It’s the fair city of Romeo and his Juliet. How would it wear as a daughter’s name?
Thanks to Fran for suggesting Verona as our Baby Name of the Day.
Before you dismiss Verona as another nouveau place name along the lines of Brooklyn, it is worth a glance at the US Top 1000 circa 1900. Verona appeared most years from the 1880s into 1930s, peaking around 1905.
Was it a Shakespearean place name craze? Probably not. Instead, lots of starts-with-Ver names were in vogue:
- Virginia and Vera appeared in the Top 100;
- Verna, Virgie, and Veronica weren’t too far behind;
- Other Top 1000 choices starting with the same sound include Verda, Vernie, Verdie, Vernice, Vergie, Verlie, Vira, Versie, and Verla;
- Search for -ver in the middle and there are even more: Laverne, Lavera, Elvira and Elvera, Alverta, Alvera, and Beverly.
Virgil and Vernon were correspondingly big for boys.
V is back circa 2011, from super-popular picks like Ava to the traditional Victoria to Hollywood’s batch of lively girls called Vida and Vita.
Parents who chose Verona today are almost certainly thinking of the Italian city made famous by the Bard of Avon in his enduring drama, as well as the comedy Two Gentleman of Verona, usually considered Shakespeare’s very first play.
The origin of the Italian city’s name is open to debate. In fact, there’s a debate about the origins of the city itself, with several ancient tribes competing for the title of founder. Verona first appears in the historical record in the sixth century BC, and has been figuring in world events pretty much ever since.
Possible sources of the name include:
- Several sources credit the Etruscans with the name;
- An intriguing possibility is that a Gallic chieftain called the place Vae Roma – accursed Rome – and over the years, it stuck – and became Verona;
- Others link it to the Latin word for spring – ver – but that feels like even more of a stretch than the Gallic theory.
Besides the fictional doomed lovers and the real life genius, Verona was home to the poet Catullus in the first century BC, and to St. Peter Martyr in the 1200s. Nancy added Verona to a list of place names with saintly ties, along the lines of Avila and Siena. Perhaps the best known resident was Leonardo da Vinci.
There are place names aplenty inspired by the Italian city, but the name hasn’t been much used in recent decades. I did find:
- A minor German celeb called Verona Pooth, notable mostly for her son’s name – San Diego;
- In 2004’s Van Helsing, the three brides of Dracula are named Marishka, Aleera, and Verona;
- In 2009, indie flick Away We Go featured Maya Rudolph as expectant mom Verona. (Dad is played by The Office’s John Krasinski.)
It’s a bit of a jumble, and maybe that’s why Verona hasn’t caught on in 2011. She has all the makings of a stylish name, but she’s still the tiniest bit clunky. Maybe it is her -ona ending, though Ramona shows signs of making a comeback.
That could make for the ideal opportunity, of course – Verona could be a name that will strike everyone as just a little bit different, the one that they never considered – but can’t imagine why!