As initials go, it hovers near the bottom of the popularity list. Only Y, X, Q, and U are less often chosen for our daughters’ names.
And yet, girl names starting with W abound. Think of surname names that would wear every bit as well as Avery or Harper. And rarities include everything from vintage gems to well-why-not words to favorite fictional characters.
W girl names stand out just a little, but that’s a good thing.
MOST POPULAR W GIRL NAMES
A lovely nature name, borrowed from the graceful Willow tree.
The highest flying of the bird names for girls. The double-N Wrenn is sometimes seen, too.
Another season baby name, following Summer and Autumn.
A twist on popular Winter, with the Y swapped for an I, just like in so many baby girl names.
A feminine form of William, far more streamlined than Wilhelmina. Willa Cather makes it forever literary.
Two-parts Wren, one-part surname name in the key of Ashley and Hailey. This first name is surging in popularity, with spellings like Wrenlie, Wrenlee, and Wrenleigh not far behind.
A vintage nickname with plenty of charm, Winnie could be short for lots of formal names – but is more popular than many of them.
A surname name that sounds like the ocean, even if it refers to a meadow. Waverlee is also seen.
A cousin to Whitney, now following names like Hadley and Kinsley into wider use. It might be a recent invention, but it’s also a surname meaning “white meadow.” As with many a -ley ending name, you might also spot a Whitlee or even Whitleigh.
W SURNAME NAMES FOR GIRLS
Made famous – or infamous – by Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson, otherwise known as “the woman he loved.” King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry her. While Wallis is simply an alternate spelling of surname Wallace, the headlines made us think of this as an acceptable feminine form.
One of the hottest entries on the boys’ charts, Waylon is starting to gain traction for girls, too. Factor in the potential to make this a -lyn name – think Waylyn or Waylynn – and it has even more potential.
A fast-rising favorite for our sons, Wells suggests health, prosperity, and a hopeful future. Those qualities would be equally appropriate for a daughter. It’s rising in use for girls, but the numbers remain small.
Another borrowed-from-the-boys option. Spell it Weslie, and it brings to mind former favorite Leslie. Weslee and Wesleigh are also in use.
We love Weston for our sons. Could Westerly be an intriguing feminine form? It sounds a little storybook, bringing to mind the western wind and the Wild West.
A polished, preppy surname name with irresistible nickname Whit, Whitaker is used in small numbers for boys – and even smaller numbers for girls. It’s fresher than Harper, less expected than Whitney.
A surname name boosted by an actor and a singer, Whitney was part of the Ashley-Courtney wave, paving the way for so many favorites today.
Another fast-rising favorite for boys, Wilder could work for a girl as well. After all, the outdoors and all sorts of adventure are equal opportunity. The spelling Wylder is seen, too.
Either way you spell it – and that includes Wylee and Wyleigh – this surname name follows Riley into wider use.
Willoughby is just plain fun to say. It picks up on popular Willow, but takes it in a surname direction. It does, indeed, mean “farm by the willows.”
Oprah’s surname likely traces its roots to Winfred – friend of peace. It influenced our spelling of Winifred, too.
A Hollywood surname name with an appealing sound, equal parts substantial and whimsical.
A Kinsley-inspired innovention.
An o-ending surname in the key of Harlow.
Rey is a Jedi hero. But Wray? If you know your classic Hollywood, it brings to mind Fay Wray, the actor King Kong carried to the top of the Empire State Building. Originally an English place name, it’s an intriguing option, but maybe better in the middle spot.
The ultimate name for Chicago Cubs’ fans.
RARE W GIRL NAMES
The Scarlet Witch leapt from the comic book to the big screen as one of The Avengers. And then she starred in her own 2021 series, WandaVision, on Disney+. The name remains rare, but it’s no longer unfamiliar.
Japanese anime series Little Witch Academia makes this name familiar to fans. Wangari is a student at Luna Nova Magical Academy. Her name means leopard in Kikuyu, a Bantu language spoken primarily in Kenya. Or, on a more serious note, Wangari Maathi was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize fo her environmental activism, conservation work, and focus on women’s rights.
The name of the Addams Family’s only daughter, chosen because “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Despite that vaguely macabre image, Wednesday feels like a logical choice in our age of Summer and January. The smash hit Netflix series starring Jenna Ortega seems likely to push this name into far greater use.
JM Barrie’s level-headed hero, Wendy Darling’s name came from fwendy – a baby-talk way of saying friend. It could also be short for Gwendolyn.
WESLYN and WESLYNN
A feminine form of Wesley, or just another add -lyn invention.
Among the boldest of the pan-botanical names, Cameron Diaz used it as a middle for daughter Raddix.
Willa is white-hot, but Wilma? This name is back in Bedrock with Fred and Barney. At least for now. A German short form of Wilhelmina big in the 1920s and 30s, it’s easy to imagine Wilma staging a comeback – eventually.
Long and elaborate, this German feminine form of William – via Wilhelm – is instantly recognized, but seldom heard. One familiar use: modeling agency Wilhelmina, founded by 1960s model Wilhelmina Cooper.
Another feminine form of William, or an elaboration of Willa.
An antique that’s ready to shake the dust off, Winifred boasts popular nickname Winnie, and a tailored sound.
WINONA, WYNONA, WYNONNA
As in Ryder. Or Judd. While it has Native American roots, heavy pop culture use makes this more wearable than might otherwise be the case.
A name borrowed from Full Metal Alchemist character Winry Rockbell.
Winsome means charming and light-hearted. It’s not a terribly serious name, but it’s a very happy one.
Chart-topping Sophia means wisdom, but this straight-up word name is used for small, but steady, numbers of boys and girls every year.
A lovely nature name, seldom heard but certainly as wearable as Azalea.
From the Old English wrenna – the source of our word wren.
From the Welsh word for fair or blessed, Wynne sounds triumphant.
What are your favorite girl names starting with W?
First published on November 23, 2020, this post was revised and updated on February 14, 2022 and again on March 27, 2023.