Girl Names Starting with Y: Yara, Yarrow, Yvelisse

Girl names starting with Y tend towards the obscure.

After all, Y ranks 23rd out of 26 in terms of most popular first initials. Only Q, X, and U are less popular.

Another factor? Lots of Y names aren’t exactly Y names at all. The letter easily stands in for I – see Ysabel and Ygraine. It swaps out with J, as in Yasmin. And plenty of Russian imports are Ekaterina and Elena … or Yekaterina and Yelena.

In some ways, girl names starting with Y fade into the background a little, just as the sound itself often disappears.

After all, the most popular girl names starting with Y don’t appear in the Top 100. Or even the Top 250. We had to go all the way to #422 to find one.

And yet, some intriguing and powerfully appealing girl names beginning with Y make these lists. Not many – of course. Even digging into the rarest names doesn’t surface all that many girl names beginning with Y. But if you’re after something distinctive and different, Y might be the letter for you.


YARETZI (#422)

An import from Latin America, Yaretzi is part of a cluster of names, all related to Yara.

YARELI (#724)

Another Latin American Yara name.

YARA (#765)

Lovely and rare, young actor Yara Shahidi helped put her name on parents’ radar. Yara claims at least three distinct origins and meanings. It could be an Arabic name meaning friend; a Brazilian mermaid-like creature; or a Hebrew name meaning honeysuckle. It’s sometimes considered a butterfly name, and if all of that wasn’t enough? There’s even a Yara on Game of Thrones.

YARITZA (#810)

The third Yara name on the list.

YASMIN (#948)

American parents love Jasmine for our girls; Yasmin is more clearly the Arabic, and often pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable: yas MEEN.



A gentle nature name possibility, Yarrow is occasionally heard as a surname, and even more rarely as a first. But it fits right in with Willow and Sage, an English herb name.


A nature name originally borrowed from a South American tree, Yesenia was launched by a 1970s telenovela and a related 1971 movie. While the movie was Mexican, it became an international blockbuster. A 1987 television reboot followed.


Fans of BBC’s Merlin may recognize Ygraine from Arthurian legend. It’s also spelled Igraine.


Likely derived from the Latin word for violet – viola – Yolanda (along with Jolanta and Iolanta) has appeared in European royal families over the ages. It’s also one of the most successful girl names starting with Y in the US. During the 1960s and 70s, it briefly dipped into the Top 100.


Yet another Yolanda cousin.


Isabeau often comes up as an alternative to Isabelle, though the two names are related. Fans of A Discovery of Witches might recognize it as the name of Matthew’s aristocratic and immortal mother.


Along with Ysabelle and Ysabella, one of the many cases where I and Y can be used interchangably.


A rare Yves name, also spelled Ivelisse, Yvelise, and more. Yvelisse – pick your spelling – seems like a particularly promising rarity.


A French feminine form of Yves, Yvette peaked just outside the US Top 100 in the 1960s.


Another spin on Yves, Yvonne might be one of the most familiar girl names starting with Y.  A midcentury favorite, it reached the US Top 100 in the 1930s.

What are your favorite girl names starting with Y? What would you add to the list?

rare Y girl names

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