Claire names range from the classic Clara to elaborate Clarimond to modern possibilities like Clarity and Sinclair.

The traditional name has multiple origins. 

By the late third century, there’s a male Saint Clarus in Nantes, known as Clair in French. He’s not the only Clarus/Clair to appear in the history books. That’s why Claire is sometimes considered the French feminine form of Clair. 

But the name’s modern use dates to the thirteenth century.

Chiara Offreduccio, better known as Saint Clare of Assisi, is remembered as one of the first followers of Saint Francis. Chiara became known as Clare in English. 

The name Chiara likely came from the Latin Clarus – meaning clear – which takes us back to the beginning.

The Latinate form Clara has caught on, too, reaching peak popularity in the US during the nineteenth century, when it appeared in the Top Ten.

It also has separate roots in Ireland, as a place name and a surname. So there are plenty of reasons that some form of this name might appeal to parents. 

As a traditional choice with just one syllable, there’s a simplicity and elegance to Claire that feels timeless. It’s easy to imagine it as a traditional middle name, in the same category as Rose or Grace.

What if you like the sound, but long for something a little more elaborate? Or maybe a creative spin on a traditional choice?

It turns out there are tons of Claire names, from the spare to the frilly, the modern to the antique.

Read on for all of the Clara-Claire names.

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The Italian form of the name brings to mind a host of international options. There’s the Irish Ciara, with a completely separate origin and meaning. Kiara and company could be re-spellings of either, or just a whole new name. It’s elaborate, impeccably Italian, and possibly easier to wear than, say, Elettra or Fiammetta.


Americans usually think of nicknames as shorter – Ellie for Eleanor, Lou from Lucille. But many languages extend names, adding syllables to create diminutive forms. Chiarina comes from Chiara plus -ina, an ending that transforms the name into “little Claire.”


While this spelling is rare in English, it’s sometimes seen. It’s the modern French word for clear, familiar thanks to phrases like clair de lune – moonlight.


Trim, tailored, and frills-free, Claire feels steadily popular, but not overused. This generation grew up with Claire Danes, from Romeo + Juliet to Homeland. There’s also Molly Ringwald’s character from classic 80s teen movie The Breakfast Club; Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing in the Jurassic World series; Julie Bowen’s Claire Dunphy on Modern Family; Outlander’s time-travelingClaire; and Netflix series House of Cards’ Claire Underwood. (Fun fact: Saint Clare of Assisi is considered the patron saint of television.) Video game series Resident Evil makes Claire a hero. One more refernece: there’s an early B-52s single called “Planet Claire.”


You might think of The Nutcracker’s Clara, or 1920s jazz age siren Clara Bow. But the name dates even farther back. It’s the feminine form of Clarus, worn by several early saints. And the thirteenth century Italian saint boosted her name across Europe, in several forms – including the Latin Clara. This name became a Top Ten favorite in the late 1800s. It sounds


Clare can also be an Irish place name and surname, as in County Clare, and an English one, too. This makes it potentially unisex. In fact, Clare routinely ranked in the US boy’s Top 1000 into the early 1940s. That said, Clare has also been used as feminine in the English-speaking world for centuries. Born in 1903, American politician and writer Clare Booth Luce is one notable figure.


Clarencia probably comes from Clarence, though it has a fascinating history independent of the masculine form. There’s a small port in Chile called Caleta Clarencia. A medieval state known as Achaea once claimed Clarencia as its capital. Today it stands in Greece, and is known as Glarentza, but antique coins still bear the inscription “DE CLARENCIA.” It’s obscure, but might appeal to parents who love antiques like Benedetta.


Another rarity, Clarette languished even in the age of Annette. But it’s quite close to Scarlett, and -ette names are enjoying a renaissance today. 


Walt Disney created Clarabelle Cow early in his animation career. The character debuted way back in 1928, and appears in various productions over the years. Spelled Clarabel, the name belongs to one of the faithful coaches in Thomas the Tank Engine. There’s a clown from 1950s children’s television staple, Howdy Doody, also called Clarabel. And yet it’s a smoosh of Clare and Belle, giving this name the meaning bright and beautiful. In our age of Isabella and Annabelle, possibly some spelling of this name could appeal. Clarabella, maybe?


Some names are cemented in our collective memory from just one movie scene. There’s Marlon Brando’s passionate Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. And then there’s Anthony Hopkins’ bone-chilling Clarice. Hopkins played serial killer Hannibal Lechter in the 1991 big screen adaptation of the bestselling novel; Jodie Foster was heroic FBI agent Clarice Starling. Both roles – and names – are unforgettable. Should it doom Clarice? Back in 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Clarice was Rudolph’s girlfriend. The name appeared in the US Top 1000 most years into the 1960s. It’s the kind of name everyone recognizes, but no one is using. One another association: the University of Maryland’s is home to The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, known simply as The Clarice.


Like Claribel, this is a smoosh name. In this case, it’s the Latin clarus with the Germanic mund – bright protector. It might also come from the Occitan Esclarmonde – light of the world, a name from medieval legend. There’s a Massenet opera by the name, too, the tale of an empress and sorceress.


Edmund Spenser, that great inventor of dramatic literary names, created Clarinda for his sixteenth century epic, The Faerie Queene. It has a long history of sparing use in the US, though it’s faded along with Linda, Belinda, and company.


Unlike several of the Claire names, Clarion feels unisex. It also sounds more modern than antique. It’s a musical term, in the company of Aria. Clarion originally referred to a small trumpet, again from the Latin clarus. A clarion call demands action. That makes this part-musical, part-virtue name.


Frilly, feminine Clarissa was boosted by Melissa Joan Hart’s late 1980s Nickelodeon hit, Clarissa Explains It All. But it sounds vintage, and indeed, the name was first made famous by a late eighteenth century novel – in which virtuous Clarissa suffers mightily. This name sounds romantic, resilient, and just a little bit different today. And if you’re a fan of popular YA series The Mortal Instruments, then this name might feel all-out heroic.


Felicity, Amity, and Verity could all fit in on Plymouth Rock, Pilgrim names from the seventeenth century. Clarity carries a modern vibe. That’s partly because the name was virtually unheard of in the US before the 1970s. It’s also true, though, that Clarity seems like a modern virtue. It suggests clear thinking, or perhaps vision. (Could that last reference make it the perfect name for a 2020s baby?)


Nearly any of these names could shorten to Clary, but it might bring to mind the main character from The Mortal Instruments. She’s called Clary throughout the series, but her given name is the frillier Clarissa. There’s also the herb clary sage, as well as the surname Clary, likely related to Clark.


The K spelling of Clara is preferred in Germany, as well as Scandinavia and many Slavic countries. Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2021 dystopian novel Klara and the Sun gave the name to a AI-powered character. Klare, Klari, and other K spellings of most names on this list are possible, too.


Double Claire names occur in many languages. The magazine Marie Claire made the French version familiar, but all of these – and more – are heard across time and languages.


Given the long history of Claire names, related surnames feel inevitable. The French Sinclair comes from Saint Clair. It brings to mind American writer Sinclair Lewis. In our age of Harper, Riley, and Addison, Sinclair has potential as a girl’s name, too.

What are your favorite Claire names?

First published on April 9, 2012, this post was revised and re-posted on October 3, 2014; April 6, 2020; and April 9, 2024.

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. My family history has male lineage of Clair. My brother being the last. In today’s age he has landed so many job opportunities because of it. It has been a great conversation starter when he introduces himself to others. Surprisingly, he never really got picked on in grade school because of it.

  2. I love Claire. It’s only recently that the Clar to rhyme with star pronunciation of Clara told hold in Britain. Opera singer Dame Clara Butt gave her name to a tulip bulb, always pronounced Dame Clair-uh Butt by my English mother, a keen gardener, and everyone else. This older pronunciation of Clara in Britain is also heard in the 1954 movie “Aunt Clara” starring Margaret Rutherford.

  3. One of my daughters has Claire as her middle name. Her first is a Welsh name that starts with M and ends with th. I LOVE how her first and middle sound together! If she has a daughter, she has said she wants to name her Claire.

    Of the various Claire variants, I like Clarice and Chiara the best.

  4. Unfortunately a childhood friend ruined the name Claire and all other Claire names for me and Clarabelle screams “cow”. Otherwise I do think it is a good name, though nor for me.

    Clarence is the only Claire name I like and I have been trying to convince my husband to use it as first name for our next boy. He prefers it in the middle so we’ll see what we end up with…

  5. Hahaha! The opening of this post is so relatable!! I actually come from one of those Tony-heavy families! Lol.

    I guess I never realized how many varying forms of Claire there are, but they were all so fascinating to read about. I love Clara the most. But I also love Chiara and quite like Claire/Clare. Clarimond intrigues me, but it’s probably not one I’d ever consider using myself.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks, Emma!

      My (not Italian) husband was always wondering why I didn’t have an Uncle Tony. 🙂 Funny how some family traditions work out that way … though if my grandparents were alive, I imagine they’d start rattling off Tonys in our extended family …