Girls’ names ending with ‘th’ were a varied bunch. It got me thinking: what about girls’ names starting with ‘th’?
Turns out there’s even richer variety.
And yet, as a group, these names are astonishingly underused. There’s only one ‘th’ name in the US Top 1000: Thalia. Even the evergreen Theresa left the rankings after 2010.
It wasn’t always this way. One hundred years ago, ‘th’ was pretty common. The US Top 1000 included Thelma, Theodora, Theo (yes, for girls!), Theresa and Therese, Thora, and the now all-but-extinct Theola.
Of course, Thalia illustrates one of the challenges of Th names. Is the ‘th’ pronounced like Theo, or is it just a T sound, like Thomas? We know the answer for Theresa and company, as well as Thelma and Thora. But some of these names are ambiguous. I’d guess that the average Thalia is actually a Talia, but I don’t know that for sure.
This list focuses on ‘th’ names for girls that are more like Theodora – pronounced, at least in English, with the ‘th’ sound. Though I did toss in a few that don’t completely fit. It’s almost astonishing how many great options there are!
Th Names for Girls: The Theos
Theo – Believe it or not, Theo was bestowed on girls back in the day. It was probably less about name-napping and more about seeing Theo as gender neutral. There’s no shortage of names that start with this element, for boys or girls – so just like Charlie and Alex are possible nicknames for Charlotte and Alexandra, there’s no reason Theo couldn’t be short for Theodora and company. Which brings us to …
Theodora – Theo refers to god, and the second element means gift – just like Dorothea. Theodora has a clunky-but-elegant sound today. She’s less expected than Alexandra, but not as out there as some of the choices on this list.
Theodosia – Before there was Juno, there was For Keeps, starring Molly Ringwald as a teenage mom-to-be. Molly’s baby ended up answering to Theodosia, called Teddy. She’s an unlikely candidate for a comeback, but Theodosia did rank in the Top 1000 back in the nineteenth century. An even rarer spin on this name? Theodocia.
Theokleia – A clunky ancient find that leads to nicknames like Thea and Cleo? Sign me up! Just like Cleopatra is father’s glory, Theokleia refers to the glory of God. She’s a legitimate Greek name with a history of use, but she’s better know as Thecla, listed below.
Theola – Just like we can add a -lyn to anything these days and make a name, the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were big on -ola. Today she sounds dated, but she’s definitely seen some use. There’s even a gospel singer named Theola Kilgore.
Thea – Okay, she’s a Thea, not a Theo. But this is another possible short form of Theodora, one with a more conventionally feminine sound.
Theona, Theone, Theonie – In tales of the Trojan War, we hear lots about Hecuba, the wife of King Priam and mother of Cassandra and Paris and Troilus and more. Theona would have been Hecuba’s sister, aunt to all of those ancient characters. There isn’t much written about her, and yet I’m tempted by the sound of her name. If Leonie can be stylish, and Penelope, Phoebe and Zoe, too, why not this ends-with-e name for a girl?
Theophania – You know her as Tiffany in English, but this is the Greek original.
Th Names for Girls: Blasts from the Past
Thelma – Scooby Doo solved crimes with Velma, and one of Marge Simpson’s sisters is Selma. But this is an obscure name popularized by a late nineteenth century novel. Today she sounds dated to most of us, but for the very daring namers, Thelma might be a candidate to follow names like Olive and Pearl.
Theda – Strictly speaking, Theda is a Theo. She’s a contracted form of Theodosia, Theodora, and company. Screen siren Theda Bara made waves in the silent film era. She was born Theodosia.
Thankful – One of the virtue names used back in the day. Unlike Hope or Felicity, she’s yet to make a comeback.
Theresia, Theresa, Teresa – You wouldn’t be surprised to meet a baby Theresa, or Teresa or even Therese. But all of the names are out of favor these days, while short forms Tess and Tessa are in vogue.
Thomasina – She’s a feminine form of Thomas, a name long popular for boys. Thomasina hasn’t fared nearly as well, and has been given to just a few girls in recent years. In the twentieth century, it was strongly associated with a fictional cat.
Th Names for Girls: The Ancients
Thalassa – She’s a minor sea goddess, sometimes considered the mother of Aphrodite but often just plain overlooked. If you’re looking for a choice more subtle than Ocean and as feminine as Vanessa, the unusual Thalassa makes for a surprising fit. More into celestial names? There’s also a moon of Neptune called Thalassa.
Thecla, Thekla – The streamlined version of Theokleia, Thecla is known as an early female martyr, dating to the first century.
Themis – Another goddess name, Themis was an ancient figure, charged with law and custom. She’s usually listed as the mother of the Hours and the Fates.
Thetis – She’s a sea nymph and also mother of the hero Achilles.
Thirza – The Old Testament Tirzah means favorable. She became Thirza in Dutch, and has seen some sparing use in English, too.
Thisbe – A powerful literary choice, Thisbe was the beloved of Pyramus ages before Shakespeare penned Romeo and Juliet. The ill-fated lovers ended badly, but Thisbe’s name endures.
Thessaly – An ancient region of Greece, and a place name still in use today. It’s not a traditional given name, but if girls can answer to Sicily, then surely Thessaly is fair game.
Th Names for Girls: The Imports
Thaïs – It’s a feminine name from the annals of Alexander the Great, and also a fourth century saint – both of whom were courtesans. I’ve seen various meanings, including “bringer of joy.” Lovely, but I’m not certain it is accurate. She could hang out with the ancients, but this name has had a good run in French, where she’s pronounced ty eese.
Thandie – I’ve been mad about actress Thandie Newton’s given name ever since I first saw it. Except I saw it, and so I went years pronouncing it like candy with a Th at the beginning instead of a C. Not so – Thandie’s name omits the h sound.
Thandiwe – Where did Thandie get her unusual given name? It is short for Thandiwe, a Xhosa name meaning beloved. Thandie’s mom was from Zimbabwe, though she was born in London.
Thora – Thor is the Norse god of thunder, the mightiest of his pantheon. Now he’s also a Marvel superhero, brought to life on the big screen by Chris Hemsworth. But while Thor seems too much to wear, the feminine version feels like a swingy, retro pick – slightly more daring than Cora, but very on trend. She’s never been common in the US, but has risen slightly in recent years, just as all of the -ora names have. I also like Thora as a contracted form of Theodora.
Thyra – Another Norse import, Thyra is a given name in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish. She’s also associated with Thor. But Thyra sounds more like Tyra, but with a long ee sound, not an i. The popularity of Tyra Banks has boosted Tyra, but that’s less about her Scandinavian roots and more about her modern style.
Thema – I’ve read that Thema means queen in Akan, a language spoken primarily in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. But it is used as a given name? The West African custom of bestowing names based on the day of a child’s birth is considered Akan in origin, leading to names like Kwame and Kofi. I’m not sure if she’s a viable heritage choice, or more along the lines of Khaleesi.
Do you like starts-with-Th names? What are your favorites? Are there other names that should be on this list?