Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sylvie, Sylvia, Silvia

Miike Snow - Silvia

I was going to include Silvana and Silveria, and the male forms of the name, in this post, but I think I'll save them for another time and just mention that all Syl-/Sil- names share the same meaning, "[from the] woods, woodland, forest." Silvanus was the Latin god of the forest. More rare variants include Sylvette, Sylvina/Silvina, Silvania/Sylvania, and Sylva/Silva. Silvia is the major Latin version of the name, while Sylvia and Sylvie/Silvie are the variants. In fact, the spellings with a Y are generally understood to be the English equivalents, while the traditional Latin spellings retain the I. Sylvie is usually thought to be French, but can also serve as a nickname. All forms have a silvery, gilded, romantic and sophisticated image, while still being quite childlike and playful.

While Sylvie has never ranked, Sylvia ranked from 1880 (and likely well before that) until now. In 2011 Sylvia ranked at #554, and has been in the 500's for the last decade. It has been slowly falling since it was #50 in 1937, which was its highest rank, and had stayed above #200 before that. The alternate spelling Silvia also ranked from 1886 until 2005, but was not as popular. The highest rank for Silvia was #497 in 1974. In 2011 there were 187 girls named Silvia, 156 named Sylvie, and 523 named Sylvia. Though Sylvia is now more popular, Silvia was the original spelling.

Rhea Silvia in mythology was an ancient nature goddess, the mother of Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome. (Mythological names connected to these are Evander, Arcadia, Lavinia, Aeneas and Pallas.) Saint Silvia was the mother of Pope Gregory the Great. Queen Silvia of Sweden is still reigning in Sweden. Sylvia Plath was the tragic poet and novelist whose works are now studied nationwide in advanced English courses. Sylvia Pankhurst was the Suffragette who formed leftist and communist parties after WWI, sister to Christabel, whose mother was Emmeline. Shakespeare used the name Silvia in his play "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and both Silvia and Sylvia can be found in many more works of literature and on several more namesakes. Recently, celebrity Jason Bateman named his daughter Maple Sylvie (which directly translates to "maple forest").

1 comment:

  1. I love the names Sylvia and Sylvie - maybe because my French teacher was named Sylvie, and she was really sweet.

    I think they are elegant yet modest names.