Let’s suppose that you’re expecting a new baby girl in 2008, and you’ve always liked Sophia. But you’ve just learned that Sophia cracked the Top 10 last year, and shows no signs of slowing down. If you call your new little dear by this pretty and meaningful name, she may very well be one of three Sophias in her kindergarten.
What’s an expectant parent to do?
There are several possible alternatives to the graceful, smart Sophia, and today I’d like to suggest that you take a good, hard look at Fiona.
The name conjures up the British Isles. It’s a Celtic import, thought to mean “fair.” But the name has pop culture legs. It’s the given name of songstress Fiona Apple. She’s a character of divided loyalties in the Lemony Snicket books. And, of course, Fiona is also the Cameron-Diaz-voiced-princess who falls for Shrek.
If naming your daughter after an ogress gives you pause, I must say that the character of Princess Fiona is thoroughly lovable. She’s loyal, strong and decisive, and while during the first film she waxes poetic about being rescued, it doesn’t take long before this Princess proves that she’s more than just a pretty face in a tiara. Yes, she’s pea soup green and bulky … but she’s also a hero in her own right, and there are precious few names for girls that reflect strength and courage.
If there’s any drawback to this playful, feminine name, it’s the lack of any easy nickname. Fi – usually pronounced “fee” – is a great choice for an older girl, but not the cutesy-coo option many parents imagine for their infant.
And yet, Fiona remains a great alternative for parents who love Sophia, Olivia and other feminine, classic names but would rather not have their daughter be one in a crowd. It barely cracked the Top 1000 for most of the 1990s. And while it is gaining in recent years, it remains a familiar, but underused, choice at #333 last year.
All of this makes Fiona one to watch for 2010 – and one to consider if you’re name-shopping.