Royal Baby Name: Farah

farah diba, 1959, iran, queen
Farah Diba on the cover of LIFE, 1959

The last Shah of Iran had three wives — first Fawzia, second Soraya, and finally Farah: Farah Diba, who was a 21-year-old commoner when she married the king in Tehran at the very end of 1959.

The Arabic name Farah, which means “joy,” appeared for the first time in the SSA’s baby name data the next year:

  • 1964: 11 baby girls named Farah
  • 1963: 13 baby girls named Farah
  • 1962: 14 baby girls named Farah
  • 1961: 12 baby girls named Farah
  • 1960: 19 baby girls named Farah [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

The couple went on to have four children: Reza (the male heir the Shah had been waiting for), Farahnaz, Ali-Reza, and Leila.

Reza never got a chance to rule Iran, though, because the royal family was forced to flee during the Iranian Revolution at the end of the 1970s. By the time the Shah died of cancer in 1980, the new leader of the country was Ayatollah Khomeini.

The similar name Farrah first appeared in the data in the late ’60s. It would go on to see a dramatic spike in usage in 1976-1977 thanks to Farrah Fawcett (whose name at birth was actually Ferrah).

Another similar name, Fara, predates both Farah and Farrah on the charts. Fara has been in the U.S. data since the 1910s. (Other unexpected Sara- and Clara-clones from that era include Flara, Gara, Para, and Nara.)

Do you like the name Farah? Which spelling do you prefer?

P.S. The male names Reza and Alireza started appearing in the U.S. data in the ’60s and ’70s, respectively.


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