Girl names starting with E include some of the most popular choices. At least two qualify as regal, saintly classics. Dozens more feel like sweet spot choices for a daughter, names that feel feminine without being too frilly. Plenty of them are familiar, but not wildly popular.
Of course, E names for girls as a group have caught on. One-quarter of the current Top 20 begin with E. And E is second only to the letter A in terms of most popular initials for our daughters’ names.
Fast-rising favorites like Everly, Emilia, and Emery contribute to some of that popularity.
That brings up one more challenge: many possible spellings and similar-sounding names can make it tough to pin down the exact popularity of a name like Emery or Emmeline.
But girl names starting with E are a promising collection, ranging fro the current to the classic, recent inventions to time-tested staples.
TOP 500 GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH E
Beloved by Jane Austen fans, classic Emma was pushed even higher when Gwyneth Paltrow played the role in a 1996 movie adaptation. It entered the US Top 100 in 1993. It made the Top Ten in 2002, the same year Ross and Rachel named their baby Emma on Friends. And by 2008, it hit #1, only to fall back and return to the top spot from 2014 to 2018. (That’s the most recent year for which we have data.) It’s short, complete, classic, and ages beautifully.
If Evelyn didn’t exist, we would have invented it by smooshing together Eva/Eve and that familiar -lyn ending. Except Evelyn has been around for ages, initially more common for boys. But it almost certainly comes from Avelina, a Germanic name of uncertain meaning. (Though it’s often connected to avi – desired.) Tailored and timeless, Evelyn has reached such great heights in recent years thanks, in part, to that appealing middle V sound.
A mini name with deep roots, Ella topped the charts in late nineteenth century America, and is every bit as popular more than a century later. Popular throughout most of Europe and the English-speaking world, spare and simple Ella carries the force of jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. It’s a fairytale name, too, as in Cinder-Ella. While the name’s never-in-the-Top-Ten status places it just outside the spotlight, we’re rich in names ending in -ella: Isabella, Stella, Bella, and on and on.
At home in any setting, across the oceans and the ages, Elizabeth reigns as the most classic of girl names. It offers dozens of nickname options, from defaults like Lizzie to less obvious picks – Zabby, Bess, or Lily, anyone?
A long-time #1 name in the US, Emily boasts years of history and multiple famous bearers, from Dickinson to Ratajkowski. Bronte and Stone. Post and Deschanel. It’s also a traditional name dating back to the medieval era, though we tend to tangle it up with the unrelated Amelia, and so many other Em- names parents love.
Nearly as refined as Elizabeth, Eleanor also belongs to saints, queens, and historical figures aplenty. Like any great classic, it comes complete with multiple nickname options. There’s also more than one spelling for Eleanor. There’s Austen-approved Elinor, as in Dashwood; Tolkien’s Sindarin Elanor; and imports like Eleonore and Ellinor – just for starters.
No question, El names are enjoying a moment. No surprise, then, that sweet nickname form Ellie stands on its own. It outranks other nicknames-as-formal names, like Molly and Sadie, but it owes some of its success to that style.
Strictly speaking, Emilia is the Italian/Spanish/Polish/Scandi cousin to Emily. In practice, it sounds almost exactly like another chart-topper Amelia. It’s tough not to mix them all together, and see Emilia as a fast-rising alternative to those two favorites. Emilia got a boost from actor Emilia Clarke, world famous for playing Khaleesi in Game of Thrones. It’s a globe-trotting name that feels fresh and traditional at the same time.
For starters, it’s a rock and rock roll surname – The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. And yet, I don’t think we hear Everly quite the same way we think about Hendrix or Lennon. Instead, Everly feels like a mash-up of all the sounds we love in girls’ names right now. It’s a little bit Emily, mixed with a heavy dose of Evelyn and Avery, too. And that is the formula for one of the fastest-rising names of our times.
Multiple spellings of this pretty, flowing name dot the Top 1000, but Eliana tops the list. There’s more than one possible origin for this name, including Latin – in which case, it might mean sun – and Hebrew, which suggests the meaning “God has answered.”
The romance language version of Helen, Elena is another name that feels effortlessly international. And while Elena of Avalor isn’t Elsa/Anna/Sleeping Beauty level famous, the Disney Channel has made her the first Latina princess.
A surname name that owes much to Emily and Avery, and might soon be more popular than either.
While not as popular as Top Ten Ava, Eva has returned to its late nineteenth/early twentieth century status as a Top 100 staple. The Latin form of Eve, Eva is heard in Spanish, Italian, Russian, Swedish, German, and lots of other Slavic and Scandinavian languages. It’s the perfect pick for a globetrotter – compact, versatile, and sophisticated.
Everly meets the elaborate -leigh spelling, just like so many names before.
Eliza bursts with energy. It’s the name of My Fair Lady, as well as Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, making it doubly musical. And dropping with the final syllable from Elizabeth emphasizes this name’s zippy Z sound, too.
The Biblical Garden where it all started in the Book of Genesis, Eden means paradise. And yet, it doesn’t feel like a traditional girls’ name. For parents drawn to meaningful choices like Sarah and Ruth, but focused on a twenty-first century ready name, Eden bridges the gap. Though the numbers suggest it’s not exclusively used by families drawn to its religious overtones. After all, the sound is terribly appealing, too.
Another spelling of lovely Eliana.
Eloise is just plain fun to say. It’s a saintly French name with literary roots. The collected letters of Heloise and Abelard make it literary and romantic. But American parents probably think of Kay Thompson’s character from Eloise and sequels, the young girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The first book debuted in 1955, and the character’s popularity remains strong.
Another antique name on the road to revival, Esther comes from the Old Testament. The original Esther is smart, fearless, and heroic – the annual feast of Purim celebrates Esther’s succesful efforts to save the Jews from slaughter. Christians embraced the name following the Protestant Reformation. A 1910s favorite, Esther is right on time for a comeback.
Literary surname name Emerson shortens to go-to girl name Emme. No surprise that a generation of girls named Emily, Emma, and Madison led to the rise of Emerson, too.
Emerson-with-a-y, possibly an attempt to make the name more clearly feminine.
Fiery Ember makes a nature name update to 1980s favorite Amber.
A gentle Elisabeth short form that has long stood on its own, Elise reads musical across centuries. Beethoven composed “Für Elise” in 1810. If your sensibilites are more modern, you might think of The Cure’s “Letter to Elise” from 1992. Across more than 180 years, it remains a traditional, understated choice for a daughter.
A sweet Elizabeth nickname that feels high-spirited and gently antique, all at the same time.
Take Elena, layer in former favorite Elaine, and this spelling feels obvious. Bonus: it makes nickname Laine/Lainey seem more intuitive.
Evangeline means “good news,” and while it’s often expressly Christian, something about this name feels broader. Maybe it’s because Longfellow made Evangeline famous in his tragic 1847 poem by the name. That makes it literary and romantic, too. Disney’s The Princess and the Frog sprinkles some pixie dust on the name.
A sweet nickname name take on any of the Ev names.
Evelyn, with an extra n.
Sometimes a letter, spelled out, is a name. Elle – as in L, as in the French word for she – is one such option. Credit goes to the rise of so many El- names, but also 2001’s blockbuster movie Legally Blonde. Sequels, spin-offs, and a Broadway muscial followed. No surprise that stylish Elle Woods encouraged parents to put her spare, but sophisticated name into the US Top 1000 by 2002.
Yet another Everly spelling possibility.
The third spelling of this pretty name to appear in the US Top 500. Which means, of course, that it’s far more popular and often-heard than you might guess.
The Spanish word for emerald, and an unforgettable character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo and Disney’s editions, both.
Lovely and literary, author JD Salinger first used the neglected Esme in the middle of the twentieth century. But it was 2005’s Twilight that really put Esme on parents’ radar.
Another Emery spelling.
A spin on Emilia … and Amelia, too.
Spare and sharp, Eve is the original woman in the Book of Genesis, and a sophisticated choice for a daughter.
Charmingly antique Edith peaked around 1920. It recently got a boost as the middle sister’s name on Downton Abbey. But this name is still early stages of revival, a choice for parents disappointed that Eleanor and Evelyn are so popular.
Ever since Scrubs introduced us to Sarah Chalke as Dr. Elliot Reid in 2001, the possibility of Elliott for a daughter has been growing.
SURPRISING E NAMES FOR GIRLS
A dramatic place name that’s rising for for girls, as Cairo trends for boys.
Another surname name, Ellison picks up on Allison and Emerson, plus all those Ellie names we love. And yet, it’s far less common than any of them.
Elodie hovered just outside the US Top 1000 for years. Baby name devotees adore Elodie, so no surprise it recently entered the rankings.
An intriguing rarity with possible connections that span the world – and nod to the movie Willow.
Take fast-rising Ember, mash it up with the -ly ending of Everly (and Emily and Kimberly and dozens of favorites over the ages) and you’ll have Emberly.
A gemstone name rarer than Ruby, but possibly every bit as wearable.
EMMY (#516) and EMMIE (#613)
How do you spell Emmie? Emmy? Emme? Despite the wild, runaway popularity of Emily and Emma and so many other Em- names for girls, this name remains surprisingly uncommon.
Ensley looks like Kensley, hold the K. A handful of options exist to explain Ensley’s origins: it could be a place name, or it might come from Anselm. Regardless of origins, Ensley sounds like a twenty-first century name for a girl.
A lovely Spanish name with an appealing and enduring meaning: hope.
Elegant and literary, Estella is just different enough from Stella and Estelle to feel distinctive.
The Spanish word for star, meaning this sounds more like ehs TREH ya.
A sparky, straightforward name, retro mini name Etta feels like a logical successor to Emma and Ella.
RARE E GIRL NAMES
A name from Greek myth, Echo pines away, lost to unrequited love, until only her repeating voice remained. We still use the vocabulary word today, and Echo is the go-to in the NATO phonetic alphabet to represent the letter E. But with names like Willow, Margot, and Harlow so popular, Echo could fit right in.
An Alpine flower name with a built-in lullaby.
With Eden and Edith popular, nickname name Edie seems like a logical possibility.
Big in Scotland back in the day, Effie almost fits with Sadie and Millie. It also brings to mind Hunger Games villain Effie Trinket. There’s also Kaya Scodelario’s character on British comedy-drama Skins.
Eisley sounds like it could be big, but how do you spell this name? Isley, Eisley, or maybe Eisele? Country music’s Hillary Scott and Chris Tyrrell welcomed daughter Eisele Kaye in 2013; it’s a family surname on dad’s side.
A name that crackles with energy, Electra stepped out of Greek mythology and into DC Comics. The beguiling Italian form Elettra is another option.
A modern Greek spin on Helen, Eleni could pick up where Elena leaves off.
A number made slightly more name-like by Netflix sensation Stranger Things.
A gorgeous Hebrew name meaning “my God is my light,” Eliora sounds ethereal and quite wearable, given the success of Eliana.
Yet another surname name possibility, Ellery might succeed Emery and Everly. There’s also Eleri, a feminine name from Welsh legend.
As with Elodie, Elowen attracts plenty of attention on baby naming sites. It’s a modern Cornish nature name meaning elm tree. With a distinctive sound, but plenty of easy nickname options, Elowen could fit right in.
Maybe an Elizabeth nickname, or possibly a rare Nordic name meaning love.
A Scottish form of Elizabeth, Elspeth seems daring and bold in the US.
A Cornish saint’s name, Endellion was all-but unknown until 2010. That’s the year that former British prime minister David Cameron and wife Samantha welcomed daughter Florence Rose Endellion. The bonus middle name honors their daughter’s unexpected early arrival while the family was vacationing in Cornwall.
An invented name that’s dotted the twentieth century, Enola is back in the spotlight thanks to a Sherlock Holmes-inspired spinoff.
Eulalie means well-spoken, from the Greek good – eu – and to talk- laleo. It’s a quirky, unconventional name in American English, but we’ve embraced choice like Rosalie and Amelie.
Sometimes the Greek eu becomes an Ev. That’s the case with Evadne. Like Zoe and Chloe and Penelope, the ‘e’ is pronounced.
A word name, rich with meaning.
Eoforhild was a seventh century saint, living in Anglo-Saxon England. The name eventually smoothed out to Everild – or even Averill. It’s among the rarest of the rare E names for girls.
Evolet looks like an Evelyn-Violet smoosh, but it’s actually an invention for the movie 10,000 BC. It may be based on the words “the love” written backwards, drop the extraneous H. After all, Evolet is the love interest that drives much of the movie’s drama.
What are your favorite girl names starting with E?
First published on June 29, 2020, this post was revised and republished on July 12, 2021.