Leidy is proof that inventive baby naming is by no means an American phenomenon – nor is it especially new.
Our Baby Name of the Day goes out to my sister-in-law’s sister.
Leidy: By the Numbers
I’ve been tempted to write about this name ever since I first heard it. Except, the Leidy in my extended family lives on the other side of the world, and we’ve never met. Her mother made some great, bold choices for her children’s names, but I really don’t know where she found inspiration for this particular name.
What I do know is that every language seems to have names like this: names that aren’t easy to understand for outsiders, names that are rare enough that’s it tough to track down information even if you speak the language in question. Leidy is the opposite of Daleyza. Or, in American terms, Daleyza is more like Khaleesi – a pop culture phenomenon widely discussed, while Leidy is more like Evolet.
And yet, Leidy isn’t unknown in the US. It was first given to more than five girls way back in 1974. In 2006, there were 50 newborn girls given the name. And last year, there were 22 newborn Leidys.
In addition, eight girls were named Leydi. While Leidi is even less familiar, it’s also been given to newborn girls in the US.
The name sounds exactly like the English word lady. And I believe that’s all it is: an English-language word imported into Spanish with a phonetic spelling applied.
My hunch was confirmed in this video, where she explains that it simply means señorita.
The question then is why? And here I’ve hit a brick wall. My theories:
- It could refer to the Virgin Mary, often referred to as Our Lady of Thing-or-Place. In Spanish, that’s Nuestra Señora, but I can imagine parents seeing this as a twist on dozens of traditional Marian names.
- Dozens of pop culture references could have inspired parents, from English-language songs, like Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” to Lady Diana Spencer to Lady Gaga. Though, timing-wise, it looks like the future princess is a little earlier, and Gaga might be a little late. There’s no shortage of other possibilities, of course.
Another thing that I found interesting: I couldn’t find any spelling of the name on Baby Center’s Spanish-language, site, but the user namers that popped up during my search suggested that plenty of women do use the name. It also seems to be pretty common in double names, just like Maria and Ana.
The 1940 US Census turned up a handful of men with this as a first name, which sent me searching for an explanation. It turns out that Germanic surname Leidig was often Anglicized this way.
It originally comes from a German word – lied – which translates to sorrow, woe, or perhaps harm. The meaning is negative – but surname is completely different from the modern given name.
Leidy: Real Life
I found plenty of women by the name in real life: a Cuban ballerina, a Colombian weightlifter. A handful of similar – and equally rare – names popped up in my searches, too, including Leire and Leya.
While it’s not listed on every Spanish language baby name site, I did find it here, where it was described as “very unusual.”
It is unusual, but there’s something lovely about this name. It doesn’t feel quite as brash as naming a daughter Royal or a son King. Instead, there’s something graceful and modern about Leidy.
Have you ever met a Leidy? What do you think of this name?
Not into the invented Latino names myself. There are also a lot of Yuniors, which the parents heard in American tv. I’m a little traditional. I like names to come from an old source. There’s even a book, a scholarly study of where invented Dominican names come from. I haven’t read it yet. I’ve seen some inexplicable ones: Marigonis, Lonerys, etc.
It seems more likely to me to be a nickname for Eleydis, as I have met an Eleydi and it is one syllable away from the name you’ve posted. In which case it is quite an old name. Many people just use a name that they’ve heard on someone else and so they don’t know the origin of the Leidy they were naming after. Eleydis is just an alternate spelling of Aleydis, St. Aleydis lived during the 13th century so it is quite an old name.
It’s an intriguing theory. But it’s pretty clear that some Spanish speakers, which includes my extended family, see it as a phonetic spelling of Lady. So at least some of the time, it’s definitely a word name.
Of course, sometimes an existing name is out there, and we rediscover it when we decide it sounds almost like an existing name. So it could be both!
In 1974 Styx had a song in heavy rotation — “Lady.” It may have had something to do with some girls getting the name Leidy at that time.
Leidy Rodriguez says
That’s my name. I love it!!!
Honestly, I grew up in a small farming community in Nebraska and I have heard of a the name Leidy. It was a heavily populated German, Polish community with Russian and Jewish people in the neighboring towns that butted up next to our town… To keep it simple, the lines of the towns changed throughout the years, so their was a lot of influence throughout the years from all cultures. I have always thought highly of the name. The lady in our community belonged to our church, and she was in her 80’s ( I think) give or take, back in the 1990’s. If I were to have twins or even two daughters, I think Dimity and Leidy would be great names. They pair well, because they have the same feel and project the same image. Both have a short-quirky feel that modern parents can enjoy, yet, ties to the old southern charm and elegance with a grown-up feel that parents can respect.
Christina Fonseca says
The ones I have known of were named after Lady Diana Spencer. If not directly named after her, at least that was were the idea originated.
Even after she married and became Princess Diana, a lot of people (at least in Mexico where I have extended family), continued to call her Lady – many times, just Lady, not even Lady Diana.