But there’s a wide range of possible K names for girls. Classic Katherine and cool, casual Kate share the letter with soap opera-boosted Kayla and Sue Grafton’s fictional detective, Kinsey Millhone.
In fact, there are far more girl names starting with K than could fit in this post. It’s the seventh most popular first initial as of the 2020 data. That’s down one place from 2019.
Of course, that sometimes leads to a little bit of K backlash. Some parents love the idea of invented names like Kailynn and Kaedee. Others feel it’s a little like a game of onomastic mix and match, and try to avoid them.
Some of those inventions do filter into general use, of course. Some of them are now among the most popular names in the US. 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.
POPULAR GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH K
A surname name with Anglo-Saxon roots, 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.
First came Hailey. Then Kayla. Kaylee followed, an inevitable mix of irresistible sounds.
Made internationally famous by Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, this names owes much to masculine name Kyle, and something to Kaylee and company, too.
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.
Chloe has become a modern staple. The Kardashians reminded us that it can be spelled with a K, too.
Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani put this spelling of her Hawaiian name on the charts, and now it’s rocketing up the popularity charts.
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.
One of several possible spellings of ancient name Camilla. With Camila standing at #11, the success of Kamila-with-a-K seems inevitable.
Soap opera Days of Our Lives helped launch this name in the 1980s.
It looks like a streamlined spelling of Callie, but Kali is a Hindu goddess name.
Kehlani ranks higher, but Kailani is closer to the Hawaiian original: a mix of words meaning ocean and heaven.
Possibly a Scandi nickname for Katarina, Kaia might also be another name in the key of Maya. Supermodel Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia is following her mom’s career path. It’s a sleek, international choice.
Kiara could be a K-spelling of the Irish Ciara or the Italian Chiara.
An English surname and place name, made possible as a first thanks to a soap opera villain.
A slightly more phonetic spelling of Kailani, and one of several fast-rising -lani names.
Short for former favorite Mackenzie, Kenzie fits right in with Kinsley and other K names.
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. In fact, Keira Knightley’s name was inspired by the skater.
Another Kehlani-Kailani cousin, though Kalani’s meaning is different: the sky, or heaven.
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.
Another natural successor to Kelly and company.
Perhaps the most elaborate spelling of Kaylee.
Another surname-inspired choice.
Cameron remains a Top 100 choice for boys, while Kamryn is a fancier, feminine version – though the spelling Cameron remains more popular for girls, too.
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.
An affectionate nickname for Katherine, Katie have long stood on their own, too – especially spare, strong Kate.
Traditional Irish name Caitlin was respelled when it reached the US. Kaitlyn was long the most popular, though it has faded in recent years.
Kylie meets Kayla.
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.
MORE K NAMES FOR GIRLS
A 1990s style star.
Another take on Kaylee/Kylie.
A slightly more phonetic spin on Katherine, with a long history of use. We tend to think of Katherine as the dominant spelling today, but Kathryn was the more popular K spelling in the 1950s.
A feminine form of so many Ken- names.
Another form of Katherine, rare but heard across the ages.
Add a K to the chart-topping Aaliyah.
A Scandi, and sometimes Slavic, elaboration of Karen.
As Kamryn is to Cameron, Karsyn is to Carson.
Irish surname Cassidy, meaning curly-haired, dressed up with a K.
A K spelling of Cara, boosted in recent years by Supergirl’s alter ego, Kara Zor-El.
We adore Charlotte. This fellow Charles cousin is a little more obscure.
Another Kira spelling, made popular in part by actor Kyra Sedgwick.
Another Caitlin/Kaitlyn cousin, this one more of a Kate-Lynn smoosh.
Drop the -ley from Kimberley, and this surname looks a little more like recent favorites Harper and Piper.
A modern name, rising along with Amiyah and Jamiyah.
As Kenzie is to Mackenzie, Kenna is to Makenna. Or possibly it’s just a feminine form of so many established Ken- names.
A dressed up version of Cadence, less word-like and more name-ish.
Kinsley, emphasis on the -lee.
An invented title for Game of Thrones, Khaleesi’s sound made it a natural borrowing for parents.
A bright, upbeat Irish surname, associated with a vibrant shade of green and a generation of (now grown-up) girls.
Kaylee meets Paisley, though it is sometimes found as a surname.
Another Hawaiian name relating to the sky, though Keilani’s meaning is “glorious heaven.”
Zoe Saldana made flower name Cataleya popular in 2011 movie Colombiana. The C spelling remains more popular, but both are climbing.
Another spelling for spirited Callie.
A feminine take on surname-name Corey.
A favorite for our sons, this Hawaiian name meaning sea has potential for our daughters, too.
A re-spelling of surname Kinley, inspired by so many -lee ending names for girls.
An intriguing import from Japan, Kairi comes to the US via video game Kingdom Hearts.
Either a cousin to popular Camila, or a borrowing from Arabic, where it means perfect.
A former favorite, Karen started out as a Scandi short form of Katherine. Today, though, it’s burdened by negative stereotypes.
Yet another spelling of Kylie.
Another form of Kayla.
Kaylee meets Bailey.
Yet another form of Kaylee … or possibly Keely.
Carter-with-a-K, less popular than the C spelling for boys and girls alike, but still in use.
A Hawaiian stand-in for Diana, and a stylish sound in the 1980s and 90s.
Another Hawaiian borrowing, made famous by child star Khalani Simon, better known as Lani Love.
A logical spelling for Kaylee, but among the less popular choices.
Probably an invented name, possibly based on place name Kenya.
A unisex name, also appearing in the boys’ Top 1000, Kamari might come from the Arabic qamar – moon.
A Kim name made famous by reality television’s Kimora Lee Simmons.
A little bit Kai, a little bit Kaia.
One more Cadence/Kaydence cousin.
RARE AND UNUSUAL GIRL NAMES BEGINNING WITH K
A lovely Arabic name meaning friend.
An artist surname name that fits with Willow and Margot.
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.
An Arabic name meaning generous, with an appealing sound.
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.
A Sanskrit name meaning kindness, famous as the middle name of actor Uma Thurman.
This Japanese name comes with a compelling meaning: flame.
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.
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.
From a Cornish name meaning love.
Another Irish surname name with some history as a first, too.
A Hebrew name meaning incense.
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.
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.
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.