Quick – when’s the last time you met a Eupehmia? How ’bout an Oighrig?
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting the related Effie as Name of the Day.
Effie is quintessentially Greek and typically Scottish.
Oighrig is Scots Gaelic, and by all accounts, she’s an old, old name. Anglicizations range from Henrietta to Erica to Effie. Let’s just say that she’s not terribly portable. As Effie caught on, Oighrig became equated with Euphemia, even though their origins are distinct.
Euphemia’s roots are Greek – eu means good and phem refers to speech – well-spoken. During the Middle Ages, she was fairly common.
Chalk up her popularity to the sufferings of Saint Euphemia, a mere girl when the governor of Chalcedon cracked down on Christianity back in the 200s. Despite – or because of – her noble birth and young age, Euphemia’s tortures were particularly gruesome.
Her relics suffered mightily, too. They were tossed into the sea, recovered and hidden and stolen by Crusaders. They eventually came to rest in St. Euphemia’s Basilica in Rovinj, Croatia.
Royal Euphemias included:
- The twelfth century Eufemia of Kiev, Queen Consort of Hungary;
- Thirteenth century Polish princess Eufemia Odonicówna;
- A century later, Euphemia de Ross married King Robert II and became Queen of Scotland;
- The thirteenth century Queen Euphemia of Norway had a granddaughter called Euphemia, born a princess of Sweden.
Euphemia appeared in the US Top 1000 just a few times, the last in 1903.
But diminutive Effie ranked in the US Top 100 right through 1902, and remained ranked until 1959.
Real life Effies include:
- Effie Gray married the critic John Ruskin, but their marriage quickly faltered. Effie left him for painter John Everett Millais, causing a scandal in Victorian England. Dramatic adaptations followed, including a Spring 2009 BBC drama called Desperate Romantics.
- Legend has it that aspiring actress Effie Canning made up “Rock-A-Bye Baby” while babysitting. Her acting career fizzled, but the lullaby lingers.
- African-American poet Effie Waller Smith wrote in the early twentieth century.
- Explorer Captain Robert Bartlett sailed the Effie M. Morrissey to the Arctic. Launched in 1894, she was named for the daughter of the schooner’s first skipper.
Fictional Effies include:
- Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar as Effie White in the 2006 movie version of Dreamgirls;
- Two British soaps have characters wearing the name – Emmerdale and Coronation Street;
- Effie Harper was a minor character on Mama’s Family;
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series includes Effie, little sister to Lena.
- Australian comedienne Mary Coustas uses the alter-ego Effie Stephanidis.
Then there’s Effie Trinket, the vain, rulesy, none-too-swift chaperone from The Hunger Games, known for chirping “May the odds be ever in your favor” before she pulls the next tribute’s name from the bowl. Elizabeth Banks played her in the film adaptation. She’s no role model, but the success of the story seems to have boosted Effie.
Is she ready for a comeback? In our age of Hattie and Sadie, Effie fits. Should you need to honor both Scottish and Greek roots, she’s the rare choice that works.
The elegant, ends-with-ia Euphemia might wear well in 2009, but she’s rich with nickname options besides Effie – think of Emme or Mia.
And yet, there’s something lovely about Effie – she’s simple and surprising at once. If you’re heartbroken that Ellie and Sophie are so stylish, Effie might be the name for you.