Spotlight on: Bianca

Some names, for me, create a mental image. My image of Bianca is a girl who wears a lot of plaid and likes blazers, vests, and short skirts. She loves to get her nails done every Saturday. Yet underneath her white buttoned up shirt, tattooed on her ribcage is barbed wire entwined with roses, and only her closest friends know about it. She’s on the Calculus team, and takes Jujutsu. She loves decorating cupcakes and rock climbing. She’ll kick some ass, but she must put on her lipstick first.

Unlike Jessica and Olivia, Bianca is one Shakespeare creation that hasn’t hit the top 10. Bianca has never been popular, but she has never been unpopular either, at least not since 1973. Looking at the numbers, she could have become a 80s/90s hit name, but she never did.

Bianca has a sound that might seem hard to some people. She can sound snooty. My first impression was that Bianca was a little on the preppy side. But then she started to show her edge.

Maybe Bianca Jagger, the former wife of Mick Jagger, gave the name some edge. It is probably no coincidence that her name entered the top 1000 for the first time during their brief marriage.

I usually recommend avoiding any name that zooms up the charts. This tells me the name is in danger of heading into trendville. For this reason I would have avoided naming my child Bianca in the 70s and early 80s. And my child would have lost out on a fabulous name.

Bianca’s story is a fascinating one. While she is a name with a relatively long history, she had been somewhat obscure, at least in the U.S., until the 70s. She had never been in the top 1000 until 1973, and then she zoomed up the carts over 400 places in seven years, from a rank of 781 in 1973 to 370 in 1980. After that she continued to climb, but steadily, not dramatically. She peaked at 84 in 1990. And then she slowly made her decent. In 2010 Bianca ranked at 280.

Like Naomi, Bianca’s sound is unique and timeless. Even if she does ever hit the top 50, she will have few copy cat names (e.g. Ava has Eva and Ada, and Chloe has Zoe and Cleo). Finding a similar but different substitution for Bianca is difficult. One would be hard pressed to find another name with the two vowels side-by-side followed by the hard c/k sound in the middle.

Bianca would make a great sister for many of today’s stylish names: Olivia, Sophia, Fiona, Naomi, and Gianna. In a way, Bianca was like the predecessor to those names. When Bianca saw her peak in the late 80s/early 90s, she was a bit ahead of her time, sound-wise. Olivia, Sophia, Fiona, Naomi, Gianna, and Bianca all contain an I, have at least three vowels, and are either five or six letters long.

Other great sisters that don’t follow that exact pattern, but share the romance language sound, are Cecilia and Francesca. Both names would fit in well with today’s kids under five.

Bianca fits in with these names, but also stands out because the hard c in the middle breaks up the smooth sound of the others. Francesca may share the hard c in the middle, but for those with limited signature real estate, Bianca achieves with six letters, what Francesca does with nine.

Finding brother names for Bianca was a little more difficult, but do-able. Adrian is one of the best fits. Leo, Milo or Julius might work. Although Bianca and Julius may seem like Shakespeare overload to some. Vincent or Vince could work.

If you wanted to go a little more unusual, I like the idea of Bianca with Roscoe, but the popularity of the two names are quit divergent. Roscoe hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1978. But like Bianca, he has a popular style and could get rediscovered soon.

If you are looking for a name like Susanna, that more people like than actually use, Bianca could be for you.

Readers: How would you rate Bianca? Any ideas for brother or sister names for Bianca? Does anyone know of a “same but different” variation to Bianca that I may have overlooked? (Sort of like Eva/Ada for Ava. The Hungarian variant spelling, Bianka doesn’t count.)

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  1. Did not know that Bianca was a Shakespeare thing!

  2. Bianca might be nice, but not for my kid. 🙂

  3. My cousin is named Bianca she is adopted from indonesia and it was my aunts favourite name for 20 years.

  4. I love the name Bianca and I’m glad it’s not too popular. Good sibling names for sisters would also be Chiara (Italian like Bianca itself) and Aniela (Polish variant of Angela).

  5. I’m 5 months pregnant, and I’m naming my daughter Bianca. Before we found out the sex of the baby we were considering Henry for a boy. A few days ago I read your predictions for Henry’s popularity and almost had a heart attack :). We were also considering Paul, but that’s my husband first name and I wanted to avoid a jr. situation. Great blog, happy to have found it!

  6. my name is bianca too


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