She’s among the most popular of the mini names in the US right now.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Mia.
Americans aren’t big on contracting names to form nicknames, but they’re a rich source of possibility. Mia comes from the evergreen Maria. Drop the ‘ar’ and you have a diminutive that can easily stand on her own.
Mia also happens to be the Italian and Spanish word for mine. Think of Gomez Addams referring to Morticia as cara mia. It’s tempting to run with that meaning, but it is tough to defend. Oodles of names have derived from Mary and her variant forms, but possessives? Not so much.
The name first appears in Northern Europe – Nordic Names cites the mid-nineteenth century in Sweden as her earliest recorded use.
Odds are that most Americans first heard Mia in 1964. That’s the year that Peyton Place debuted on ABC, featuring the young, waif-like Mia Farrow.
The hit show launched Farrow’s long career, but it was more than that. More than a decade before Dynasty, Peyton Place was the first primetime soap opera in the US, packed with all the tumult and scandal you’d expect.
Born Maria de Lourdes Villiers Farrow in 1945, Mia played Allison MacKenzie, a sweet, bookish girl with a controlling mother. By 1966 Farrow wanted out, and Allison moved to New York to become a writer.
In those two years, Mia caught on like wildfire. The name debuted in the US Top 1000 at #568 in 1964, and rose to #266 in 1965.
While Farrow stayed in the spotlight, for her acting, her high-profile marriages, and her humanitarian efforts, her name dipped in the 1970s and 80s.
But it was only temporary. Mia climbed in the 1990s, thanks to:
- 1994’s Pulp Fiction, featuring Uma Thurman as Mrs. Mia Wallace. With her black bob, she was all over the instantly iconic movie posters. The character lent a very cool edge to the name.
- On a different note, celebrated soccer player Mia Hamm – born Mariel Margaret – helped lead her team to Olympic goal in 1996. The women’s soccer team was everywhere, and Mia became a symbol of athleticism and women’s achievement.
Mia ranked #93 in 2000 when Meg Cabot published her first Princess Diaries novel. It was quickly adapted for the big screen, with Anne Hathaway as reluctant-ruler-in-training Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis, secret princess of Genovia, in 2001. By 2003, Mia ranked #43.
Two takeaways: first, Mia is an excellent character name for young aspiring actresses. Second, Mia has potential as a short form of lots of names – Maria, Mariel, and Amelia and:
- Emilia, Camilla, and other names with the right letters near the end.
- Marianna, Marina, Miriam, or other Mary names.
- Mirabeau, Mirabella, Miranda, even Matilda, maybe?
In recent years, Mia has been boosted with Spanish-speaking parents thanks to Mia Colucci, from the Mexican telenovela Rebelde. She’s played by Anahi, a major Spanish-language star, known for acting and her role in Latin Grammy-award winning RBD, a pop group formed as part of Rebelde’s plot.
Add it up, and no wonder Mia has been in the US Top Ten since 2009. She’s been around long enough to feel like a legitimate name. There are plenty of notable, appealing real-world and fictional associations. She crosses languages and barriers. And at just three letters, Mia is the kind of mini name that we’ve embraced in recent years.
That’s the only downside to Mia – she’s so well-established that your daughter might have to share.