According to data from the government of Romania, the popular baby names in the country in 2016 were Maria and Andrei.
Here are Romania’s top girl names and top boy names of 2016:
One of my sources quoted Romanian sociologist Alfred Bulai as saying that the Russian baby name Nadia — otherwise rare in Romania — saw a big spike in usage in the ’70s thanks to Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
A Civil Code enacted in 2009 prohibits Romanian parents from bestowing baby names that are defamatory, ridiculous, or that refer to objects or places.
I’m in Boston right now visiting family, and earlier this week some of us went on a Duck Tour for the first time. The tour was pretty good — I’m on the fence about whether or not I’d recommend it to others — but one thing I did like was finding this list of duck boat names in the pamphlet they gave us:
Back Bay Bertha
Frog Pond Lily
Miss Emma Science
North End Norma
Red Sox Nathan
South End Sara
Tub of the Hub
I especially like Espla Nadia and Molly Molasses — the first for the wordplay (a take on “Esplanade”) the second for the historical reference (the Great Molasses Flood).
Much has been said lately about Caitlyn Jenner’s first name (which, notably, does not start with a K).
But what about her surname?
Because, long before the Kardashians were a thing, the baby name Jenner debuted on the charts — first as a boy name, then as a girl name:
1977: 9 baby boys & 5 baby girls named Jenner
1976: 8 baby boys named Jenner [debut]
The decathlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner shot to international fame in 1976 after winning a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. (This was about 2 weeks after Nadia Comaneci scored her perfect ten.)
The name Jenner has seen even higher usage in recent years thanks to the reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which has been on the air since late 2007.
How do you like Jenner as a first name? Do you think it works better as a boy name or a girl name?
The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. buried a number of nearby communities, including the now-famous ancient city of Pompeii.
The city was forgotten for centuries, rediscovered in 1599, forgotten again, then rediscovered a second time in 1748. Excavations finally began in the mid-1700s, and the rest of the world soon came to know of Pompeii and its sad fate.
After Russian painter Karl Bryullov visited the ruins in 1828, he was inspired to create The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833), which depicts the destruction of Pompeii as Vesuvius erupts in the background. The massive painting (which measures 15 feet high by 21 feet long) became extremely popular.
English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton (of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame) saw the painting while it was on display in Italy. It inspired him to write the book The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which also became extremely popular.
One of the book’s main characters is a blind slave-girl named Nydia (pronounced NID-ee-ah) who sells flowers to earn money for her owner.
She’s a memorable, tragic character who has since been portrayed in other works of art, most notably the sculpture Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii (see above) by American sculptor Randolph Rogers. Here’s a description:
[Nydia] struggles forward to escape the dark volcanic ash and debris of Mount Vesuvius as it erupts and buries the ancient city of Pompeii. Clutching her staff and cupping hand to ear, she strains for sounds of Glaucus (a nobleman with whom she has fallen desperately in love) and his fiancée Ione. Accustomed to darkness, blind Nydia uses her acute hearing to find the two, leading them to safety at the shore; but in the end, despairing of the impossibility of her love, she drowns herself.
In the book, Nydia tells Ione that she originally came from Greece:
“What is your name, fair girl?”
“They call me Nydia.”
“The land of Olympus–Thessaly.”
Her name was not used in ancient times, though, and the author doesn’t offer any clues about how he coined this (ostensibly Greek) name. Many sources echo the theory that the name Nydia was based on the Latin word nidus, meaning “nest,” but this shouldn’t be interpreted as fact.
So…has the literary name Nydia ever been used as a real-life baby name?
Yes, but the name has never been very common. Here’s the number of U.S. baby girls that have been given the baby name Nydia since the turn of the century:
2014: 27 baby girls named Nydia
2013: 16 baby girls named Nydia
2012: 26 baby girls named Nydia
2011: 30 baby girls named Nydia
2010: 31 baby girls named Nydia
2009: 29 baby girls named Nydia
2008: 52 baby girls named Nydia
2007: 53 baby girls named Nydia
2006: 52 baby girls named Nydia
2005: 53 baby girls named Nydia
2004: 62 baby girls named Nydia
2003: 69 baby girls named Nydia
2002: 69 baby girls named Nydia
2001: 72 baby girls named Nydia
2000: 82 baby girls named Nydia
While a handful of people were named Nydia prior to the publication of Bulwer-Lytton’s book, consistent usage of the name began only after the book came out. Usage was at its highest during the last quarter of the 20th century. Even then, though, the name never managed to earn a spot among the top 1,000 girl names in the nation. Usage has been in decline ever since. (The spelling Nidia has followed a similar trajectory.)
So, not only is Nydia a relatively young name that originates in literature, it’s also a relatively rare name that’s reminiscent of more familiar options (like Lydia and Nadia). So it might be particularly appealing to parents who like literature names and/or “sweet spot” names (that is, names that are uncommon but not unheard of).
My husband went to Dubai on business a few months ago. Being the thoughtful guy he is, he returned bearing gifts. One of his gifts was a box of chocolate-covered dates made by a company called Nadiya Dates.
(Our chocolates didn’t look like the chocolates in the photo, though. They were more like melty amorphous globs, thanks to summertime temperatures in the Middle East. But they were delicious nonetheless.)
In the U.S., the most common spelling is Nadia. This version of the name was popularized in the 1970s by Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. Her name is a diminutive of the Russian name Nadezhda, which means “hope.”
But Nadia can come from Arabic as well. In this case, it’s based on a word meaning “moist with dew.” As the authors of A Dictionary of First Names note, “in a hot, dry climate, morning dew is highly valued.”
One name, two distinct derivations. Which origin/definition do you prefer, and why?