Hazel: Baby Name of the DayHazel combines vintage style with a modern sensibility.

Our Baby Name of the Day comes from this list of nature names for girls.

Hazel: The 100 Year Rule

Way back in the 1880s, Hazel charted in the Top 100. The name remained there right through 1936. It spent more than ten years at 25 or better.

That puts this name in the company of modern favorites like Allison, steadily popular across nearly fifty years without ever quite attaining classic status.

By the 1950s, the name fell out of favor, leaving the Top 1000 entirely during the 1970s. One factor: popular comic strip Hazel chronicled the misadventures of a housekeeper by the name. It ran for fifty years, from the 1940s into the 1990s. In between, it became a successful television series.

During the 1950s, Looney Tunes gave us Witch Hazel, a character who faced off against Bugs Bunny in more than one adventure over the years. While fictional witches can boost a name, this one probably helped cement the image of an out-of-date choice.

In recent years, we’ve forgotten the fictional characters. Instead, we’ve embraced the positive aspects of the name.

One reason? Many vintage favorites feel fresh again after a century of rest – often called the “100 Year Rule.” But that’s far from the only thing driving the name’s return.

Hazel: Nature Name

In the natural world, it is better known as corylus, a genus of trees and shrubs. Different varieties abound, and many types produce hazelnuts, also called filberts. (Or, in French, avelines – for yet another lovely name.)

Rich symbolism attaches to the plant. Celts believed that eating the nuts made one wise; in Gaelic myth, Finn McCool absorbed the wisdom of a salmon who feasted on hazelnuts. It appears in Norse lore, too, associated with knowledge.

Nature names are wildly popular for girls today, so it’s no surprise to find such a well-known one gaining in use.

Hazel: Beyond the Trees

But this name offers more than just ties to the natural world. Consider:

  • It’s a nickname-proof choice with a tailored, but still feminine, quality.
  • We do like -l names, from Isabelle and Annabelle to Ariel and Kendall.
  • Color names continue to appeal to many parents, and this one refers to a greenish-gold to light brown hue.

The word comes from the Old English haesel. It’s been used to refer to eye color since at least the late sixteenth century. How do we know? In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare had Mercutio tell Benvolio that he had “hassel eyes.” It’s a play on words, but also proof that the color has history.

Hazel: Julia and Emily

In 2004, Julia Roberts welcomed twins. The world raised an eyebrow at their names: Phinneas Walter and Hazel Patricia. Wasn’t her daugther’s name just too, too outdated?

Nope. Instead, Roberts picked up on a trend. The name had returned to the US Top 1000 in 1998, and gained almost 300 places by the time the celebrity baby was born. No question that the high profile birth announcement helps explain why Hazel cracked the Top 500 just two years later.

Then came John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. In 2014 – a decade after Roberts – the couple welcomed their daughter, Hazel. Emily described looking for an “old lady” name that she and John both liked.

Except by 2014, the name stood just outside the US Top 100 – old lady no more!

Since the Blunt-Krasinski birth announcement, Hazel has soared into the US Top 100. It now ranks #52.

Hazel: Back in a Big Way

There’s also a rabbit connection: the name belongs to a (male) rabbit in 1972 novel Watership Down, and the podcast Rabbits features the name, too.

A heroic teenaged Hazel Miner saved all of her siblings during a 1920 North Dakota snowstorm – even though she perished. Miner remains a local folk hero.

There’s also a Bob Dylan song by the name, and an indie band called Sister Hazel.

The Hunger Games gave us a Hazelle, but it’s The Fault in Our Stars’ Hazel Grace – book and movie – that comes to mind first.

With all of these references, and our love of nature names and all things vintage, no surprise that this name is back in a big way.

Would you consider Hazel for a daughter? Do you think this name will reach the Top Ten?

Note: This post was originally published on May 8, 2008, and substantially revised on April 26, 2011. It was revised again and re-posted on November 15, 2017.

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 think I like it better on a boy, like the rabbit in Watership Down. He was the first Hazel I came across so the name feels unisex to me: I’ve also met one or two female Hazels. Q

  2. Hazel is such a lovely name. I like its vintage feel and the connections to nature, as well as the association with Hazel Grace Lancaster from “The Fault In Our Stars”. It has such an energetic, sassy, down to Earth vibe. I also love the spelling Hazelle, maybe even slightly more.

    1. Well … more than 5,000 girls were named Hazel in 2017, and well over 10,000 in the last three years alone, so there are an awful lot of little Hazels out there, making it quite young …

  3. Love vintage names, but just can’t get on board with Hazel. Sounds nasally, literally & makes me think of witch hazel (so stinky) my mom put on our sunburns as a kid. But Aveline? Now you’re talking!

  4. Our four year old daughter is Hazel Elizabeth. Family members did not like the name when we first announced the name, but they all like it now. She is the only Hazel we know despite the rising popularity of the name. My husband and I instantly agreed on this name as soon as we saw it.

  5. I will always adore the name Hazel. How cute would it pair with my little guy Hugo? Hugo & Hazel? My husband isn’t a fan but I’m working on it 🙂

    I know the sweetest pair of sisters- Alice Beatrice and Hazel Frances

    1. Love the sound of Hugo and Hazel! Or Hugo and Hattie, or Hugo and Haven, or … okay, I just really love the letter H.