If you love girl names ending with a, you’re not alone.
Emma has been a #1 favorite in the US in recent years. Ava and Mia are nearly as popular.
Scroll through the rest of the Top 100, and a pattern emerges. Ella, Layla, Anna, Leah, Nora, Sarah, Stella, Bella, Mila, Maya, Eva.
We’re wild for two syllable girl names ending with a. Three in the Top Ten, and seventeen more in the Top 100, for a total of twenty.
Call them Emma’s sisters. Names that are too short to feel frilly, but still obviously feminine.
In some ways, we’ve always loved two syllable girl names ending with a:
- In 1994, Sarah ranked in the Top Ten, with at least five more in the Top 100.
- In 1974, former #1 Lisa was still a Top Ten name, with another 17 in the Top 100.
- In 1954, Linda and Debra were Top Ten names, with an additional nine in the Top 100.
- In 1934, there were no girl names ending with a in the Top Ten, but there were eleven in the Top 100.
- And in 1914, Anna ranked in the Top Ten, with an additional 14 in the Top 100.
Of course, some of those names feel dated by today’s standards. Wilma is stuck in Bedrock, and Beulah and Wanda are only for the most daring of baby namers.
But in between the most popular of Emma’s sisters and the least likely to be bestowed today are a big group of possibilities. Names less common than Ella, Bella, and Stella, but not as out-there are Norma or Thelma.
Let’s take a walk through the alphabet and discover some great two-syllable girl names ending with a!
Ada + More
Ada is a logical substitute for Ava, one with a slightly more old-fashioned feel, but also a lot of smarts, thanks to pioneering mathematician Ada Lovelace.
Alma is another possibility, equally vintage but with the advantage of a great meaning in Spanish: soul.
Antha, from the Greek word for flower, could fit in with names like Thea.
One more that I love: Anya. It’s an affectionate Russian form of the classic Anna. It’s also spelled Anja in Scandinavian countries, but I think Anya is the more straightforward choice.
Brenna + Bria
Bria could be short for fading 90s favorite Brianna, or it could be a feminine form of Brio, an Italian musical term meaning zest. It peaked back in the 90s with Brittany and Brianna, but was never terribly popular, meaning it still feels wearable today.
Brenna is another name that peaked in the 1990s, but was never very popular. It’s more modern than Brenda, and some suggest it is connected to the Celtic bran – raven, making this an avian name.
Clea + Calla
Calla shares some of the Bella-Stella-Ella sound, and – bonus – is a type of lily.
Clea sounds something like Claya, which sort of puts this name in the company of Jayla and lots of nouveau coinages. But Clea is actually Cleo’s cousin, with quite the story to tell.
Della + Dahlia
Is Darla ready for revival? The Little Rascals name conjures up images of the 1930s, but the name actually peaked in the 1960s. The F Word, a documentary about punk rockers raising kids, introduced us to NOFX frontman Fat Mike’s daughter Darla. It could have some edge.
Della could be another in the Ella-Stella-Bella family, but I think my heart might belong to Delia, which is all sorts of lovely and old-fashioned, but still seems spunky. Plus, Delia is a name associated with the goddess Artemis in Greek myth, which seems quite appealing.
Do your tastes run to the elegant? Dahlia might be the name for you. Botanical, refined, and relatively rare in our age of Lily and Rose.
Elsa + Eira
Dare I say Elsa? The queen of Frozen pushed her name way up the popularity charts in 2014, but I still think it’s a great name.
For something really rare, how about Eira? It’s a name for an Old Norse goddess – though I think she’s usually called Eir. In Welsh, Eira means snow.
Pan-botanical Flora is the obvious overlooked entry for F girl names ending with a! It rhymes with fast-rising Cora, and fits right in with all of those flower names we’re so fond of for our daughters.
Gala + Greta
It’s a little out there, but I love the idea of Gala. It could be short for Galatea, or it could stand on its own. Gala sounds fun-loving – it comes from an Old French word meaning “to make merry.” It’s the name of a common variety of apple, too. Self-help blogger Gala Darling wears it well.
Gia, rhymes with Mia, seems like a more likely option.
Or there’s Gaia, rhymes with Maya, Mother Earth in Greek myth. The goddess name is also spelled Gaea, but I think the -aia spelling would be more familiar today.
Hana + Hera
Hannah has had a long run in the US in recent years. Spelling doesn’t always change a name, but I’ll admit that Hana – an unrelated Japanese name – has always appealed to me. It means flower. A similar name means “one” in Korean.
Another goddess name possibility is Hera. If Juno is a stylish pick, why not Hera?
If Ava leads to Ada, shouldn’t Ada lead to Ida? Or if Ava leads to Ivy, couldn’t Ivy lead to Ida, too? It’s a pan-European name just begging for revival.
If not for the Volkswagon sedan, I’m convinced that Jetta would be a popular pick for girls in the US today. In Dutch, it’s short for names ending in -ette and -etta.
Kara + Kinga
I’d probably consider Kara a mom name today, except for one thing: Supergirl! The small screen series reminded us that Kara wears a cape, too. If parents are naming their sons Kalel, why not Kara?
You know all of those celebrities naming their kids things like Royal and Reign? In the midst of those over-the-top names, there’s Kinga, a Polish name derived from Saint Cunigunde, who lived in the eleventh century. Cunigunde was a descendant of Charlemagne himself, and became Holy Roman Empress as the wife of Henry II.
Lena + More
Is Lena rising too quickly to be considered? Maybe, but I kept Elsa on this list, so I’m not about to abandon lovely Lena. Lena could be short for all sorts of names, but it stands on its own nicely.
Leda brings to mind the myth of Leda and the Swan, and makes for an unusual alternative to Lena.
Then there’s Lyra, from His Dark Materials, and a heroine name every bit as pleasing as Hermione.
Martha + Mika
I love the old-fashioned simplicity of Martha. It seems like a successor to the long-popular Hannah.
If Martha seems a little too homespun for your tastes, how about Marta? It’s the form of the name favored in much of Europe.
Now that Mila has joined Mia near the top of the charts, I wonder about Mika? It would likely be confused for Micah, but Mika is a Japanese name meaning beautiful.
Nola + More
Nahla and Nala can claim roots in Arabic and Sanskrit, but the name makes me think of two things only. First, Halle Berry’s daughter – who uses the version of the name with the ‘h’ – and second, and perhaps more universally familiar, Simba’s love interest in The Lion King. The cub spells her name without the ‘h’. Despite all of those pop culture associations, I think Nala and Nahla are great choices for parents looking for a non-Western name that feels accessible in English.
My favorite of the -ella names is definitely Nella. Why? I love Nell, but I understand that some parents will resist using a formal name like Helen or Eleanor. Tradition aside, it can feel like a stretch. (That’s why Tess is so often Tessa instead of Theresa, right?) But Nella seems like a logical name for parents who adore Nell.
But my favorite N-a name might just be Nola, as in New Orleans, Louisiana – NOLA. It could also be short for any name with the Nola sound baked in, and I’ve always loved the super-Southerness of Magnolia, nickname Nola. But Nola certainly stands on its own, as sassy as Lola, but much less expected.
Orla + Olga
Call me crazy, but I love Olga. It’s clunky and old-fashioned, but it’s also nicely pan-European and brings to mind a cunning and ruthless tenth century ruler of Kiev – who is also considered a saint.
In Irish, Órfhlaith means golden princess. It’s simplified as Orlagh or even Orla. Since Orla brings to mind talented Irish designer Orla Kiely, that’s the version of the name that makes this list.
Petra + Priya
I’m a fan of Peter as a boy’s name, and I’m equally big on feminine form Petra. It shares Peter’s origin – the Greek word petros, rock. But if Petra didn’t have such a weighty meaning, it’s still a name that feels substantial.
I think Priya could be a great culture-crossing possibility, a name from Hindu legend with a sweet meaning – beloved.
Quilla fits with all of those other -lla ending names, but it has a far more surprising origin. In Inca myth, Mama Quilla is the moon goddess. The name is also spelled Killa, but that’s a non-starter as a given name.
Rebecca is a sensible name for a girl, part-Sunnybrook Farm, part-Daphne DuMaurier novel. Rivka is the Hebrew form of the name. I’d never really considered it until Guy Ritchie gave the name to one of his children, but now that I’ve heard it, I find it completely appealing.
Selah + Svana
Selah is from a musical term used in the Book of Psalms, and it’s also a distinctive choice for a daughter.
For something really different, there’s Svana, a modern twist on Svanhild, which makes it a swan name. Of course, it’s a relatively rare name in Scandinavia, and would be completely novel in the US.
Thea + More
Part-Tess, part-Elsa, and all science, Tesla is a name that brings to mind world-changing technologies.
Zippy, retro Thea was one of the names to re-enter the US Top 1000 in 2014. Traditionally short for Theodora or Dorothea, it’s easy to see Thea as an independent name.
Thora is the feminine form of Thor, as in the Norse god/member of The Avengers. And yet, I’d say this name feels more like a vintage, unexpected choice in the key of Cora than a superhero/mythological one.
Twyla is the star of this list of Night Owl Names for girls. It combines the creative force of dancer Twyla Tharpe with an unexpected sound related to our word twilight. Twila is an alternate spelling. Schitt’s Creek gave us a charming Twyla to bolster the name.
Uma + Una
Actress Uma Thurman made her unusual, goddess-inspired name more familiar in the US. It fits with other mini names, like Mia and Ava. Fall Out Boy’s hit single “Uma Thurman” ensures that the name is familiar to an even younger generation.
If Uma feels a little too unusual, there’s Una. It’s also rare, but has multiple possible origins, and also brings to mind the Latin una – one.
Vera + Vega
There’s something vintage and bold about Vera. It comes from the Russian word for faith, but we tend to associate it with the Latin verus – true. It’s a great substitute for Ava.
If you’d prefer something even bolder, night sky name Vega is borrowed from a star.
Willa + Wrenna
Willa strikes me as another of the Hannah-Martha names. It’s gentle, old-fashioned, and sweet.
Wrenna is a rarity, one-part nature name Wren, and two-parts ends-in-enna names like Jenna. It just so happens that the avian name Wren comes from Old English – where it was actually Wrenna.
Sandra is back in the 1950s dancing to Summer Nights and Greased Lightnin, but Xandra could be a name for a girl born today. After all, Xander continues to catch on for boys.
Yara is a name with several possible origins, many of them global and intriguing. But if you’ve heard of Yara, odds are that you’ve been watching Game of Thrones. Yara Greyjoy Theon’s big sister, and a warrior in her own right. Fans of the books will remember that she was originally named Asha. Actor Yara Shahidi is another reason the name is the on the rise.
Zara + Zora
If there can be a Zara in the line of succession to the British throne, surely Zara isn’t so out there? It sounds like Sarah-with-a-Z, but it has a long history of its own.
On a literary note, there’s Zora, as in Neale Hurston. It’s from a Slavic word meaning dawn.
And then there’s jazz age name extraordinaire, Zelda, as in Fitzgerald.
I’m so excited that I had one for every letter – for some lists that’s impossible!
What are your favorite two syllable girl names ending with a? Which ones have I left off the list?