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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  1. John Ruskin was not actually a cad. He was put off by the physical realities of the adult female body (there is no truly delicate way to say it, so let us go with, he was surprised that women do not only grow hair on their heads). He refused to touch his wife because he was so repulsed by this. She divorced him and remarried, then went on to have many children.

    1. Thanks, Meg! I’ve updated the text for now. This post is set for a much-needed refresh soon, so I’ll see if I can clean it up even more in a few weeks.

  2. This may sound bad to some but my dog’s name is Effie, I consider her to be loved no different than if she were a “human” child. I knew I would struggle with fertility later down the road from a very young age but didn’t realize when I actually did get married and try to conceive that it was completely impossible at all for me to do so. I wanted to be a mother more than anything and eventually it took a toll on my health and I ended up in the hospital clinging to life when I had to make the decision to let it go. I felt like a shadow of the woman I was supposed to be, defeated in every mental, physical, emotional way possible. The very day I was released from the hospital for the last time, I walked outside and was just trying to relax and get fresh air when this tiny little creature slowly stumbled to my feet and collapsed! At first it was so tiny I thought it was a baby rabbit but the closer I looked I realized it was no rabbit at all she was a meek little puppy weighing less than a full pound and she was in bad shape! Her breathing was barely making her chest rise or fall at all and her little eyes just could not stay open no matter how hard she was fighting to keep them that way. I immediately got her to an emergency vet and I will spare the details of just why this little one had such a ruff start at life because I can barely talk about it without getting deeply upset myself but this little tiny dog was such a fighter! They told me for weeks she still might not survive but I stayed up with her night and day and never left her side…she had fought so hard to stay alive and not give up she deserved for someone else to take that burden off of her for a while. I felt connected to her in a way only I could understand…and when I was trying to find the perfect name for her…I did my research and Effie was definitely who she was. She was small yes, but she never stopped believing in herself and the entire time I thought I was healing her…she was really healing me! Effie is a name that I have much respect for because of the history/story of were it originated from. Honestly, I didn’t see anything else being more fitting for such a brave little girl. I don’t think it is too close to “iffy” or the “f-word” like a bunch have mentioned…because I see her for what she is and those types of comparisons don’t come close to the honorable name my little Effie stands for. Sorry for the novel lol I just wanted to give you a different way of perceiving things…and for what it’s worth not one family member, friend, or even stranger that has met her, for that matter, has ever compared her name with anything negative. It’s the way you carry your name that makes you who you are…not what it “sounds to close to”. God Bless.

  3. Effie was my great-grandmother’s name. Just Effie, not Euphemia. I’ve grown up thinking of it as a really neat name, and it was really odd for me when Effie Trinket of Hunger Games fame came along. Until then, Effie was stuck in my mind with the black and white picture of my great-grandmother (who died shortly after my grandmother — her seventh child’s — birth). When I see Effie, I see a young, pretty woman circa 1900 with a bit of a sad expression on her face.

  4. While I like Effie, think it’s adorable, and a great nickname for names like Euphemia (I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I do like it), I think one glaring problem would keep me from actually using Effie. I wouldn’t worry about friends or family or most folks. It’s that one obnoxious kid in the 6th or 8th grade who one day is saying ‘f this’ or ‘f that’ and decides it would be brilliant to tease my child with that. It might not wind up being a big deal – I see a few Effies have posted here – but the concern that it might and that it might be devastating to my child, would keep me from using it. Otherwise I think it’s neat. Like a previous poster, it makes me think 1920s (there must have been a maid named Effie in an Agatha Christie novel I read), bob haircuts, the charleston, etc. A good association. T