Thanks to a certain Hollywood superstar, Drew is worn by more little girls circa 2010 than ever before. But what about the original feminine form of modern classic Andrew?
Thanks to JNE for suggesting Andrea as Baby Name of the Day.
You’d be surprised to meet a little American boy answering to Andrea. But just like Alexis and Angel, he’s one of those names that is typically masculine in certain languages. Princess Caroline of Monaco gave the name to her firstborn son, Grace Kelly’s eldest grandchild, Andrea Albert Pierre. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli scored an unlikely hit with “Con te partirò,” a song heard in movies, television, at sporting events, funerals and as part of the Bellagio Hotel’s Fountains of Bellagio water show.
But in the US, Andrea is a girl’s name, one that has ranked in the Top 1000 most years since 1880. Andrea entered the US Top 200 in 1943 and has been in the Top 100 since 1962. She’s surprisingly steady, staying in use while Janice, Annette and Cheryl, Tiffany, Denise and Misty all fade out of use.
While many names have multiple spellings, meaning that they’re more popular than we might think at first glance, Andrea is notable for her many alternate pronunciations. There’s ANN dree ah, AHN dree ah, ahn DRAY ah and awn DRAY ah to start. Just like parents sometimes spell Olivia with an A in an attempt to ensure their child’s name is always said correctly, I’ve even met a woman called Ondrea. Variant spelling Andria charted from the 1960s into the early 90s, too.
Andrea comes from the Greek element andros – man. A quick trip back through the word’s origins suggests that it means not mankind, but male. Still, you’ll sometimes see Andrea defined as meaning “womanly” in a baby name book.
But parents probably aren’t finding Andrea in a bay name book. She’s been very current in pop culture for decades:
- Andrea McArdle played Annie on Broadway in the 1970s, becoming the youngest performer ever nominated for a Tony Award as Best Lead Actress in a Musical;
- Molly Ringwald’s turn as Andie in 1986’s Pretty in Pink was unforgettable;
- Andrea Zuckerman was a student at West Beverly in the original Beverly Hills, 90210;
- Sopranos alum turned Desperate Housewife Drea DiMatteo suggested another appealing short form;
- Andrea Sachs was long-suffering assistant to Miranda Priestly in the 2003 novel and 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. Another generation of parents will remember Anne Hathaway as the big screen version of Andy.
She’s also popular throughout Europe. Andrea appears in the Top 25 of Spain, Norway and Iceland, and charts in the Top 100 of the Czech Republic, Denmark and Hungary.
For parents seeking a normal name, one instantly recognized but rarely shared, Andrea could be a great choice. Andi makes for a darling nickname, and Andrea sounds perfectly appropriate on a grown woman. Like Jennifer or Mary, she’s instantly recognizable but still stands out in an elementary school packed with girls called Maddie and Emma. But you do need to be either zen about the pronunciation headaches, or ready to insist upon one version again and again. And again.