Because yes, a name can be cool, even edgy – and still quite popular. After all, only the most appealing names make it to the top of the popularity charts.
Some of the Top 100 names feel classic. Others trendy. And some, of course, are falling from their peak use.
But it’s easy to declare many of the most popular names ever so cool.
These ten rise to the top.
2016 US popularity rank: #23
Boosted by Pretty Little Liars and Game of Thrones, this name might have been the Next Big Thing anyway. After all, we love A names like Ariana, and we’ve been wild about musical names like Cadence and Harmony, too. It’s a short name with a big sound- three syllables from a mere four letters – artistic and unexpected, and yes, cool, even as it climbs higher and higher up the popularity charts.
2016 US popularity rank: #3
This name shimmers with old Hollywood glamour, thanks to Ava Gardner. But it also sounds upbeat, friendly, and approachable because of that long ‘a’ sound. Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Heather Locklear were early adopters, but two decades later, the name is still going strong. Alternatives abound, but even as a top five favorite, Ava remains among the coolest Top 100 girl names.
2016 US popularity rank: #77
Night sky names carry a certain coolness – Luna’s not the only one on this list! But it also shines thanks to a Harry Potter heroine famous for her fearless individualism. Luna Lovegood proved herself heroic in battle, but also strong-willed in the ordinary everyday. Another positive: not only does the name mean moon in Latin, but there’s a minor Roman goddess by the name. Oh, and it’s the Spanish word for moon, too, making this name effortlessly cross-cultural. No wonder parents are moonstruck by lovely Luna.
2016 US popularity rank: #67
Piper fits so many trends: it’s musical, like Aria; it’s an -r ending surname like Harper; and it has the P sound of Paisley, Penelope, and Payton. We might vaguely think of it as a girls’ name thanks to Oscar-nominated actor Piper Laurie, born Rosetta Jacobs. But it was the characters in Charmed and Orange is the New Black that helped take this name from maybe to definitely.
2016 US popularity rank: #79
Brief and brisk, Quinn remains more popular for girls than boys. It feels like an update to Lynn, and so do many other slim, trim names we’ve used for our daughters over the years. That high value Scrabble letter Q lends this name effortless cool status.
2016 US popularity rank: #71
Gemstone names for girls have a long history of use. There’s ladylike Pearl, 80s favorite Amber, and out-there choices like Sapphire and Peridot. Ruby remains the most popular of them, featured in songs from Kenny Rogers to Rancid to the Rolling Stones. As vibrant as the color red, Ruby combines modern energy with a vintage vibe to be among the coolest Top 100 girl names.
2016 US popularity rank: #60
Sparky, retro Sadie started out as a nickname for classic Sarah. Now it’s much cooler than the original, as Jack is to John. Plenty of names follow in Sadie’s fashion steps, from boyish Frankie to vintage Winnie, but Sadie remains the leader of the pack.
2016 US popularity rank: #18
Another name brought to us by the color red. To an earlier generation, she’s the heroine of Gone With the Wind, the strong-willed, ahead-of-her-time mistress of Tara. Of course, that carries its own baggage, since the O’Haras were very much on the wrong side of the Civil War. Today’s parents probably think of celebrated actor Scarlett Johansson, known for indie flicks and blockbusters like The Avengers alike.
2016 US popularity rank: #45
Another name borrowed from the stars, Stella also leans old Hollywood, thanks to A Streetcar Named Desire, and high fashion, thanks to Stella McCartney. Bolder than modest Ella, and less nickname-like than Bella, Stella belongs to the current wave of -ella names while still feeling distinctive, strong, and undeniably cool.
2016 US popularity rank: #35 and #26
Zoe rose to the top of the charts with mini-names like Ava and Mia. But it wasn’t just about the three-letter formula. Zoe also has that high value Scrabble letter, the Z and a great meaning – life, from the Greek. Zoey-with-a-y has been more popular for several years now, but they both make for cool choices for a daughter.
What’s on your list of the coolest Top 100 girl names?
First published on April 2, 2018, this post was revised and re-published on April 10, 2021.