The Three Lives of Thomasina

Alexandra and Samantha and Charlotte are huge.  Why not this feminine form of a masculine classic?

Thanks to Bertram Bergamot for suggesting Thomasina as our Baby Name of the Day.

Thomasina’s meaning is obvious, right?  Thomas is an unassailable classic, ultimately from the Aramaic word for twin.  The most famous Thomas is the New Testament figure who doubted that Jesus had been resurrected.  After Doubting Thomas came St. Thomas Becket, Thomas Aquinas, Peeping Tom, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Merton … and so on and so on.

But a feminine form of Thomas is elusive.  There’s Tammy, but she’s more likely inspired by the Russian Tamara.  You might have heard of Tamsin, a contracted form of Thomasina, first heard in Cornwall.  It’s rare in the US, but not unknown – thirteen girls received the name in 2012, and plenty of British Tamsins have made their mark.

But Thomasina is even less common, and mostly brings to mind fictional figures, some of them four-legged:

  • Beatrix Potter’s most famous creation is Peter Rabbit, and then there’s Benjamin Bunny.  But she also has a non-leporine character called Thomasina Tittlemouse.  Mrs. Tittlemouse originally appeared in The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, and got her own story a year later.  She’s a neat freak mouse, but a kind and hospitable one, too.
  • Then there’s the feline Thomasina, who seems to have lots of namesakes.  First came a book, then a 1964 Disney movie – The Three Lives of Thomasina.  The cat narrates the movie, and explains that she was initially named Thomas until the family got to know her better.  There’s a healthy dose of the supernatural in the Disney flick, and while it isn’t a classic along the lines of Snow White, it was still a feel good family flick, widely seen.  Karen Dotrice played Mary, the little girl – you probably know her better as Jane Banks in Mary Poppins.
  • On a more literary note, Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia is considered a modern classic.  It starts out in 1809 with young mathematical prodigy Thomasina Coverly, then switches between the nineteenth century and today.
  • Then there’s Thomasin from The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

I found just a few in the real world:

  • Thirteenth century Venetian aristocrat Tomasina Morosini became Princess of Slavonia.  Her son, Andrewwas King of Hungary.
  • A sixteenth century Thomasine was born in Cornwall, married well, was widowed, then married well again.  She ended up as a wealthy philanthropist.
  • Thomasina Montgomery was the given name of 1960s Motown singer Tammi Terrell.
  • Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson had siblings named Dominic, Horatia, and Thomasina.

So the name is tremendously rare, and it dipped into the US Top 1000 just once, in 1932.  That year welcomed 54 newborn Thomasinas.  In terms of raw numbers, there were more Thomasinas born in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s – tracking with Tammy’s heyday.

I’m inclined to file Thomasina with the underused gems.  Say her with many a popular choice today, and her potential is obvious: Francesca, Josephine, Julianna, Thomasina.

While she needs no nickname, your Thomasina could easily answer to Tommie or even Tassie, and Mina seems like a possibility, too.  If you’re trying to honor a Tammy or a Thomas, this name presents an elaborate, appealing form.

Overall, Thomasina is definitely one to consider.

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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 Aunt Thomasina ( Tommie ), in her late seventies now, has always loved her name. It’s youthful, unique and a great icebreaker!

  2. I very much like Thomasina and I love Tamsin! I already have a Thomas so couldn’t use it. I love this post because I’ve been studying everything I can about Cornish and Welsh names so its neat to see Tamsin here. The Cornish baby name book I have and the Cornish name resources online list Tamsyn as the traditional Cornish spelling. It makes sense as the Cornish love their y’s, turning St. Endelienta into Endelyn, St. Mabena into Mabyn and St. Crida into Cryda. All of these being angelicized later to Endellion, Mabon and Creed. It would probably be difficult to trace most specifically Cornish names due to few records and the language almost disappearing before being saved by the revival in the 1900’s. At one point, the English government staunchly discouraged the use of and learning of all Celtic languages believing holding on to “primitive languages” made people ignorant, lazy and immoral so I’m sure many names and words and their etymology were lost. Thank goodness people once again are proud of their Celtic heritage and working to preserve as much of it as possible! I love Celtic names!

  3. I wonder if “tomboy” teasing would happen?

    I think it’s cute though. I really like Tamsin/Thomasin/Thomasina and Theodora, but I don’t actually like Thomas or Theodore on boys.

    I know a couple Tamsins of various spellings, but none of the other forms.

    I think my favourite is Thomasin but that’s just predictable for me, considering my love for Imogen, Vivien, Gillian, Morrigan, etc. Something about that rhythm is really appealing.

  4. Another great name that should be used more often! I like the nicknames Mina, Tamsin, Tas, Tassie, and Tommie, or even just Tom.

    My mother, a big fan of “The Three Lives of Thomasina,” has always said there should be a Thomasina in our family. Maybe one day she will get her wish.

  5. Senator Al Franken has a daughter named Thomasin. I like Thomasina, like you said it’s one to consider.

  6. What fun to see my daughter’s name featured! We’ve been using Tamsin as a nickname for the full Thomasina.