Dutch girl names: Past to present

All of us recognize a wide variety of typical girl names in the culture we grew up in. We can even distinguish between generation-specific names and timeless names. However, when it comes to other cultures, we usually have more trouble with that. If you didn’t grow up in the Netherlands, then you simply don’t have that mental framework for Dutch names. But that’s about to change!

This article focuses completely on Dutch girl names, but I wrote one on Dutch boy names as well: Dutch boy names: Past to present

Dutch girl names before World War II

The oldest people in society were born before World War II. I found reliable birth records that show the most common girl names in the Netherlands going back as far as 1880. So, let’s look at the top 10 Dutch girl names from 1880 to 1945. This includes the war years.

As you can see, the Dutch had some clear favorites and saw no reason to deviate from them at any point throughout these entire six and a half decades. There’s only one name in the top 10 of 1945 that wasn’t in the top 10 in 1880, because it was number 11 that year.

But let’s focus on number one first: Maria. It’s the Dutch version of Mary. So, naturally, it was a popular name in the Netherlands at a time when Christianity was also popular. And while it looks like just one name on paper, Dutch girls and women named Maria were usually not called Maria in daily life. They went by a variation or abbreviation of this name, like Marrie, Mies, Ria, Rie, or Riet.

Johanna is the female version of Johannes, the Dutch equivalent of John. Some girls and women named Johanna were actually called Johanna in daily life, that wasn’t unusual. But many were known by a variation or abbreviation of their name, like Janneke, Janny, Jo, or Sjaan.

Anna is, of course, a familiar name to anyone who speaks English. And Elisabeth and Catharina are simply Dutch versions of Elizabeth and Catherine. The names Cornelia and Adriana are probably familiar to you as well.

Except for Anna, all of these names had abbreviations and variations that were commonly used in daily life. Elisabeth became Bettie. Catharina became Ina or Toos. Cornelia became Cora, Corrie, or Nel. And Adriana became Sjaan or Sjaantje.

Other names that might not sound familiar are Wilhelmina, Hendrika, and Petronella. Essentially, these are Dutch female versions of the names William, Henry, and Peter. Someone named Wilhelmina could be known as Wil or Mien. Just like Maria, Hendrika could be abbreviated to Ria or Rie. And just like Cornelia, Petronella could become Nel.

And there were also four names that didn’t make it into the top 10 of 1945 but were there in some other years during this period: Aaltje, Grietje, Geertruida, and Jacoba. Those named Aaltje and Grietje actually went by those names in daily life, but Geertruida (the Dutch version of Gertrude) became Truus, and Jacoba (female version of Jacob) became Cobie.

Dutch girl names for baby boomers (1946-1964)

Being right next to Germany, the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazis during World War II. So, when the war ended, the Netherlands was one of the countries that saw a baby boom. These were the most popular Dutch girl names for the baby boomer generation:

On paper, remarkably little changed during this period. The three most popular names remained in place for every single year this entire time, and eight of the names that were in the top 10 in 1945 were also in the top 10 in 1964.

However, in practice, Dutch baby boomers did get different names. For example, baby boomers named Maria are more likely to be called Marjan, Marijke or Mieke in daily life. While those named Johanna are more likely to be called Jantine or Joke. And yes, Joke is a real name in the Netherlands, but it’s pronounced more like Yo-kuh.

Elisabeth and Petronella both became Els, and Elisabeth also became Liesbeth while Petronella also became Petra. Cornelia became Cora or Nelleke. Wilhelmina became Wilma. And Catharina became Karin. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are more abbreviations and variations, these are just some of the most characteristic ones for this generation.

The only names that disappeared from the top 10 are Hendrika and Adriana. They were replaced by Monique and Yvonne. Monique is the French form of Monica, and the name Yvonne is French as well.

Dutch girl names for Generation X (1965-1980)

Now, this timeline looks a lot more interesting! The Dutch baby boomers switched things up completely when naming their Generation X daughters. Maria and Johanna remained popular, but by 1980, all other names in the top 10 had been replaced.

Linda, Kim, Esther, Wendy, Patricia, and Judith will all be familiar to you. All of these names exist in English-speaking countries, where they’re spelled exactly the same way. Except for Wendy, popularized as a girl name by the story of Peter Pan, these names didn’t originate in English-speaking countries, though. They just happen to exist in different language regions.

One name that stands out as typically Dutch, however, is Marieke. You may have guessed it, but this name is derived from Maria as well.

Chantal is another French name. This spelling makes the most sense in Dutch, and it happens to line up with the French spelling. But this is essentially the same name as Chantelle in English, or Shantelle, or Shontal, or however you want to write it.

Other names that made it into the top 10 during some of the years Generation X was born are: Bianca, Cindy, Ingrid, Jolanda, Miranda, Sandra, and Saskia.

Dutch girl names for millennials (1981-1996)

Another generation, another batch of names! Maria finally lost the number one position. It’s still in the top 10, but significantly lower. Many Dutch millennials named Maria are called Maartje in daily life, by the way. And the name Kim has also remained popular. But other than that, the entire top 10 has been replaced.

You’ll notice that most of these names are far from exclusive to the Netherlands. They’re names with long histories that have become popular in many countries. Laura has Roman origins. Lisa is an abbreviations of Elisabeth. Iris and Demi both have Greek origins. And Michelle is the female version of the biblical name Michael.

A name that is typically Dutch is Sanne. However, this name also has familiar roots. It’s an abbreviation of the name Suzanne, the Dutch equivalent of Susan.

It’s also interesting to see the name Anne on this list. Anne is a variation on Anna. So, the name that was consistently popular for many successive generations essentially made a comeback in a slightly different form after dropping out of the top 10 when Generation X was born.

And, lastly, the name Romy is an abbreviation of the name Rosemarie, the Dutch equivalent of Rosemary.

The reason the timeline looks so chaotic at the bottom is because there are twenty other names that made it into the top 10 in one or more years during this period. Some of those names were already popular in previous generations, others weren’t: Anna, Anouk, Bianca, Chantal, Daniëlle, Denise, Esther, Johanna, Joyce, Kelly, Linda, Mandy, Marieke, Melissa, Patricia, Samantha, Sandra, Suzanne, Tessa, and Wendy.

Dutch girl names for Generation Z (1997-2012)

If you thought the previous timelines looked chaotic, get ready for the Generation Z timeline. Don’t worry about following every line. Just realize that more chaos means more change.

The only name that was in the top 10 at the end of the millennial era that was still there at the end of the Generation Z era is Lisa. All other names had been replaced. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the number one name from 1997 to 2005 was Sanne. So, this name is actually extremely common among zoomers, even though it dropped out of the top 10 at the end.

Sophie is, of course, a well-known name in many countries. It’s originally of Greek origin. In the Netherlands, the name is also spelled as Sofie. That spelling is about half as popular. So, for every two Sophies, there’s one Sofie.

Emma is undoubtedly familiar to you as well. It’s originally a Germanic name, but it has gained popularity around the world.

A few names on the list are abbreviations of other, well-known names. Isa is an abbreviation of the French/Italian name Isabella, which, in turn, is derived from Elisabeth. So, although Isa took a detour, it essentially has the same origin as Lisa. The name Saar is a Dutch abbreviation of Sarah. Lotte is an abbreviation of Charlotte, the female version of Charles. And Tess is an abbreviation of Tessa, which, in turn, is an abbreviation of Teresa.

Eva is a biblical name, it’s simply the Dutch equivalent of Eve. And you’re undoubtedly familiar with the name Julia, which we can thank the Romans for. In Dutch, Romeo and Juliet are actually known as Romeo and Julia.

Interestingly, the name Anna reclaimed a spot in the top 10. The name may have never been the number one girl name in the Netherlands, but it does appear to be the most timeless name of them all.

And, as you probably expected, there are also other girl names that made it into the top 10 in some of the Generation Z years but lost their position in or before 2012. Like before, they’re a mixture of names we’ve seen in other generations and names we haven’t: Amber, Anne, Anouk, Britt, Demi, Femke, Fleur, Iris, Kim, Laura, Lieke, Melissa, Noa, Romy, and Sanne.

Top 50 girl names in the Netherlands right now

As a culture, we haven’t come up with a collective name for the generation born after Generation Z yet, and we also haven’t decided on a cutoff year. But I’m sure you’d like to know which names are given to Dutch girls in the present. So, here’s a list of the top 50 girl names that are popular in the Netherlands right now:

Emma, Julia, Mila, Tess, Sophie, Zoë, Sara, Nora, Yara, Eva, Liv, Lotte, Evi, Noor, Anna, Milou, Olivia, Saar, Lauren, Nina, Lieke, Fleur, Lynn, Sofie, Elin, Fien, Nova, Sarah, Maud, Lina, Mia, Loïs, Sofia, Emily, Roos, Fenna, Ella, Isa, Hailey, Luna, Hannah, Julie, Noa, Elena, Sophia, Bo, Suze, Lara, Maria, Jasmijn