She’s an alluring Spanish charmer, but does her name stem from a legendary medieval knight?

Thanks to Another for suggesting our Name of the Day – the intriguing Xiomara.

Checked out the US boys’ Top 100 lately? It includes Jose, Carlos, Juan, Angel and Diego. In Texas, Arizona and California, some of those names are in the five most popular.

But chart-topping girls’ names tend to be less noticeably Latina. Even Isabella, the name of a legendary Spanish queen, is cross cultural. Parents seeking more of a heritage choice simply have to dig deeper.

Xiomara could offer an appealing option. While her pronunciation isn’t obvious to non-Spanish speakers – she should be see oh MAR ah – it’s not impossible to say. Nicknames range from Mara to Xio (see OH) to Xiomy (see oh MEE). A word of caution, however – some parents have chosen this name for their daughters with alternative pronunciations, including YO mar ah and ZA mar ah. Even if they’re not valid, they’re out there.

Xiomara is rare in the US, she’s not unknown. She first charted in the US Top in 2004; last year, she ranked #842. Globally, she’s far more common. We found a handful of bearers of the name, all born in Spanish-speaking countries:

  • Miss Nicaragua 2007 was Xiomara Blandino;
  • Xiomara Laugart is a Cuban-born singer, now based in New York;
  • The current First Lady of Honduras is Xiomara Castro de Zelaya – one of her four children is Xiomara Hortensia;
  • Ballet aficionados might recognize the name of principal dancer, Xiomara Reyes;
  • A pair of Xiomaras were international athletes and Olympians in the 90s – Xiomara Griffith represented Venezuela and competed in judo; Xiomara Rivero competed in track and field for Cuba.

You’ll note that all of the Xiomaras were born after 1900, and indeed, we were about to call Xiomara a 20th century name. Except that she may have deeper – and completely non-Latino – roots.

In the 1820s, an Irish writer called Alicia Sheridan Le Fanu penned the tale of Guiomar and Ottilia. Her tale was set in the 800s. Guiomar also appears in Arthurian legends from sometime in the 1300s. He’s a cousin of Guinevere who becomes involved with Arthur’s nemesis, the sorceress Morgan le Faye. Because Guiomar still appears very rarely as a masculine name and surname in Spanish and Portuguese, some have connected Xiomara and Guiomar. It seems like a stretch, but remember that Arthurian legends would’ve been known throughout Europe.

Guiomar’s roots are a bit more difficult to puzzle out. The old Germanic elements hildr – battle – and mar – fame – give the possible meaning “famous in battle.” The name might’ve originally been something like Hildemar – think Hildegard or other Germanic monikers.

The other possibility is that Xiomara is simply an inventive variant of Greek names like Xenia or Galician Spanish versions of names like Xoana. (The Galician version of Joan or Joanna.)

While her history can’t be traced in a solid line, the name remains appealing – and not without a story to tell.

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. My daughters name is Xiomara and while a lot of people don’t seem to pronounce as it was intended, we still love the name. I do stop and think of what it’s going to be like in high school or college. Maybe it may not be too challenging if she’s around our culture. Regardless, i want her to be happy, so what if she wants to change her name? She’s only 8 right now…. Anyway, any suggestions about this?

  2. She-o-mara, huh? I haven’t heard that one, but given the variety of Spanish and Portuguese regional accents, it makes sense. (More sense, really, than Zamara, I think.)

    And yeah, I think you’d have to have some heritage to back this one up. Much as I love names that start with X/Z, I’d feel like calling my daughter Xiomara would be a stretch.

  3. I think I”ve heard the she-o-mara pronunciation too. I don’t know any Xiomaras but I have seen the name around – quite a few Spanish-speaking people here.

  4. X names are always pretty cool arn’t they? I have heard of a Xiomara once but I could have sworn she pronouced it more she-o-mara than see-o-mara, either way its a very intriguing and throughly Spanish sounding choice but way too out there for me!

  5. An interesting choice, today! Xiomara is one I’ve heard here in town once. She looks to be about 8 months old and is most definitely Brasilian in heritage. Your “should be” pronunciation was what I heard. It sounds wonderful when said in Spanish. Not so much so when I say it. My ‘e’s are flatter, somehow.

    I’ve seen this suggested online a few times as well, so i do agree, she may be catching on. Beats Madison and I’ll be greatful if the Isabel/la onslaught slows too. Xiomara’s gorgeous!