosalie was a princess in disguise in a Gershwin musical.  In 1937, the musical became a movie and propelled Rosalie into the US Top 100.  After several years out of favor, Rosalie is back again, thanks to another story adapted for the big screen – she’s Bella’s vampire sister-in-law in the Twilight franchise. Today the name stands at #236, a stylish sound that feels vintage and modern at once. (We do love a good three-syllable, ends-in-y name for a girl, don’t we? There’s also Rosalia, an ancient festival and the name of a twelfth century saint. But it’s Rosalie that clearly comes out on top today.

Rosalind: Shakespeare used Rosalind for a character in As You Like It. Romeos love interest before he met his Juliet answered to the similar Rosaline. Besides Rosie, Rosalind offers the nickname option Lindy, and might be a graceful way to honor women named Rose and Linda. It’s tempting to translate Rosalind as “beautiful rose,” but it comes from Germanic elements for horse – hros and soft – linde – meaning that the name suggests a biddable horse. Last big in the 1940s, Rosalind remains outside of the current Top 1000.

Rosmerta – The Harry Potter name was borrowed from an ancient fertility goddess. JK Rowling made her the proprietress of The Three Broomsticks, Hogsmeade’s favorite watering hole.

Primrose: Without the heroic Everdeen sister of Hunger Games fame, Primrose might feel too prim for a real girl. But the character transforms it from a botanical rarity to a more mainstream botanical option. It continues to gain steadily since the movie came out in 2012, though it’s yet to arrive in the Top 1000.

Rose Names: Smooshes & Elaborations

Rosalynn, Rosalyn, Roslyn, Roselyn: These might be a spin on Rosalind, or maybe they’re a Rose-Lynn smoosh. With Evelyn rising fast, these Rose names feel like options, too. One note: you might hear some of these pronounced Roz-lyn. In fact, Rosslyn, Virginia is part of metropolitan Washington DC. None of these choices made the Top 1000 in 2007, but as of 2017, Roselyn ranks #669 and Rosalyn #903.

Rosina, Rosena, Rosella, Roselle, Rosalita: Like Rosetta, these all started out as pet forms of Rose and Rosa, elaborations sometimes used as given names. Rosina appears in the Rossini opera The Barber of Seville. Bruce Springsteen scored a hit with Rosalita in 1973. While none of them are trending, any of them might wear well today.

Rosabel, Rosabelle, Rosabella: Heard in romance languages, but nearly unknown in English, these are -bel names that fit right in with Annabelle and friends, but remain far less familiar. None of them appear in the current Top 1000.

Anna Rose, Mary Rose, Ella Rose – You might smoosh these together into Annarose, Maryrose, or Ellarose. (I think Ellarose works especially well.) But they work as double names, too, and that makes it tough to tell how common they’ve been over the years.

There you have it – plenty of reasons to rescue Rose from the middle spot and promote it to first.

Have I missed any Rose names? What are your favorites?

Originally published on July 30, 2008; this post was revised on May 7, 2012; January 17, 2014; and again on June 4, 2018.

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32 Comments

Great article! We almost went with my grandmother’s full name for our daughter, Clara Raisa (Raisa being “Rose” in Yiddish…and maybe some Slavic languages as well?), but changed it at the last minute. I still love the name Raisa, though.

Rosella doesn’t feel like a smoosh of Rose & Ella, or a diminutive, to me. Perhaps this is because I’m Australian, and it’s the common name of a native bird (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosella) and an African flower that’s quite well known here -https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roselle_(plant).
It’s also a brand of tomato sauce (Ketchup), but I don’t think it’s famous enough to override other associations. I hope not.

I haven’t heard it as a name, but I quite like it – a nature name (three times over) that’s uncommon but seems familiar.
Here it’s usually pronounced with a hard s (Rose-ELLa), but it’s lovely with a soft one (Ross-ELL-uh).
I’d consider using it as a middle name to honour my grandmother Rosa (I’d also consider Rose, which is my middle, or Roisin. Or Rosa itself)

When I was 5, I was given a kitten that I gave the most beautiful name I could think of, Rosabelle. It’s still a beautiful name, but unfortunately, now it just says “cat” to me. It’s one of a few names that I liked as a kid that retains its appeal… only to be ruined by associations.

I love so many of the Rose names, Rosamund, Rosalie, Rosalind, Primrose, Rosemary, but it is simple, sweet Rose that seems to have won out for this baby. (If this baby is a girl, that is.) We are having some difficulty landing on the perfect middle to go with it, though. It seems that most people we’ve talked to find the flow to be off with Rose in the first spot. I suppose people are so used to hearing it as a middle, that their ears don’t seem to want to adjust.

I’m a huge fan of one syllable first, followed by longer middles. Rose Eleanor, Rose Everild, Rose Caroline, Rose Marilyn, Rose Miabella … I think you have LOTS of great options. And Rose is so great in the first place – completely familiar, but fresh and unexpected, too!

We had the exact same problem with our (now 8½ year old) Rose’s middle name. And we felt rushed about it, since we didn’t settle on her first name until she was born. I knew we needed something longer in the middle. We chose Rose Abigail, mainly since we liked the meaning of “father’s joy” and my husband’s middle initial is A too.

I sometimes wish we’d gone with something more unusual, since Abigail is a popular first name. Rose Lucinda, Rose Araminta, Rose Genevieve. Or something with family significance, even if the flow wasn’t great: Rose Joy, Rose Edith. (Since we went on to use a family middle name for our 2nd child.)

And really no-one even knows Rose’s middle name, since we’re not people who use first and middle names together, even if our kids are naughty.

I hope you will update if your baby does turn out to be a girl. 🙂

I LOV eRosa as a first name–it feels so much more unexpected than using it in the middle spot. I definitely agree with the “short first longer middle” wisdom, but would add that I think Rose in particular sounds great with a middle name that begins with a vowel sound. My personal favorite combo is Rose Athena, but I really like some of the suggestions above too!

My mother is a Rose, so I’ve always kept an eye on the Rose names for potential namesakes. My steady favorite is Rosamund/Rosamond, so rich and heavy with such a light nickname. I also have a huge soft spot for Rosalba, Rosetta, and Rosemary.

I’ll admit that I have considered Rose as a potential middle name, but because it is so popular, I may end up using my great-grandmother’s actual name, Rosa. She was born into an Italian-Swiss family in Switzerland and it was a family name. They had several Rosa’s, so they had to give some of them nicknames. I know one girl in the family was called Rosl (pronounced rose-el), which is a German-style diminutive.

Ooh I do love Rose and pretty much all of the variants. I actually just saw Titanic in 3D last week so Rose, as a beautiful first name, is fresh in my mind. My favorites are Primrose, Rosemary, Rosalie, and Rosalia. I fell in love with Rosalia from the Better Than Ezra song “Rosealia”. DH had a car he named Rosemarie and he thinks Rosemary sounds like an “old lady” name, but I do have high hopes for using Primrose in the middle spot. I think it would be quite fitting on an eldest child.

Rosamund and Rosalind are lovely, but all the Rose names are lovely.

Rose is quite popular here, in the Top 100. My husband declares this is the ONLY girl’s name he likes, but I think it would sound cheesy with our surname, which starts with “wild” (Rose Wild, wild rose etc). Thanks to all the variants, he found a way to get to it, twice!

Since moving to New Zealand my little Roseanna (named for her grandmother) has come across quite a few more people with her name. I’m afraid that the relative popularity of the name here (admittedly more common in my own generation) has increased the name regret I have. As I’ve stated before, I was pushing for Rosamund. Oh well, Roseanna wears her name well, and besides the name in its entirety also goes by both Rosa and Zanna.

My dad has a cousin christened the smashing and uncommon Roswitha (I’m afraid I can’t remember the exact spelling at present, there may have been an e in there). Unfortunately she didn’t like her clunky-but-cool name and had it legally changed to Rosie.

My husband has a Roswitha in his family too. I love the name, but maybe Rosevita would work better for an English speaking child?

My Rose will be 7 next month! I love her name. I feel I kind of lucked out on picking it – she was our first and so I didn’t have a good feel about what was popular or not locally or what I liked. My tastes were all over the place and my husband didn’t like many of my favourites. So Rose wasn’t named until she was born. It was a name that we’d had on our list for a few months, but we just weren’t sure. So it’s one I’ve come to love more and more with time and getting to know Rose. 🙂

I love what you say: “The name is feminine without being even a smidge frilly.” I very much agree. The flower image and the face that it’s an older name than some, make it girly. Yet the one syllable and the ending sound make it sound strong to me. I like that the name is feminine yet doesn’t end in the more common ‘girly’ endings of -ee or -ah.

The only variant I considered was Rosemary, because my mother-in-law is named Mary. A longer version would have allowed us to use a shorter middle name. Probably Joy to honor my own Mum (Joyce who wishes she was “Joy”.) Rosemary Joy would have been pretty, but I do like that we went with the simpler version of Rose. It was also nice when Rose was learning to spell and write her name, only to have 4 letters. And when you want to buy the letters of her name!

I’m really surprised that Rose is still hanging around in the mid 300s – the same place it was when I was considering the name. I was looking at the 2004 stats back then and Rose was #360. The year we used it, it did jump up to #333, but then it jumped back down again. Then, as you said, it was around the same place in 2010. I find that strange, as all the other names I liked a lot (Lucy, Henry, Oliver) have kept on climbing and have made top 100 since I started having kids…

I think perhaps Rose ‘suffers’ from being such a popular middle name. If you use it as your 1st daughter’s middle name, you’re unlikely to use it as a 2nd daughter’s first name. Or if your sister or best friend just used it as her daughter’s middle name, you might want something ‘more unique’ as your 1st daughter’s first name.

Locally I’ve met two other girls named Rose – both older than mine by a year or two.

We’ve never used Rosie as a nickname, but since Rose started school her friends and teachers sometimes call her Rosie. We asked her if she likes that and she does. (Better than her nickname of Rosenstain that her Dad gave her!)

I think you’re right about Rose being such a popular middle name that she ends up being used less often up front. Too bad!

I do think Rosie is a fairly common nickname, probably difficult to avoid. If anyone watches AMC’s “The Killing”, you’ll notice that the main character, Rosie Larsen, is never referred to as anything but Rosie, though I do believe her birth name is supposed to be Rose.

wow! i had no idea that Rosemary meant “remembrance”! strangely enough, this very day, the majority of “the father of my children’s” family is down the Cape for their mother’s funeral….her name was Rosemary.

i also knew a Rosemary growing up. she came from a big Italian family.

i too find it pretty as a first, the sound is pretty & it’s simple and one-syllable.

<3 Jiinx

I love the Rose’s .. I do love the literary ones that have popped up recently too (Primrose and Rosalie) I am glad that the authors chose them and they are now being considered by the general public because they are so beautiful. I have forever adored Rosabelle, but have since fallen a little out of favor because of so many -belle/bella names.

I love Rose! It has a faintly lacey feel about it, but it still feels fresh and ready to wear.
I may be the minority but I love smooshes with Rose in it:
AvaRose
VeraRose
GinnyRose
NoraRose
EllaRose

I do like Rosalind, Rosamund, Rosalie and simply Rose.

I adore Rosamund and Roisin.

I don’t think Rosary is as bad, really, but I think it would be a little hard on a kid if your family isn’t Catholic. =D

I love Rose! Rose is simply divine just as is as a first name, but I love the variations of it as well. I’m especially fond of Rosalie/Rosalia, Rosalind and Roselle/Rosella. I also love the sound of Rosalita. It may be a bit much, but it has such a nice ring to it. Rosetta is lovely as well; it was the name of my high school band teacher, whom I adored.

There are so many Rose-related choices out there, and that’s why I simply can’t understand why everyone just chooses to use plain old Rose. Why not spice it up a bit?

Thanks Veritas! (That’s my new nickname for your screen name).

Rose, Rosalie, Rosabel and Rosemary are all favorites of mine. Still charmingly old-fashioned and underused, I might consider any one of them myself. Rosalind is lovely and always recalls Shakespeare, Primrose is particulalry lithe and bright in the middle spot (though I would likely *swoon* if I met a little Primrose), Rosamund sounds super Brit and reminds me of the author Rosamund Pilcher (a great namer herself), and Roisin, Rosa, and Rosalba all draw me to them and I’d use them in a heartbeat if I had the right background. Yep, I love nearly all the Rose-names.

I love these Rose names! I’ve been loving Rosemary lately for her sweetness and nickname options. The Baby Name Wizard suggests Roxy, Rosie and Romy; along with Rose and Mary, they encompass all possible personalities. Roxy (or Roxie) is the self-confident saucy one who doesn’t care what anyone thinks; Rosie is the epitome of feminine cute, suitable for your All-American girl; and Romy can easily fit a tomboy or an artsy type. If on the off-chance none of these fit, Rose or Mary can fit any type of girl. I love me some Rosemary!

I also love just plain Rose, Rosa (who is saucier than Rose, imo), Roisin, Rosalind and Rosamund. The only problem with Rosalind is that I really hate the meaning; no girl wants to be called a horse. :-/

I knew both a Rose (who was actually Rosalieanne if I remember; she hated her whole name and just went by Rose) and a Rosemary. Both were around my age, placing them in between 16 and 18.

Great post!

Rosamund is a favorite because of Rosamund Clifford, I love that story… and it’s yet another reason I dislike Eleanor. So lush and rich, Rosamund. I like the variant Rosamond as well.

You forgot one that I know of, but it’s a surname turned first name (but can still be found as a surname). My daughter Josephine’s middle name, Rosamel. Loosely translated as “honey rose” 😉 It was my Great Grandmother’s first name and her Grandmother’s maiden name.

I adore simple Rose, Rosemary, Rosalie, R