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The Fair Maidens

There are just certain names that scream out femininity with that “pretty girl” sensibility. We all know what we mean. Certain names are definers of their generations in terms of the pretty girls we all remember from middle school. In the 1960s it may have been the Kimberlys and Donnas who all the boys liked. In the 70s it was Jennifer, Christine and Heather. The 1980s brought us Jessica, Ashley and Amanda and in the 1990s Brittany and Hannah started to steal the show. Who knows what the new millennia will bring us but Isabella, Mia and Olivia are starting to stand out. We can’t quite put our finger on it. What makes a name so “pretty girl” exactly? It’s hard to say, but somehow we all conjure up the same notion of prettiness when we hear certain names. Didn’t everyone have a tall, gorgeous blonde in their high school named Lexi? It’s just that most girls with these certain names seem to be the fairest of us all. Not always, but you know what we mean…

Aside from that elusive name association with prettiness, there are also other factors which determine a name’s desirable admission into this category.  Some names we correlate with “beautiful” because of legendary gorgeous women who bore them. Diana, for instance, was the Roman goddess of the hunt (her name means “divine, heavenly”). Diana was a beautiful virgin goddess, the lone huntress, who often inspired poets and playwrights (Princess Diana also added “pretty girl” currency to the name). In ancient Greek mythology, Helen was so beautiful that Paris abducted her and set in motion the Trojan War. Likewise, the lovely Lady Guinevere (from Celtic mythology) was such a stone-cold fox that Sir Lancelot stole her from King Arthur and brought down Camelot. The beautiful real-life women Francesca and Beatrice inspired the epic poetic works of Dante Alighieri. A woman named Laura was the muse behind 14th century Italian poet Petrarch; the object of his desire and the reason he abandoned the priesthood. The fair Juliet was so adored, Romeo was willing to die for her. The list below includes more relevant examples from this “beautiful” perspective.

Lastly, some names on our list are “fair maidens” simply due to their respective etymologies. For instance, Donna means “lady” in Italian. Elle means “she” in French. Sarah means “princess” in Hebrew and Fiona means “fair” in Irish-Gaelic. In Old Norse, the name Astrid means “beautiful goddess” (that one might be hard to top!). Click on the names below for more information on how they made our “fairest of them all” category:

The Fair Maidens – Girl Names

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