Happy names for girls fall into two categories.
Some names just feel happy. Names like Lulu and Bonnie and Bree are joyful to day. I can’t imagine Elsie having a bad day or Betty being a grouch. Pop culture makes Pollyanna an optimist.
That’s all subject to opinion and experience, but there are happy names for girls by definition – names that mean cheerful or happy or joyous.
If you like the idea of happy names for girls, here are fourteen baby names that deliver.
Happy Names for Girls: A through H
Yes, Allegra is an allergy medication in the US, one with a seemingly bottomless advertising budget. But it is also a given name used by the stylish, from Lord Byron to Donatella Versace. Allegra Kent was a famous ballerina, muse to legendary choreographer George Balanchine. In music, the term allegro means cheerful, bright, lively, ultimately from the Latin alacer. If you’ve been watching The Little Einsteins, you know all about allegro. With nickname options Allie and Aggie, it’s the kind of name that should wipe out any thought of fenofexadine. 68 girls were named Allegra in 2014.
At first glance, this is just a spin on 80s staple Amanda. But Ananda comes from the Sanskrit word for bliss. The original (male) Ananda was an early disciple of Buddha, known as Guardian of the Dharma. Now Anand is the more familiar masculine form, and Ananda is an obvious culture-crossing possibility, boosted by MTV alum Ananda Lewis.
BEATA– I always thought of Beata as meaning blessed. And that’s true. Except if you follow the thread back a little farther, Beata ultimately comes from beatus – supremely happy; blessed. Beata could be a twist on Beatrice, but the names are not related. While it’s seldom heard in the English-speaking world, it’s reasonably common in Eastern Europe.
BLYTHE– This name is brief, even brisk. It comes from the same Old English soup that led to our word bliss came the word blithe. Blithe means happy – though it can also imply carelessness. Actress Blythe Danner has won Tony and Emmy awards in her own right, but you know her best as mom to Gwyneth Paltrow. If Brooke and Blair are mainstream options for girls, why not Blythe?
FELICITY– The list would be incomplete without this mix of modern television heroine and Colonial girl in calico. Nicknames like Fliss and even Flick have a certain retro cool. Felicity comes from a cluster of related names all derived from the Latin word for fortunate. Brother Felix is hotter than hot. Felicity seems like the most likely feminine form to catch on, but there’s also Felicia, and even the medieval Felice (which is masculine in Italian) might have possibilities as a middle name.
GIOIA– Celebrity chef Giada DeLaurentis reminded us about the many great Italian appellations that start with Gi – Gianna, Giovanna, even Giuliana. Gioia is literally the Italian word for delight, usually translated joy.
GIOCONDA– Another of the happy names for girls with the Italian Gi- is Gioconda. It is something of a mouthful! Giacondo comes from the Latin Iucunda – pleasant. It is also an alternate name for Da Vinci’s masterwork, the Mona Lisa. If you like your happy names for girls rarer than rare, Giaconda might be the name for you.
HANA – Hannah is a Biblical name for girls that was recently among the most popular in the US. Today it’s falling. Does that open the door for Hana? It’s as international as they come, with roots in Japanese, Arabic, Slavic, Korean, and, of course, English. It’s the Arabic Hana that puts this one on the list of happy names for girls. It literally means happiness or bliss.
Happy Names for Girls: J through Z
JOY– Joy was in style limbo for years, but 2016 might be the moment for a comeback. First, we love our word names today, and happy names for girls like Blythe have attracted attention. Second, Joy is associated with two successful movies. There’s 2015’s biopic of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, titled Joy. And, of course, earlier that year, we all met Joy of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out fame. 687 girls were named Joy in 2014, up slightly from previous years – so it’s likely we’ll see another increase in the future.
LETA– There’s more than one possible origin for Leta, but the Latin leatus – glad – puts Leta on the list of happy names for girls. Leta might also be spelled Leda, Lida, and Lita. The Leda spelling brings to mind the story from Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.
LETITIA– Also spelled Laetitia, it’s another name derived from the Latin leatus. This name feels gently antique thanks to a few famous bearers, like mid-nineteenth century First Lady Letitia Christian Tyler and etiquette expert Letitia Baldridge, born in 1926.
MERRILY– Merry might be too literal, but Merrily is an intriguing ends-in-ly name that might have potential.
NAOMI, NEOMI, NOEMIE– The Biblical Naomi comes from a Hebrew name meaning pleasant, so it belongs on a list of happy names for girls. And yet, I don’t find Naomi an especially light-hearted name. I think the Italian and French versions of the name, with the ‘oe’ spelling feel a little lighter – and perhaps happier, too.
SEELEY– Seeley is the given name of a male FBI agent on long-time television drama Bones, but it started out as a surname – and I’ve heard that it has some use as a given name, too. Seeley shares roots with Selig and Zelig, all from the Yiddish word for happy or blessed. And this brings me to my bonus addition to the list of happy names for girls …
ZELDA– Why didn’t I think of this one sooner? Zelda is another feminine form of Selig and Zelig, and one that feels very accessible as a girl’s name in 2016. Can’t you imagine twins called Zelda and Allegra, or Zelda and Leta?
Are there other happy names that come to mind? Or maybe names that just plain feel happy and joyful to you?
This post was originally published on September 29, 2011. It was substantially revised and reposted on March 23, 2016, and again on December 1, 2022.
How about Thalia, the Greek muse of comedy?
Farah also means “happiness” in Arabic and Persian.
Also, there’s a small spelling error in the entry for Letitia.
The Latin word for “happy” is spelled laetus (with feminine equivalent, laeta, pronounced “LIE-ay-tah”). Laetitia itself is Latin for “happiness”.
My friend in France just named her new baby Lætitia!
I love Zelda, great add! Leta is intriguing too! I would add Lark to this list–yes, it’s a nature and but the “lighthearted, happy” meaning applies here too.
My favorites from your list:
Gioia – beautiful! Have never heard this before! Is it pronounced “Joya?”
Merrily- I am a sucker for girl names with -ily at the end. This one is sweet.
Beata is a family name of mine. I find it happy in a reserved way, a quiet joy as opposed to the “jumping and skipping” vibe of some names. It’s towards the top of our short list for a lot of reasons, but the meaning is certainly a bonus.
I feel like Alaia (basque name meaning Joyful) would be the perfect addition to this list.
Names that feel happy to me: Joy, Bliss, Bree, Katy, Gemma, Jamie, Mingo, Poppy, Quinn, Reece, Summer, Zoe, Holly, Chloe, Hugo
Not scientific, just based on gut my reaction. 🙂
I love this theme! Jocosa ,Laetitia, and Gaudatia/Gaudentia are my favorites (can’t you just imagine the last two names on twin nuns?)!
Lark & Felix.
Charlotte Vera says
I love Felicity and have suggested it to Mark, but for him it’s far too tied to the TV character to be used. A pity, because it makes me happy (as does the hyper-popular Felix). I’m not sold on Felicia; for me it doesn’t quite have the strength of the other names.
I personally prefer the male Anand (Ah-nund) to the female Ananda (Ah-nun-dah). Another Sanskrit name with a lovely meaning is Lalita (“playful, charming”).
Names that make me smile seem to change quite frequently — kind of like that junior high crush that makes you smile for a few weeks and is quickly forgotten.
Oh dear. I have a colleague named Anand. He has been graciously not correcting me about butchering his name for more than a year. Thanks for the heads up!
Lalita is lovely, but feels awfully close to Lolita – still, I wonder if that ever-so-taboo name will feel approachable with all these little Lolas on the loose?
Charlotte Vera says
Well, my pronunciation guide isn’t entirely accurate, since hindi/sanskrit vowel sounds are different from English.
Gladys and Clara were my first thoughts, but some of the names that mean “blessed” also seem joyful to me:
Beatrix, Benedict, Beatrice, Wyn, Ceridwen, Wendy, Gwen
Sarah A says
I love Felicity! I really don’t understand why she isn’t more popular. Friends named their baby girl Sara Grace and I bit my tongue but couldn’t help think that Sara Felicity would have been more surprising but still the same feel.
Name meanings are important to me, but I think sounds are more evocative of meanings sometimes. The letter L reminds me of the words lilting and luminous, so L names like Lilith, Lavinia, Lachlan, etc. usually sound joyful.
My niece is Sara Grace but we call her Gracie. She is the happiest baby so to me Gracie is a happy name by association 🙂
I agree with you about the sound being more important than the meaning, the letter G makes me think of words like gay (happy), glow, gleam, & great so G names like Gracie, Genevieve ll& Giselle are happy names. Plus any name that is fun to say like Delilah, Veronica, or Evangeline are happy names too.
I think Vivian is also a happy name.
Of course! She’s vivacious. 🙂
Allegra is getting quite “on trend” here, and I like it’s sprightliness.
Barnaby always sounds like a happy name to me, and so does Zoe.
Letitia is a name meaning “joy” that I find quite sweet.
Emmy Jo says
Where was the Nameberry blog entry on Joy and June? I tried to find it and couldn’t. I’d love to read it, since Joy is probably the middle name I’d be passing on to our first daughter. I don’t see it as up-and-coming at all, though. Just kind of a decent choice of medium-ish popularity. It doesn’t have the cool retro vibe that June has, but I’d love to be convinced otherwise.
It wasn’t a blog post … I think it was a tweet. Heck, how do I pull up an old tweet?
Karen Jaffe says
I’ve seen the name Merrily which is definitely a happy one, though maybe not the easiest to wear.
I love Merrily – and Verily, too – but they are kind of out there.
Yes, I knew a woman named Merry, short for Merriweather (after the explorer Lewis), and it was constantly a source of frustration for her to tell people that no, it isn’t Mary and yes, it is her real name. That and all the Merry Christmas jokes just got old . . .
When pregnant with my first, I searched and searched for a name that means happy that would fit in the middle spot for my daughter. None of the names worked for me, somehow. That made me unhappy. I think Bliss or Joy (as non-current as it is) are the two that I like best, but neither really makes my heart sing. However, like some of the other comments mention, nature-inspired names did work on both levels – somehow nature is a very happiness-inspiring resource, in terms of both sentiment and naming.
HA! Maybe that’s why nature names are so big – there are few things that make me happier than a day outside in gorgeous weather.
Elodie, Melody and Melanie all sound happy to me. I also think of Elise (or
Oh, I do think Elodie and Elise are happy! I’m less sure about Melody and Melanie, but I think their sound is joyful.
Lou @ Mer de noms says
There’s are many names which make me smile inwardly, it seems mostly ones associated with TV shows or books I grew up with – Bernard, Orinoco, Sakura, Flora, Pom, Babar, Cromarty, Prosper and Calder.
You can’t deny the cheerfulness of the name Sunny, nor indeed names such as Ramona, Dara and (Chris) Addison which are worn by some of the more prominent comedians here in the UK right now.
I think Florida is a happy name 🙂 JK. I love Buddy (family nickname) and nature names in general, like Tree, Azalea, etc. Just because being outside makes me happy.
I think Gladys and Abigail are happy names.
I know a little Ananda – her parents chose it specifically for its blissful meaning. She doesn’t have a nickname (yet) although I have heard some people call her Anandi, which is super cute. Oh and I heart Felicity – it’s been a favorite for a long, long time.
C in DC says
While Felice (the sound) fits right in with my naming style (Patrice/Petrice was on our short list almost til the end), all I can think of is “Feliz Natal” and “Feliz Anniversario”. Quite joyful, but sadly, not a name for this part-Brazilian family.
My grandmother and my niece share the middle name Naomi. It’s unexpected, but it works well. I like the sound too. My niece’s step-sister has the middle name Meredith, so they’re both happy.
What was the book where the family handed down names that meant light? Blanca, Lucy, Clara … I don’t have them quite right. I always LOVED that idea. Subtle, but meaningful.
Juju at Tales of Whimsy says
I don’t get a happy vibe from Naomi either.
I love Noemi and Naomi a lot. They both look and sound really cool.
I love Blythe and Felicity! I really like Felice too, but on a girl. Happiness all around!
Love this new addition to the site! A few other names that feel happy to me and would make me smile if I met a little one in real life-
You’re right about Sunny and Pixie, but they feel SO much like nicknames to me. My friend is having a Penelope – we’ve been calling her Pixie, but I don’t know if it will stick once she makes her appearance later this year. 🙂
Gladys also belongs on this list, doesn’t she? But it takes me a few minutes to get past the name’s frumpy image to hear the happy Glad. I wonder if Gladys has a shot at a comeback?
My mums name is actually Joy, so I really do love seeing names with this meaning. Genevieve was nearly Allegra but I couldn’t find a nickname we liked other than Ali, which isn’t our style