EffieQuick – 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.

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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. I like Effie! Not so much a fan of Euphemia, but it doesn’t seem like a stand-alone name and there aren’t many other options. I wonder if Jennifer would work? Or Stephanie, Josephine, Sefarina, Seraphina or Zephyrine? They all seem more likely to become Sephy, Sephy, or Zephy.

    1. I like Effie for Josephine! And yes, for the others as well … ‘specially Zephryine, which just cries out for a nn.

  2. There was an Effie on the British series of Skins, a nickname for Elizabeth. Given my great aunty Bett was christened Elisabeth Euphemia, her name is Effie Effie! (her siblings are Lavinia Harriet (named after her grandmother Lavinia Harriet), Jack and Harry)

  3. Whenever I hear Effie, an image of Effie Trinket running around in heels and making sure everyone is on time goes through my head. I’m a book worm. 🙂
    Anyway, I like it, but to me it sounds like just a child’s nickname…

  4. I only know the name Effie from the 1894-1895 German novel by Theodore Fontane, “Effie Briest.” It’s a drama about adultery (like Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina) and told from Effie’s point of view. This character’s character aside, I think Effie is a very likable name.

    Also, I’ve only heard Effie come from Ephigenia (the daughter of an Ethiopian king), not Euphemia as the article above states. When I was in junior high (before the Internet was used by common folk….), I had a pen-pal from Greece, and her name was Ephigenia. So, I can’t help but associate Effie with Greece and Germany! That’s a double plus in my opinion. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the background on the name! I was searching for family history of a Scottish ancestor who I knew as Henrietta, and found a census record that I thought might be her family, but that showed the name Effie. I was about to rule it out and go back to searching, when you put the two together for me–nice!

  6. just thought i would since my mothers name was euphemia so was her mother and as far as i know at least two more grandmothers before that her maiden name was kelly she was from Glasgow, Scotland.I have always loved the name.

  7. MY NAME IS EUPHEMIA, but I get called Effie 🙂 and I’m 17, my mother is called Effie, my grandmother Euphemia, and my great grandmother Euphemia.

  8. My 2 year old daughter is called Effie – short for Euphemia which is actually her middle name.

    Her first name is Forbhlaith, which could be a suggestion for name of the day.