Thanks to Christina for suggesting Romelia as our Baby Name of the Day.
Romelia may be rare, but it’s definitely been in use in the US.
In 2014, there nine newborns given the name. Back in 1970, that number was 21. And in 1940, 25.
Most of the sources suggest that this is a Spanish name, and two uses back that up:
- First, the masculine form would likely be Romelio, and in Barranquilla, Colombia sits Estadio Romelio Martinez, a 20,000 seat sports stadium. The project was initiated in 1932 and completed in 1934, so presumably Mr. Martinez lived sometime in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries to have such a major project named in his honor. It’s considered a national monument, thanks in part to its Art Deco style.
- Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Romelia is a wildlife refuge in Costa Rica. I’m assuming that makes Romelia a surname as Silvestre is the Spanish form of Sylvester.
I hid dead ends searching for more information in both countries, but it’s enough to make it seem likely that the name is used primarily by Spanish-speakers – and not very frequently today, though I did find plenty of women by the name.
There are a handful of names that sound like Romelia, and that suggests a few other possible origins.
First, there’s Romilda, which comes from the Germanic elements meaning “famous” and “battle.” A fierce meaning, and JK Rowling gave the name to a fellow Gryffindor classmate in the Harry Potter series. Romilda Vane fought on the side of Dumbledore’s Army during the Battle of Hogwarts.
The Visigoths brought plenty of Germanic names to Spain. Their reign lasted from the fifth to eighth centuries, so it’s easy to imagine Romilda softening to Romelia over the centuries.
Second, there’s a masculine name briefly mentioned in the Old Testament – Remaliah.
I think Romilda is a far more likely origin story for the name than Remaliah.
But the name also brings to mind Roma, the Italian name for the eternal city of Rome. Romanus was a given name meaning “from Rome” that evolved in Latin. Romania might be a more likely elaborated form, but I don’t know that we can rule out Romelia.
Because here’s the thing: Romola is the feminine form of Romulus. Which definitely means “of Rome,” since he and his twin brother Remus are the city’s legendary founders. Romilius is another related name, and the origin of the French surname Romilly.
British actress Romola Garai makes the name somewhat familiar.
And, of course, Roma – as in actress Roma Downey – has some history as a given name, too.
Romelia: Wearable Rarity
So there’s no definitive origin for Romelia. In my attempts to read Spanish-language resources, it looks like they’re divided between Romilda and Roma, too.
Putting the question of origins aside, this name is just plain gorgeous:
- It shares the Romy nickname with Rosemary and Romilly.
- Ends in -lia names for girls are a huge category, form the wildly popular Amelia to the up-and-coming Cordelia.
- It’s a long, romantic name with a history of use in Spanish, just like Isabella, Sofia, Valentina, Adelina, Esmeralda, and many more.
Romelia isn’t likely to be the next Top 100 name in the US. But it is an intriguing, wearable rarity that brings to mind one of the most historic cities in the world, and has other possible origins, too.
What do you think of Romelia? Would you consider the name for a daughter? Also, I’d love to hear from Spanish-speaking readers – any insight as to the name’s origins?