After all, A is the most popular letter for girls’ names, with E right behind. The letter I ranks thirteenth – midway through the alphabet.
And yet, there just aren’t that many baby girl names starting with I. And, unlike Amelia/Emilia or Olivia/Alivia, relatively few girls’ names can swap an I for another vowel – at least as the first initial – without changing pronunciation.
(I and Y can often swap places … but given how rare Y is, that doesn’t really change much.)
And so I names for girls remain a highly curated set. While some of these choices are true chart-toppers – including a former #1 name! – plenty of rare gems await, too.
Read on for some of the most intriguing girl names starting with I.
I NAMES FOR GIRLS IN THE US TOP 1000
A Top Ten name since 2004, and #1 from 2009 to 2010, regal and romantic Isabella is a generation-defining name.
Scottish Isla caught American parents’ attention thanks to actor Isla Fisher. It fits right in with names American parents love, like Mia and Ella.
An ecovintage darling, Ivy’s middle v just adds to this name’s appeal.
Another gorgeous nature name, sophisticated Iris still brings to mind the 1998 Goo Goo Dolls’ power ballad by the name.
Isabella is the chart-topper, but the slightly shorter Isabelle has had a good run, too.
Isabelle road Isabella’s coattails, and the same is true for the even sparer Isabel.
A creatively-spelled spin on Isabella, one that makes the nickname Izzy a little more obvious.
It might be a version of Ixchel, a Mayan goddess name.
A Swahili word meaning faith, Imani is also the seventh principle of Kwanzaa.
A mix of Avery and Ivy, Ruby and Aria, Ivory is musical, colorful, and with a stylish sound, too.
A sparky, spirited name in the key of Sadie, one that suggests independence.
A feminine form of Ivan, that makes Ivanna one of many names related to the enduring John.
One more Isabella name makes the US Top 1000.
A traditional favorite with a powerful meaning: peace.
It could be a spare spelling of Isla, but Ila also means “earth” in Sanskrit. The name appears in Hindu legend as both masculine and feminine.
Most often a phonetic spelling of Isla, influenced by the popular Ayla. But in at least one case, it’s different. English pop star Steve Hart and actor Ashley Scott named their younger daughter Iyla Vue – “I love you” – in 2015.
Likely a cousin to Itzel, influenced by the popularity of longer, -ana and -anna endings.
In several languages Elias and Elijah are spelled with an I instead of an E. Iliana evolved as a feminine form of Elias in those languages, but it could also be invented in our Eliana/Lilianna moment.
From Arabic, Inaya means care or concern, and looks quite a bit like many stylish names, too.
Long a traditional name for British families with ties to the country, India now fits with our love of place names, as well as beautiful girl names with a flowing, romantic sound. Potential nickname Indie is another bonus.
Once among the more unique girl names, Indigo fits right in with Navy – and Scarlett and Olive and Rose, too.
RARE & VINTAGE GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH I
A Greek cousin to Gianna, making this another feminine form of John.
The name of an ocean nymph in Greek myth, Ianthe is another name meaning violet, like the flower.
A mermaid-like creature from Brazilian folklore, and cousin to fast-rising Yara.
A weather-related winter name, regularly in the US Top 1000 in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
A mini name with Germanic roots, Ida had a good run in the nineteenth century, thanks to a Tennyson poem turned Gilbert and Sullivan musical.
A rare girl name with multiple origins, and a lovely sound.
Ida meets Bella. This vintage choice ranked in the US Top 1000 every year from 1880 into the 1940s, before heading for obscurity.
A medieval English form of a Norse goddess name, related to springtime and renewal.
A Hebrew name meaning tree.
Most likely another form of Helen, but in Finnish, it coincides with the world “ilo” – joy.
ILSA and ILSE
German and Dutch short forms of Elisabeth, Ingrid Bergman made the name famous in the unforgettable 1942 movie Casablanca.
This may have started out as a typo, or it might’ve been a deliberate re-naming by Shakespeare, Imogen comes from the Celtic Innogen – maiden.
Another mini name, Ina could be short for any name ending with -ina. Or it might stand on its own, as in Food Network’s celebrated chef Ina Garten.
There’s fictional explorer Jones, of course, but place name Indiana – and nickname Indie/Indy – feels perfectly unisex.
Also spelled Inez, it’s the Spanish form of Agnes.
Take the Welsh Angharad, mix in a little bit of Margaret, and Ingaret is the result.
A gorgeous Scandi name with a strong sound and glam image, thanks to Hollywood Golden Age star Ingrid Bergman.
The ultimate mini name, a borrowing from Greek myth and one of the moons of Jupiter.
Another I name for a daughter borrowed from a Gilbert & Sullivan musical, this time related to violets.
Likely Scottish in origin, Iona was the Isla of the early twentieth century.
A sea nymph’s name in Greek mythology, derived from the word for violet.
Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin gave this name to their now-grown daughter. With place names so much in favor, Ireland fits right in.
A form of Irene seldom heard in English, but familiar in many Euorpean languages.
Also spelled Erma, this former favorite comes from the same German roots as Emma.
A gorgeous medieval variant of Isabelle.
A logical substitute for Isabella, Isadora means “gift of Isis,” as in the Egyptian goddess. Dancer Isadora Duncan is another worthy reference.
A name straight out of Colonial America, Isannah appears to be a cousin to so many ends-in-annah names, from Hannah to Susannah. It’s a character name in Johnny Tremain, keeping the name alive for new generations to discover.
A rare and ancient name inspired by a region in Asia Minor, Isaura feels a little like Isabelle meets Laura.
The Scottish spelling of Isabelle, distinctive and unexpected. Fun fact: Downton Abbey’s Isobel Crawley uses this spelling.
A princess from the medieval tales of Arthur, a name that’s just barely familiar, but seldom heard.
ITALIA and ITALY
A place name that’s every bit as wearable as Italy. Italia is simply the the Italian equivalent. (Though officially, the country is named Repubblica Italiana – the Republic of Italy.)
From Ida to Iva, another mini name with potential appeal for parents seeking minimalist choices. Iva has multiple origins and meanings, including yew tree, willow tree, or maybe even a feminine form of John.
What are your favorite girl names starting with I?
First published on December 21, 2020, this post was revised and republished on September 13, 2021; October 24, 2022; and September 18, 2023.