Maybe you’ve had your
favorite baby names picked out forever, or maybe you’re having trouble deciding what to name your newest family member (or you and your partner just can’t seem to agree). If you love the name Harper but you can’t or don’t want to use it for some reason (say your BFF just had a baby by the same name, or it doesn’t seem to fit with your last name), you’re not out of luck. These names are similar to Harper (and would pair well with an older sibling by the name) but they also stand strongly on their own.
Harper was the tenth
most popular baby girls’ name in 2020, per the Social Security Administration, which means it’s reasonable to expect that there may be another Harper in their class or on their sports team. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you’re looking for names like Harper that are a little less popular, then you’re in the right place. What is the meaning of the name Harper?
The name Harper means “one who plays the harp” and it’s of English origin.
Interestingly, Harper was historically used as a last name for someone who played the harp (the name is quite literal). Later, in the 1800s and early 1900s, Harper was primarily used as a boys’ name, but now it’s most commonly used as a
baby name for girls (though it still could go either way). Celebs who love the name include Paul Simon (his son is Harper) and Neil Patrick Harris, who has a daughter by the name.
From names that sound similar like Parker or Hartford, to names that share a similar
musical meaning, like Piper or Aria, these baby names are perfect alternatives if you like Harper. 1 Billie
If what you love about the name Harper is that it’s basically gender neutral, Billie is a cute alternative. Like singers Billie Holiday and Billie Eilish, the name exudes an effortless cool and it’s not super popular (at least not yet). While Bill as a boy's name is typically short for William, Billie is not usually a nickname.
There aren’t very many
names out there that start with the letter H, but if it’s the beginning sound you’re looking for, you can choose Hope — one of those rare names whose meaning isn’t tough to guess. Plus, what a lovely message for starting out in life. 3 Reed
While this name (sometimes spelled Reid) is often a boys’ name, it’s actually very cute for a girl as well. If what you love about Harper is that it’s a musical name, Reed (spelled with two Es) is a name any musician will stop and notice. The word refers to the small strip which vibrates inside a woodwind instrument, causing it to make sound. The name Reed is of Old English origin and is typically associated with the color red.
4 Piper Raylipscombe/E+/Getty Images
Piper is a super cute name that also has its origins in music; while Harper means one who plays the harp, the name Piper typically refers to a flutist or a person who plays the pipe. It has roots in both English and Romanian. Like Harper, the name Piper has that same round “p’ sound in the middle, and ends in the “er” sound. It has a ton of cute nicknames too, like Pip, Pippa, or Pipes.
There aren’t a ton of celebrities with the name Piper, but you may recognize it as the name of one of the sisters on
Charmed. 5 Hudson
Hudson is most commonly used as a boy’s name, but it’s quite cute for a girl too. It doesn’t currently rank in the top 20 names for boys or girls on the Social Security Administration, and so your little one has a chance of being the only Hudson in their class.
This name is always cute for babies born in or near New York City (because of the river), but Hudson usually means “son of Hugh;” it was commonly used as a surname before gaining popularity in the past few years. If an H name is what you’re up to, this is a great choice.
Harley is another cute name that starts with the same “Har” sound as Harper. The name is gender neutral and gives fierce vibes thanks to Harley Quinn and Harley Davidson. One of the cute things about this name is that is has two nicknames; your child could be called Har or Lee. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rise in popularity of the name Harley in the coming years.
If what appeals to you about the name Harper is the fact that the name has a musical meaning, you may also love the name Aria (which also has that same “ar” sound as Harper). Aria has many different meanings depending on the language, but in Italian it translates to “melody” or “song;” it’s also a piece of music designed to be sung by one voice.
Aria has steadily risen in popularity since around 2011, and it’s now number 26 on the Social Security Administration name list (though it’s worth noting that it was more popular in 2019 than in 2020).
8 Juniper fotografixx/E+/Getty Images
Juniper would be a super cute name for a sister of Harper, but it’s also a good substitution if you can’t use the name for some reason (maybe your friend or sister-in-law beat you to it). You get that same lip-smacking “per” sound at the end, but the beginning of the name is different enough to work for siblings. Juniper is a type of tree so it’s a botanical name with a spunky sound and Juni is a cute nickname, too.
Aster is a cute alternative to Astrid or Astra. It has the same “er” ending as Harper, plus the same “a” sound, but it’s different enough that you could definitely use this one as a sibling name. It means “star” in Greek, and has a regal, glamorous sound to it. Aster is also the name of a flower with purple petals and a bright yellow center, that perhaps unsurprisingly, looks just like a star.
Hazel is another name that’s having a bit of a resurgence (Julia Roberts and Emma Blunt both have daughters with this name). Whether you can’t use the name Harper for whatever reason or you already have a child named Harper, Hazel is both a good substitution or a good counterpart to the name.
It refers to a greenish gray color (like hazel eyes) but also to the hazelnut tree; this name would also pair well with Juniper, or other tree names that have become baby names, like Willow, Magnolia, or Olive.
Lyra is another name that’s right at home in a musical family, plus it’s about as close to the meaning of Harper as you’ll get. One meaning of the name Lyra is “lyre,” the stringed instrument; another meaning is a “small constellation” so if you’re into the zodiac and astrology, it’s also a good fit.
Lyra and Harper may not sound alike phonetically, but they pair beautifully, especially if your family is into classical music or string instruments.
I can’t hear the name Harper without thinking of Harper Lee, the author of
To Kill A Mockingbird, and more recently, Go Set A Watchman. Lee is a beautiful gender neutral name that can also be spelled Leigh. A relatively unknown tidbit of info is that Harper Lee’s first name was actually Nelle, another beautiful girls’ name that is strong without being overly popular.
The name Lee means “meadow” or “clearing” and is of English descent.
Hadley is a pretty name and it works well for a sibling of Harper or as a close alternative to the name. It has a slightly preppy and sophisticated vibe. Like Harper, it’s often heard as surname but has become more and more popular as a first name in recent years. Hadley means “heather field” and heather is a gorgeous purple plant that’s said to bring good luck, protection, and admiration, all things you’d want your child to have.
Hartford may not be the most common name out there, but Stassi Schroeder and Beau Clark of the Bravo show,
Vanderpump Rules, recently named their first child this sweet name. This is another example of a name that gives you options for nicknames: Hart is is undeniably cute, and Ford has a quiet strength. It’s worth noting that Hartford is also a city in Connecticut.
Like Harper, the name starts with the “Har” sound, and ends on a strong sound.
The name River is having a major moment; after Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara named their son River, after Phoenix’s late brother, this name is popping up all over the place, and for good reason. Eva Chen (director of fashion partnerships at Instagram) just named her third child, a boy, this name.
While you mostly hear the name River us for boys, it’s a sweet and
unique name for a girl. It pairs nicely with Harper because of the “er” ending, and Riv is a sweet nickname. 16 Parker
Parker is another surname that’s starting to be used more and more as a first name. It means “park keeper” and it’s fitting for the child who will one day tear up a playground. It may be a bit too close to Harper to use as sibling names (they nearly rhyme) but it’s a really good alternative if your BFF already named her baby Harper, or if you just want something a little less common.
Plus your child would share a name with Parker Posey, who was in
Dazed And Confused and several hilarious Christopher Guest movies.
Whether it’s the sound of Harper that you love or the musical connotations, any of these names would make a beautiful substitution.
This article was originally published on
Oct. 3, 2021