Pixie is lightweight. Paris is deadly wedded to the notorious celebutante. Here’s a choices that incorporates elements of both.

Thanks to Arianell for suggesting the unexpected Parisa as Name of the Day.

Yes, she looks like an elaboration of the City of Lights. Instead, Parisa is a legitimate Persian name that means fairy-like.

You might be tempted to rhyme her with Marisa, but emphasis should go on the middle syllable – pah REE sah or possibly the final – pah ree SAH.

Head to Iran and you’ll find film and television director Parisa Bakhtavar and classical Persian vocalist Parissa.

The name was introduced to American audiences when Parisa Montazaran joined the cast of MTV’s The Real World: Sydney in 2007. (Yes, they’re still filming The Real World.) Reality show names do sometimes surface in the US rankings and reality show alums sometimes go on to establish careers in the public eye, so Parisa could eventually get a boost one way or another.

For the moment, however, Parisa is a pleasing rarity – never appearing in the US Top 1000.

As I wrote this, I found myself wondering – what, precisely, is a fairy in Persian folklore? Because all of the fairy tales containing actual fairies seemed to be European. I racked my brain, but came up with Victorian images and that great JM Barrie line about fairies being born from the first baby’s laugh.

Indeed, it seems like the pari or peri may have started out as minor demons, but they’ve been on the side of right for years. I’m not sure I’ve got the story perfectly straight, but there doesn’t seem to be anything sinister about bestowing this name on a daughter.

There have been a few references to peris in Western culture:

  • Irish poet Thomas Moore penned Paradise and the Peri about what it took to get a peri into heaven. The Cliff Notes version? The tear of a repentant sinner;
  • Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1882 musical Iolanthe is subtitled The Peer and The Peri. Despite the name, the characters are all described as fairies.

Her ethereal meaning is anchored by Parisa’s sound. While Parisa is delicate, she’s not flimsy. She brings to mind the frilly Cecilia. Yes, it’s probably a name best worn by a girly-girl, but easily shortened to Pari or Peri should your daughter prove more of the rough’n’tumble type.

She’d also suit parents searching for a globe-spanning appellation. With her roots in Middle Eastern folklore, Parisa is accessible and exotic at once.

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. There is a (rather helpless, but of course, very pretty) princess in one of the old Sinbad the sailor movies named Parisa. She is meant to be from Baghdad, though in the film, it is pronounced Paris-ah.

  2. Hey all,
    it doesn’t surprise me how some people (the author of these false data!…) might want to lead people into thinking how a particular name is supposed to be pronounced. The truth is names are pronounced differently depending on where you are in the world. I’m a Birmingham, UK native, my ancestors are English and Scottish and the name Parisa is known here to refer to a more female, Greek-English version of the male name, Paris (the Greek God).

    It’s pronounced just like Marisa, not Marissa or Ma-REE-sa. The native English folks are right when they pronounce my name like Marisa because that’s the way it SHOULD be pronounced in English. In other languages it’s pronounced differently, of course and the same goes for Michael, Jane, Ally, etc.

    Also, if the name is supposed to refer to some ethnic origin or whatever, then why is it spelled with English letters, uh???!!!

    Love my name and the real English pronounciation 🙂

  3. Definitely preferable to Fairy (I’ve come across a few), but still not to my personal taste. I love the sentiment, but I’m not so fond of the sound.

  4. Totally off topic but some celeb baby name news: Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel just welcomed a boy, Walker Nathaniel Diggs

  5. I’ve never heard it before, but it’s quite nice. I’d be afraid of the pronunciation in the US though, so I wouldn’t use it. But I’d very much like it on someone else.

    1. I’m Parisa just like Marisa, a Birmingham UK native. It’s totally incorrect. It’s mostly used in English-speaking countries. I have only English and Scottish ancestors and I’ve only met other Parisas in the UK and Germany. The other name, the persian one, I think is incorrectly spelled out because “Parisa” is NOT how you pronounce Pa-REE-sa or whatever other name. Spell it as you say it! Parisa is like Marisa. The ones who can read can tell 🙂

  6. I have loved Parisa for a long time. She used to be on my long list, but alas, as I am not Persian myself, I think it would be odd to give to a non-Persian child. I think it has a beautiful sound and I just adore the meaning. I’m so happy you feauturd this today.

    1. It’s not only Persian, it’s mostly English or used in English-speaking countries. I’m Parisa, just like Marisa, not Marissa or Ma-REE-sa whatever. It’s just like the male Greek-English name, Paris with an “a” stuck to it.
      Love my name and the real English pronounciation 🙂

  7. Meh. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. My only concern is that here in the US, people would be inclined to think it was made up, and that is certainly a stigma I’m looking to avoid!

  8. It’s funny you say it doesn’t rhyme with Marisa, but in your explanation, that’s how I would say Marisa – very different from Marissa… More the emphasis on the REE for me, I think.

    It’s actually quite lovely, but I would worry folks would be inclined to say Paris-uh. ‘specially around these here parts, iffin you catch my drift 😉