So many words can become a name. But in making a selection from seemingly infinite options, you might find yourself landing on a name that feels almost right — it might be the one, or it might be the one that inspires the one. Right now, you might be loving the name Hazel. And why not? “There are some famous fictional Hazels, notably the lead rabbit from Watership Down, as well as Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars, a recent bestseller by John Green,” says managing research librarian Carmen Nigro with the New York Public Library. But if you’re still not ready to commit, these baby names like Hazel are definitely worth trying out.
“Hazel is a nature name, referring to the Hazel tree. It’s from the Old English word, hæsel, and was originally used as a topographical surname for people who lived by a hazel tree, dating back to the 12th century,” says Jennifer Moss, founder and CEO of Babynames.com. “It is also used to signify a color, mostly referring to eyes, a mixed green/gold/brown.”
Here you’ll find a list of charming choices, each inspired by a different element of the name Hazel. For example, you could discover a name that has a similar sound to Hazel, like the baby name Hayes. Or you might love the meaning of Hazel and search for something equally evocative of nature and the Earth, like Willow. Or you may be drawn to its turn-of-the-century charm and be interested in finding other retro monikers to consider. “It dropped [off] the top 1000 charts for U.S. births from 1975 to 1998 where it appeared again and gained popularity as ‘old fashioned’ names became trendy for girls,” says Moss. However you arrive at your name, you’ll know it’s right when you feel it.
As Hazel is a type of tree, Nigro shares with Romper other names related to trees, like Aspen, Ebony, Rowan, and Willow. The latter, baby name Willow, is enjoying its highest ranking in the U.S. in the last 20 years, as in 2020 it was the 48th most popular female name, as per the SSA. “Little Willow” is also the name of an incredibly poignant lullaby sung by Sir Paul McCartney.
You might have heard the name Hartford in the zeitgeist recently. And it’s undeniable that the nickname “Hart” is easy to love. A double-syllable pick like Hazel, this moniker sounds formal, yet sweet at the same time.
Wren feels in the same family of names as Hazel — short, simple, and calling to mind a songbird-filled meadow on a spring day. It’s everything we love in a baby girl name, to be honest.
The baby name Summer, like Hazel, feels retro, yet modern, charming, yet exciting. Summer is open, sunny, and full of tempting possibility. It consistently ranked between 100 and 200 of the SSA’s female names in the past 20 years. Though out of all the “season” names, Autumn ranks most popularly (within the top 100 since 2000); Spring, out of the four, is the only seasonal moniker that’s been locked out of the top 1,000.
There’s something so modern about this name, a similar-sounding choice as Hazel, suggested by Nigro. The baby name Hayes can feel strong, and has a certain charm about it. There’s also a timeless quality to it. As a last name, Hayes is said to have Irish and English origins, as per Ancestry.com. As a first name, Hayes is wonderfully rare, as it’s far from cracked the top 100 U.S. names in the past decades, as ranked by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
“Other feminine plant/nature based names popular in the late 19th century [are] Rose, Pearl, Myrtle, Lily, Daisy, Olive, Flora, Violet, Fern,” says Nigro. So the name “Rose” is similar to Hazel in its nature-inspired roots, and in its retro charm. It’s also a classic that’ll never feel dated.
Nature-inspired — just like Hazel — the name Rosemary has slightly vintage vibes, but we think its an evergreen classic, much like the plant that inspired it.
Another tree, Olive has actually become quite a popular name in recently years (Drew Barrymore, for example, has a child named Olive). It’s jumped hundreds of spots up the SSA’s ranking in the last dozen years, but is still remaining out of the top 100 — meaning it might make a more unique spin on the country’s recent reigning female name, Olivia.
Hayden has wide appeal, and has had its moments within the country’s top 100 names in the early aughts, as per the SSA. It’s been reported to have English roots, and might refer to the literal word “hay.”
Doesn’t the name Meadow bring a sense of calm and peace when you think about it? It almost fell off the SSA’s top 1,000 name ranking in 2013, but now it hovers around 475. If you really want to evoke nature and serenity like Hazel, this name might be worth testing out on family and friends.
A spin on the Neem tree (a tree in the Mahogany family, as per Britannica), the name of Neema has a sweet and unique sound. It’s been reported to have a few different meanings, but many evoke a sense of positivity and good fortune.
The name Violet feels like Hazel in three different ways: It’s a flower (there’s that nature origin), it’s an eye color (hello, Elizabeth Taylor), and it’s a vintage pick. Though, unlike, say, Mabel, this retro moniker has exploded back on the scene in recent years, enjoying top 40 status in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020, as per the SSA.
If you’re really feeling inspired by Hazel’s roots in nature and trees, the name River might speak to you. It’s become exponentially more popular in recent years as a male name, as per the SSA, but is still outside of the top 100. If you wait to meet your baby before giving a name, and feel a calm go-with-the-flow vibe right away, this could be a fitting choice.
Hazel was ranked the 24th most popular female name by the SSA for the 1900s. “The name was extremely popular in the early 20th century, but started decreasing in popularity in the 1950s,” says Moss. To give your baby a similarly inspired choice, look to the other names around Hazel at that time of its high popularity, like Clara, which was ranked just above it at 23. It’s been reported that the name can mean bright, or clear, which might be perfect for the new little light of your life.
Plant names are obviously Hazel-adjacent, and Primrose is one of the sweetest flower names of all. It’s just too darling, and we love that it calls to mind one of the little mice from the classic children’s books, Brambly Hedge.
Ranked 30th by the SSA for female names in the 1900s, Mabel is a sweet throwback, just like Hazel. It’s been said that its Latin origins center around the words love, lovable and loving.
This name has a sense of formality to it, and you’ve likely heard it as a surname. It’s also been said to have English roots. Beginning in 2000, it’s nowhere on the SSA’s chart for top 1000 in the country, so if you want a more rare spin on Hazel, this might be it.
An obvious rhyme to Hazel, the name Maisel has charm and possibility. The nickname “Maisy” can stand on its own as a first name, reported to have Scottish origins.
Melodic and lovely, Laurel is another lovely botanical name that is just perfect if you love the name Hazel but want something slightly different. In England, the laurel tree is associated with honor and success.
Whatever name you give your daughter, she’s sure to be the apple of your eye.
Jennifer Moss, Founder & CEO of BabyNames.com. Co-host of “The Baby Names Podcast”
Carmen Nigro, Managing Research Librarian, New York Public Library
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