I Is For Isabel, Who's Snooty, But Earns ItS

Isabel is a name fit for a queen — and she expects to be treated like one.

A variant on Isabella (famous patroness of Columbus), Isabel radiates class. Even if you spell it in the slightly cutesier way — Isabelle — it's got the hard s and the soft "bel" that suggest its possessor is both beautiful and not to be fucked with. She may indeed be descended from Spanish royalty — or she might just have stuck-up parents. An anonymous poster on The Baby Name Wizard writes,

I named my daughter Isabel because I thought it could be cute as Izzy or sophisticated — a girl named Isabel could definitely be President!

Please, no more Isabels, Isabelles, or Isabellas! Or Sophias. We now have five little girls named Isabel/la in a neighborhood radius of 5 blocks, and three Sophias. Not to mention an Isabel Sophia. This name is epidemic in Yuppieland.

Our Isabel is adopted from Guatemala. We wanted a name that was hispanic in origin but also crosses over culture. We are certainly not yuppies!

Ouch! Isabel may not come from yuppie stock, but her parents definitely think she's better than other little girls. Thing is, they might be right. Isabel could be President — or she could be Isabel Toledo the awesome designer who made the First Lady's inauguration dress. Or maybe Isabel Allende, magic realist author of Eva Luna and The House of the Spirits, and cousin to Chilean President Salvador Allende. Or Isabel Archer, the flighty yet independent heroine of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady.

Unlike Courtneys, Isabels are full of themselves for a reason. While the quintessential Courtney is good at being popular and not much else — at your high school reunion, you discover she's not that interesting — Isabel is going places. In fact, she's probably already been more places than you, and she knows it. She's not particularly warm or friendly, but people pay attention when she talks. Everybody wants to go to her birthday party, and lots of people show up for her dance recital. She's not quite the prettiest girl in school, but she has great jewelry, and an elegance beyond her years. She's the kind of person about whom a book called The Portrait of a Lady might be written.

Isabel has skyrocketed in popularity recently, a fact that the non-yuppie parents on Baby Name Wizards probably aren't thrilled about. It went from #495 in the US in the sixties to a high of #82 around 2003. It dipped down to #96 in 2008, but that might still be a little too common for nobility-minded Isabels — especially since its more fun-loving sister Isabella now clocks in at #2. If that's the case, they can always go by Izzy, which I think of not as "cute," but as one of those high-class names that subverts its own goofiness. Grey's Anatomy's Izzie Stevens doesn't really fit this mold, but in general the name Izzy says, it doesn't matter how silly my name is, because you'll take me seriously anyway. And if you don't, you'll be sorry when I'm famous.

Isabel [Wikipedia]
Isabel [Baby Name Wizards]