Name of the Day: Valencia

Like the appealing Clementine, it’s easy to dismiss today’s Name of the Day as merely edible, and therefore as flimsy an appellation for a daughter as Peach or Cherry.

But Valencia has much history and appeal, the least of which has to do with citrus fruit.

True, Valencia is primarily known as a place name. Valencia is 3rd largest city in Spain, behind only Madrid and Barcelona. Not surprisingly, you’ll find Valencia on the map in Colombia and Venezuela – as well as Pakistan, the Philippines and the US. Once upon a time, you could have even traveled to the Kingdom of Valenica, until it was absorbed into the united Spain.

The moniker is also related to the Roman family name Valens. The Spanish region was named in honor of Flavius Iulius Valens, Emperor of Rome from 364 to 378. This puts Valencia in the same class as Julia, Aurelia, Claudia, Octavia and Cornelia – feminine given names derived from a Roman masculine name.

If meaning matters to you, Valencia can’t be beat. Valens shares its etymological origins with words like valor and valiant; the Latin valentia means strength and capacity. While the name sounds undeniably feminine, even a bit on the frilly side, there’s certainly more substance to this name than some girlie-girl choices.

Just like Ophelia, there is a potential pronunciation tangle. In Spain, you’re likely to visit the three-syllable bah LEN syah. We’re partial to the longer vah LEN see ah, which is probably what you’d hear in the US.

In fact, it is quite possible that you will hear the name. While it has never been popular, Valencia first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 1927. Between 1956 and 1994, it consistently appeared in the Top 1000 names. We can’t explain Valencia’s appearance, except that the region was much in the news in the 1950s, following the flooding of the Turia River and the subsequent rebuilding of the city. It has not appeared in the Top 1000 since 1994.

However, indie rock darlings The Decembrists recorded “O Valencia!” in 2006. Their Valencia was a Juliet-like character. It’s not exactly the Beatles singing Michelle, ma belle, but it does give the name a certain familiarity and hipster vibe.

As for those oranges? They’re not even from Spain. Back in the 19th century, the early California agricultural pioneer William Wolfskill developed the fruit, and decided to name it after the region. So like her cousin Clementine, she was a name long before she grew on trees.

It’s a pretty option with history. As we consider truly old school names for boys, like the imperial Julius and Augustus, it might be time to consider similar choices for girls: Aurelia, Octavia, and O Valencia!

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6 Comments

I used to love Valencia a lot more about 10 to 15 years ago, when I liked place names a lot more than I currently do. I would also be more likely to choose Valentina over Valencia. I might even like Valeria more. But I still think it’s nice and would love to meet a Valencia.

I do think that Valentina is a lovely choice, too – Salma Hayek’s Valentina Paloma is just darling.

It’s hard to go wrong with a first name brought to you by the letter V. They’re almost always sharp, smart and distinctive.

I’m partial to Valentina. Valencia, not so much. I think it’s because of where the accent lies – I prefer the rhythm of Valentina over Valencia.

Either way, Lola’s right. Madison is the loser.

Valencia, why not? Itt’s fun to say, has a great meaning and doesn’t feel as flat as Valerie (I like Valerie, don’t misunderstand!). If you’ve got a Valerie in your family tree but are looking for something with more flair, Valencia might be perfect for you. Typing it out every time makes *me* think Ritchie Valens every time, but that is probably just my hang up!
If you’re into place names, it works too. One with a great history beyond the place. I think that’s really awesome, so few of them have a great history like Valencia.
So again I say Why Not? to Valencia. It sure beats Madison! 😀