As a pregnant person, the only thing I enjoyed more than cookie dough ice cream was reading baby name books. I remember crouching in the library, hiding a pint of said ice cream in my lap, while leafing through page after page of Sadies, Sages, and Sarahs. I kept lists, imagining a life for each name. Supreme Court Justice Willow Mullen, or singer-songwriter Guinevere Eleanora, for instance. Picking out your baby's name is a big deal, but it's also a time for dreaming. In that spirit, I was looking for
cute baby girl names along with their meanings and etymology.
Picking out that perfect name strengthens the bond between you and your unborn child — my daughter became truly real to me the day I chose her name, sometime around week 18. She'd started kicking, and I just couldn't bear to have her nameless any longer. So what's in a cute baby girl name? A name is your baby's first possession. It's a vessel of love and history; cultural tradition and heartfelt promises. Children come into the world with only one name, and though they'll decorate, illuminate, and handle it as they please, this first gift will last a lifetime, whether you choose Olive, Penny, or Jo.
Many of these cute baby names stem from children's literature — but not all of them have a book attached. One awesome way to celebrate your baby's name is with
a book from Wonderbly, which personalizes a storybook just for your little one. I know they'll be thrilled to see their name between the covers. 1 Penny
Penny is a version of the name Penelope, a character from the Greek epic
The Odyssey. Of course, Penny is also the leading lady in an awesome song by The Beatles, and everyone knows a bright copper penny brings good luck. In this case, the luck is adorable, too. 2 Shelby
Shelby, from 1989's
Steel Magnolias, is a graceful character with a charming and unique name. According to BabyCenter, its British roots are actually pretty fancy: it means "from the estate." 3 Paisley
Paisley isn't just a fabric pattern — it's actually a name the Scottish derived from the
Latin word , according to Baby Name Wizard. Who knew a paisley blouse had such spiritual roots? basilica, meaning church 4 Olive
This is the cutest baby girl's name in the world to me, and currently a lot less popular than the chart-topping Olivia. Baby Name Wizard reported that
Olive evolved from the now-defunct Oliva, and refers to the olive tree, a symbol of peace. Who doesn't love olives? 5 Molly
Molly is actually a short
form of the name Mary, according to Behind The Name. Another moniker with a surprising origin is Sadie, which is short for Sarah. The more you know, right? 6 Alice
One of the most wistful and wonderful characters in children's literature, the name Alice calls up Lewis Carroll's masterpiece
Alice In Wonderland, which captured the unforgettable adventure of being a child. 7 Scout & Gem
Parents of twin girls, I see you. Scout and Gem are the names of the two sibling main characters from
To Kill A Mockingbird, which is an American classic if there ever was one. While the name Gem (spelled Jem in the book) originally belonged to a boy, I think it will shine just as brightly for a girl. 8 Lucy
In children's literature, Lucy is a visitor to the enchanted land of Narnia, along with her brothers and sister. Spunky, adventurous, and not afraid to admit when she's wrong, little Lucy is easily my favorite character. The name itself comes from the Latin
, according to Nameberry. lux, meaning light 9 Robin
Robin recalls Christopher Robin from the book by A.A. Milne, as well as the bright-red bird. It's a cute and apt name for any baby, whose job, after all, is to one day grow up, and fly into the great wide world.
10 Leona Leona means lioness, and according to Nameberry, it was quite popular a hundred years ago. Now it makes a unique name for parents who want to distinguish their daughters from the Emilys and Katherines at school (though of course those names are beautiful, too). It will also encourage your baby to let her inner lionness roar. 11 Jo
Jo is the independent-minded protagonist of Louisa May Alcott's
Little Women. The name comes from Josephine ( meaning "Jehovah increases," according to Nameberry) but also stands on its own. 12 Arya Game Of Thrones fan? Arya was always my favorite character, and the name is so lyrical, it rolls off the tongue. Keep in mind, however, that if you name your baby Arya, you'll also have to get her a direwolf someday. It's only fair. 13 Chrysanthemum
Bear with me here. I love the name Chrysanthemum, because it contains a dozen names. Chrissie is a cute one, as is San, Anthem, and Chrys. When she grows up, she can choose the nickname that suits her best. Also, the flower is lovely.
Cookie is a cute name made famous by the super-fierce character from
Empire. Seriously, long live Cookie. While your girl's still in elementary school, Cookie is one name that's sweet as can be. 15 Bailey
According to Baby Name Wizard, Bailey (which you can also spell "Baylee" for extra cuteness) is in fact derived from
the French bailif, which means an officer of justice. Its popularity is on the rise, and no wonder — say it three times and see how cute it is. 17 Dorothy
This name's patron saint is Dorothy from
The Wizard Of Oz. As a bonus, just think what a cute lullaby Somewhere Over The Rainbow will make, and how fun it will be to dress the pets as munchkins for Halloween. 18 Peggy
Peggy was easily the most adorable character on AMC's
Mad Men, and I love her for that and so much more. According to Behind The Name, Peggy is a diminutive version of Margaret, which in turn was derived from Margarita, meaning pearl. 19 Matilda
Roald Dahl's wonderful book
Matilda gave the world a young girl in tough circumstances who nevertheless shone with astounding empathy — and it all came from a deep love of reading. If you're the literary type, this name might be perfect for you. 20 Freya
Freya refers to the
Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertilty, and I'm all for naming daughters after goddesses. As Nameberry noted, Freya has recently seen an increased popularity in England. When I hear the name Freya, I can't help but think of drinking hot chocolate by a brightly blazing fire. 21 Bennett
Elizabeth (as in Bennett) is a beautiful name — however, it's also a perennial favorite on the girl's list. For a fresh take on Jane Austen's classic
Pride and Prejudice, why not name her Bennett? If that name sounds too old to you, consider calling her Bennie until she's big enough to wear a bonnet. 22 Chase
While historically a boy's name, I think it's high time we gave names involving active verbs, like Chase, to baby girls. Hopefully, her name will encourage her to pursue her deepest desires.
Glen evokes secret gardens and green spaces. If you can imagine your baby girl gallivanting through a wood someday, this name might be for you.
Who doesn't love Holly Golightly, or holly at Christmas, or even
Holly from ? Whatever your taste, this name is goodness and light itself. The Office 25 Fern
Charlotte's Web fame, Fern connotes a child deeply in tune with the natural world. The name is a little bit cute, a little bit retro, and completely unexpected. When your daughter encounters Charlotte's Web at home or at school, she's sure to feel special, hearing her name in the classic lines. Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries : Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.