How popular is the baby name Nella in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Nella and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Nella.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Nella

Number of Babies Named Nella

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Nella

The Baby Name Fifinella

Women’s History Month is almost over, so let me squeeze in a post about Fifinella, a rare-but-real name with ties not only to the pioneering female aviators of WWII, but also to Walt Disney, Roald Dahl, Tchaikovsky, and a champion British racehorse.

Fifinella began as a children’s Christmas play. It was co-written by Englishmen Barry Jackson and Basil Dean, with music by Norman Hayes. Fifinella was first performed at the Liverpool Repertory Theatre in December of 1912.

fifinella - the play
From “The Stage” Year Book, 1913

The play — sometimes called “Fluffy Nellie” — “included 14 scenes and a harlequinade.” It was also adapted into the book Fifinella, a fairy frolic (1912) by Basil Dean’s then-wife Esther Van Gruisen.

The next year, an English thoroughbred horse was born to dam Silver Fowl and sire Polymelus. The chestnut filly, owned by newspaper proprietor Sir Edward Hulton, was named Fifinella.

fifinella in 1916
Fifinella in 1916

Fifinella went on become the last horse to win both the Derby and the Oaks in a single year, 1916.

That’s the same year English author and former Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot Roald Dahl was born — reason enough, apparently, for him to want to use Fifinella in his very first children’s book The Gremlins (1943), “a story drawing on RAF folklore which held that little creatures were responsible for the various mechanical failures on aeroplanes.”

The gremilns are convinced by a pilot named Gus to make peace with the RAF and join forces with the British to combat a more sinister villain; Hitler and the Nazis. The gremlins are then re-trained by the RAF to repair British aircraft instead of destroy them.

In the book, “fifinella” isn’t a name but a noun referring to a female gremlin. (Baby gremlins are called “widgets.”)

The book was put out by Walt Disney Productions and Random House. Walt Disney had wanted to make the book into a movie, but the movie never happened.

The gremlins “did live on in the form of military insignias,” though.

Walt Disney himself granted at least 30 military units permission to use gremlins as mascots/insignias during WWII, and even “assigned several artists to create these one-of-a-kind designs on a full-time basis.”

Units with gremlin mascots included the 17th Weather Squadron of San Francisco, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School, and the Royal Canadian Air Force ‘Sky Sweepers.’

But the most famous gremlin mascot, Fifinella, belonged to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), an paramilitary unit of 1,000+ women who flew non-combat flights in order to free male pilots for combat service.


(She had been an unofficial mascot of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), which in August of 1943 merged with another group of female pilots to become the WASPs, even before permission was granted.)

The WASPs put Fifinella’s image on everything from patches to letterheads to matchbook covers. The Fifinella mascot even made an appearance in a mid-1943 LIFE article about the WASPs.

Member of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) wears Fifinella patch on blouse, 1943

After the WASPs were disbanded in late 1944, ex-WASPs created the Order of Fifinella, an group that was both social (e.g., organizing reunions) and political (e.g., working to gain recognition as veterans).

Finally, one last Fifinella reference: In late 1945, Austrian tenor Richard Tauber recorded an English version of “Pimpinella – Florentine Song” (1878) by Russian composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. One of the many lyrical changes he made was replacing the name Pimpinella with the name Fifinella. (Here’s Richard Tauber singing Fifinella.)

So the name Fifinella has been around for at least a century. It’s been associated with theater, literature, sport, war, feminism and music. Has it ever been used as the name of a human being?

Yes, but rarely. I’ve only found a handful of Fifinellas, and all of them were born outside the United States:

  • Fifinella Downes (later Clarke), Australia
  • Fifinella “Fif” Beatrice Evans, d. 2007, England
  • Fifinella Flavell, b. 1923, England
  • Fifinella Hill (later Gratwick), Australia
  • Fifinella Lewis, b. 1914, Ireland
  • Fifinella Mallard (later Newson), 1901-1969, England
  • Fifinella Charlotte Agatha Nelson, d. 1947, Australia
  • Fifinella Patricia Russell (later Ceret), b. 1927, Ireland
  • Fifinella Silcox (later Mccluskey), b. 1948, England

So it’s definitely an unusual name. It’s also quite whimsical, and it has a ton of nickname potential (Fifi, Fina, Nell, Nella, Nellie). Do you like it? Would you ever consider using Fifinella as a baby name?


110+ Hidden Gems: Rare Baby Girl Names

gemstoneWant a girl name that’s not popular, but also not made-up?

I looked through the names at the bottom of SSA’s 2011 mega-list and found a bunch of hidden gems:

  1. Alberta (9 baby girls)
  2. Alexandrina (6)
  3. Amity (28)
  4. Apollonia (21)
  5. Augusta (31)
  6. Augustina (15)
  7. Avelina (34)
  8. Bernadine (6)
  9. Bertha (45)
  10. Bettina (8)
  11. Blanche (6)
  12. Bryony (5); Briony (16)
  13. Carlotta (20)
  14. Celestina (19)
  15. Celestine (7)
  16. Cicely (14)
  17. Claribel (19)
  18. Clarice (37)
  19. Clarity (17)
  20. Claudette (9)
  21. Claudine (9)
  22. Clementina (7)
  23. Constantina (5)
  24. Coretta (5)
  25. Corinna (37)
  26. Cornelia (17)
  27. Damiana (10)
  28. Davida (10)
  29. Delphine (26)
  30. Dinah (44)
  31. Dolores (39)
  32. Dorothea (15)
  33. Edwina (8)
  34. Eloisa (42)
  35. Enid (15)
  36. Ernestina (5)
  37. Eugenia (29)
  38. Eugenie (8)
  39. Eulalia (25)
  40. Euphemia (5)
  41. Evita (13)
  42. Fabiana (47)
  43. Faustina (21)
  44. Flavia (12)
  45. Floriana (6)
  46. Florina (6)
  47. Georgette (24)
  48. Gertrude (16)
  49. Gloriana (22)
  50. Golda (34)
  51. Goldie (37)
  52. Heloise (8)
  53. Henrietta (34)
  54. Hilda (40)
  55. Imelda (23)
  56. Io (9)
  57. Ione (26)
  58. Isidora (13)
  59. Jeanne (39)
  60. Josette (27)
  61. Junia (17)
  62. Linnaea (12)
  63. Lucette (7)
  64. Lucienne (43)
  65. Lucilla (12)
  66. Marietta (22)
  67. Maude (9)
  68. Mavis (38)
  69. Minerva (38)
  70. Nanette (8)
  71. Nell (32)
  72. Nella (38)
  73. Nicola (30)
  74. Nicoletta (19)
  75. Nicolina (29)
  76. Odette (48)
  77. Olympia (22)
  78. Orla (28); Orlagh (6)
  79. Phillipa (10)
  80. Philomena (41)
  81. Phyllis (20)
  82. Rhoda (28)
  83. Romana (6)
  84. Rosabella (46)
  85. Rosalba (17)
  86. Rosaline (20)
  87. Rosella (26)
  88. Rosetta (25)
  89. Rosette (5)
  90. Rosina (17)
  91. Rowena (15)
  92. Rubina (5)
  93. Rue (13)
  94. Sebastiana (5)
  95. Seraphine (19)
  96. Sigrid (15)
  97. Stephania (32)
  98. Sybilla (5)
  99. Talulla (5)
  100. Therese (47)
  101. Thomasina (6)
  102. Thora (19)
  103. Tova (43)
  104. Ulyssa (8)
  105. Ursula (25)
  106. Vashti (16)
  107. Verity (38)
  108. Violetta (46)
  109. Vita (36)
  110. Wanda (23)
  111. Winifred (30)
  112. Winona (20)
  113. Xanthe (7)
  114. Zenaida (36)
  115. Zenobia (22)
  116. Zillah (9)
  117. Zipporah (41); Tzipporah (12)

(In some cases, a different spelling of the name is more popular than what’s shown here. For instance, Isidora is rare, but Isadora is more common.)

Like any of these?

Did you spot any other great end-of-the-list names?

See the boys’ list, or check out the Rare Baby Names page.

Huge List of Anagram Baby Names

anagram baby names

Looking for baby names with something in common? Perhaps for a set of twins or triplets? I’ve collected hundreds of anagram baby names for you.

2-Letter Anagram Baby Names

3-Letter Anagram Baby Names

4-Letter Anagram Baby Names

5-Letter Anagram Baby Names

6-Letter Anagram Baby Names

7-Letter Anagram Baby Names

8-Letter Anagram Baby Names

9-Letter Anagram Baby Names

10-Letter Anagram Baby Names

If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”

(Here are some palindromic names from last month.)

Like Symmetry? Try Palindromic Baby Names

Did you know that a handful of baby names happen to be palindromes? Here are some names that can be read the same way in either direction (i.e. both forwards and backwards):

Two of these, Hannah and Ava, happen to be very popular for baby girls at the moment.

Need two names? You could consider a pair of names that become a palindrome when written side-by-side:

Aidan & Nadia
Aileen & Neelia
Alan & Nala
Allan & Nalla
Allen & Nella
Amin & Nima
Ariel & Leira
Arik & Kira
Aron & Nora
Axel & Lexa
Aydan & Nadya
Ari & Ira
Ellen & Nelle
Flor & Rolf
Iris & Siri
Leon & Noel
Linus & Sunil
Miles & Selim

It’s also possible to come up with your own palindromic pairs by flipping traditional names to create brand new names. For instance, I’ve seem James, Kevin, Manuel and Ramon flipped to become Semaj, Nivek, Leunam and Nomar.