Freshen Up: Elizabeth

Elizabeth is among the most common female names in European history. It remains popular, but there are plenty of options for parents seeking something a bit fresher.

Zabel- Isabel & variants are related to Elizabeth, and Zabel is my favorite of the crowd. The concise spelling with its distinctive Z- beginning looks clean and simple, but the sound is still exotic and appealing. It’d be a great route to Bella for parents who’ve tired of Isabella.

Lilias/Lileas- Like Isabel, the Lily- family of names is related to Elizabeth. And just like Zabel, Lilias could be an unusual route to a common nickname.

Beileag- This Scottish variant, pronounced “bye-league,” is eye-catchingly unusual. It is probably too adventurous for most modern parents, but could appeal to those looking for a frills-free Elizabeth variant.

Jelisaveta- This extravagant Serbian variation is worn by Jelisaveta Karadordevic, the last princess of the former Yugoslavia. Karadordevic, now 80, unsuccessfully ran for president of Serbia in 2004. Though the name looks complicated, it’s pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled: jeh-LISS-uh-VET-a.

Bess- Short, simple, and frill-less, Bess is a great option for parents looking for something with a vintage vibe. Bess was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries along with its more common counterpart Bessie, but both have remained unranked for more than 40 years. With the popularity of Tess, I could see Bess coming back.

Isa- Another appealing nickname variant of Elizabeth, this time via Isabel. Usually pronounced EE-sa, it’s a short, feminine name that fits in with popular choices like Ava and Leah.

Liesel- Though this German diminutive remains unranked, I feel like I see it a lot on naming message boards, which makes me think it’s ready for a comeback. It could be a great way to honor an ancestral Elizabeth or a more European update on Lisa.

Blaize- Okay, so this one isn’t an Elizabeth variant. But I wanted to include a boy’s option, and this surname (and anagram of the first 6 letters of Elizabeth) seemed the closest fit. Spelled Blaise, it was worn by a Catholic saint. Spelled Blaze, it’s a raging fire. Blaize is a compromise between the two and one of very few possibilities to honor an Elizabeth with a masculine name.

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