Today’s choice sounds mysterious – and indeed she is!
Thanks to Annelise for suggesting Elvia as Name of the Day.
Plenty of names have two, even three possible sources. But Elvia takes the cake! Here’s the list:
- Elvia could relate to elf. Plenty of elements in Old English and Norse names trace back to the word – think of Alfred and Oliver. There’s also Alf, a Scandinavian name. The feminine version is Alva, Elva – or maybe even Elvia;
- Along the same lines, Elvia could relate to feminine versions of Alvin. Alvina regularly ranked in the US Top 1000 through the 1940s and Elvina charted steadily through the 1920s;
- There’s a New Testament name Alphaios or Alphaeus. He’s the father of James and Levi. The Italian version is Alfeo. It’s tempting – if perhaps a stretch – to link back to Alvia or Elvia;
- Then there’s Ailbhe, a Gaelic feminine name from legend that translates to white or fair. Elva is an Anglicized spelling, so it isn’t a stretch to imagine Elvia as a related name;
- There’s a second century Saint Elvan, but very little is known of his life;
- The philosopher Seneca was married to Helvia. Details of her life – including the origin and meaning of her name – are elusive, but it sometimes listed as Elvia;
- Perhaps because it’s just one letter short of Elvira, Elvia is sometimes listed as a nickname for that tragic, campy appellation;
- Speaking of pop culture, there’s Elvis. Elvia seems like the logical feminine form. Trouble is, Elvis’ roots are unclear, too;
- This last one is a stretch, but the element via always reminds me of the Spanish word for avenue. The literal translation is road or way, and has been in use since Roman times.
Believe it or not, that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Back in the 1960s, Elvia Andreoli was an Argentine film actress. Her career lasted more than thirty years. This gives Elvia a decidedly Latina feel.
And we also have to consider Elvia Allman. Her acting career spanned five decades. You might catch her as a guest star on The Jack Benny Show, Petticoat Junction, The Munsters, The Beverly Hillbillies or I Love Lucy, or you might hear her as the original voice of Clarabelle Cow. Born in 1904 in North Carolina, this tracks with US statistics. Elvia dipped into the US Top 1000 for the first time in 1899, and appeared again at the fringes in 1902, 1948, 1951 and 1975.
Perhaps Elvia’s origins must simply remain a mystery. The good news is that she could be a heritage choice for virtually anyone or even just a convincing revival of a seldom-used name.
Elvia certainly has some appeal. She’s free of Elvira’s mistress-of-the-dark baggage. The possibly-related Alva is a Top Ten pick in Sweden. And should your Elvia wish to disguise her unusual given name, both Ellie and Evie are viable options. Plus she’s got that great v – a choice that could prove quite fashion-forward.
Elvia might appeal to parents seeking truly unusual feminine appellation with global appeal.