12 Baby Names For Independent Women

It’s not unusual for people who aren’t parents to be totally fascinated by baby names — but I will still admit to being a little confused by my own preoccupation with them. Maybe it’s because I think of them in terms of naming characters; if that’s the case, then it’s equally unsurprising that my fascination frequently centers around baby names for independent women. I do love a good, strong, well-written female character, so it would stand to reason that I’d also like any future female progeny I may or may not have also to be strong, well-written female characters. (And by “well-written characters,” I mean complete and full and complex human beings. You get what I mean.)

Does bearing a name with a particular meaning necessarily mean that a person will embody that moniker’s connotations? Of course not; after all, names are frequently bestowed on babies, who don’t typically display a huge number of personality traits (because they’re, y’know, babies). A baby might eventually develop the traits that go along with their name’s meaning, or they might not; it’s kind of a crapshoot.

But names do have a certain amount of power. Research has shown, for example, that someone’s name can affect everything from their job prospects to how old other people think they are. And consider, too, the fact that sometimes, we choose our names for ourselves: For whatever reason, the name we were given at birth no longer fits who we are — so we take on a new one, one that feels right, that suits us, that has meaning for us.

Either way, it can’t hurt to venture out into the world equipped with a name that brings with it the power of independence. Whether it’s your own name, or the name of a favorite character or a name you’re planning on giving to your future offspring, these 12 picks are just ace.

1. Elizabeth


Lizzie Bennet: One of literature’s favorite independently-minded ladies. The name “Elizabeth” is biblical; Hebrew in origin, it means “God is my oath.” If you wanted to go with something a little less traditional, you might go with the variant “Lisbeth” — as in “Salander.”

2. Marcela

According to Babble, “Marcela” is a Spanish name meaning “Mars,” “war,” or “warring.” If you feel like raising a warrior, it might be a good pick.

3. Brianna


A Celtic name meaning “strong” or “exalted,” “Brianna” has tons of cool-sounding variations and nicknames — Bree, Brea, Brienne (of Tarth), Brienna, Briannah, Breanne... take your pick. Either way, your wee one will come equipped with a super powerful moniker.

4. Serafina

As Babble put it, “Do you want a daughter with the face of an angel, but with fire in her eyes? Consider Serafina, after the fiery group of angels that guard Heaven’s throne.” I don’t know about you, but “fiery” usually conjures up an image of a fiercely independent person for me, so I’d argue that “Serafina” is a terrific name for the future firecrackers of the world. The name is common in Italy; if you want a shortened version, “Sera” will fit the bill, too.

5. Cleo


Derived from Greek, “Cleo” can have a couple of meanings; the most common are “illustrious” and “glory.” Or, you might go with “Clea,” which is believed to be a variant of “Cleo,” if you want something even more unique. Also, a name taking its cues from Cleopatra? Perfect for the independent baby. Juuuuust sayin’.

6. Everett

Although it’s traditionally been a boy’s name, “Everett” has been gaining steam as a gender-neutral pick in recent years. It’s considered Germanic and English in origin; meaning “brave boar,” it’s a variant of “Eberhard” and “Everard.” “Everett” is also probably a lot less likely to be made fun of on the playground than those other two options.

7. Merida


OK, yes, I realize that naming a child after a recent Disney movie might forever tip off literally everyone in the world about the era in which said child was born — but Brave’s heroine pretty much embodies independence, so I say go forth.

According to Nameberry, “Merida” actually isn’t a Scottish name; it’s a Spanish place name which derives from Latin. It does, however, mean “one who has achieved a high place of honor.” Additionally, BabyNames.com suggests that it might be a derivative of the Celtic name “Mairead,” which means “pearl.”

8. Drew

Unlike “Merida,” “Drew” actually is a Scottish name. It means “strong” or “brave”; it’s also a super cool gender-neutral choice. One of the defining qualities of independent people is bravery — it requires a certain amount of chutzpah to go against the grain — so, hey, way to equip your child with the tools needed to succeed in life.

9. Audra

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A name that traces its roots back to both English and French, “Audra” means “noble strength.” Also, Audra McDonald. Enough said.

10. Charlie

“Charlie” can either stand on its own as a gender-neutral name, or it can be used as a nickname for names like “Charlotte”; either way, though, it’s French in origin and means “free man.” I could maybe do without the “man” part — free person would suit me just fine — but to be independent is to be free, so hoorah for that.

11. Lyra


The meaning of “Lyra” may not scream independence — it’s Greek for “of the lyre” (as in, the instrument) or “of the song” — but for me, the name will always be tied up inextricably with the His Dark Materials series. Lyra Belacqua, called Lyra Silvertongue, is one of my favorite fictional heroines; she’s gutsy, strong, and passionate, feeling everything deeply and taking action accordingly. Heck. And yes.

12. Francesca

Like “Charlie,” “Francesca” means “free man.” It’s an Italian variation of the Latin name “Frances,” but there are tons of other versions out there, too — including “Frankie,” which I kind of love.

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