She’s not just a queen, she’s an era.
Thanks to Kristin for suggesting Victoria as our Baby Name of the Day.
Before the longest reigning British monarch ascended to the throne, Victoria was the name of the Roman goddess of victory. Nike was her Greek equivalent, but while Nike embraced the sporting life, the Romans associated their goddess with triumph in war.
After the pantheon came the saints. In the first century AD, Victoria was a servant martyred with her master. Then two sisters, Anatolia and Victoria, both refused marriage to non-Christians and eventually died for their faith, too. Another Saint Victoria appears in 304, also martyred.
Victoria goes royal pedigree early days, too. Victoria – or maybe Vitruvia – was the de facto ruler of a breakaway kingdom from the Roman Empire in the late 200s.
Victoria filtered into use through the Germans. The future queen’s mother was born Princess Marie Luise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Sallfeld, but known as Victoria. Victor also surfaces in various branches of the family tree.
The name was very rare in English until Victoria’s reign. Princess Alexandrina Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent, was fifth in line to the throne when she was born in 1819. In the next dozen years, a series of deaths and the birth of no new heirs meant that the princess became the queen in 1837. It was her wish to drop her first name in favor of her middle.
And so an era was born. Victoria reigned for over 63 years, gave birth to nine children, and oversaw an empire. In her six and a half decades on the throne, England experienced increasing prosperity, and while Victoria was not always popular, she is generally credited with presenting a more approachable version of the monarchy, one centered on family values.
Her legacy is considerable. Plenty of places bear her name. The Victoria Cross is the highest military honor in Great Britain. And the general air of moral restraint associated with the era gives Victorian another meaning – a synonym for prudish, though that’s an oversimplification for a time of complex social change.
As a given name in the US, Victoria has always ranked in the US Top 1000. The name has always fared well, bolstered by various events:
- In the year of Victoria’s death, the name charted at #143.
- In 1945, at the conclusion of World War II, Victoria jumped to #106.
- She entered the US Top 100 in 1949, possibly boosted by 1948’s ballet-centered film The Red Shoes, starring Moira Shearer.
Victoria has remained in or near the Top 100 ever since. She slipped to #131 in 1963, but quickly recovered. From 1993 through 2000, she ranked in the US Top 20. Today she stands at #23 – a well-established staple.
Victoria also ranks in the Top 100 in Argentina, Chile, and Spain; Russia and the Ukraine; Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; and Belgium and France. That’s quite the global profile, before adding in Viktoria – huge in Austria and Hungary; Italy’s Vittoria; and Poland’s Wiktoria.
Possible nicknames abound, from the obvious Vicky to Ms. Spelling’s Tori to contracted forms like Vika and Vita.
If you’re after a classic appellation that feels both strong and feminine, it is hard to top the regal Victoria.
Charlotte Vera says
There are also a number of places named after Queen Victoria. Now that we live in New Zealand, when we tell people that our son was born in Victoria (the capital city of British Columbia), they assume we’re talking about Victoria in Australia.
Some friends of ours recently named their daughter Victoria because they met in the [Canadian] city, which made the name special to them.
I really like the name, but wouldn’t use it personally because I don’t like it quite enough to overcome how popular the name is. Still, it’s a lovely name.
British American says
The other day a friend told me I should have named my daughter Victoria, seeing as both my sons have kings names. 😛
I knew a couple of Vickys growing up, which made it not a contender for me. I wanted a name that I hadn’t known someone with.
I recently met a baby Victoria for the first time. My friend looks after her, for daycare. She thought Victoria was too big of a name for a baby, so she nicknamed her Vita. I’d never heard that as a nickname before – I like it!
I’ve never been a huge fan of Victoria. Not sure why exactly… Perhaps it just feels a bit too austere. I also don’t love Vickie or Tori, however Vita is adorable. I’d be more inclined toward Victrix or Vitruvia “Vita”/”Rue”.
Vitruvia called Rue is genius!
I really love Vita, but I am an impassioned fan of V names, and Victoria doesn’t make top five because of my love for Viola, Vivien, Violet, Veronica, and Viveca.
Alexandrina is sort of lovely. I have a very close blood-related Alexander, though.
Viveca is one of my favorites, too. I do like the letter V …
Victoria is one of a very few names that the husband and I both truly love. The problem? We both detest Vicky, and I greatly dislike Tori. *Sigh* If we could be guaranteed that a Victoria of ours would never be called those nicknames, we would choose it happily, popularity and all. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. I love the look and sound of it, the 4 syllables that just roll off the tongue, the strength, the femininity. Again, *sigh*.
Charlotte Vera says
I know a couple of Victorias who just go by that: Victoria. It *is* possible, especially in this day when Jameses often go by James, and not Jim. You’d have to insist on it though.
I know a 3 year old Victoria who just goes by Victoria. Her big sister is Isabella–their parents don’t shy away from pronouncing all 8 combined syllables when calling the girls 🙂
Also, I saw Rory suggested as a nickname for Victoria, not as intuitive as Tori, but a possibility.
I love the idea of Rory for Victoria – I think it works.
Thanks all! I’m going to add Victoria back to the list. We’re nicknamers, but Rory and Vita are much better than Vicky and Tori. I suppose my biggest concern with Victoria isn’t so much that others will nickname her Vicky or Tori, but that she might herself when she’s older. Then again, I might feel differently toward the nicknames if they were attached to my daughter. 🙂 Also, we pretty much only use nicknames at home.
I think Ria works as a nice nickname for Victoria! It’s kind of unexpected, simple to say and spell, and feminine. I prefer it to Vicky (or any of its alternate spellings).
My great-great-grandmother was actually named Queen Victoria. She went by Jane though.
Victoria is quite lovely. It’s a great balance of soft and strong, with a regal and feminine air about it. In theory it’s a great option for me, but I’ve known one too many unpleasant females named Victoria/Tori/Vicky.
Same problem here, too many unpleasant women named Victoria, Tori and Vicki. Victoria is a perfectly lovely classic, but I’m more inclined towards Virginia or Veronica.
Wow! That’s a great name – but I guess it was a lot to wear.
C in DC says
Loved, loved, loved the name Victoria when I was a teen. I still like it, but wouldn’t use it because it’s so popular. Plus all of my friends with daughters seem to have either Victorias or Kates.
not a fan of vicky but love victoria in all it’s forms. if our future family ends up with a victoria it will probably be in the form of vittoria…although that Vitruvia sure is pretty too. oh and of course the nn. Vita.
I’ve always liked Victoria ever since I was a kid. I think I had a few dolls named Victoria. It wouldn’t make my top 5 list now, but it’s still a very nice name.