The fast-rising P girl names club just keeps on growing.
There’s Penelope, of course. Surnames like Parker, Peyton, and Presley. Two separate television series boosted Piper; the same is true for Phoebe. We borrowed Paloma and Paola from other languages. Poppy caught on in the UK first, but is climbing in the US, too. Phoenix comes straight from the map, but probably owes more to the mythical creature.
Palmer and Promise are the newest members of this sorority. But chances are they won’t be the last!
Here are a dozen fresh P girl names, many already on the rise. In fact, one recently went from outside the US Top 1000 to just inside. Read on to find out what it is … and to see more promising P girl names!
P Girl Names: Peridot
Number of births in 2018: fewer than five
Number of births in 2017: fewer than five
We’re naming kids Hunter and Olive. Emerald entered the US Top 1000 recently. And speaking of Emerald, Ruby and Pearl are popular, too. So how ’bout Peridot? It’s a green gemstone, spanning both categories. One possible challenge: it can be pronounced with a -dot or a -doe. But that doubles the potential nicknames, plus the obvious Peri.
I’ve yet to write about Peridot, but please check back and I’ll update when I do.
P Girl Names: Persephone
Number of births in 2018: 235
Number of births in 2017: 222
Elaborate Greek mythological name Penelope has bounded up the charts, along with other e-ending names like Zoe. So it stands to reason that Persephone would attract more attention – and it has! But this name remains rare. Another reason for Persephone’s powerful appeal? The mythological character is the harbinger of the seasons, bringing forth spring when she returns from the underworld, and leaving winter once she departs.
Read more about Persephone here.
P Girl Names: Philippa
Number of births in 2018: 67
Number of births in 2017: 70
Call Philip an underused classic for boys, a name with as much history as Alexander, every bit as regal as William or Henry. That puts Philippa in the same category as Josephine or Victoria. Except if Philip feels underused, Philippa is positively abandoned – at least on this side of the Atlantic. It’s never cracked the US Top 1000. But it’s the given name of Pippa Middleton Matthews, sister to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. And that – plus that pleasing letter P – puts Philippa on the list of possibilities.
Read more about Philippa here.
P Girl Names: Pippa
Number of births in 2018: 95
Number of births in 2017: 113
If Philippa has potential, Pippa is catching on! Not only is it the name of the future queen’s stylish sister, but it succeeds for other reasons, too. There’s a quirky charm to Pippa, but it’s also short and complete, just like chart-toppers Ava and Emma. Again, it’s never cracked the US Top 1000. But it could be short for Philippa, or possibly even Penelope.
I’ve yet to write about Pippa, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
P Girl Names: Plum
Number of births in 2018: fewer than five
Number of births in 2017: fewer than five
We don’t name our daughters Apricot or Rutabaga, but a handful of edible names transition from the grocery store to the nursery nicely. There’s Olive and Sage and Clementine. Maybe Plum, too. Why this one? It fits with short, single-syllable word names like Wren and True. It’s a color, as well as a fruit. Plum also refers to something excellent – think of the phrase pulled out a plum. That edges this even deeper into name territory, and writer-socialite Victoria “Plum” Sykes takes it over the finish line.
I’ve yet to write about Plum, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
P Girl Names: Poet
Number of births in 2018: 9
Number of births in 2017: 9, plus 5 boys
Quick – what does the surname Carter mean? Do you know any Masons – not a kid named Mason, but someone who works as one? We like our last names a little bit obscure, not likely to appear on our tax forms as an occupation. Poet falls somewhere in between; it’s possible to a be published poet; even a poet laureate. But it’s not quite in the same category as butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. If you like your names creative and literary, then Poet has tremendous appeal.
I’ve yet to write about Poet, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
P Girl Names: Polly
Number of births in 2018: 50
Number of births in 2017: 43
Molly and Polly evolved as nicknames of that long-time favorite, Mary. But while Molly has fared well – even out-ranking Mary in recent years – Polly has slid towards obscurity. The name has storybook appeal aplenty. (Think Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea …”) And it seems right at home with names like Ellie and Sadie, and, of course, Millie and Molly. But so far, it’s almost never-heard. Could that signal an opportunity?
P Girl Names: Posey
Number of births in 2018: 32
Number of births in 2017: 31
Posey falls somewhere between flower name and literary term. Spelled poesy, it refers to a bit of poetry. Posy is a bouquet of flowers, because the Victorians would express their feelings by the meanings attached to the flowers they gave. And Posie might be yet another spelling. But it’s Posey that is currently most popular, with 31 births in 2017, compared to 8 for Posie, 6 for Posy, and fewer than five for Poesy. Still, it can be a nickname for Josephine, or simply a pan-botanical pick. I think it fits right in with so many ecovintage girl names we’re currently loving.
P Girl Names: Prairie
Number of births in 2018: 22
Number of births in 2017: 24
If Prairie makes you think of the Sesame Street character, I get it. But this feels more like a gentle nature name. Or maybe it’s a strong, principled name, a nod to the many pioneer families that settled places like Montana and Wisconsin. If you’re a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, it might even seem like a nod to that beloved book and television series, set in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and elsewhere in the Midwest. Despite being rare, I think it’s quite wearable – after all, Meadow is in the US Top 1000.
P Girl Names: Primrose
Number of births in 2018: 77
Number of births in 2017: 56
Rose names abound, but most of them begin with Rose. Primrose feels a little different. Not only is Rose at the end, but it’s actually a different plant. It flowers early in the spring, hence the name – prima, or first. While a handful of girls received the name over the years, it’s gained in use since The Hunger Games debuted in 2008. Suzanne Collins’ bestselling dystopian novel-turned-movie series featured a heroine named
Read more about Primrose here.
P Girl Names: Priya
Number of births in 2018: 129
Number of births in 2017: 141
Priya means beloved. That puts it in the same category as Carys and Davina. Sound-wise, it’s downright pretty. And while the name comes from Hindu legend, it’s accessible, compared to many a mythological possibility. (Clytemnestra or Cliodhna don’t wear quite as easily.) But while names like Maya and Leyla claim Eastern roots as well as Western ones, Priya belongs to the Indian subcontinent, and might be best reserved as a heritage choice.
I’ve yet to write about Priya, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
P Girl Names: Promise
Number of births in 2018: 294; now ranks #908
Number of births in 2017: 239
We love virtue names, from traditional picks like Grace to more novel ones like Serenity. Promise falls somewhere in between. It sounds sweetly old-fashioned, and indeed, a handful of women and men have answered to the name over the years. but it was quite rare until recently. Still, Promise works nicely today. It’s an unambiguous virtue, and a vague one, too; while Temperance or Patience might seem like a dare, Promise always applies.
Those are my picks for the most promising P girl names of the moment. Would you consider any of these for a daughter? What would you add to the list?
First published October 29, 2018, this post was revised substantially and re-published on February 17, 2020.
I could see “P” names becoming more popular. “Phillipa/Pippa” seems like the new “Piper” and the rise of “Primrose” is not surprising since it’s trending to choose “eco-vintage” type names. Plenty of people still like “Penelope” too.
And like others have mentioned before, I agree that “Paloma” is one of my favorites.
Persephone is absolutely beautiful to me, and as a classicist (though my specialty is Latin, not Greek), I am a great fan of ancient mythology. My hesitation for using it it is the ambiguity of the name’s of meaning. It seems like experts/linguists are really very uncertain about the name’s etymology/ definitive meaning. This is from the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology:
“It is believed that the last half of the word Persephone comes from a word meaning ‘to show’ and evokes an idea of light. Whether the first half derives from a word meaning ‘to destroy’ – in which case Persephone would be ‘she who destroys the light’ – or from an adverbial root signifying ‘dazzling brilliance’ as in the name Perseus, it is difficult to decide.”
I really wish there was less ambiguity, because as beautiful as I find the name, I think, as a Catholic, I would be very reluctant to give my daughter a name which means “bringer of death.” One of our daughters is named Aurora, but the meaning behind that one is concrete.
Anyone have any insight on this one? Thanks!
I think Phoebe is my favorite P name.
I like Persephone as well, with the nickname Persie or Percy.
Pernilla/Pernille, a Scandinavian form of Petronella, is lovely, especially with the nickname Peri or Perrie.
My husband taught a delightful, 4-year old Primrose a few years ago.
I do think it’s important to be aware of cultural appropriation, but I think most people would probably know Priya from pop culture (The 100), and not as an Indian name. That being said, if someone looks up the name and sees the origin, then your point absolutely stands.
Erin Beth says
I guess television hasn’t done much for Phryne as yet.
HA! True. But Phryne is almost always one of the most-read posts on this site, so I’m guessing Miss Fisher does send lots of us searching for her name!
Paloma is definitely my favourite P name. I always really liked Peridot but I’m not mad about Peri. Persephone obviously has the same nickname. I like Seffie but Persephone’s meaning puts me off, too. I’m a meanings woman!
I was hoping to see one of my favorites on this list – Paloma! We considered Paloma with nickname Polly but got so much flak from my family that we crossed it off our list.
I keep thinking that with Penelope as popular and mainstream as it has become, Persephone will surely follow.
Pippa is actually a top 100 pick in New Zealand. I love Posey , Primrose and Polly
I want to come sit on a playground bench in New Zealand – you are the BEST namers!
I’d love a resurgence of Philomena, but a I don’t think that’s likely just yet.
Pearl seems to be climbing back ip the charts.
Perhaps Pandora, Padma, Parisa, Peony, Phaedra or Portia might gain more widespread appeal.
I’m liking Paige at the moment.
I know two Pippas under 5. I think Of it as a nickname name though because Pippa traditionally is Philippa. Remember Pippi Longstocking? Love it.
I know one Philippa and one Phillipa. I like it.
I do love Phaenna, and it’s meaning. Phae is cute as a nickname but everyone would think I was just messing with Fay. Less tragic than Phaedra which is also pretty.
I am really starting to like Phillipa and consider it to be one of those strong but feminine names. I find it funny because although i am not a fan of Primrose, I am a HUGE fan of Primula which is the flower group that primroses belong to, if I am not mistaken. Also because of the book and television series, The Miniaturist, I fell in love with Petronella as well. It is on my fantasy name list.
The Miniaturist made me like Petronella, too, plus adorable nickname ‘Nella’. But I’ve actually long been a fan of just Petra. LOVE Petra.
Ooh … Petronella – love that! Not sure I’m brave enough, though …
I’ve seen Petra mentioned a lot more lately too. I love Pascale for a girl too and have known a Paz (called Pazita)! There’s something really sweet about Penny and Penn could be interesting. There’s lots of Pavla’s here in Czech Rep (though most are adults, same with Petra). That’s my addition – fun post!
Thanks, CarolAnn! And yes – love Petra + Pascale. There’s a sweet little Pascale in our neighborhood.