Rose and Anne are staples for girls’ middle names. Smoosh ’em together, and you arrive at a romantic, feminine and surprisingly uncommon appellation that sounds just right in the first spot.

Thanks to Charlotte for suggesting her darling daughter’s moniker as Name of the Day: Rosanna.

If you tuned into Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s – when everyone was watching – you would have spotted the legendary Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna during the Weekend Update sketches. Rose names were already out of fashion by then, and Radner’s abrasive, frizzy-haired character certainly didn’t boost their image. Just as the SNL character was fading from view, the career of caustic housewife-comedienne Roseanne Barr took off.

For many years, Roseanne, Rosanna and Roseanna were all colored by women and characters who were powerfully funny, but not quite role models for a daughter.

The one bright spot was actress Rosanna Arquette. She played Roberta, the bored housewife in 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan. Susan, of course, was played by Madonna. A few years earlier, the actress had inspired Toto’s #2 single “Rosanna.” (She was dating one of the band members while they were searching for a name to fit a song-in-progress.)

You’ll hear the name in English, as well as Italian and a smattering of other European languages. The Swedish all-girl pop group Play included a Rosanna; Google searches turn up Rosannas in Norway, Germany and Denmark. Canary Islands-born Rosana Arbelo is a Latin pop singer. Plenty of Rosa-variants are popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

A lengthy list of Rose names was covered here a few months back. It’s possible to choose a variant that is downright exotic – Rosario, Rosabel and Rosamund all made the original list. And, of course, Twilight is propelling Rosalie to greater notice. Rosanna begins to feel like a measured choice – not as streamlined as Rose, not as daring as some related names.

It is tempting to call her a classic, but that might be a bit of a stretch. Rosanna did rank in the US Top 1000 from 1880 through 1941 and again from 1947 through 1989; Roseanna appeared periodically, but last charted in 1983. And Roseanne actually had the shortest run of all, ranking only from 1937 through 1968. Still, add them all together and this starts to look like the kind of name that has always been with us – even if she never quite reached the heights of popularity.

Rose herself peaked in the 1910s, reaching as high as #14. If the century-rule holds, Rose and company are due for a resurgence.

Rosanna sounds just right with today’s chart-toppers Isabella and Olivia. And yet, she’s undeniably distinctive. Rosie is a spunky nickname option, conjuring up the capable World War II icon. You might even use Roxy, though it is a bit of a stretch. And, of course, Anna and Annie are also possibilities.

If you’re hoping to choose a feminine name that stands out and fits in, Rosanna 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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  1. My mom’s name is Rose Anna, but her mom insists that it is Roseanna. On the birth certificate it is two words. I don’t know which is correct, but my mom just goes by Ann.