Anthony is a saintly staple. Antoinette was a doomed queen. How would this Italian spin wear today?
Thanks to Christina for suggesting Antonella as our Baby Name of the Day.
Check the US Top 100, and you’ll find no shortage of elaborate feminine forms of evergreen masculine names:
- Samantha (#15)
- Brianna (#29)
- Victoria (#32)
- Gabriella (#33)
- Alexandra (#64)
- Natalia (#98)
Antonella fits perfectly, not just for her feminissa style, but for her potential nicknames. She shares her -ella ending with Gabriella and the chart-topping Isabella. Other short form options include Nell and Annie, as well as the obvious – if dated – Toni.
Anthony has been a steady Top 100 pick since before 1900. He’s a truly ancient appellation, with this roots stretching back to the ancient world. The Roman general Marcus Antonius – better known as Marc Antony – had a good run before losing a definitive battle to the future Emperor Augustus. His story, and the tale of his suicide with his ally and lover Cleopatra, were immortalized by none other than William Shakespeare.
The name endured, and was worn by a handful of early saints. The thirteenth-century Saint Anthony of Padua was born in Portugal, but lends the name his Italian style.
In English, Anthony picked up his -th thanks to an error: at some point, it was assumed that Anthony was related to anthos – flower. That’s not the case, and even in Medieval English, you would find men called Antony.
The feminine forms tend to omit the -h. There’s the literary Antonia, the French Antoine and Antoinette, as well as the more elaborate Italian options Antonina and Antonella. Spelled Antonela, you can find her in Croatia, too.
Most famous bearers in recent years have been Italian:
- Olympic athletes including Antonella Confortola, a cross-country skier, and Antonella Bellutti, a cyclist;
- Hollywood gives us Oscar-nominated costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi;
- Actresses include Antonella Lualdi, who made it big in French cinema during the 1950s, and named her daughter Antonellina, as well as Antonella Costa, and Chile’s Antonella Rios.
Ms. Rios may be the reason the name has enjoyed a burst of popularity in Chile in recent years.
In 2007, Antonella Barba competed on American Idol. She didn’t make it as far as the top twelve, though, so her name remains relatively obscure.
Yet overall, Antonella seems like the kind of name we should hear more. She fits with stylish options from Isabella to Francesca, and has more nickname options than many a frilly, feminine choice. If you’re heartbroken that every other girl in your ‘hood is answering to Olivia, this is one choice that is both completely different and perfectly in step.
For those many families with an Anthony or three to honor, she’s also an option that takes the traditional Italian favorite in another direction.