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Stella Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Stella including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Stella Overview

  • Meaning: The name Stella means “star.”
  • Gender: Stella is a predominantly female name and has been throughout history.
  • Origin: Stella has its roots in Latin. It also derives from the Dutch word “Ster,” which the language borrowed from the original Latin.
  • Pronunciation: The name Stella is typically pronounced as “STEL-luh” or “STEL-lah.”
  • Popularity: Stella is an extremely popular name in North America. In the United States, it ranked 41 for girls born in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Elle, Ellie, Star, Starling, Stel.
  • Variations: Estee, Estella, Estelle, Estrella, Starla, Stele, Stelle, Wynstelle.
  • Namesakes: Stella Bennett, singer/songwriter, Stella McCartney, fashion designer, Stella Parton, American country singer/songwriter, Stella Stevens, American Actress,

What Does Stella Mean?

Stella is a Latinate name that means “star” (1). It is different but synonymous with “astrum/astra,” which is another popular Latin name that also means “star”. However, Stella belongs to the colloquial Latin that was used in everyday speech by, for instance, sailors and navigators. In contrast, “astrum” is more prevalent in poetry.

In addition to Latin, Stella also comes from the Dutch “ster” (2). The Dutch borrowed the word from Latin and associated it with people or places that are in some way arranged like a stellate.

What Is the Origin of the Name Stella?

Latin is thousands of years old, but Stella hasn’t always been a girl’s name, much less a popular one. It’s popularly believed that Stella started appearing as a name around 1580 after Phillip Sydney penned a love poem titled “Astrophel and Stella” (3).

Like Stella, Astrophel’s name means “Star.”It’s a clever bit of word-painting because, throughout the poem, his unrequited love for Stella makes him one of literature’s most star-crossed lovers.

How Popular Is the Name Stella?

Stella is a very popular name. In 2021, Stella ranked number 41 for girls born in the United States (4).

The name’s popularity has moved forward significantly since 2000, when Stella was fairly popular and ranked 656.

Since then, the name has steadily increased in popularity, with a noticeable uptick in children called Stella occurring between 2002-3. It continued to work its way through the top 200 to become one of the most popular choices to give to a girl.

How Do I Pronounce Stella?

There are two ways to pronounce Stella. The most common in North America is “STEL-luh,” with the stress on the first syllable and a short “A” sound in the second.

However, sometimes you will hear Stella pronounced as “STEL-lah.” The stress stays on the first syllable, but the “A” in the final syllable stretches. What’s more, if you are in Britain, that may include a soft “R” sound at the end.

Is Stella a Boy or Girl Name?

Perhaps because Phillip Sydney first attributed the name Stella to a woman, the name has a long association with young girls.

The feminine association with the name Stella could also be because, like all Latin nouns, Stella is inherently gendered. Typically, first declension nouns ending in “-a” are feminine, while second declension nouns are masculine.

Variations of Stella

Phillip Sidney might have invented the name Stella, but it has a surprising number of star-themed variations in other languages. Popular variations on Stella include:

  • Estee (French, Latin)
  • Estella (Spanish)
  • Estelle (French)
  • Estrella (Spanish)
  • Starla (English)
  • Stele (English, Latin)
  • Stelle (English, Latin)
  • Wynstelle (Welsh/Anglo-Saxon, Latin)

Nicknames for Stella

Despite the shortness of the name Stella, it lends itself to a surprising number of creative nicknames and variations. The most popular include:

  • Bella
  • Ella
  • Elle
  • Ellie
  • Els
  • La
  • Star
  • Starling
  • Stell

Similar Names to Stella

There is also a wide range of names that share similar meanings and associations with Stella. Some of these are:

  • Asta
  • Astra
  • Aster
  • Celeste
  • Emma
  • Estella
  • Estelle
  • Gemma
  • Jemma
  • Luna
  • Mayella
  • Sidella

Middle Names for Stella

Stella is also a name that lends itself to many possible middle names. Favorites include:

Sibling Names for Stella

Whether you want similarly star-themed names or simply names that sound similar to Stella, there are many sibling names to choose from that go well with Stella. You might want to consider the following:

For a brother:

For a sister:

  • Alisa
  • Alya
  • Celeste
  • Celestine
  • Chloe
  • Sidney
  • Skye

Famous People Named Stella

There have been many Stellas with an equally varied range of interests and careers throughout history. Some of the best-known are:

  • Stella Bennett: New Zealand singer/songwriter.
  • Stella McCartney: British fashion designer.
  • Stella Parton: American country singer/songwriter.
  • Stella Stevens: American actress for film and television.
  • Stella Zakharova: Olympic Gymnast for the former Soviet Union.

Stella in Popular Culture

Fiction and television are also rife with characters called Stella. Among the most immediately recognizable are:

  • Stella Bonasera: Character in the TV show “CSI: Miami.”
  • Stella Crawford: Recurring character on British soap opera “EastEnders.”
  • Stellaluna: Eponymous bat protagonist of a popular children’s book by Janell Cannon.
  • Stella Kowalski: Character in Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
  • Stella Maynard: Friend of protagonist Anne in L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of the Island.”
  • Stella Zhau: Character in American animated show “The Loud House.”

Stella FAQs

In addition to the origin, history, and meaning of the name Stella, here are some other questions many people ask.

Does Stella Love Astrophel?

Throughout Phillip Sidney’s sonnet series, Stella is shown as indifferent towards the doomed Astrophel.

Is Stella a Classic Name?

Stella is certainly a popular choice, and surged to prominence in the 20th Century. It is a timeless name, one that can have universal appeal and crisscross all backgrounds. The name is sure to remain so for many years to come.

What Names Besides Stella Mean “Star?”

In addition to Stella, several other names mean “star,” including:

  • Astra
  • Aster
  • Estelle
  • Estella
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