She’s a literary elaboration of Lucia. In the Age of Isabella, here’s one that would wear quite well on a daughter.
Thanks to Jennie, aka British American, for suggesting Lucinda as our Baby Name of the Day.
Saint Lucia was martyred back in the 300s. Her gory story was popular, and she has a long history of use throughout Europe. Variant Lucy appears in Medieval England. There are plenty of elaborations for Lucia, including:
- Lucilla, in use in the third century;
- Lucetta, used by Shakespeare in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and later, Thomas Hardy in The Mayor of Castlebridge;
- Hardy’s Lucetta also went by the French Lucette;
- The equally French Lucienne and Lucille are options, too.
It isn’t until the 1600s that we find Lucinda in use, and her first appearances are fictional:
- In Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Lucinda is a beautiful woman caught in a love triangle;
- Molière penned Le Médecin malgré lui a few years later, naming his mock doctor’s patient Lucinde.
Both works were successful, and resulted in plenty of adaptations. But Lucinda’s name didn’t always carry over. Henry Fielding adapted Molière’s play in the eighteenth century, changing Lucinde to Charlotte. And while Don Quixote remains widely read, the popular stage and screen adaptations omit the story of Lucinda, Cardenio, and Ferdinand.
Lucinda filtered into general use. In the late nineteenth century, she ranked in the US Top 200. But she’s fallen out of favor since then, despite many reasons that she could’ve, should’ve caught on. She enjoyed some success as an alternative to Cynthia in the 1950s and 60s. There’s also been:
- As The World Turns featured the machinations of the ambitious Lucinda Walsh for more than three decades;
- Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams has been recording since the late 1970s, bridging folk, country, and indie rock;
- Peter Carey’s 1988 novel Oscar and Lucinda was adapted into a 1997 film starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett. Blanchett’s turn as the rebellious Australian heiress-turned-glass-entrepreneur launched her career.
The list also includes actresses, athletes, politicians, and plenty of other accomplished women.
Lucinda left the US Top 1000 entirely after 1987, and yet she’d fit right in with Isabella, Gabriella, Samantha, Savannah, Alexandra, and Vanessa – the super-feminine names of the Top 100, most with some claim to history, but all well-used by now.
If you’re after a truly unusual name, Lucinda might have a flaw: logical nickname Lucy is racing up the charts, landing at #101 in 2009, up more than 250 spaces in a decade. She could follow Lily into the Top 20.
Or that could make for the best of both worlds – a perfectly ordinary nickname, coupled with a literary, distinctive given name perfect for formal occasions.