Christina had her moment in the 80s. Valentine shows up every February 14. But how ’bout this elegant choice?

Thanks to Mary for suggesting Valentina as Baby Name of the Day.

If you’d never noticed Valentina, the birth of Salma Hayek’s daughter Valentina Paloma in 2007 probably caught your attention. But Valentina probably owes her rise – and her current rank of #207 – not to a starbaby, but to parents’ passion for elaborate feminine choices like Alexandra and Isabella.

In fact, Valentina’s rise is strikingly similar to Isabella’s journey. She entered the rankings in 1994 at #954, hit the top 500 less than a decade later, and kept climbing. Should parents abandon Seraphina and Evangeline in favor of more tailored options, Valentina could slow down. But neither has happened yet.

By 2009, Valentina stood at #207 in the US. She’s even more popular globally, ranking in the Top Ten in Argentina and Chile, and the Top 100s of Italy and Austria.

It’s a great choice for a globe-trotting baby who will fill up a passport before she learns to walk.

Valentina is also ideal for parents interested in meaning. She’s derived from the Latin valens – strong. One or more saints, a short-lived pope and a pair of Roman Emperors answered to Valentinus. The name has remained in use, changing little as he was adopted throughout Europe.

If we follow Valentina across the globe, we should start in Russia. Kiev-born fashion designer Valentina fled the Bolsheviks in 1917, picking up a wealthy American husband on her way. From her Madison Avenue boutique, she dressed society women and notable actresses, including Greta Garbo – with whom her husband later conducted a scandalous affair.

On a different note, Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. Selected from a pool of over 400 applicants, Tereshkova’s adventure took place in June of 1963.

From Russia to Italy, there’s also Milanese actress Valentina Cortese. Her long career included an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her 1975 performance as Severine in Day for Night. The world of comics give us two more Italian Valentinas – Guido Crepax’s Valentina featured a photojournalist in Milan. His Valentina series ran into 1995, and was seriously NC-17 at times. In the late 1960s, Marvel Comics Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD series included La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine.

The Latina Valentinas are the most recent wave. I’m guessing here, but I think that’s about Andrés Calamaro, a major force in Argentine music from the 1990s forward, with a big following in Spain, too. He recorded a single titled Valentina.

If you’re looking for a decidedly feminine name that’s less expected than Olivia or Samantha, Valentina qualifies. She’s less expected than Victoria or Alexandra, but just as robust. And yet, she’s not the rare gem that parents might think. Just like plenty of little Isabellas were surprised to meet another (and another and another), that could be Valentina’s experience in a few years, especially with that vibrant, oh-so-popular V.

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. valentina is my name and i have always adored it! with the onslaught of new celebrity babies being named valentina, people seem to know how to pronounce it correctly more often. i have never gone by a nickname, but now my nieces and nephews call me VIE! i love it so much!

  2. When I lived in Texas, the children next door where named Antonella and Valentina. I don’t remember Antonella being called anything but her full name, but Valentina was frequently called Valen (VAH-lehn.)

  3. I love Valentina! So regal and grand, but it has such a cute image for me, probably because of Valentine’s Day. I have considered Ali and Nina as nicknames, because like many others, Val and Tina don’t appeal to me.

  4. I adore Valentina. I think it’s kind of soft on the tongue. I love it as a name with nickname possibilities… very nice, in my opinion.

  5. I really like Valentina a lot (and I love Salma’s Valentina Paloma – it’s a mouthful, but so pretty!) One of my favorite profs in college was Valentina (Russian) – our dept went on a first name basis, so the name is very much associated with her in my mind. A lot of people felt she was a little abrasive, but really, she was just a no-nonsense kind of woman – she was a total softy, really, and a great teacher. In any case, it does make me think of an older woman for that reason, but not so much so that I can’t imagine it on a baby.

    Agreed with Mary that the nicknames Val and Tina are less appealing (although, maybe not so much “old lady” as just dated – I grew up with plenty of Vals and Tinas)… but Valentina is ripe with other options that are not quite so obvious – how ’bout Lena, Nina, Vi, Vita, Viv, Vivi or Viva? I love Lena as a nn option and quite like many of the others… and Val is still pretty likable – my best friend when I was in elementary school was a Val, so maybe I have a soft-spot for the name!

    I definitely would not mind meeting a little Valentina – even if she isn’t that uncommon, I have yet to meet one personally and I have met a LOT of Isabellas, Sophias, and Alexandra/drias, so Valentina would be a nice change of pace!

    1. I’ve never met a young Valentina either (or any Valentina for that matter!) Perhaps it’s not so common in Australia.

      Lovely nicknames! Valli could also be another option.

  6. Thank you so much for featuring Valentina! 🙂 I thought of mentioning it as a possible name of the day because I ‘discovered’ it but wasn’t sure what to think of it yet. It does fit in with other “pretty” names like Anastasia and Gabriella, so I like that very much.

    However the one bad point I find in the name is nickname possibilities… “Val” or “Tina” just seem too old-ladyish!

    1. yikes, I re-read my comment and I didn’t mean that everyone should find that “Val” or “Tina” seem like older names, just *I* do, and only because I’ve never met a young one. 🙂