Looking for an intriguing virtue name for a girl? Socorro could make an unexpected choice.
Some recent namespotting inspired today’s Baby Name of the Day.
In Spanish, this name literally means relief or succor. Succor comes from the Latin succursus via French.
Succor sounds a bit awkward in English, doesn’t it? Seldom heard in everyday speech, it carries a strong religious meaning. Our Lady of Perpetual Succor is another title for Mary, though in English, we tend to call her Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or sometimes Our Mother of Perpetual Help, instead.
A fifteenth-century Byzantine icon by the name depicts Mary with the infant Jesus. Images of Mary abound, but this one is officially recognized by the Vatican. The faithful can visit the restored icon at Sant’Alfonso all’Equilino in Rome.
How does any of this connect to a given name? Simple.
In Spanish, the title becomes Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro. Just like many Marian names, it is sometimes given as a girls’ name in Spanish, with or without Maria.
Socorro: Midcentury Favorite
The name debuted in the US Top 1000 in 1919. It slowly grew in use, from just eight girls in 1913 to a peak of 161 in 1929. Since then, the name has faded. It left the US Top 1000 after 1952, and was given to just eight girls in 2015.
We tend to think of English-Spanish crossover names as a 21st century phenomenon. It isn’t so. Back in 1919, plenty of Spanish-influenced names for girls made the charts:
- Juanita peaked in the 1920s, reaching as high as the 40s
- A Spanish form of Agnes, Inez remained near the Top 100, having recently reached the Top 100 for a few years
- Anita was slowly beginning a rise that wouldn’t end until the 1950s
- Another Marian name, Carmen, was also rising, and would continue to do so for decades
- Consuelo, yet another name borrowed from a Marian title, would peak in the 1920s, boosted by the Gilded Age heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, named for her half-Cuban godmother, Conseulo Yznaga
Socorro fits right in.
While Juanita and Anita seem stuck in fashion limbo, Socorro belongs with Inez and Consuelo – vintage names that feel fresh and appealing.
A wealth of nicknames could provide another reason to consider Socorro.
Romance novelist Maria del Socorro Tellado Lopez became one of the best-selling Spanish language authors. As the writer of more than 5,000 works, she even held a Guinness World Record. Several of her twentieth century favorites inspired popular telenovelas. Her pen name was Corin Tellado.
Besides Corin, I’ve seen Cory and Coco suggested as nicknames, both of which make Socorro very wearable for a child.
Socorro: Places and Creatures
It also appears as a place name, used in more than a dozen locations throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including an island in Mexico.
A bird native to the Mexican island by the name is called the Socorro Wren. A mockingbird also shares the island’s name, as do a parakeet, a towhee, a dove, and an elf owl.
Socorro: Ready for Revival
The name appears on all the Spanish language baby names sites I’ve checked, but I couldn’t find much chatter. Do native speakers consider this one an abuela name, not quite ready for revival? Or is it waiting in the wings with Antonia and Florence?
My sense is that the name fits with the latter. Given to just eight girls in 2015, Socorro is teetering on the edge of extinction. But that can make for an edgy, interesting, and still traditional choice for a daughter’s name, far less expected than Sofia.
What do you think of this name? Would you consider it for a daughter?