Celebrity Baby Name Week continues with Paulina as our Baby Name of the Day.
Paulina: The Pauls
Saint Paul is a major Biblical figure. He’s almost certainly the author of more than half of the New Testament, whose words are still read all around the world today.
No wonder that plenty of children have been named in his honor. Paul was a Top 20 name in the US from 1895 through 1968, and a perpetual Top 100 name until the year 2000. Famous men by the name are plentiful: Cezanne, Revere, McCartney, plus more artists, actors, athletes, politicians, scientists, and more notables.
No surprise that feminine forms of the name abound:
- Paula is the heavy hitter, teetering at the edge of the current US Top 1000, but from the 1940s through the 1970s, a Top 100 mainstay.
- Pauline was popular earlier, from the nineteenth century into the 1930s. What explains the name’s success? Some might be due to The Perils of Pauline, a series of short films about a damsel in distress. But they were introduced in 1914, after the name had begun its rise.
- Paulette had a good run, too, thanks in part to Ziegfield girl turned Hollywood star, Paulette Goddard. The name peaked at #117 in 1946, and stayed in the Top 1000 until 1980.
- Long and lovely, Paulina was never quite as popular as the others. In fact, it was rare in the US until the late 1980s, when it started to climb.
Paulina: Celebrity Coincidence
But Paulina makes the list because of Mike Myers’ new arrival, Paulina Kathleen. Myers and wife Kelly Tisdale are also parents to Spike Alan and Sunday Molly.
The couple are daring namers, and Mike has told stories of how they landed on Sunday, inspired by the day of the week, as well as Molly, honoring a family member.
No word yet on the inspiration behind the new arrival’s name, but it’s hard to say if Paulina is a fusty throwback that could only be an honor name – or if it’s perfectly on trend.
Paulina: 21st Century Name
My inclination is to call Paulina an underused gem, one that could feel very on trend. Consider:
- The name reached as high as #365 in 2002, but has never quite tipped over into the most popular names.
- Supermodel Paulina Porizkova lends the name an international, glamorous image, and probably explains some of the name’s rise in the 90s.
- Porizkova is Czech. The name is also used in Spanish, Polish, and other European languages.
- The name appears in the ancient world – it was worn by the mother and sister of the Emperor Hadrian, as well as others.
- Looking at the names currently in favor, Paulina shares sounds with Penelope (and both could shorten to Polly!) as well as Valentina and Catalina. It’s not so different from elaborate names like Isabella, and it fits with feminine forms of masculine classics, like Alexandra and Victoria.
- Another bonus? Shakespeare used the name for a character in A Winter’s Tale.
It makes for a name that feels sophisticated, but not so elegant that it’s hard to imagine a child called Paulina. Easy nicknames include Lina/Lena as well as Polly. And we’ve traded long names for more long names, with Isabella rising as Alexandra falls. Paulina fits right in.
What do you think of Paulina? Does it seem out-of-step or right on trend?