The baby name Veronica feels one-part classic, two-parts quirky cool.
Thanks to Kelly for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
More than 300 years BC, Egyptian royals answered to Berenike or Pherenike, derived from pherein – to bring – and nike – which meant victory millennia before it meant sneaker.
At least five queens reigned under some variation of the name, and other notables were found in the early Christian era.
It survives today as Bernice. A Top 100 choice from the 1890s into the 1930s, today it feels quite out of favor.
But there’s another form of the name that seems quite current.
That brings us to the saint. As Jesus struggled under the weight of his cross, a pious woman lent him her scarf. He wiped the sweat from his brow and returned the fabric – miraculously imprinting his image in the process.
Or so goes the legend of Veronica’s veil.
It’s not recorded in the Bible, but the woman may have been real. And her name may have been Berenice. We do know that vera icon means true image in Latin. So time altered Berenice to more closely resemble the phrase, and the regal, powerful name took on a deeply spiritual meaning.
Over the centuries, a wide range of women have answered to the name, including:
- Veronica Franco, a prominent sixteenth century courtesan and poet from Venice.
- A second saint and mystic, born Ursula, who lived in Italy in the early 1700s.
- Veronica Lake, she of the peek-a-bo ‘do and film noir fame, born Constance Ockelman.
The end of the 80s brought a pop culture flood.
Elvis Costello recorded a memorable single about an aging “Veronica,” inspired by Costello’s grandmother.
And then Winona Ryder starred in Heathers, a dark comedy about high school mean girls. Ryder played the only non-Heather in the clique of super popular girls.
LODGE and MARS
Archie comics gave us Veronica Lodge in 1942. She’s something of a poor little rich girl, sometimes arrogant and snobbish. Now that the long-running series is succeeding as The CW series Riverdale, the character name is back in the spotlight. Camila Mendes plays the part. The series debuted in 2017; a fourth series is expected in early 2021.
Then there’s Veronica Mars.
Back in 2004, the world met Kristen Bell’s character, a high school student and private investigator. Mars is the daughter of a local PI in Neptune, California. She follows in dad’s footsteps, and stumbles into crimes and mysteries on her own, too.
The show became a fan favorite over three seasons, and now, a dozen years after the final season of the television series and five years after the feature-length film, a fourth season arrived on Hulu.
BY THE NUMBERS
Bernice served as a go-to name for girls, ranking in the Top 100 into the 1930s. But it’s faded since, leaving the US Top 1000 in the 1980s. It’s yet to return.
The baby name Veronica has long ranked in the US Top 1000, reaching the Top 100 in the 1980s and 90s. And yet, somehow, the name feels less connected to the era than chart-toppers like Jessica or Brittany – even though they could be sisters.
The name has risen modestly in recent years, from #410 in 2016 to #359 in 2019. That’s probably down to the television characters. And yet, the name stood at #295 in 2010, so it’s too soon to call it a comeback.
Given our love for V names, versatile Veronica could make a timeless choice for a daughter. It falls halfway between an enduring classic like Katherine and current favorites like Olivia.
What do you think of the baby name Veronica? Does it strike you as fresh, timeless, dated?
First published November 4, 2009, this post was revised substantially on August 7, 2019 and again on November 13, 2020.
This Is one of my top names for our daughter due in November. So strong and beautiful .
Hi! My name is Veronica! I wasn’t born as it but I chose it myself when I was 13 and I have never looked back! People are always trying to give me nicknames and it is so annoying.
Veronica was my grandmothers name and we’re going to use it for a middle name if this baby’s a girl. I think it’s such a classic name!
The name has much history, it just doesn’t grab me. It is definitely a name that I will never consider – that’s pretty much guaranteed. I much prefer Veronique, which is very popular here in SA. One year in our Idols, there were two girls in the top 12 with the name.It was the first time in interjectional Idols history.Their nicknames were Vee and Nikki
Overall, I just don’t like Veronica. It isn’t a very soft name. It’s not bad and I can understand the attraction, it just isn’t an approachable name, in a way.
Ah, I love Veronica’s chunky feel. I didn’t realize Veronique was so big in SA.
Veronica is one of the most sultry, curvaceous sounding names I can think of. I totally love it. I do think of Veronica Sawyer first and foremost (“What’s your damage?”) and Veronica Lodge second. The only downside is its nickname. Ronnie sounds very yuck to me. Very 60 year old with short hair, jazzy-piano-playing, mah-jong loing ol’ lady. Nope. But Veronica as a whole? Nice!
I think Veronica is very pretty and seems to convey a lot of character. She also has tons of great nickname options, a nice meaning and a long history, which is cool.
Christina Fonseca says
I like Veronica. The V up front balances out the harsh R and K sounds; and the final A gives it a girly feel. It would be a great way to honor a Vera or Erica in the family tree.
Veronica, while not necessarily a conventional “pretty frilly” name, has a real princessy vibe to me. And yet I also feel like it has a really forced and kind of unattractive sound.
So while it’s awesome that her history is so full and rich, I don’t find it an appealing name in the least.
Charlotte Vera says
Wow, that’s some ancient history! Did the Egyptians borrow nike from the Greeks?
I love it when names have a rich history, but I wish this name had never been used in the Archie comics. For me, it instantly conjures up images of Veronica Lodge. I’d be more likely to use Bernice