Frozen potato product or logical evolution of the classic Alexandra?
Thanks to Virginia for suggesting Alexia as our Baby Name of the Day.
Alex- names have had a good run. Alexandra peaked in the 1990s. Alexander has spent the last few years in the US Top Ten. And, of course, they’re both venerable classics, worn by saints and royals, inventors and performers. Their popularity has varied over the years, but it is tough to go wrong with any form of Alex.
But remember that they haven’t always been common. Alexandra, at least in the US, was seldom heard until well into the twentieth century, sort of where Cordelia is today.
By the 1970s, choices like Alexis, Alexandria, and Alexa were on the rise. By 1981, Alexia had joined those names in the US Top 1000. By 1996, she was in the Top 300, and she peaked at #128 in 2002.
This tracks with her use in France, where she peaked around 1996. But Alexia isn’t necessarily French. I’ve also found her in use throughout Scandinavia, South America, Greece, and Europe. The name traces back to the Greek Alexios and Latin Alexius, so little wonder she’s a feminine form in many lands.
In English, she’s a name at the crossroads of two trends: while Alex names are fading, especially for girls, -ia ending choices are booming. In our age of Sophia, Olivia, Amelia and lots of other ends-with-ia possibilities, Alexia might sound fresher than Alexandra.
But Alexia has her drawbacks. One oft-mentioned problem is the condition alexia. In this case, it comes from lexis – word, in Greek. The ‘a’ prefix means without, so a person suffering from alexia is without the ability to understand the written word. It’s something like dyslexia, but usually refers to those who suffer brain damage later in life.
And yet, I’d argue that’s something of a coincidence that hasn’t necessarily hurt her. The name has been worn by:
- Princess Alexia of the Netherlands, daughter of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, and second in line to the throne after her sister, Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange.
- Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark, daughter of deposed king of Greece.
- The London stage is home to Alexia Khadime, a fixture in West End musicals.
- Cyprus native Alexia Vassiliou is better known by her first name only, a singer with a long career and many successful recordings. She’s not a household name here, but in Greece and Cyprus, she’s the equivalent of pop pioneer Madonna.
- As for Scandinavia, Norway’s Alexia Bryn won a silver medal as part of a pairs team with Yngvar – not sure if they were siblings or spouses – at the 1920 Summer Olympics. (There were no winter games until 1924.)
- Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and his French mistress Helene gave the name to a daughter in 1967.
- More recently, Real Housewives of Miami Cuban-American cast member Alexia Echevarria put the name in the spotlight.
It’s a globe-trotting name, hard to pin down.
As for the spuds, Alexia is a part of ConAgra Foods. Their website attributes the brand’s origins to a chef named Alex Dzieduszycki. And why not? Alexia is just as reasonable a feminine form as Alexa or Alexine.
A high-profile Alexia could still boost this name, but for now, it feels like she’ll fade with the rest of the Alex names. But Alexia deserves as place as part of this classic name cluster, an appealing possibility that would still wear well for a girl in 2014.