Sonnet might be that perfect stands-out, fits-in choice.

Thanks to Kaela for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Table of Contents


A sonnet is a type of poem, a form with specific rules. There are three major types, and then a bunch that break the rules but still count. The average person might not be able to recite much after Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?, but would likely recognize Sonnet as a literary reference akin to Poem, Poet, or Fable.

The word itself comes from the Italian sonetto – little song, ultimately from the Latin sonus – sound. The term first appears in English in the sixteenth century, but sonnets had been written in Italian since the 1200s.


The short answer: not really.

Except we do find some examples in the past.

The late sixteenth/early seventeenth century French poet Thomas Sonnet de Courval came from a minor noble family. It’s heard as a surname in the US, too.

In those cases, it might come from the Saxon name Sinod, though it more often became Sinnott. Still, it explains de Courval and others. The Saxon name comes from sige – victory – and nod – brave, elements that endure in names like Siegfried and Leonard.

One last possible origin: the -et often signals a diminutive form. (Annette is little Anne.) Sonnerie is the French word for ring, as in the ringing of the bells, also from Latin. That makes it another cousin to Sonnet.

In any case, it’s virtually unused as a given name until the early 1970s.


The name was first given to five girls in 1972, and 14 the following year.

What explains the debut?

Avon released a fragrance called Sonnet in 1972. We know that perfume names are influential. Avon launched Pavielle, Toccara, and Charisma, to name just a few. So that’s one possibility.

A second (small) spike in the name’s use came in 1997. That’s a year after actor Forest Whitaker and wife Keisha Nash welcomed daughter Sonnet Noel.

In 2014, 17 girls received the name – a new high. As of 2018, that number dipped to nine. And in 2023, it rose again, with 13 newborn girls named Sonnet.

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Despite limited use as a given name, this is the age of River and Harmony, Autumn and Cadence. It’s easy to imagine parents short-listing Sonnet, too.


  • It shares the ‘t’ ending of Top 100 picks Charlotte, Violet, and Scarlett.
  • Like fast favorites Serenity and Willow, it’s a modern word name.
  • It’s both unlikely to be nicknamed and easily shortened to Sonny/Sunny. (Or maybe … Nettie?)
  • While it’s a word name that we all recognize, it’s seldom heard in regular conversation.

That’s a formula for an appealing choice.


Of course, just like Lyric and Story, there’s no reason this name couldn’t belong to the boys, too.

For now, it remains a rare choice, creative and intriguing. But it very much sounds like a name today, and could wear well on a child.

First published on January 19, 2012, this post was revised on January 8, 2020 and again on May 24, 2024.


literary word name

Lovely, literary Sonnet fits right in with so many word names, like Lyric and Harmony, but remains surprisingly rare.


unranked; given to 13 girls in 2023


holding steady


A type of poem, named from the Italian “sonetto” – little song. The word has been used in English since the 1500s.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. There’s a similar sounding but likely unrelated feminine name “Sonnette” which is found in baptismal records of the Protestant church at Caen in the 1560s and 1570s. It’s not yet in the DMNES because its origin is opaque, but I’ve always loved it!

  2. Sonnet is probably my very favorite girl’s name at the moment. I can’t quite get my husband on board though.. I love the suggestion of Sunny as a nickname.

  3. I have a Sonnet! She was born in 2009. My husband actually suggested the name which surprised me. People assume that I must be very literate; so if anyone chooses this name make sure you are familiar with 14 lines, iambic pentameter, and Shakespeare! And it wouldn’t hurt to have one memorized 🙂

  4. A little girl at my church is named Sonnet; her nickname is Sunny. I like that it is unexpected without being strange.