Angelina Ballerina
Angelina Ballerina (Photo credit: jen_rab)

She’s a world-famous actress and a dancing cartoon mouse.

Thanks to Jessica for suggesting Angelina as our Baby Name of the Day.

Angelina has been quite the popular name in recent years.  She fits right in with Isabella and Olivia and a host of elaborate, feminine appellations.  But there’s more to Angelina than her frilly, elaborate sound.

She’s a cousin to Angela, a diminutive form in the key of Paulina and Carina.  Angela comes from the Latin angelus, as in an angel.  Angel translates to “messenger” in the original Greek.

Before our era, the name was worn by princess and Serbian Orthodox saint Angelina of Serbia in the 1400s.  The name has a long history of use in the east, worn by plenty of Byzantine princesses over the years.

The early nineteenth century gives us suffragette and abolitionist Angelina Grimké, a sharp and thoughtful writer and thinker of her age.

But Angelina has been in the spotlight in recent decades for other reasons, her namesakes less weighty:

  • Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Farewell, Angelina,” but Joan Baez is best known for her 1965 recording.
  • Katharine Holabird’s delicate dancing mouse made her debut in 1983, in a children’s book.  The book became a series, and the series inspired a television adaptation.
  • Actress Angelina Jolie rose to prominence in the 1990s, and has delighted name nerds everywhere with the process of naming six children with her partner, Brad Pitt.
  • Short-lived reality star Angelina Pivarnick left the Jersey Shore cast after Season Two.
  • She’s a recurring minor character in the Harry Potter ‘verse, a skilled Quidditch player.

She’s never left the US Top 1000, and she’s very popular in recent years.  She’s been big in the Ukraine and Armenia, too.

Angelina peaked at #43 in 2005.  By 2011, Angelina left the top 100, ranking #104.  If she was boosted by Ms. Jolie’s career, perhaps today parents hesitate that the actress is so very famous that the name is tough to wear for a child.

Despite Angelina’s recent slide, she’s still more popular than the original Angela, as well the French Angeline and the Rugrats’ Angelica.

If elaborate feminine appellations are your style, then Angelina could be the ideal choice.  She seems less common that she’s actually been in recent years.  Lina makes for a great short form.  At first glance, she’s a frilly and overly feminine concoction.  But layer on her history, and Angelina is a surprisingly strong choice.

Enhanced by Zemanta

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I love all those angelic names, but Angelina is more of a guilty pleasure name for me. I don’t think I would use it for a potential kid. Here in Poland it has a very pretentious feel for most people, and we still have a massive dilemma how to pronounce it (it should be pronounced with the soft G according to the Polish phonetics, but since it’s not pronounced this way anywhere else most people pronounce it with the hard G, which is considered linguistically incorrect). Spelling is an issue too, and there is another form to reflect the hard G pronounciation – Andżelina. – I don’t like the looks of it quite as much as Angelina’s. Have I lived in an English-speaking country, I wouldn’t use Angelina either because everyone seems to associate it soo much with Jolie, I wouldn’t like my kid to be associated with her, not that I have anything against her but am not a fan of her either. But I really like the frilly feel of this name, how girly and elaborate it is, it has something magical about it, and as I said I tend to like angelic names. And while it is so frilly, it indeed does have some strength in it indeed, thanks to its history. I like the Orthodox/Byzantine connotations in it for some reason. Angie and Lina are nice nicknames but they both feel a bit mediocre to me in comparison with the full Angelina, so I think if I did have a daughter named Angelina, I’d call her by her full name, or perhaps Angel very occasionally.

  2. I like Lina, very much and by default, should like Angelina very much too. But I don’t. Angelica’s my preferred Angel- name followed by Angela. There’s an Angela in one of my all-time favorite movies: Constantine. It’s fun to hear Angela every so often. (For -Lina, I’d use Halina)

    But Angelina? Too frilly for me, too tied to Jolie. I like the Ballerina mouse but that’s about it. I like girl names with a little edge to them: Josephine, Zelda, Elspeth. Like Angelica too. I’d consider it moe strongly if I could come up with a nickname I loved for it.
    I can easily see why people love Angelina but she’s not for me.

  3. I helped put together the yearbook at my daughter’s elementary school last year and was astonished at the number of Angelinas. It’s too frilly for me, but I can see why others like it.

  4. I prefer Evangeline, Angeline, Angelica, and Angela to Angelina. My daughter’s love for the Angelina Ballerina show might color that preference.

  5. Evangeline seems fresher for the frilly angel route. But I do think Angelina is a pretty name.

  6. There’s a little Angelina at our church — actually she’s the same age to the day of our Alaric. Right now her parents call her by her full name in English (I don’t know if they ever refer to her by a Chinese name, I should ask). It’s a long name and rather frilly, but I personally think the “g” gives it some edge.

  7. I don’t really like it, too frilly, although we did meet a sibset Angelina & Aidan a few years ago, and in combination I found both names charming.