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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Agatha

Number of Babies Named Agatha

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Agatha

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.

Fifinella

(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
© LIFE

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?

Sources:


Which Baby Names Are Banned in Portugal?

belem-tower-portugalWondering which baby names are illegal in Portugal? (Sure you are!) The Portuguese government maintains an 80-page list of baby names–a mix of the permitted and the forbidden. Here are some of the names (and weirdly specific name combinations) Portuguese parents are not allowed to give their babies:

  • Aidan
  • Albuquerque
  • Allan Brett
  • Anouchka
  • Antoinette
  • Argo Demetrius
  • Ashanti
  • Ashley
  • Babilónia
  • Ben-Hur
  • Brunei
  • Bruce
  • Bryan
  • Charlotte
  • Cheyenne
  • Claret
  • Claude
  • Coltrane (jazz musician)
  • Brilhante (Portuguese for brilliant)
  • Britta Nórdica
  • Chianda Kady
  • Dmitri, Dmitriy, Dmitro
  • Do Sorriso
  • Douglas
  • Dylan
  • Farley
  • Faruk
  • Fraternidade
  • Giana Lai
  • Heidi
  • Hendrix
  • Imperatriz
  • Ivanhoe (19th-century novel)
  • Jaiantcumar
  • Jenny
  • Jimmy
  • Jivago (form of Zhivago)
  • Kathleen
  • Kennedy
  • Leeyang
  • Loïc
  • Logan
  • Mabel
  • Magnifica
  • Mar e Sol (Portuguese for sea and sun)
  • Marx
  • Mary Ann
  • Melbournia
  • Nazareth Fernandes
  • Nirvana
  • Olaf
  • Pablo
  • Piombina (Italian town Piombino)
  • Portugal
  • Rihanna
  • Rosa Luxemburgo
  • Samora Machel
  • Sandokan (fictional pirate Sandokan)
  • Satélite
  • Sayonara (Japanese for goodbye)
  • Tamagnini (Italian surname)
  • Trebaruna (Lusitanian deity)
  • Vasconcelos (Portuguese surname)
  • Viking
  • Virtuosa
  • Viterbo (Italian town)
  • Zingara (Italian for gypsy)

Some are foreign names/words, some are locations, some refer to pop culture, and so forth.

Many of the no-no names are simply in the wrong form (according to the government). For instance, parents can use…

  • Aarão, but not Aaron
  • Agata, but not Agatha
  • Baltasar, but not Baltazar
  • Daisi, but not Daisy
  • Dulce do Amparo, but not Dulce Amparo
  • Kévim, but not Kevin
  • Hervé, but not Hervê or Herve (reminds me of the Zöé controversy)
  • Maria de Lurdes, but not Maria de Lourdes
  • Martina, but not Martine
  • Mónica, but not Monique
  • Nuno, or Nuno de Santa Maria, or Nuno do Carmo (Carmelite), but not Nuno Álvares.

To see all the names for yourself, download the Lista de Nomes from the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado.

Baby Names Needed for the Twin Siblings of Beatrix

A reader named Marissa, who has a daughter named Beatrix Penelope (nn Bea), is expecting twins–one boy, one girl. She’s got their middle names narrowed down (Anthony or Alexander for the baby boy, Daphne or Jillian for the baby girl) but she’d like some help with their first names.

Here’s what she’s looking for in a boy name:

For the boy I’d like names that are two syllables long and start and end in a consonant. So far I like Robert, Patrick, Daniel and Fabian. The only one he likes is Fabian, but we’re still not sure.

And here’s what she’s looking for in a girl name:

For the girl I’d like names that are three or four syllables long, and start and end in a vowel. So far I like Anastasia, Ophelia, Elena and Ursula, but he likes none of them.

The babies’ last name will sound something like Thisbe.

Here are some of the boy names I came up with:

Calvin
Clement
Chester
Conrad
Curtis
David
Declan
Dexter
Duncan
Felix
Franklin
Holden
Howard
Jasper
Kenneth
Lincoln
Linus
Lucas
Malcolm
Martin
Maxwell
Miles
Mitchell
Nathan
Nelson
Nigel
Nolan
Philip
Raymond
Reuben
Roland
Roman
Silas
Simon
Stuart
Thomas
Victor
Vincent
William
Winston

And here are some ideas for the girl name:

Acantha
Adela
Adelina
Adriana
Agatha
Alexandra
Alexina
Alicia
Allegra
Althea
Amelia
Annabella
Andrea
Angela
Antonia
Arabella
Araminta
Athena
Augusta
Aurelia
Aurora
Azalea
Eleanora
Eliana
Elisa
Eloisa
Estella
Eugenia
Eulalia
Imelda
Iona
Irena/Irina
Isabella
Isidora
Octavia
Odelia
Odessa
Olivia
Olympia
Ottilia

Which of the above do you like best with Beatrix? (And which ones make the best boy/girl pairings, do you think?)

What other names would you suggest to Marissa?

Baby Name Needed – Name for Harvey’s Sibling

A reader named Kim has a son named Harvey James. She’s expecting her second baby (gender unknown) this fall. The baby’s last name will be similar to Landsberg.

She and her husband like different types of names, so let’s tackle one gender at a time.

For a girl, I like (stodgy?) old fashioned names like Matilda, Agatha, and Wilhelmina, and he likes more common names like Kate and Anna.

I looked for girl names that have an old-fashioned feel, but a contemporary look/sound (i.e. shorter, simpler, more melodic than Matilda, Agatha, Wilhelmina). Here’s what I came up with:

Ada
Alice
Beatrix
Bettina
Celeste
Celia
Charlotte
Clara
Cora
Delia
Edith
Eliza
Flora
Frida/Frieda
Georgia
Greta
Jane
Leona
Louisa
Lucy
Lydia
Martha
Mina
Nina
Nora
Petra
Phoebe
Rose
Rowena
Sabina
Sylvia
Vita
Willa

Now boys:

For a boy, I love the more classical / romantic Oliver and Frederick, but my husband likes the more (stalwart? masculine? mainstream?) Connor and Owen.

Finding middle-ground male names was a bit trickier, but I think most of the names below fit the bill. (I also sprinkled in a few random others that I happen to like with Harvey.)

Bennett
Charles
Clancy
Conrad
Desmond
Dominic
Duncan
Edgar
Emil
Emmett
Evan
Everett
Felix
Garrett
Gavin
Graham
Grant
Jasper
Leo/Leonard
Luther
Malcolm
Maxwell
Morris
Nathan
Nolan
Oscar
Sebastian
Simon
Stanley
Stuart
Theo/Theodore
Travis
Walter

Which of the names above do you like best? What other names would you suggest to Kim and her husband?

Update – The baby has arrived! Scroll down to see what name Kim chose.