Pegasus, as the horse of Muses, was put on the...
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This might be the most unusual name inspiration featured here yet … and that’s saying something!

Thanks to Colleen for suggesting Brietta as our Baby Name of the Day.

Brietta suggests two possibilities: she could be a retro pick, an all-but-forgotten cousin to the vintage Marietta.  Or maybe she’s a nouveau coinage, a spin on all of those Bri- names.

Turns out that neither are exactly right.

Brietta has never charted in the US Top 1000, but every search I’ve done leads to one place: the 2005 direct-to-video flick Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus.  In the animated tale, a pegasus is a breed of winged horses.  The heroine, Princess Annika, is menaced by an evil wizard named Wenlock.  Just when it seems too late, Annika is whisked away to safety by a pegasus called – you guessed it – Brietta.

The winged horse is actually Annika’s older sister, Princess Brietta.  She took her equine form only after refusing the advances of Wenlock.  Annika saves the day, and they all live happily ever after, Brietta back to her tiara-wearing form.  Actress/pop singer Brie Larson recorded a single, “Hope Has Wings,” for the movie.  Could Larson have inspired Brietta’s name?

Perhaps one of the writers found Brietta in a baby name book.  She does sometimes appear listed as a variant of Bridget, but it feels like a stretch.  First, -etta isn’t a traditional Celtic diminutive form.  Bridie, sure.  But -etta is typically Italian.  With Saint Bridget inspiring the name’s spread throughout Europe, variants like Birgitta and Britta can be found in use.

But Brietta?  Not so much.  There are a handful in the US Census records, but not enough to suggest she was ever anything but a rarity.  Brietta has never appeared in the US Top 1000, either.  I turned to Nancy’s list of baby girls names with B in 2009, and there’s no shortage of similar names:

  • There’s the popular Brianna and plenty of spelling variants;
  • Brielle and Briella, both inspired by the mega-successful Gabrielle;
  • Brienna, which seems somewhere in between the first two;
  • Desperate Housewives Bree, as well as the cheesy Brie, and even more creative inventions, like Breigh;
  • Mix and match names like Breelyn and Briley.

Could Brietta be an elaboration of another name?  One possibility is Abra, a feminine form of Abraham, worn by a Biblical figure, a fourth-century saint, and a character in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  Abra could be elaborated as Abrietta, and losing the a gives you Brietta.

Circa 2011, the ending -etta is in fashion limbo, while -ella rules the playground.  But could Scarlet, Juliet, Bridget, and Violet be leading a resurgence of -et, -ette, and eventually -etta names?  I’ve heard Julietta and Violetta praised on baby name boards.  Sarah Jessica Parker‘s daughter is called Loretta.  And choices like Elisabetta sound surprisingly fresh.  Even Etta summons up the legendary Etta James – born Jamesetta Hawkins.

Brietta may not have roots in the past, but she could have a promising future, satisfying parents who want something different, with just a hint of antique charm.  But with so many Bri- names in heavy rotation, it may be too late for Brietta to sound truly novel.

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.

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What do you think?


  1. My name is Bretta. It wasn’t a family name but as I’ve gotten older & tired of the “where did you get your name from” I finally came up with a simple “I have an uncle Brett” lol my Mom got so angry when I told her that is what I tell people these days. Oh well

  2. I found this post when googling this name. My wife and I are adopting a newborn. We had been looking at names off and on, but where forced to decide once the baby decided to come 5 weeks early. My wife woke up the morning of with this name in her head. We’d not seen it anywhere before. We’re naming her Vivienne Brietta. Interesting reading, thank you.

  3. Hey folks! It’s pronounced “bree-EH-tah – completely phonetic. It gets slurred just the way names like Greta and Marietta do, but I tend to annunciate it when introducing myself to avoid confusion. (And I fully echo the Brieta above about constantly correcting people on it.)

    Thanks for the post – super interesting, and I never thought about the whole Italian etymology. I found it while googling my name to show that Barbie movie to a friend – because having a badly-animated flying cartoon horse with your name NEVER gets old, and there are endless jokes about Barbie being able to ride me sidesaddle. (There’s some toys, too. Thankfully, I’m older than that ridiculous movie by about 18 years.)

    I’m 23 and my parents pulled it out of a baby name book at random because they liked it and thought it would work well with my super-irish last name. Other than that, it’s supposedly also a derivative of “Briar,” and I like thinking of myself as a “thorny bush of wild roses.” I’d never think of it as being trendy – it’d have to actually be heard of, first. One of the things about having a rare name is that you get pretty protective of it, and I’ve gone this far without meeting another Brietta in person. I feel like a Tigger.

    And Bruschetta is one of my nicknames. Same with Beretta.

    1. Glad to hear the name wears well, Brietta! I have a friend who used to be the only Breanna. 🙂

      I’ve heard the Briar reference, too – it makes (some) sense, but I suspect there’s a missing link here. I keep thinking there was some pop culture reference from the early 20th century – a play, a novel, an early movie now lost. But I haven’t found it … yet!

  4. I’m a 31-year-old Brieta (pronounced BREE-tah), so my parents definitely weren’t inspired by any of the trendy Bri/Bre names. While I like my name and the fact that it’s unusual, I definitely don’t like having to correct the pronunciation of my name on a daily basis. I always wished it were spelled Britta or Brita, for what it’s worth.

  5. How would Brietta be pronounced? Is it bree-ET-uh or is it BREE-tah? I ask because I could see parents spelling Britta as Brietta, just to differentiate it from the water filters.

    I love Brigitte and Abra, but I’m not a big fan of this name. Brietta just feels too much like trendy Breeana, Britney and Brielle and not enough like the old-fashioned charmers Greta and Marietta.

  6. When I read about the brief history of this name it immediately brought to mind C.S. Lewis’ _The Horse and His Boy_, which features a [male] talking horse named Bree. However, I very much doubt that Lewis’ character inspired the makers of that Barbie movie.

    Brietta is far too nouveau and frilly for my taste. I’m not usually a fan of “etta”s.

  7. I completely agree with Nicole! It has a very fresh sound and I would thrilled to hear it on the playground, but its not right for my child.

  8. this name is fun, and I like that it is rare, but has common syllables in today’s names. I really am not that into the Bri/Bre names.. that it just makes the Bri sound mundane for me. But i do like the addition of -etta it gives it a fresh yet vintage twist. Overall.. I would love to hear a little Brietta on the playground, but I may not use it for my girl.