American names, aristocratic names, Australian slang terms, British name trends, created names, famous namesakes, fictional namesakes, food names, French names, fruit names, gemstone names, germanic names, Hawaiian names, hebrew names, Latin names, name history, name meaning, name trends, names from films, names from songs, nature names, nicknames, Old Norse names, patriotic names, plant names, polynesian names, popular names, retro names, royal names, saints names, scandinavian names, Turkish names, UK name popularity, unisex names, vintage names, Yiddish slang
This list was first published on March 6 2011, and substantially revised and updated on March 12 2015.
Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye) was a 1979 single for popular rock band Cold Chisel, written as an energetic set finisher. Songwriter Don Walker didn’t know anyone named Astrid, and thinks he probably heard of the name because of Bill Wyman’s partner, Astrid Lundstrom. Astrid is the modern form of Ástríðr, an Old Norse name which can be translated as “beloved of God”, or more freely as “divine beauty”. A traditional name amongst Scandinavian royalty since medieval times, it was the name of Canute the Great’s sister, giving it a slender English connection. It became well known in the English-speaking world because of popular Swedish children’s novelist Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, and has received fresh attention from Astrid Hofferson in the film How to Train Your Dragon. The name is often understood as being related to the word “star”, because it sounds like the Greek aster, which was exploited in a Dr Who special where Kylie Minogue played star-loving Astrid Peth. This attractive name is currently around the 500s.
Ayla was a 1987 single for New Wave duo Flash and the Pan, comprised of music industry powerhouses and ex-Easybeats, Harry Vanda and George Young. The name Ayla has several possible origins. It can be a variant of the Hebrew name Elah, meaning “terebinth tree”, pronounced eh-LAH, or a Turkish name meaning “halo of light around the moon”, and often translated as “moonlight”. In Turkey, it is pronounced to sound like the name Isla. The name Ayla was also used for a beautiful, inventive, and spiritually gifted palaeolithic superwoman in the popular Earth Children novel series by Jean M. Auel. In the books, Ayla is a Neanderthal attempt at the character’s real name, which isn’t given, but much longer; it is said like Kayla without the K. The name Ayla first joined the US Top 1000 in 1987, a year after Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear was made into a film, starring Daryl Hannah. Despite being a flop, it seems to have catapulted Ayla to #593, and to have helped inspire the Flash and the Pan song. In Australia, Ayla joined the Top 100 in 2013, fitting in with popular names like Layla and Ava.
Col Joye’s 1959 #1 hit single (Rockin’ Rollin’) Clementine is a hip retelling of the folk ballad, My Darling Clementine. In this version, the miner’s daughter Clementine is a jeep-driving “real down chick” who meets up with a “cat from the city” in a jumping joint where she hops, bops, and “digs that crazy rhythm”. Clementine is a French form of Clementina, the feminine form of Clement, from the Latin name Clemens, meaning “merciful, gentle”. Clement is a saint’s name, so Clementine would originally have been given with this in mind, and the name dates to the Middle Ages. It has a rather aristocratic image, with several French princesses named Clémentine, and Sir Winston Churchill’s wife was also called Clementine. A clementine is a small citrus fruit, but that isn’t an issue in Australia, where they are nearly always sold as mandarins. Clementine was quite a popular name in Australia in the 19th century, but has never been in the charts since Federation. There has been renewed interest in the name recently, with the quirky Clementine children’s book series by Sara Pennypacker, Clementine the moral compass in The Walking Dead video game, and free spirit Clementine in the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Expect to see more of this elegant vintage name in the future.
Stevie Wright is the former lead singer of legendary 1960s rock band The Easybeats. Australia’s first international pop star, he was the first forced to deal with the pressures of being famous and beautiful at a very young age, and the first to blaze, burn out, and come crashing down in spectacular fashion. Evie is his 1974 rock ballad of young love and new life blossoming, blooming, and then going appallingly wrong, and is the only 11-minute song to become a #1 hit. Evie is a pet form of Eve, or a short form of names like Evelyn. It’s been used as an independent name since the 18th century in America, and may have a Dutch influence. Evie first joined the charts in the early 2000s, after the song was covered by one-off supergroup The Wrights in 2004. It climbed so steeply that it was in the Top 100 by the late 2000s, and was #22 in 2013. It’s even more popular in the UK, so you can see this as part of the British nicknamey trend, as much as a tribute to an Australian classic.
The Seekers were a folk group, and the first Australian band to achieve major success in the UK and US. Georgy Girl was the title song to the 1966 British movie of the same name, a Swinging Sixties coming-of-age tale about a naïve, frumpy young girl and her unconventional love affairs. The song went to #1 in Australia, and was The Seekers’ highest-charting single in the US, where it got to #2 and was used to advertise mineral water. Georgy can be used as a pet form of either the male name George, or the female names Georgia, Georgette, or Georgiana – the “Georgy Girl”in the song is named Georgina. Although Georgy has a long history of use for both sexes, it is far less common that the variant Georgie, which has charted for girls since the 1990s and is rising steeply in the 200s.
Leilani, released 1982, was the début single by quirky rock group Le Hoodoo Gurus (later Hoodoo Gurus). The song’s narrative is loosely based on the plot of 1951 B-grade movie Bird of Paradise, and combines an exotic South Pacific setting with an oddly suburban mindset, and a fun faux-Polynesian chorus filled with Australian place names. Leilani is a Hawaiian name meaning “heavenly garland of flowers”, but often understood as “heavenly child”, pronounced lay-LAH-nee. It fits in with the trend for L-l names, such as Lillian, and is currently around the 300s. A very pretty Polynesian heritage choice which has the fashionable nickname Lani.
Waltzing Matilda was written by Banjo Paterson in 1895. The Matilda in the song isn’t a dancing girl, but is what swagmen called the bundle that they carried; to “waltz Matilda” is to walk while carrying a bundle. It is said that the swagman in the song was a real person called Samuel Hoffmeister who was involved in the Shearer’s Strike of that year, so it’s a political protest song (unintentionally). Waltzing Matilda is our unofficial national song and the lyrics are written on every Australian passport. Matilda is a Germanic name meaning “mighty in battle”. A traditional name amongst European royalty, it was literally brought over with the Conqueror to England, as it was the name of William I’s wife, the mother of William II and Henry I. Her grand-daughter was named after her, and she was married to a Holy Roman Emperor, so was the Empress Matilda. She tried to claim the throne of England as her father’s heir, but was never crowned queen, being named Lady of the English – her son instead became King Henry II. Saint Matilda was a medieval German queen whose son became a Holy Roman Emperor; she is the patron saint of large families. Matilda was #144 in the 1900s, and disappeared from the charts in the 1930s. It made a comeback in the 1980s, after Matilda the Kangaroo was chosen as the mascot for the 1982 Commonwealth Games, held in Brisbane and won by Australia. Matilda joined the Top 100 in the early 2000s, peaked in 2009 at #16, and by 2013 had only fallen to #18. A patriotic retro name choice that is extremely stable in the charts.
Founded by the brothers of one of the Easybeats, AC/DC is Australia’s most successful rock band, and one of the most successful world-wide. Whole Lotta Rosie is their cheeky 1978 single, allegedly based on Bon Scott’s real life encounter with an obese Tasmanian woman. Rosie is a pet form of Rose which has a long history as an independent name; it can be used as a short form of any Rose- name, such as Rosalie, Rosamund, Rosetta, or Rosemary. Rosie was #229 in the 1900s, and left the charts in the 1930s. It made a come-back in the 1980s, reaching #749 and climbing steeply. It was in the mid-100s in Victoria in 2012. A sweet, fresh-faced retro name that is already Top 100 in Britain.
Ruby Wednesday is an early song by rock band Eskimo Joe, released in 1999. A whimsical re-take on the Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, it made the Triple J Hottest 100 the year it came out. Ruby is a precious gemstone, whose name comes from the Latin for “red”. It’s been used as a girl’s name since the 17th century, but became popular in the 19th, when gemstone names became fashionable. Ruby was #21 in the 1900s, and had left the Top 100 by the 1930s. It disappeared from the charts in the 1950s, but came back in the 1980s at #548. It reached the Top 100 in 1996, peaked at #1 in 2012, and and by 2013 was #2. A spunky retro choice which has already reached maximum popularity, and is therefore expected to gradually fall.
Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) was a 1967 novelty song and the first solo single for pop idol Johnny Farnham; it hit #1 and was the biggest-selling single by an Australian artist in the 1960s. Sadie is a pet form of Sarah, which seems to have originated in 18th century America. The name gained an especially Jewish image in 19th century England, where in Yiddish slang, a Sadie was a low status Jewish girl, sometimes with connotations of prostitution. It’s interesting how often Sadie is linked with that profession, such as Sadie Thompson in the W. Somerset Maughan’s Rain, while The Beatles’ Sadie adds another “sexy” image to the name. Sadie was #145 in the 1900s, and left the charts in the 1940s. It returned in the late 2000s at #566, and in Victoria is in the mid-100s, a similar popularity to that in the UK, while it is already a Top 100 name in the US. This sassy retro name looks set to go places.
People’s favourite names were Evie, Matilda, and Clementine, and their least favourite were Ayla, Leilani, and Georgy.
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I am also named after a song the seekers song Georgy Girl. My grandma is Judith and my parents thought that it would be a cool way to honour her and the fact that their favourite bands were the Seekers and the Beetles. My name is just Georgy not Georgina or Georgia.
Nice name story – I think Georgy is better than Georgia or Georgina. 🙂
people always ask is that a nickname? When I say no I am just Georgy they spell it Georgie or Georgi or sometimes even Jorji.
I am a Clementine but I go by Emmie because I find it way to unique. I am named after the song. My sisters also have “song” names Matilda (goes by Maddy), Astrid (goes by Trina) and Rosalind (nicknamed Rosie). They are both named after the songs. I am 14, Trina is 12, Rosie 10 and Maddy 8. I do like the name Clementine but it is very unique and I have always been called Clemmie until I started at a boarding school and people misheard it as Emmie and I have gone by it ever since. I don’t know how Astrid got Trina but she says it is from the Tri and her middle name Antonina. Of course people assume our names are Emmerson. Katrina, Rosemary and Madison.
What a gorgeous sibset – Clementine is getting very fashionable in certain parts of Australia (the southern parts), so I think your name will soon seem a lot more normal.
I always thought Cleo would make a cool nickname for Clementine, but Emmy is sweet.
My parents just called me Clemmie and some of my friends and people were like what is that short for. Going by Emmie probably makes my life harder. But at least I am not the only one with that name. Even though I am the only Clementine. I do find it a nice name but just too uncommon since my parents wanted to call me Brittany until my grandma hinted that grandads favourite song was rockin’ rollin’ clementine and I was born on his birthday and that became my name
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Evie was on Red Dog sound track right?????
Yep – the Stevie Wright original version, not the cover.
I know a family and they sing it with nevie, nevie, nevie let your hair hang down cos their daughter is Neve
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