C is for classic. While C girl names rise and fall, relatively few ever feel trendy or fleeting. They’re solid citizens, from the chart-toppers to the overlooked.
Of course, many C names can be spelled with K, too. That’s true for evergreen favorites like Katherine, as well as names like Khloe and Korra. The C-to-K swap is only one letter, but it can change the entire style of a name. And it means that many C girl names actually feel far more popular, thanks to a K cousin elsewhere on the popularity charts.
Some of my favorite girl names start with C. I used three of them! And I could easily name another daughter or two from this list.
MOST POPULAR GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH C
The littlest princess answers to a classic name, one that already ranked in the US Top Ten by the time she was born. It’s traditional, tailored, and nicely feminine.
Speaking of royalty, singer Camila Cabello went from a member of Fifth Harmony to a household name in just a few years. She brought her Spanish-English crossover name along for the ride.
Along with Zoe, Chloe soared up the US popularity charts in the 90s, paving the way for Penelope. While Chloe has left the Top Ten (and Zoey outranks Zoe), it still feels like a stylish option.
Spare and simple, but rich in meaning, Claire shines. The ‘i’ spelling is French. Earlier generations favored the more traditionally English (and Irish) Clare.
Like Charlotte, Caroline developed as a feminine form of Charles, via the Latin Carolus. But while Charlotte tops the charts, Caroline hovers just beyond the spotlight, traditional but slightly less common.
Nora’s rhyming sister, Cora went from sometimes-heard to everywhere, thanks to the Countess of Grantham, the kind-hearted Cora of Downton Abbey.
The Latin form of Claire, Clara headlines Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, saved lives as a pioneering nurse, and became of the very first Hollywood icons.
Boy names on girls stir up controversy galore, but Charlie started out as a nickname for Charlotte. Like Ellie, Millie, or Hattie, it stands on its own today.
Long and lovely Cecilia fits with so many favorites, like Amelia and Olivia. It might appeal for another reason: Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians.
Sometimes short for Caroline, Callie stands on its own today. It’s fresher than Kelly, but not quite as retro as Millie or Hattie.
FASTEST RISING C GIRL NAMES
Even sparer than Claire, the hold-the-i spelling was original in English. It’s also associated with the saint. (Though the original Saint Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio.)
An alternative spelling of Hannah, or possibly a Japanese or Bulgarian given name.
Colin caught on in the 90s for our boys, but Collins leans feminine. That’s thanks to real life story turned 2009 Hollywood blockbuster The Blind Side.
It’s easy to make the case for Charlie, a sparky nickname for Charlotte. Charli drops the ‘e’ in an attempt to make it even clearer that Charli belongs to a girl.
Oh my darling, this sweet name means gentle. It comes from the masculine Clement, via French.
Like Zoe and Liv, Chaya means life. But Chaya’s origins are Hebrew.
A modern staple for boys, Carter is catching on for girls, too. Some of it might be down to Marvel character Peggy Carter, also known as Agent Carter, who starred in her own series from 2015 to 2016.
A tailored name with ancient roots, Corinne peaked in the 1890s, again in the 1920s, 1970s, and 1990s. The recent uptick in the name’s use is relatively small, but suggests that we’re embracing all of the Cora names lately.
Sleek and sophisticated, the French Celine brings to mind singer Dion. It’s ultimately related to the Latin word for heaven, though you might also think of Selene, from the Greek word for moon.
Cameron Diaz pushed her boyish name up the popularity charts in the 1990s. It fell in recent years, but popped up again going into 2018. One possible reason? Our embrace of Camila and other Cam- girl names.
EASILY OVERLOOKED GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH C
From classics like Katherine to recent favorites like Kaitlyn, can any of the related names be overlooked? The Spanish form Catalina argues that it’s very possible, particularly considering our love for Isabella.
The French form of Camila, Camille deserves consideration for families looking for a tailored, but feminine, option.
Carolina feels like a romance language spin on Caroline, and it is. But it’s also a place name that might appeal to anyone with roots in the Tar Heel or Palmetto states.
The fiery and ill-fated hero of Bizet’s opera Carmen, the name couldn’t fit better. It means song.
Heavenly, celestial Celeste is surprisingly underused, but instantly familiar.
Like Celeste, we all recognize Colette – even though few of us are using it.
A rare French name, Coraline’s boost came courtesy of a typo. Author Neil Gaiman reversed the vowels in Caroline to re-discover this lovely name.
Elaborate, even frilly, Clarissa is Claire in a ball gown. It peaked in the 90s, at the height of Melissa Joan Hart’s Clarissa Explains it All on Nickelodeon. But it never rose so high that it wouldn’t still work years later.
A musical name in the key of Penelope, Calliope could be the next big thing – eventually.
Another ancient name, Claudia feels strong and determined – qualities we prize in our daughters.
RARE AND UNIQUE C NAMES FOR GIRLS
A name with multiple meanings, from beloved to pure to a ship’s keel.
Cleo brings to mind an ancient Egyptian queen, but it comes with a cool, modern sound.
Journalist Campbell Brown boosted her unusual name during her time at NBC and CNN. What’s not to love about this mix of Camila and Isabelle, with a hint of Harper, too?
Lucky Clover sounds upbeat and just slightly Irish.
The Spanish word for sky – or heaven.
A lacy, elaborate take on Cecilia, the medieval Cecily remains relatively rare today.
Actor Calista Flockhart briefly boosted her name, but it’s mostly overlooked now. It comes from the Greek, meaning most beautiful.
A strong and traditional name, Constance fits with virtuous Grace, but also vintage Charlotte.
A type of Lily, and a -lla name in the key of Stella.
A sweet nickname turned given name, thanks to Les Misérables.
What are your favorite girl names starting with C?