She’s a sophisticated epithet for a moon goddess, but ever since the 1970s, this name is more likely to conjure up The Brady Bunch.

Thanks to Toni for suggesting Cynthia as Name of the Day.

Sing it with me now: All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls.

If you’re reading this post, odds are you either remember television mega-hit The Brady Bunch from the original run, or watched it in repeats over your summer vacation. The show is such a part of pop culture that even if you’ve never owned a TV, you might still recognize phrases like “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

Susan Olsen played Cynthia Brady, the youngest of the six step-sibs. Cindy did eventually grow up – after all, the show ran for five seasons, spawned made-for-TV movie sequels and even a semi-parody big screen release. But Cindy remains etched in the public memory as a sweet little girl.

And why not? The fictional Cindy Brady would’ve been born in an era when the name was a Top Ten sensation. She spent nearly a decade at the top of the charts, between 1956 and 1965. Cindy, Cindi, Cyndi and Cinda charted, too.

Today, most of the diminutives are out of favor. And while Cynthia is falling quickly, she still ranked a respectable #276 in 2007.

That’s fitting, because if you look beyond the Baby Boomers, Cynthia has a sophisticated past.

She’s the Latinized form of the Greek place name Kynthia – from Kýnthos. In Greek myth, a heavily pregnant Leto took refuge on Mount Kýnthos in Delos. (Once again, Zeus’ philandering ways had attracted the ire of Hera.) Leto gave birth to twins Apollo and Artemis there, and so Kýnthos became an epithet of Artemis. She’s sometimes referred to as Cynthia.

When viewed in this light, Cynthia becomes a goddess name – a decidedly feminine choice with the athleticism of the huntress and mystery of other moon goddess monikers, like Chandra.

An early bearer of the name wasn’t a Cynthia at all, but Sanchia – the third of four daughters born to Raymond Berenger IV, Count of Provence, and his savvy wife Beatrice. Back in the thirteenth century, the pair married all four of their daughters to monarchs – France, England, Germany and Sicily. Sanchia married Richard of Cornwall, and was crowed Queen of the Romans and Germany. Sanchia didn’t translate, so she was called Cynthia instead.

The name didn’t pick up steam until the 19th century. Famous Cynthias of recent years include:

  • Actress Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role in Sex and the City;
  • Dynamic chaunteuse Cyndi Lauper, known for her anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and for her recent reinvention as a torch singer;
  • Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley;
  • The American folk song “Cindy” has been performed by artists like Elvis Presley snd Nick Cave;
  • Pop song “Cindy, Oh Cindy” charted back in 1956, probably helping to propel the name to the Top Ten;
  • Animated Rugrat Angelica carries a Cynthia doll;
  • Then there’s Cindy Lou Who from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas;
  • Senator John McCain’s wife was born Cindy Lou, too;
  • Fairytale princess Cinderella is sometimes called Cindy, especially in retellings of the tale;
  • Supermodel Cindy Crawford lends some high fashion glitz to the name;
  • There’s a butterfly called Cynthia;
  • England’s answer to Barbie was the Sindy doll.

Overall, Cynthia might just hit that perfect note for some parents. As Toni puts it, she’s “common but not too popular.” Especially if you’re willing to use the full name – or possibly use Thia or Tia as a nickname – Cynthia could sound quite current.

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. Reminds me of Cynthia Ann Parker, who at age nine in 1836, was captured and raised by the Comanches. She married a Comanche Chief with whom she had three children. History and names go together.

  2. I’m a 22-year-old Cynthia. While it’s true that most of my namesakes are in the baby boomer range, I’ve never encountered any difficulties with my name. Everyone knows how to spell it, and yet it’s not as common as one would assume. Much like Mr. Jekyll Whispy’s 22-year-old Cynthia, I too love poetry, and through poetry, have come to admire my name. The truth is, growing up, I disliked my name, as I wanted to be like my trendy-named peers – all Brittanys and Ashleys and Jessicas in a row, with no room for seemingly old-fashioned Cynthia. But through poetry, specifically that of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, I let go of the preconceived notions about my name (old, “heavy,” snobbish, etc.), and saw my name as – dare I say it – poetic, strong, phonetically diverse yet unusual, and graceful. My friends all say that my name fits me, and yet, I look a few years younger than I actually am. I’ve even had quite a few people, some younger than myself, tell me how much they like my name. Anyway, my point is that Cynthia is not a bad name at all – and that’s coming from a Cynthia in a world of Brittanys, Ashleys, and Jessicas.

    P.S. My nicknames have been Cyn, Tia/Thia, and Cia. I never let the Cindy thing happen, and neither did my parents.

    “Thence, to the Circle of the Moone she clambe/Where Cynthia raignes in everlasting glory.” – Edmund Spenser

  3. i know this was years ago, nobody will see this. but i’m head over heels in love with a girl named Cynthia. i think it’s one of the most beautiful names i have ever heard. it has roots in the greek goddess of the moon. my Cynthia is an accomplished poet, a complete sweetheart and one of the most compelling individuals i’ve ever met. i know this name is truly beautiful because i have spent hours writing it in cursive and saying it aloud to myself. not an old lady name, very cute for a little girl i think. she’s 22 now, 21 when i met her and it never seemed out of place. if you can raise your kids to be mature, full-minded young adults, they won’t have to wait 30 years for their name to fit. better to give your children a dignified, strong, classic name than something like laura or rebecca or michelle or antonia etc. i am biased, of course, but trust me, it is a beautiful name phonetically and implies a beautiful, articulate, and mature kind of person

  4. Hmm – I’m with photoquilty on this one – Cynthia’s completely dated to me. Probably because I’ve only ever known one – a friend of my mum’s who’s about 50 now!
    Of the ‘ssss-eir’ C names, Cecily, Cecilia and even Celeste are rather pleasing to me and feel pretty current, but somehow Cynthia misses the mark for me!

  5. Thanks for indulging me with this name:) We’ve actually nixed it BECAUSE of the nickname Cindy. I love Cynthia, and can handle the nn Thia, but I just cannot handle the inevitable Cindy. So, she’s been crossed off our list. Unfortunate how a common nickname can just ruin an otherwise beautiful name.

  6. My favorite cousin in the universe is a Cynthia. We called her Cindy until she was 8, Tia ’til she was 12 and started taking Spanish in school, then she decided to start spelling it Cyndy. As a teen, Goth clubbing with me, she was Cyn (say it.. it’s perfect for the Gothchick!). These days she’s either Cinde, Thia or Cynthia in full. I think it’s a lovely name, lovlier than mine, anyway and deserves to stay on the charts. What a timeless classic Cynthia is. Especially in full. An elegant full name, a half dozen neat-o nicknames, what’s not to love about Cynthia?! 😀

  7. Hm…no. To me she just sounds dated. I like it, but would feel funny giving my baby the name of a 40 or 50 year old lady. She doesn’t feel like a classic, just an old-fashioned trend.