American Names · Modern names

Many Bellas

This isn’t a Twilight-related post like you probably think it is.  This isn’t even strictly about the name Bella.  Rather, this is a post about names (many of them unusual) that include the element “bella.”  All bolded names were given to actual American babies in 2015.  The majority of this data comes from the Social Security Administration, which publishes the most popular American baby names plus extended data every year.

  • Bella – How can we start with any name *but* BellaBella was given to 3760 girls last year, ranking #74 (down from #48 in 2010).  By itself, Bella is considered an Italian name that means “beautiful.”  As an element in other names, this is not always the case.
  • Isabel_de_castilla
    Queen Isabella of Castile

    Isabella – the standard that has probably propagated most of the ‘Bella’ names that have popped up in the past few years.  Currently ranked the #5 most popular name in the U.S., #7 in England and Wales, #10 in New Zealand, #9 in Denmark, and in the top 100 in a lot of other countries.  Isabella is a variation on Isabel, which is in turn a medieval form of Elizabeth.  Other spellings include Izabella (#234 with 1403 uses), Izzabella (164 uses), and Ysabella (64 uses).

  • Arabella – Currently ranked #194 in the U.S., this has a namesake in the Harry Potter series via Arabella Figg.  Interesting alternative spellings include Aerabella and Ayrabella (each used 24 times).
  • Annabella – A gorgeous name that suffered a serious drop in popularity for 2015.  Nancy over at Nancy’s Baby Names attributes this to the horror movie Annabelle, which induced drops for just about every name based off of Annabelle too.  Still, Annabella ranked #396 last year, with 816 uses. 
  • Bellamy – From the French phrase “bel ami,” which means “beautiful friend.”  Last year 183 girls and 23 boys were given this name!  That said, I think this might be the only ‘bella’ name that has much crossover with the boys; the data lists a few male Isabellas, but not enough (comparatively) to constitute a unisex designation.  Bellamy has a few spelling variants which are strictly used for girls, though; namely Bellamie and Bellami.
  • Miabella – Is Mia too short for your tastes?  Try Miabella, which was given to 125 baby girls last year! 
  • Marbella – Admittedly I don’t know much about this name, but it was given to 85 baby girls last year.  According to a user-submitted definition on BtN, it’s a contraction of Mariabella.  However, Marbella is also a city in Spain.  Add this to the list of usable place names?  
  • Abella – Writing this post is the first time I’ve ever encountered this name, but it looks like it’s probably a feminine form of Abel, which currently ranks #125 and is rising fast.  According to the SSA data, there were 72 baby Abellas last year. 
  • Rosabella – Bestowed upon 69 girls last year.  There were also 22 girls named Rosabelle and 8 named Rosabel.  Meaning: “beautiful rose.” 
  • Elizabella – Tired of ElizabethElizabella is a fairly rare but trendy variation capitalizing not only the popularity of Bella (#74) but also that of Eliza (#175).  According to the extended data, 2015 saw the birth of 62 girls named Elizabella, 16 called Elizabelle, and 10 Elisabella.
  • Mirabella – A lovely, mature name given to 61 girls last year.  Abby over at Appellation Mountain has written a lovely piece on similar MirabelleMirabella can be taken either as Mira+Bella or as an elaboration of Mirabel, which my reading seems to indicate was once unisex (!) and a Crusader castle in Israel.  Now Mirabel (44 uses) and variants are strictly feminine.  As for Mirabella…I distinctly remember that there was a Mirabella Plunkett on a Chocolate Frog Card.  So there’s that indelible link to Harry Potter, too.
  • Giabella – Presumably this is simply Gia+Bella.  There were 26 of these last year.
  • Kimbella – I’m guessing this was Kardashian-influenced.  Kim isn’t a popular name anymore…79 girls last year were named Kim, and 21 were Kimbella.  
  • Belladonna – Beautiful name, deadly poison (also known as deadly nightshade), and apparently the name of an actress who formerly worked in the adult movie industry.  I’m not sure which connection is more unfortunate, but clearly parents aren’t too deterred because 17 baby girls were named Belladonna in 2015.

    Atropa Belladonna, a.k.a Deadly Nightshade
  • Christabella – 14 uses.  This has mostly risen in response to the rise of Christabel, which was used 26 times last year.  Usage for both is down from 2014, but they’re more common than they were 10 years ago.
  • Adabella – 13 baby Adabellas in 2015.  This is an attractive option for parents who think Adalyn is too trendy.
  • Sybella – 13 uses.  At first glance this looks a lot like Sybilla, but Sybilla is so rare now that this is more likely a variation of Sabella (71 uses), which in turn is Isabella truncated.
  • Sarabella – Sara+Bella.  12 uses.
  • Bellamia – Given to 10 girls in 2015, this is the opposite of Miabella and an *apparent* elaboration or feminization of Bellamy.   More likely it is meant to be the former option, i.e. Bella+Mia.  
  • Clarabella – 8 baby girls in 2016.  Clara+Bella, but older than you’d probably expect.  “Clarabella” is an early and extremely obscure Beatles song…I couldn’t even find a YouTube clip of them singing it because it’s not available in my country, though I’ve heard it before.  For my readers in the U.K., you should have better luck.  
  • Adorabella – Adora+Bella.  This is one of the most modern names in this set, and was given to 6 girls in 2015.  Interestingly, Behind the Name defines Adora as a diminutive of the Spanish name Adoración “Adoration.”  Cool, huh?
  • Amabella – a more elaborate version of medieval Amabel, which is already very rare (8 in 2015…there were also 6 called Amabelle).  There were only 5 baby Amabellas in 2015.  On a side note, these are all very closely related to Mabel (ranked #576).
  • Jessabella – 6 in 2015.  This looks like a softer form of Jezebel, though I wonder if this might also be used by fans of Jessa Duggar.  
  • Avabella – 5 uses, Ava+Bella. 
  • Bellatrix – For all you astronomy-lovers out there, here’s a star name for you!  Still, this name is probably only given to children because of Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter again).  Last year 5 girls were given this name, which means “female warrior” in Latin.
  • Karabella – 5 uses, Kara+Bella. 
  • Zabella – 5 uses; a variation of Sabella or truncation of Izabella
  • Bellamarie (22), Bellagrace (10), Isabellarose (9), Bellaann (5), etc. – Whenever a name becomes truly popular or trendy one can expect to see other names – that would normally otherwise land in the middle spot –  instead become part of the first name.  It is likely (even probable) that these are actually double-barrel names (i.e. Bella-Ann), but because the Social Security Administration doesn’t show hyphens or other punctuation marks in its data, we’ll never know for sure.

I don’t know how much longer ‘bella’ names will be common or trendy.  The peak for their popularity was around 2009 or 2010, and many of the above have decreased in usage over the past few years.  A few may continue to rise in popularity, namely Bellamy and ElizabellaAnnabella has the potential to rebound, but I don’t know how badly horror movies stain names in the long-term.  Arabella, despite being an old name, isn’t exactly old-fashioned in people’s minds.

Old-fashioned names are “in” right now, but I wonder if ‘Bella’ names are now becoming too frilly and too reminiscent of Twilight.  The girls’ names that are trending heavily right now are those like Eleanor, Hazel, and Luna; toned-down.

What do you think of these many ‘Bella’ names?  Do you have any favorites? 

9 thoughts on “Many Bellas

  1. I’m a writer too. I’ll definitely be checking out your blog for name inspiration in the future. You captured so many unusual names (plus info) just in one post! Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just to add what’s being shown, there are other ‘bella’ names that I’ve found from statistical agencies across the UK, mainly hyphenated ones.

    Some of those which are only found in the data from one particular part in 2015 (exc. England & Wales – 2014 is latest data) include:
    – Arbella (E&W)
    – Zarabella (Northern Ireland)
    – Bella-Rae (E&W)/Bella-Ray (NI)
    – Bella-Beau (E&W)
    – Bella-Sky (Scotland)
    – Bella-George (NI)

    Liked by 1 person

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