Girl names starting with K include some of the biggest pop culture sensations of our time. Just think of Game of Thrones’ Khaleesi. Or the entire Kardashian family.

But there’s a wide range of possible K names for girls. Classic Katherine and cool, casual Kate share the letter with 1980s soap opera megahit Kayla and Sue Grafton’s fictional detective, Kinsey Millhone.

K is the seventh most popular first initial as of the 2023 data. That’s significant, ahead of perpetually-popular J and the oh-so-stylish H. K is just one spot behind C right now, but plenty of names appear on both lists – looking at you, Chloe and Khloe.

Of course, there potential for a little bit of K backlash. Some parents love the idea of invented names like Kailynn and Kaedee. Others feel it’s a little too mix and match, and try to avoid them.

Some of those inventions do filter into general use, of course. After all, surname-style Kinsley outranks former Top 100 picks like Kimberly and Kaitlyn.

Let’s dive into all of the girl names starting with K.


A surname name with Anglo-Saxon roots, lively and modern Kinsley followed Kelly and so many other K names up the popularity charts.


A presidential surname name, Kennedy has become a mainstream favorite for our daughters, just like Madison.

KEHLANI (#156)

Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani put this spelling of her Hawaiian name on the charts, and now it’s rocketing up the popularity charts.


An evergreen classic, Katherine-with-a-K is more popular today than Catherine-with-a-C, but the two names have swapped places depending on the decade.

KAYLEE (#180)

First came Hailey. Then Kayla. Kaylee followed, an inevitable mix of irresistible sounds. In years past, more spellings – Kailey, Kaylie – also appared in the US Top 1000, though many of those are now fading.

KAIA (#186)

Possibly a Scandi nickname for Katarina, Kaia might also be another name in the key of Maya. Supermodel Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber is following her mom’s career path – and putting her name in the spotlight, too. It’s a sleek, international choice.

KYLIE (#207)

Made internationally famous by Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, this name owes much to masculine name Kyle, and something to Kaylee and company, too. Lately, though, it’s all about reality star Kylie Jenner.

KHLOE (#216)

Chloe has become a modern staple. The Kardashians reminded us that it can be spelled with a K, too.


An early surname-style name, Kimberly became a breakout hit in the 1960s. If it hadn’t been so popular then, it would almost certainly be a fast-rising favorite now.

KAILANI (#225)

Kehlani ranks higher, but Kailani is closer to the Hawaiian original: a mix of words meaning ocean and heaven.

KIARA (#230)

Kiara could be a K-spelling of the Irish Ciara or the Italian Chiara.

KAYLANI (#246)

A slightly more phonetic spelling of Kailani, and one of several fast-rising -lani names.

KAMILA (#258)

One of several possible spellings of ancient name Camilla. With Camila in the Top 20, the success of Kamila-with-a-K seems inevitable.

KALI (#290)

It looks like a streamlined spelling of Callie, but Kali is also a Hindu goddess name.

KENDALL (#316)

An English surname and place name, made possible as a first thanks to a soap opera villain. Today, Kendall Jenner is among the most famous figures to wear the name.

KAYLA (#324)

Soap opera Days of Our Lives helped launch this name in the 1980s. Today it’s in mom name territory, but still in use for our daughters.

KALANI (#378)

Another Kehlani-Kailani cousin, though Kalani’s meaning is different: the sky, or heaven.

KIRA (#430)

A feminine form of Cyrus, Kira’s early popularity is likely due to Russian figure skater Kira Ivanova, an Olympic medalist in 1984 and regular on the world stage in the following years. Actress Keira Knightley’s name was inspired by the skater.


Another form of Katherine, rare but heard across the ages.

KATE (#478)

A classic nickname for Katherine, spare, strong Kate is the name of the future Queen of England (well, okay, she’s Catherine) as well as a familiar name for Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn.

KALIYAH (#507)

Add a K to the chart-topping Aaliyah.

KAMRYN (#511)

Cameron remains a Top 100 choice for boys, while Kamryn is  a fancier, feminine version – though the spelling Cameron popular for girls, too.

KATIE (#529)

An affectionate nickname for Katherine, Katie has long stood on its own, too.

KORA (#533)

The German spelling of Kora, long outranked by the C spelling in the US. Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra might also give a boost to the K spelling.

KENZIE (#564)

Short for former favorite Mackenzie, Kenzie fits right in with Kinsley and other K names.

KYLA (#565)

Kylie meets Kayla.

KEIRA (#571)

Keira Knightley’s parents intended to spell her name Kiera, the Anglicized form of Irish Ciara. But they transposed the letters. The actor’s fame has made this spelling popular.

KINLEY (#597)

Another natural successor to Kelly and company.

KAITLYN (#621)

Traditional Irish name Caitlin was respelled when it reached the US. Kaitlyn was long the most popular, though it has faded in recent years.

KENNEDI (#630)



Perhaps the most elaborate spelling of Kaylee.

KEILANI (#636)

Another Hawaiian name relating to the sky, though Keilani’s meaning is “glorious heaven.”

KELSEY (#662)

A 1990s style star.


Zoe Saldana made flower name Cataleya popular in 2011 movie Colombiana. The C spelling remains more popular, but both are climbing.

KAELI (#678)

An updated spelling for Kaylee with hints of all those Hawaiian(ish) names, too.

KARSYN (#680)

As Kamryn is to Cameron, Karsyn is to Carson.

KATHRYN (#681)

A slightly more phonetic spin on Katherine, with a long history of use. Katherine is the dominant spelling today, but Kathryn was the more popular K spelling in the 1950s.

KYRA (#698)

Another Kira spelling, made popular in part by actress Kyra Sedgwick.


An invented title for Game of Thrones, Khaleesi’s sound made it a natural borrowing for parents. While this name has fallen since the series’ finale, it remains more popular than you might guess.

KARLA (#712)

We adore Charlotte. This fellow Charles cousin is a little more obscure.

KIANA (#726)

A Hawaiian stand-in for Diana, and a stylish sound in the 1980s and 90s.

KENDRA (#741)

A feminine form of so many Ken- names.

KENNA (#751)

As Kenzie is to Mackenzie, Kenna is to Makenna. Or possibly it’s just a feminine form of so many established Ken- names.

KENSLEY (#755)

Another surname-inspired choice.

KARINA (#768)

A Scandi, and sometimes Slavic, elaboration of Karen.

KELLY (#772)

A bright, upbeat Irish surname, associated with a vibrant shade of green and a generation of (now grown-up) girls.

KYLEE (#774)

Another take on Kaylee/Kylie.

KINSLEE (#785)

Kinsley, emphasis on the -lee.

KAIYA (#797)

A little bit Kai, a little bit Kaia.

KORI (#808)

A feminine take on surname-name Corey.

KAMARI (#810)

A unisex name, also appearing in the boys’ Top 1000, Kamari might come from the Arabic qamar – moon.

KYA (#820)

A mini name in the key of Mia.

KATELYN (#852)

Another Caitlin/Kaitlyn cousin, this one more of a Kate-Lynn smoosh.

KALLIE (#861)

Another spelling for spirited Callie.

KHALANI (#867)

Another Hawaiian borrowing, made famous by child star Khalani Simon, better known as Lani Love.

KIMBER (#884)

Drop the -ley from Kimberley, and this surname looks a little more like recent favorites Harper and Piper.

KEYLA (#886)

Another form of Kayla.

KARTER (#890)

Carter-with-a-K, less popular than the C spelling but still in steady use for girls and boys alike.

KEILY (#907)

Yet another form of Kaylee … or possibly Keely.

KIMORA (#915)

A Kim name made famous by reality television’s Kimora Lee Simmons.

KAMIYAH (#917)

A modern name, cousin to Amiyah and Jamiyah.

KARA (#937)

A K spelling of Cara, boosted in recent years by Supergirl’s alter ego, Kara Zor-El.

KAI (#940)

Borrowed from the Hawaiian word for ocean, Kai is one of the hottest boys’ names of this moment, and now is rising in use for our daughters, too.

KENIA (#947)

Probably an invented name, possibly based on place name Kenya.

KASSIDY (#962)

Irish surname Cassidy, meaning curly-haired, dressed up with a K.

KAHLANI (#975)

Another K-plus-lani possibility.

KAIRI (#984)

An intriguing import from Japan, Kairi came to the US via video game Kingdom Hearts.

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A take on Casey. Spelling possibilities abound.


Kaylee meets Paisley, though it is sometimes found as a surname.


A lovely Arabic name meaning friend.


An artist surname name that fits with Willow and Margot.


Borrowed from a Slavic name for a type of tree.


Fans of The Good Wife might recognize this name from a character in the series. It’s a Hindi name meaning sun.


A name meaning lotus – and a world-changing woman.


From an Arabic word meaning moon.


A former favorite, Karen started out as a Scandi short form of Katherine. Today, though, it’s burdened by negative stereotypes.


A spelling of Carly made famous by supermodel Karlie Kloss.


An Arabic name meaning generous, with an appealing sound.


A Sanskrit name meaning kindness, famous as the middle name of actor Uma Thurman.


This Japanese name comes with a compelling meaning: flame.


Inspired by a medieval saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, also known as Saint Kassia. The hymns she composed remain part of the Byzantine liturgy today.


Katherine by way of various European languages.


Also spelled Kathlynn, it probably started out as an early attempt to Anglicize Caitlin. Now it feels more like a play on Katherine.


A nature name made famous by Katniss Everdeen, a fictional hero from The Hunger Games.


It looks like a creative twist on Katrina, but Katriel is a Hebrew name meaning crown of God.


A twist on Kaylee.


An Irish surname that followed Kelly into wider use.


A former favorite, likely borrowed from the Biblical Keziah.


A surname name put on this list by actor Ellie Kemper.


A name with African roots meaning “the loved one,” it was made famous by author Ibrahim X. Kendi.


It looks like Karen, but Keren is a Hebrew name meaning “ray of light.”


From a Cornish name meaning love.


Another Irish surname name with some history as a first, too.


Biblical place name with a tailored, unexpected sound.


A bird of prey makes this an avian name fiercer than Dove, but every bit as wearable.


A Hebrew name meaning incense.


Job’s daughter in the Old Testament, this name means cinnamon.


The very first convert to Islam, Khadija was the wife of Mohammed.


An obscure word meaning “family,” Kindred was the middle name of sci fi author Philip K. Dick.


The saintly and regal Kunigunde survives in Polish as the more accessible Kinga.


The name of an Israeli lake, called the Sea of Galilee in English. Kinneret means harp; it’s said the lake is shaped like the instrument.


Another surname name, this one made famous by a fictional detective from author Sue Grafton. Fun fact: the surname comes from a given name meaning “royal victory.”


Opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa made this Maori name internationally known.


A word name meaning fate or destiny.


Typically a nickname for Katherine or Christopher/Christina, Kit might stand on its own, too.


A tailored, Scandi take on Christina. Multiple spellings compete, including Kristin. If it seems strange to include such a familiar name on this list of rare K names for girls, well, consider that it hasn’t appeared in the US Top 1000 for five years and counting with the ‘e’ spelling, and twice that for Kristin.


Kristina reached the US Top 100 in the 1980s, following Christina up the charts. It’s rare today, though.


It might be invented from stylish sounds, or Kyrie could be borrowed from the prayer Kyrie eleison – Lord, have mercy. Or Mr. Mister’s 1985 smash hit Kyrie, which is a reference to the prayer.

What are your favorite girl names starting with K?

First published on March 1, 2021, this post was revised and re-published on April 11, 2022, October 16, 2023, and July 8, 2024.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I enjoyed this post because I come from a K-name-loving family! My mom and her sisters are Karen, Karla and Kelly. I’m Kaitlyn and my cousins include Kelsey, Kory, Kaylee, Kylee, and Kayson! I didn’t continue the tradition with my kids, but it’s still kinda fun – and a bit confusing when we’re all together!

  2. Great list. The first time I met a Katriel was two years ago. It’s a nice, unusual, easy to pronounce and spell name with legitimate meaning and history. The combo everybody wants!
    And it can shorten to Kay if she wants. Bonus!

    Save Kestrel for the boys, though, please! (Begging, not demanding) The boys need more fun, unusual, and fierce names like this.

  3. My favourite K is Kalindi- gorgeous, begins with an authentic k and ends with an authentic I!