This one would fit right in with popular picks for girls, but still feels appealingly rare.

Thanks to Christina for suggesting Leandra as Name of the Day.

Leandra is undeniably feminine without sacrificing strength. It’s a quality shared by many of today’s Top 100 choices – think of Isabella, Alexandra and Samantha.

But unlike those favorites, Leandra is quite rare. Back in 1986, she debuted in the US rankings at #962. By 1989, she’d climbed to #734. It’s a significant leap – and what’s more, back in the very early 90s, Leandra and Isabella were given to nearly the same number of baby girls.

But Leandra never got traction. By 1997, she made her last appearance in the rankings, just barely holding on at #998.

The name has much to offer. There’s a botanical link, to the tropical flowering plant family melastomataceae. At least two plants in the family are known as leandra, and can be found in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Brazil.

There’s a television tie-in to the name, too. A Season Three episode of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys included a Leandra. (Apparently, the story centered on Aphrodite’s attempt to quit her gig as goddess of love. Wackiness ensued.) And yet, Hercules can’t claim responsibility for the name’s popularity – the show ran from 1995 to 1999 and she was a one-time character. By the time Leandra made her modest small screen debut, she was already fading from the rankings.

Still, Leandra was a logical pick for a character. She sounds just right in ancient times. She’s probably best considered the feminine form of Leander, which translates roughly to “lion of a man.” You’ll remember Leander from the tragic tale of his romance with Hero.

There’s also St. Leander of Seville, a sixth-century bishop known for being on the winning side of a doctrinal debate.

The historical record is dotted with the occasional Leander, and a few Leandros, too, probably in homage to the saint. Leandra is comparatively rare, though she is sometimes used in Italian.

In fact, that’s another theory for Leandra’s brief run in the late 80s. Other girls’ names that conjured up the glories of Rome and Venice, Florence and Milan were in their early days. Leandra might’ve appealed to the same parents who made Francesca a fashionable appellation.

Leandra could also be:

  • A mash-up of Lee and Sandra;
  • An elaboration of Leanne;
  • An elaboration of Leah;
  • A creative attempt to feminize the white hot Andrew without using the nearly as popular Andrea.

While her use has been limited, Leandra would fit right in with girls called Adrianna and Gabriella, Julia and Victoria. She could choose from nicknames galore – the obvious Lee, Lea or Leah, as well the tomboy-ish Andi or even the glamorous Andra or maybe even Lana.

If you’re searching for a name that is undeniably different but sounds perfectly reasonable, Leandra is one to consider.

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. I used to really dislike my name at first, but over the years I started to come to like it. 🙂
    Thanks for the info on my name. It’s quite interesting~

  2. I like my name because it’s original. Thanks for my names background information.

  3. My husband and I have four children and decided to go with the same intials for all of them which is LCS. Out of the four we have Leanndra Caitlin. It is spelled different with an extra “n” which we liked. She is beautiful, headstrong, take charge girl and her name fits her perfectly. We like that it unusual and not something you here a hundred times a day!!

  4. Strong and feminine – that is exactly how I perceive Leandra. Yes, I do like Leah, Leanne and Andrea, although I have never cared for Sandra.

    The fact that it was never in the Top 500 and only appeared a few years in the Top 1000 makes it ideal for parents looking for a rare but not unheard of name.

    Oh, and I second Emma’s suggestion of featuring Clive as the NotD. Awesome name.

  5. My immediate reaction was “NMS at all!”, probably, as you pointed out, due to it’s similarities to both tryndee current names AND (I wish I knew how to do italic on here!) dated features such as Lee, Sandra, Leanne and Andrea. But once again, a name has surprised me. I find myself rather fond of it; it’s pretty without knowing it! And I kind of like Leander for a boy (would be too afraid to use it, though!) so why not this? I’m also soft on the name Lana right now, which as you mentioned would make a somewhat appealing nickname.
    Ps. May I suggest a rather unusual NOTD? My SO suggested Clive as a middle name for Arthur today and I kinda love it! Please would you make my day and feature it? 🙂

  6. Hate to be unoriginal, but I’m fourthing everything 🙂

    I really do like Leander, but Leandra only reminds me of things like Sandra and Leah, who I’ve never been fond of. I can appreciate that she is pretty, but she’s not for me

  7. I’ll third what Lola and JNE have said. Leandra is pretty, but I think I prefer Leander on a boy.

  8. I’m with Lola on this one – Leander is fine on a boy, but I can’t get behind Leandra. I don’t like Lee/Leigh or Leanne and anding the -dra doesn’t change my feelings. I would prefer Oleander, I think. Lana is a favorite, but there are more preferable “full” names to get the nn, in my opinion. It’s that Leanne sound for me that is not doing it. It’s certainly not an awful name, by any stretch, just not for me.

  9. I want to like Leandra, really but I already like Leander and that’s sort of where my admiration stops. To be fair, it does sound pretty but I also disliek Sandra, Lee/Leah, Andrea & Leanne. So maybe that’s it. I don’t mind those sounds on aboy (Sandy or Alexander, Lee on a guy, Anders, or Andrea on a boy (please!) but I don’t like them on girls. *shrug* no acounting for my weird wiring, I suppose.
    I surely wouldn’t mind Leandra on someone else’s girl but I’d also never use it on mine. I should suggest this to Byron’s Mommy, It would make an excellent sister for him. I think I shall!

  10. I like this name a lot! It’s pretty, sounds classical, yet isn’t an -ella name, so it sounds fresh, too. There’s a little boy Leander somewhere inmy neighborhood. I’ve seen him at story-time at our library. To look at his mom, I thought she would be a Jayden or Draven supporter, but no – she picked Leander. A very interesting name – and it goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover. Of course, I don’t like Leander, but I do like Leandra a lot.