Let’s take a look at Amelia’s sisters: longer girl names ending in lia.
Like Amelia, most of these names have significant history. But many of them are far more obscure.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because the names on this list share sounds with Amelia, many of them will feel instantly accessible – even if you’ve never heard them before.
Choosing a name by sound isn’t for everyone, but if you have a handful of names you like, but none seem like the one, it’s an interesting approach.
We’ve talked about boy names ending with -a, girl names ending with -o, boy and girl names ending in -r, and three-syllable names for girls ending with -y or -ie. Sadie’s Sisters are short, retro, nickname names – two-syllables with an ‘ee’ sound at the end. Penelope’s Sisters are names from Greek myth that end in an ‘ee’ sound. And we’ve already looked at girls’ names ending in just ia.
The challenge with girl names ending in lia is that they don’t all sound the same. Far from it! Some take the leah sound, while others are alyah or even elyah. And the same name can be said in more than one way, depending on your preferences and the pronunciation quirks of wherever you may be.
Other names have that lia sound in spades, but not the spelling. Azalea, anyone?
So this time we’re looking at spelling alone. I’ll let a -liah or two squeak by, but most of these girls names ending in lia are just that.
There are a handful of truly unexpected possibilities – and yet maybe not as many as you’d guess.
Alia – The most traditional spelling of this name is the Arabic Aaliyah, introduced to the world by a tragically short-lived pop singer. Plenty of other spellings are in use: Aliah, Aleah, Aliyah, Aleaha. The streamlined Alia ranked a chilly #724 in 2013, but was rising rapidly. The more classic Aaliyah has been in the US Top 100 since 2001. Alia Shawkat plays Maeby on Arrested Development. This name feels less vintage, more global and twenty-first century ready than many of the Amelias.
Abelia – The scientific name for honeysuckle, and an unconventional way to get to Abby. It could also serve as a feminine form of Abel.
Accalia – Myth gives us the founders of Rome, twins Romulus and Remus. While they’re well-known, their foster mother is a footnote. I’ve most often seen her called Acca Larentia, but a few accounts give her name as Accalia.
Adelia – An unusual form of Adelaide and company. The similar-sounding Adilia is sometimes seen in Spanish.
Aelia – Back to Ancient Roman for a Aelia, a feminine form of the family name Aelius. Emperor Hadrian was a member of the Aelius family, and plenty of women answered to Aelia over the years.
Amalia, Amelia, Emilia – Three similar-sounding names, but not with the same roots. Amalia comes from amal – work. Emilia is another family name from Ancient Rome. It can be argued that Amelia comes from either origin – and, at #17 in 2013, is undeniably the most popular of them all.
Anatalia, Anatolia – According to legend, Saint Anatolia was a third century Christian woman who resisted marriage to a pagan man. She eventually lost her life rather than submit. Her cult was popular in Italy, but today Anatolia brings to mind Turkey, as it is another name for Asia Minor. Regardless of the origin, the name means sunrise. Anatalia is a rare variant.
Arcelia – Araceli is a Spanish epithet for the Virgin Mary, from the Latin phrase “altar of the sky.” There’s a tiny town called Arcelia in Mexico, and ten girls were given the name in 2013. But she’s far more rare than even Araceli, which has ranked in the US Top 1000 in recent years.
Athaliah – An Old Testament Queen of Judah, Athaliah went to great lengths to preserve her family’s reign. Maybe that’s why her name has never been a big hit. Then again, Delilah’s possibly problematic reputation hasn’t held back that name. So Athaliah – or Athalia, if you prefer – could be an interesting alternative to Natalia.
Aurelia – Golden Aurelia returned to the US Top 1000 in 2012, and shows signs of catching on.
Bedelia – Remember the Amelia Bedelia books, about the bumbling, but good-hearted, housekeeper? Bedelia was once an affectionate form of Bridget. It’s nearly extinct in 2013.
Camelia, Camellia – A bold botanical with the easy nickname Cammie. Camille and Camilla are similar-sounding names, but they have different roots.
Cecelia, Cecilia – From the great Simon and Garfunkel song to her vintage sound and easy nickname Cece, I had this name pegged as the next Amelia. So far the numbers don’t quite agree with my prediction, but that’s not a bad thing. Cecilia is the more popular spelling – ranked #223 to Cecelia’s #552 in 2013 – but that could change.
Celia – At first glance, Celia is a cousin to Cecilia. Only it isn’t so. They both come from Ancient Roman family names, but not the same one. And while Cecilia is saintly, Celia has a literary sheen, thanks to Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Cloelia – When I discovered Cloelia, I wanted her to be the proto-Chloe, an ancient name that would be more wearable thanks to the modern favorite. The only trouble? As a sharp-eyed reader pointed out, Cloelia would have been pronounced without the ‘o’ – Clelia. Which mostly looks like a typo, an extra ‘l’ added to Celia. Still, Cloelia was quite the figure in the ancient world. A Roman taken hostage in a war, she led a successful escape, impressing both her captor and the people of Rome with her bravery.
Cordelia – Lear’s loyal daughter, and another Shakespearean name. And how can it be that Cordelia doesn’t rank in the US Top 1000? If you’re after a true rarity than no one will recognize, and love the Sophia-Amelia style, consider Cordelia. A mere 199 girls were given the name in 2013, compared to over 2,500 newborns called Cora and another 1400-plus named Cecilia.
Cornelia – Another Roman matron appellation, Cornelia is more obscure than Cordelia, and feels clunkier, too. But isn’t the nickname Neely kind of fabulous?
Dahlia, Dalia, Delia – Dahlia is a straight-up floral choice, inspired by the Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl. It’s the national flower of Mexico, which leads us to Dalia – the Spanish spelling of the name. Dalia is also found in Hebrew and the Baltics, so this one will travel well. Then there’s Delia, a goddess name related to Artemis and sometimes used in poetry – and for real girls, too.
Eulalia – In Greek, ‘eu’ meant good – leading to lots of names, from Eugene to Eudoxia. Eulalia was a good talker. Today, she’s heard only sparingly, though Marcia Gay Harden has a Eulala, and Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It” has a Eulalie, called Lolly. Saint Eulalia is the patron saint of Barcelona.
Evalia, Evelia – Take the spare, Biblical Eve and the Latinate Eva, take on -lia, and you’ve just added to the girl names ending in lia list. The ‘e’ spelling is far more common – if still rare. But with Evalyn gaining as an alt spelling for Evelyn, Evalia seems like a very wearable possibility.
Fidelia – Along with Bedelia, this one isn’t likely to be heard anytime soon. And yet, her meaning is lovely – faithful, from the Latin fidelis. Beethoven’s only opera was called Fidelio.
Idalia – If Evelia is an elaboration of Eve, then logically, Idalia is an elaboration of Ida – work. Looking for a more exotic meaning? Aphrodite was connected with Idalion, an ancient city in Cyprus, and was sometimes referred to as Aphrodite Idalia. Alexander Pope wrote “Celestial Venus haunts Idalia’s groves” in The Pastorals, one of his early works.
Julia, Giulia – Among the most classic and enduring names on this list, Julia is yet another Roman name borrowed by the Bard. She’s truly timeless, always ranking in the US Top 200, and usually in the Top 100. As of 2013, Julia charted at #75. Giulia is the Italian spelling. The Giu- may feel a little contrived if you’re not very Italian, but it is a valid variant, easily explained.
Lilia, Lillia – Oh, all the Lily names! This might be one of the most obvious marriages of two trends – Lily + lia. And yet, she’s not the most popular. Besides just Lily, Lillian and Liliana are the most popular formal forms.
Magnolia – This one is back in the US Top 1000 after a long hiatus! Could she be the next Willow?
Mahalia – A straight-up hero name, thanks to Mahalia Jackson, civil rights activist and the Queen of Gospel. Her name is an elaborated form of the Old Testament Mahlah, used for both men and women. 48 girls were named Mahalia in 2013.
Malia – A White House name on the rise, thanks to teenaged First Daughter Malia Obama. Barack is from Hawaii, where the name Malia does double duty – it’s a traditional form of Mary, as well as a Hawaiian word meaning calm. It has a lot in common with Aaliyah – a non-Western name that feels novel, but rooted in history.
Noelia – Once upon a time, a child born on Christmas Day might have been named Noel, and so there are plenty of names related to that auspicious date. Noelia is Spanish, and it’s been worn by a Puerto Rican pop singer. But Noelia also feels very accessible to an English-speaking audience, especially in our age of Isabella and Olivia.
Odelia, Odilia – Speaking of Olivia, don’t these names feel like a twist on that oh-so-popular name? They’re two more twists on Otto, that hardy Germanic standby meaning wealth. Saint Odilia – sometimes called Odile – is the patron saint of Alsace. Odette and Ottilie are probably more stylish in 2014, but Odilia might wear well.
Ophelia – Ophelia is nearly synonymous with mad scene, possibly a reason she’s never rivaled some of the more popular Shakespearean borrowings. Speaking of borrowing, scholars suggest that Will found this name in an influential poem by the Italian writer Jacopo Sannazaro.
Rosalia – There are so many great Rose names. There’s a Saint Rosalia back in the 1100s, said to be an Italian noblewoman descended from Charlemagne himself. She’s still celebrated with a feast in Palermo every summer.
Talia, Tahlia, Thalia, Tallia – As multi-faceted as Delia, Talia works well for families after a pan-European name. My first thought is Talia Shire – Adrian from the Rocky movies, and a member of the Coppola clan. It’s a name with roots in Hebrew, as well as Greek – Thalia was one of the nine Muses. It also brings to mind the Russian-Italian-Spanish Natalia, a name once given to girls born on Christmas Day.
Willia – Lop off William’s ‘m’, and you’ll find this girl name ending in lia. It’s a very rare feminine form of the name – Willa and even Wilhelmina have been far more popular over the years. But there’s no reason Willia wouldn’t work in our Amelia-Aaliyah age.
What’s your favorite girl name ending in lia? Are there any others that should be on this list?