Let’s look at the girl names starting with C – from the most popular choices, to the ones that might be new to you.
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.
Of course, C names are popular in their own right. As of 2021, it’s the sixth most popular first initial for girls’ names.
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. While it has several possible origins, the most frequently cited is Greek, with the meaning maiden.
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.
Classic Katherine has staying power, and we’ve been wild about Katherine names like Kaitlyn, too. Catalina, the Spanish form of the name, sounds like a sister for Isabella, an alternative to Camila.
Sometimes short for Caroline, Callie stands on its own today. It’s fresher than Kelly, but not quite as retro as Millie or Hattie.
The first of several Charlee spellings parents use for their daughters.
The French form of Camila, Camille feels just different enough. As tailored as Madeline, Camille is a compact, sophisticated option for a daughter.
The cattleya is an orchid. It morphed into Cataleya as a given name, and rose in use following Zoe Saldana’s turn as Cataleya in 2011 movie Colombiana.
Camila is the fast-rising favorite, leaving the double-L spelling much farther back in the rankings.
Elegant, ethereal Celeste is surprisingly underused, but instantly familiar.
While the K version of this name is more popular today, Catherine has been on top in the past – and it’s a perfectly reasonable choice for a daughter.
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 likely just a slimmed-down spelling of Callie, but Cali also looks like a short form of California.
One more way to spell Charlie, also rising in the rankings.
A feminine take on classic surname name Cameron.
Sleek and sophisticated, this French name brings to mind singer Celine Dion. It’s ultimately of Latin origin, related to the word for heaven, though you might also think of Selene, from the Greek word for moon.
The fiery and ill-fated hero of Bizet’s opera Carmen, the name couldn’t fit better. It means song.
We all recognize tailored, vaguely French Colette – even though few of us are using it.
Cameron is more popular for boys; Camryn, for girls. But we’re still hearing plenty of Cameron for our daughters, too.
An Irish surname name, Cassidy caught on for girls in the 1990s, along with similar three-syllable names like Courtney and Brittany.
The fourth spelling of Charlie on this list – and in the US Top 500!
A favorite for our sons, rising in use for girls, too. Unisex names continue to be favorites, across the alphabet.
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.
Oh my darling, this sweet name means gentle. It’s the feminine form of Clement.
Another spelling option for Cecilia, this one clearly leading to nickname Cece.
Cassandra was big in the 1980s, but not Jessica-Amanda big. That means it feels more like overlooked girl names beginning with C than dated mom names beginning with the letter. Plus, Cassie is a sparky and timeless nickname choice.
A musical name in the key of Penelope, Calliope is rising in use quickly.
Tally up all of the Charlie spellings, and this name is more popular than it initially appears.
A place name of Italian origin, Capri is known for its natural beauty.
It’s a little bit of a mom name today, but really, this feminine form of Christopher ought to be considered a classic.
A place name associated with neighborhoods in London and New York, Chelsea peaked in the 1990s, way before Brooklyn.
A Hebrew name with a pan-global vibe, Chaya offers a great meaning: life.
Inspired by the name of a Native American tribe.
Short for Carla or Caroline – or maybe even Charlotte – there’s something about Carly. While it peaked in the 1990s, it fits in with surname-style names like Riley.
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.
A musical possibility, Cadence updates Catherine. Fun fact: it surged in use following 2003’s American Wedding, featuring a young January Jones as the sister of the bride.
While Celia claims separate roots from Cecilia, the names feel almost interchangeable.
A Hebrew form of Hannah.
Recently returned to the US Top 1000, Cleo combines the mystique of the ancient Egyptian queen with a cool, modern sound.
Cindy is stuck sharing a room with Jan and Marcia, but Cynthia? In our age of Olivia and Sienna and Thea, it sounds like it could fit right in.
A surname made famous by a designer, Chanel’s recent burst of popularity might have more to do with a handful of reality stars and young actors/models by the name.
Traditionally considered the English spelling, even though French Claire is far more popular in the US.
Lucky Clover sounds upbeat and might honor family ties to Ireland. It’s a recent arrival in the US Top 1000.
A surname name associated with candlemakers … and Friends.
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.
Part of the Christina-Kristin block of names from an earlier generation, today Crystal fits right in with Ruby and other word name possibilities.
UNEXPECTED C NAMES FOR GIRLS
A surname name inspired by activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
A place name more popular for boys, but every bit as wearable for our daughters.
An unexpected option in the key of Penelope, with a great meaning: beautiful flower.
From a poetic name for Scotland.
Along with Velvet, Lace, and Dimity, a fabric name that might just work.
Actor Calista Flockhart briefly boosted her name, but it’s mostly overlooked now. It comes from the Greek, meaning most beautiful.
A type of Lily, and a -lla name in the key of Stella.
Another mythological name, and a musical one, too.
A poetic name for Wales.
Inspired by the jewelry.
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?
After briefly leaving the US Top 1000, Cara is back. Credit might go to The Mandalorian’s Cara Dune. (In the character’s case, it’s short for Carasynthia.)
A Dutch name of Greek origin, Carice is derived from Charis – grace.
A name with multiple meanings, from beloved to pure to a ship’s keel.
Classic Charles started out as Germanic Karl, with Karla as the feminine form. Vintage and unexpected Carlotta is an Italian take on Karla, energetic and high-stepping.
A name with Hebrew origins, Carmel looks a little like sweet caramel, but it means garden.
A Welsh name meaning beloved.
While the origin is debated, Casilda’s roots run deep. An eleventh century patron saint of Toledo, Spain answered to the name.
Cassandra meets Sophia in this shining, rare name.
From a type of tree, known as a source of cinnamon.
An elaborate, dramatic name from Greek myth.
Kate is a familiar classic. So is Catherine. But Cate is all Cate Blanchett, a sophisticated and unexpected take on the beloved name.
Lacy, elaborate Cecily was a medieval English take on Cecilia. It remains relatively rare today – as does the tailored, French Cecile.
The Roman goddess of agriculture, and a goddess name still undiscovered by modern parents.
The French word for cherry, Cerise feels more like a color name in English.
Borrowed from the surname of the famous French painter.
A name with Sanskrit roots, Chandra means “shining moon.”
A French surname associated with a saint, as well as the word chant – song.
From the Greek word for grace. In myth, the Graces – or Charites – were goddess in charge of all things related to beauty and charm.
A virtue name with a sepia-toned, antique appeal.
A South African feminine form of Charles, made famous by actor Charlize Theron.
A rare name from the Greek word for delight.
A whole cluster of names contributed to the popularity of this twentieth century innovation. It’s likely derived from the French cherie – darling, but it also looks something like Charlotte and so many Charles names, as well as other girls’ names ending with L.
A name of Italian origin, Chiara is the original form of Claire in that language.
It’s easy to mix up Chiara and Ciara – and Keira and Sierra, too. But Ciara comes from Irish origin, and means dark.
The Spanish word for sky – or heaven.
Originally from an Aztec name meaning star, Citlali is most popular with Mexican-American parents.
Another rare find from Greek myth, more wearable thanks to the success of Chloe and company.
A Claire elaboration that might still bring to mind Silence of the Lambs, but has plenty of potential nonetheless. Lots of other Claire names could fit on this list, too.
A modern virtue name connected to classic Claire.
An ancient name, Claudia feels strong and determined – qualities we prize in our daughters. Claudette is another Claud- possibility.
A Greek name meaning glory, cousin to Cleo.
Elegant French name meaning mercy.
An old school Germanic name by way of French. Also spelled Clothilde, Clotilda, and Clothilda.
Another Greek possibility, Clytie means famous or noble. The original Clytie was an ocean nymph; the name has been well-used in literarture since then, but only rarely for real girls.
A sparky French nickname-name that now stands on its own.
Once a favorite with Irish-American families, Colleen means girl.
A strong and traditional name, Constance fits with virtuous Grace, but also vintage Charlotte.
A Spanish name taking from a title of the Virgin Mary – Our Lady of Consolation. Gilded Age heiress and socialite Consuelo Vanderbilt lends the name some vintage glam.
An Italian title, Contessa shortens to Tess, which makes it far more accessible than, say, Margravine.
The French form of Coralia, an all-but forgotten Greek origin name, Coralie seems like a substitute for Rosalie.
From the Spanish word for heart.
Lear’s loyal daughter, and an antique name long overlooked.
Cousins to Cora.
An obscure, but lovely, name from a Spanish medieval legend.
Tailored and unexpected, with an upbeat meaning: cheerful.
An ancient Roman name with plenty of potential.
A sweet nickname turned given name, thanks to Les Misérables.
A feminine form of Cosmo, with the same meaning: universal.
As in the shape, and also a reference to the moon.
Another ancient name, this time made familiar by Shakespeare.
What are your favorite girl names starting with C?
First published on June 15, 2020, this post was revised and updated on June 28, 2021; and again on June 13, 2022.
CATRINA: phonetic spelling of the Scottish Catriona; also Italian
I have a granddaughter by this name. She has been called Catie and Cate, but as an adult prefers Catrina. (Her second daughter is Camilla, a subtle nod to her own name.)
You’re right – there are so many lovely C names for girls! I hadn’t really considered it until seeing them all listed together. I have a Catalina who gets lots of positive comments on her name. I also love Caroline and would have used it (but it clashes with my son’s name). There are so many C names which seems to hit the sweet spot of familiar but not too common.
I love the name Cora, however I’m worried some may make a jump to Corona(virus), so I’m worried to use it.
I think so many “C” names are lovely…Claire/Clare, Cecily, Cosette, Celine. My personal favorite though is Carmela.
Sheri Moore says
Carys was in my short list of names for my daughter
Clementine is my favorite girls’ name! I’m a Celia myself.
I love the C names for girls too! My 2 daughters are Clare and Katharine (named for my mom Catherine) and Caroline is definitely under consideration for the baby girl I’m currently expecting.