Name of the Day: Renata

by appellationmountain on January 4, 2010

Renée had her heyday back in the 1960s, but this variant could sound just right in 2009.

Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Renata as Name of the Day.

In the nineteenth century, you’d be hard pressed to find any American child wearing any form of the Latin Renatus, despite widespread use throughout Europe.

The français Renée caught on for American girls during the twentieth century. She was already in the Top 100 when The Left Banke scored a hit with “Walk Away Renée” in 1966. The name peaked at #62 the year after the single’s release.

Elsewhere Renata is the common feminine form. In Latin, the name means born again – think renaissance. Adherents of the first century Cult of Mithra used renatus to describe initiated members.

Mithraism faded, but early Christians embraced the meaning and adopted variations of Renatus as a personal name.

Famous bearers include:

  • A pair of saints, the fifth century Renato of Sorrento and René of Angers. Both names were Latinized as Renatus;
  • A handful of royals wear the name, including a sixteenth century Prince of Orange and the seventeenth century Archduchess Cecilia Renata of Austria, who became Queen of Poland;
  • Journalist and writer Renata Adler;
  • Two legendary opera singers, both Italian-born sopranos. Renata Tebaldi in the post-World War II era and Renata Scotto from the 1960s and 70s.

The second operatic Renata might even deserve credit for the name’s brief appearance in the US Top 1000 during the late 1970s. A character in Gabriel García Márquez’ 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude also wore the name.

For a touch of silver screen glamor, variant Renate was worn by German actress Renate Müller. Ms. Müller is remembered as the star of the original Viktor und Viktoria, back in 1933. When the Nazis came calling, she refused to star in their propoganda films. Some say she died of natural causes; others claim her nein led to murder by the Gestapo.

Renate is also the middle name of Heidelberg-born Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Then there’s Renita, usually listed as a variant, despite her slightly different pronunciation. (She’s re NEE tah instead of reh NAH tah.) From 1954 into the early 1980s, she charted in the US Top 1000. My best guess is that Renita is a Spanish diminutive form of Renée, first used in I Love Lucy. She’s one of Ricky’s friends from Cuba, a fellow dancer he knows as Little Renita. But when she arrives for a visit, Little Renita is all grown up.

Renata and Renita also benefit from their similarity to the French reine – queen. File Renata with Regina and Leroy – even if an etymologic connection is lacking.

Renata is also a minor character in the Twilight series. She’s among the Volturi, the mega-powerful Vampires Without Apology. While her character doesn’t command much screen time, Renata might just be reborn through the undead.

Call Renata that rare choice that can appeal to Frasier Crane and Roseanne Barr alike. The sopranos lend her a sophisticated air, while the fictional vampire keeps her current. She could even fly as a sister – or substitution – for Nevaeh.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Renata January 14, 2013 at 11:09 PM

I’m with you Ranada. My German mother named me after a famous actress, Renata Muller of Germany, who was killed by Hitler thugs. I wear the name proudly for one who stood up to that Psychopath and I am proud of the name. There aren’t many of us, but when I meet someone that shares the name, I love to shake her hand. Salute!

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Ranada September 16, 2010 at 2:11 PM

I LOVE MY NAME…ALTHOUGH MY PARENTS SPELLED IT DIFFERENT….IT IS PRONOUNCED THE SAME, EXCEPT THE TAH IS A DAH. I LIKE THAT I CAN WALK INTO A FULL ROOM AND WHEN SOMEONE CALLS MY NAME 20 PEOPLE DONT TURN AROUND. :)

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Renata August 2, 2010 at 5:45 AM

It was a very common name in Brazil from 1980 to… 1985, I think. I was born in 1983 and I came from a Italian family who named me after Renata Tebaldi.

I like the sound, although I understand it’s quite unusual for non-latin and non-slavic countries (Renata is very common in Poland, Czech Republic etc). Renita sounds weird to me and Ren

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Bek January 4, 2010 at 10:34 PM

I went to high school with a Renata that hated her name so much she switched to Renee (I can think of a handful I know my age – mid to late twenties). Both feel kind of “meh” to me.

Funny, I know a twenty-something Anita, too. But that feels much fresher to me than either Renee or Renata.

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Lola January 4, 2010 at 9:33 PM

I like Renata. I don’t even mind Ren

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photoquilty January 4, 2010 at 8:26 PM

Renate was my German teacher my freshman year of college. I’ve always liked it simply because it seems like an unexpected name. I don’t know how to say what I mean. I guess Isabella is so predictible, but Renata is a name I’d neverr assume you’d given to your daughter. It’s pretty, slightly frilly, and definitely nicer than Renee.

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Eva January 4, 2010 at 6:22 PM

I love Renata. It was one of my favorites for a while but I forgot about it. It’s exotic but easy to pronounce. It has a very operatic sound. For some reason I think it sounds like a musical term.

I don’t like Renita. Most -ita names, like Bonita, Anita, and Juanita seems very outdated to me.

I can see how Ren

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Sebastiane January 4, 2010 at 5:46 PM

Renee and Renata don’t do anything for me. Both feel dated and worn, even Renata.

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Emmy Jo January 4, 2010 at 5:45 PM

I want to like Renata so much. I really do.

I LOVE the meaning — I have a thing for Christian names that aren’t directly biblical (like Anastasia, Dorothy, or Evangeline), perhaps because they seem a bit less expected than naming all your kids Miriam, Lydia, Silas, and Enoch.

Also, when I was tiny my grandmother had a family friend from Germany called Renata. She was a sweet old lady and was very fond of me, from what I can remember.

I definitely think the name could work today (and it’s SO much better than the 80′s Renee), but its sound doesn’t appeal to me personally.

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Corinne January 4, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I adore Renata! I first heard it on Ratatouille :blush: and fell in love.
Something about it is just so pretty, I love how it sounds.

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Joy January 4, 2010 at 2:16 PM

In the Prince of Tides, Renata Halpern was the pseudonym that Tom Wingo’s sister had been using in New York before attempting suicide. This is the only place I’ve heard this name previous to NotD.

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valery January 4, 2010 at 12:27 PM

For some reason this name makes me think of cheap boxed wine.

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Ranada September 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Valery doesnt sound much better sister. i would rather have a name that sounded like cheap wine than a name that sounds like an ingredient you would add to a cheap soup

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