Of all the challenges expecting parents face, choosing a name for their unborn child has to be one of the toughest. However, there's no shortage of names lists on the net, and we've pulled together a collection of the most popular European boys and girls names.
According to Mom Junction, the 15th century was a time of short, sweet names in Europe, and names such as Elizabeth, Mary and Alice were common for girls, while Robert, Thomas and William were popular for boys. However, as the influence of French and Italian culture spread across Europe and into Britain, new sorts of names became popular.
Here's a list of the most popular European boy names and European girl names, with their pronunciation, origin, meaning, and famous namesakes as sourced from babynamewizard.com.
European Baby Boy Names:
Pronounced: Zan-der Or Ex-an-der
Origin: English, Greek, and Latin
Meaning: Defender of men and/or warrior
Famous Namesakes: There really aren't many famous ‘Xanders’ given the name is quite new and not yet common.
Most Popular In: Norway and Scotland
If you like the name ‘Alexander’ but don't want your child being called ‘Alex’ for short, then ‘Xander’ might be the perfect alternative.
Famous Namesakes: Paolo Uccello, Italian Renaissance Painter
Most Popular In: Italy, Portugal, Scandinavia and Spain
‘Paolo’ is a variation of the Dutch, English, French and German name ‘Paul’, which emerged from the Latin name ‘Paulus’.
Origin: English, German, Latin, Nordic
Meaning: Elf-army; Ancestral relic, Olive tree (peace), affectionate
Famous Namesakes: Oliver Twist, fictional character; Oliver Cromwell, British Military Commander.
Most Popular In: England, Sweden and Scandinavia.
The name Oliver experienced a dip in popularity in the UK before resurfacing in the 21st century.
Origin: French, Greek
Famous Namesakes: Leon Spinks, Boxer
Most Popular In: Croatia, Austria, Norway, Slovenia, France and Sweden
The name originates from the ancient Greek word ‘Leon’ and the Latin word ‘Leo’ which both mean lion. It became very popular among those of the Jewish faith, due to the story of Jacob blessing his son Judah, and telling him he was a ‘lion cub’.
Meaning: Gift of God
Famous Namesakes: Matteo Sereni, Italian Soccer Player
Most Popular In: Italy, Belgium, France and Austria
Matteo, also spelled Mateo, is the Italian take on the English name Matthew. Matthew is a prominent figure in the Christian church and as such the name is widely used in its many variations across Europe.
Meaning: Defender of Men
Famous Namesakes: Alexander the Great
Most Popular In: Spain and Latin America
Similar to the popular European name ‘Xander’, this is yet another take on the name ‘Alexander’.
Origin: English, Greek, and Latin
Meaning: Follower of Christ, the anointed
Famous Namesakes: Christian Bale, Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin
Most Popular In: Italy, Denmark, and Austria
This name was originally translated from the Greek word ‘Khristos’ meaning anointed, and the Latin ‘Christianus’ which literally means follower of Christ.
Origin: German, Nordic, and Slavic
Meaning: crown, garland, reward
Famous Namesakes: Stefan Mappus, German Politician
Most Popular In: Iceland, Austria and Germany
Stefan is the German and Scandinavian version for the English Stephen'and the Greek Stephanos.
Origin: French, German
Meaning: Heart, Mind and Spirit
Famous Namesakes: Hugo Boss, fashion designer; Hugo Weaving, actor.
Most Popular In: Spain, Sweden and France
‘Hugo’ is derived from the Latin name Hugh.
Origin: Italian, Spanish
Meaning: Man from Laurentum
Famous Namesakes: Lorenzo Amoruso, Soccer Player.
Most Popular In: Italy
This is the Italian and Spanish variation of the name Lawrence and comes from the Latin word Laurentius.
European Baby Girl Names:
Origin: Dutch, German, Italian, Latin, and Nordic
Famous Namesakes: Mia Farrow and Mia Sara, actresses.
Most Popular In: Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands
Mia is derived from the name Maria, or alternatively as a diminutive of the name Amelia.
Origin: English, Irish
Meaning: Bright, radiant
Famous Namesakes: Saint Clare of Assisi
Most Popular In: England and Ireland
A twist on the name Clara which takes its origins from the Latin adjective Clarus meaning bright, radiant or renowned.
Origin: English, French, German
Meaning: whole, universal, complete
Famous Namesakes: Emma Thompson and Emma Watson, actresses.
Most Popular In: France, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands.
Origin: English, French, and Latin
Meaning: Olive tree, emblem of peace
Famous Namesakes: Olivia Newton-John
Most Popular In: England and Northern European countries
The name was first seen in a play written by William Shakespeare in 1599. While the name ‘Olivia’ has been used since it’s introduction by Shakespeare, it’s popularity and use peaked in the 70s.
Origin: English, Greek.
Famous Namesakes: Sophia Loren, Actress.
Most Popular In: England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Sophia, also spelt Sofia in Italy and Spain, is one of the most popular girls’ names in the Western World at the moment.
Origin: English, Hebrew, and Latin
Meaning: God is my oath; Sworn to God.
Famous Namesakes: Isabella Rossellini, Italian Actress
Most Popular In: Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia
Isabella is a variation of the name Isabel which originated in medieval France, Spain and Portugal as their version of Elizabeth.
Origin: English, German, and Latin
Meaning: Birdlike, lively
Famous Namesakes: Ava Gardner, Actress
Most Popular In: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Origin: English, Latin
Famous Namesakes: Emily Blunt
Most Popular In: Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.
Origin: English, Hebrew
Meaning: Grace or Graciousness
Famous Namesakes: Hannah Dakota Fanning, Actress
Most Popular In: Austria, UK, Norway and the Netherlands
Origin: English, Hebrew.
Famous Namesakes: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sarah Jessica Parker, actresses; Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Most Popular In: Austria, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Northern Ireland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sarah is one of the oldest names in history, as biblically it’s the 8th oldest name in existence. Drawing on its biblical origins, Sarah is a symbol of motherhood and matriarchy which was introduced in England by the French.