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.