Where I live, heavy winters are expected. Somehow, though, this season was strangely mild. Where’s all the snow I was promised when I moved to New England a year ago? Last week we vacationed north into ski country and (finally) there was almost too much snow. Spring may be just around the corner, but for a brief period it felt like winter again! And naturally, I was thinking about baby names. Specifically, names starting with “Win,” as in “Winter,” came to mind!
The letter ‘W’ is an interesting one because there aren’t that many girls’ names that start with it. It’s more traditional for boys’ names, but even so it’s no ‘A’ or ‘S’ with gajillions of possible name combinations. Even fewer are names that start with ‘Win,’ but with winter on my brain, those are the names I’m thinking about.
Here’s a selection of baby names starting with ‘Win’ for your name inspiration!
- Winter – ‘Tis the season, and the name that inspired this list. Winter was briefly popular in the late 70s before reviving about a decade ago. An ultramodern nature option with a gender-neutral sound, I’m surprised this name still veers mostly feminine in usage. Current U.S. rank: #324. Interestingly, the spelling variant Wynter is almost as popular with a national ranking of #344!
- Winston is a classic boys’ name with strong connections to Winston Churchill. Winston was traditionally a surname, but it’s spent so much time as a first name that I have a hard time putting it in the same category as, say, Miller. Except for a few years in the 19th century when it didn’t rank, Winston is perennially a popular choice for baby boys in the U.S. Current rank: #411.
- Winnie is a trendy, up-and-coming vintage girls’ name that’s traditionally short for Winifred. I’ve also seen it used as a nickname for Winslet and Gwendolyn, so whether you prefer it as a standalone name or short for something else, you have options! Winnie is adorable either way. Current rank: #690.
- Winifred is an old English name that derives from an earlier Welsh name (Gwenfrewi) via Latin in honor of an early British saint. Popular until the mid-20th century, it is so close to reaching popularity again! 234 girls were named Winifred in 2021, just 21 fewer babies than the minimum for the top 1000. Maybe she’ll make the 2022 list? Winnifred is a common spelling variation.
- Winona was mildly popular for girls until the mid 20th century. Though it’s still a rare baby name, it’s risen sharply from just a few dozen a year in the early 2010s to over 170 baby girls in 2021. My guess for the increase? Actress Winona Ryder and her role on Stranger Things, which makes sense since the first big jump was in 2016 (the year the show started). Winona is a Native American name of Dakota or Sioux origin referring to a “first-born daughter.”
- Winry is a character on the anime Full Metal Alchemist and the inspiration for the baby name, which is rare but trending upwards. 116 girls received the name in 2021.
- Winslow Homer was a famous American painter, though these days his first name is more popular for baby girls. 63 girls and 27 boys were named Winslow in 2021. I think it makes a great, unique alternative to both Winston and Willow.
- Windsor comes to us from the British Royal Family, making this one of the preppier surname baby names available to today’s parents. 33 girls and 11 boys were named Windsor in 2021.
- Winsley – As far as I can tell, Winsley doesn’t have a lot of history as a first name (it’s modern!) but there is a rare surname and a village in England called Winsley. Still, I think it has lots of potential! 33 girls were named Winsley in 2021.
- Winslet is the surname of famed actress Kate Winslet, who inspires a handful of parents each year to name their daughters after her. 18 girls were named Winslet in 2021…I’m surprised there weren’t more! Winslet has a sweet, feminine sound like Juliet.
- Winsome – Here’s an unusual word name with a positive meaning: “charming.” Winsome Sears is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s current Lieutenant Governor. 8 baby girls were named Winsome in 2021, the same year she was elected. Since Winsome rarely ever appears in the birth data, I wonder if any (or all) were named after her?
- Windy is a mid-century nature name that barely sees use anymore. In some cases Windy may be a variation of Wendy, but its popularity in the 60s and 70s was heavily influenced by an eponymous song by The Association. Just 6 girls were named Windy in 2021.
- Winfield is a surname baby name you don’t really hear anymore. It was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries thanks to Winfield Scott Hancock, a famed Civil War general who ran for President in the 1880 election (Nancy has written on the election’s impact on names). Hancock was named after an earlier Winfield Scott, a general and hero of the War of 1812 who served all the way through to the Civil War. I suspect Winfield may have been a relatively popular baby name throughout the century.
- Winfred is a great alternative to Wilfred, which is already rare in the U.S. If you’re looking to honor a Winnie or Winifred, try Winfred! Winfred is primarily associated as a men’s name, but I think the proximity to Winifred makes unisex usage possible as a kind of spelling variant (the traditional feminine form of Winfred, though, is Winfreda). Winfred derives from Old English roots meaning “friend” and “peace.”
- Winnoc is the name of an obscure Breton or Welsh saint, though it’s also close to a word for window (“winnock”). Similarly, I came across another cool saintly name from the same region – Winwaloe.
- Wingfield – This is a surname that could make a great option for expecting parents and authors who are fans of nature names (double whammy with “wing” and “field!”) and want something elegant or distinguished. Hello, maximalism!
Do you have a favorite name starting with the letters “Win?” Are there any you would add to this list? I like all of these for different reasons, but I think I have a special soft spot for Winifred and Winslow.
In the meantime, let’s toast to the end of winter and beginning of spring. I hear where I’m moving next (yes, I’m moving again!), the flowers are already blooming. It’s funny what a difference a few hundred miles makes, right?