Spotlight on: Effie

Effy Stoneham from Skins

Correction: There is an error in this post. I say Ellie was given to 5 girls in 2010, when in reality, Ellie was given to 5 BOYS in 2010. Ellie was actually given to 2,886, and ranked at number 104 in 2010. I still maintain that Effie is more than a substitute for Ellie or Emmy.

The beautiful yet disturbed Effy Stoneham from the British TV drama Skins put a face to this name. I first saw the name spelled Effie, which one could argue is not exactly the same name. I prefer Effie. From my perspective, the name progressed from being a cute nickname to being a wonderfully undiscovered given name.

Then I saw Effie on Nameberry’s list of 35 Names You’re Not Using But Maybe You Should, and wondered if Effie is on the verge of discovery. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m glad Nameberry appreciates Effie, but at the same time, I like the idea of Effie remaining somewhat elusive.

Effie was on Nameberry’s list as a substitute for Ellie and Emmy. The similarities between the three names may seem obvious, but I feel Effie is so much more striking than those other two. She has so much warmth, yet spark. Nameberry invites more people to use Effie. While I hope a few more parents consider Effie, for me Effie’s appeal lies in that she is not for everyone.

Surprisingly, Ellie and Emmy are not really that much more popular than Effie as given names. The numbers never fail to amaze me. I was not surprised to find there were only 28 girls named Effie in the U.S. in 2010. What surprised me was that there were only 5 girls named Ellie that same year. Emmy was the most popular of the group that same year, given to 272 girls. But only Emmy reaches the top 1000, and barely, ranking at 942.

Typical of American parents, perhaps Ellie and Emmy are not put on many birth certificates, but are often heard as nicknames for the extremely popular Ella, Emma, and Emily, resulting in the current sound. Nevertheless, American parents are growing less hesitant to put nickname-only names on birth certificates, and I can see Ellie leading the pack. Ellie is already popular in Effy Stoneham’s homeland (the U.K.), ranking at 29 for 2010. Never could I have guessed more U.S. parents would use Effie than Ellie in 2010.

Expectant parents who love Ellie or Emmy should use them. There is no need to look for a substitute. Expectant parents looking for a sweet name with an underlying luminosity, may have found their match with Effie.

This is why, while my general feelings on nicknames-as-given names are mixed, Effie is one I wouldn’t mind seeing as a given name on few babies. For those looking for a long version, I have heard Effie as a nickname for Josephine, Fiona, and my favorite, Euphemia. Effy Stoneham from Skins is actually Elizabeth. Why not add another nickname to Elizabeth’s pile?

The multiple long forms could be a strike against Effie, resulting in what I call Lily and Max Syndrome. This is when a nickname is an acceptable given name, and has several long forms also, making the call name more overused than the stats suggest. This is certainly why Ellie seems more popular than it really is.

Effie is far from overused at the moment, but if she catches on, the U.S. Social Security rankings may not accurately reflect her popularity. Magnifying this possibility is that two of the possible long forms, Josephine and Fiona are trending upwards. Elizabeth has been popular for generations.

For parents who like Effie enough to use it, I encourage them to use Effie as the given name. None of the long forms quite capture the same essence. And one of them, Fiona, doesn’t automatically lend itself to a nickname. (My daughter happens to be named Fiona and is called Fiona.) Josephine, and especially Elizabeth, already have enough nicknames.

If those reasons aren’t enough to put Effie on the birth certificate, consider that Effie has roots as a given name in its own right. Effie is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic Oighrig.

As for pronunciation, Effy Stoneham from Skins pronounces it with a short E, sounding like the initials F.E. From what I gather, this is the standard pronunciation.

Effie is more than just an Ellie or Emmy substitute.

Readers: What do you think of Effie?

Photo credit


  1. I can’t see Effie as a substitute for Emmy – I know an Emmy and she’s definitely not an Effie! I think the two names have vey different sounds.

  2. Classically, Effie is a Scottish pet-form of Euphemia. I think it’s a great name and agree whole-heartedly it makes a welcome change from Ellie.

    • My grandmother’s name was Euphemia (nicknamed Effie), and two of my maternal great-great grandmothers were also Euphemias. It is my daughter’s middle name and now that she is in middle school (7th grade) she goes by Euphemia aka Effie rather than her first name at school. And all her friends ask if it is like ‘Effie’ from the Hunger Games.

  3. I really like Effie, but Skins is huge in my generation – and it ain’t exactly a ‘nice’ program.

    • I understand what you mean about Skins. Rob and I didn’t discover it until a year ago on Netflix and we watch it long after the kids have gone to bed. We agree that we don’t want our kids watching it until they are at least 18 and possibly older.

      We were simply amazed at all the smoking, drugs, and other activities going on in broad daylight by minors! Rob and I agreed that American Teen shows would not be this explicit. We note there are teens drinking on American teen shows and on That Seventies Show they imply pot is being smoked, but the viewer never sees the teens actually smoking. We may be wrong about U.S. teens shows being cleaner than teens shows in other countries since we don’t watch much TV and have no idea what the new teen shows are. We did note the U.S. Skins seems more censored, but we have only seen a few episodes.

      • You’re right about American TV shows being more censored than elsewhere – I have a friend in the US that I sometimes send Australian TV shows to that I think he’ll like, and he is amazed at how “outspoken” they are. (To me Australian TV seems very censored and bland).

        This surprises me, because the US has free speech enshrined in its constitution, and ours doesn’t, so you would think it would be the other way around.

  4. We decided to name our baby girl Zephyr and use Zephie as her nickname. Her older sister (2 y.o.) can’t pronounce the “Z” sound, so “Zephie” became “Effie,” which we now use as well!

  5. My grandmother was born in England in the late 1880’s. She had 8 siblings and her favorite sister’s name was Effie. It’s derived from a Greek work meaning “speaking well.” I think it’s a sweet name.

  6. My grand-daughter who is 8 is named Effie with no middle name just Effie. It’s an old family name from both sides. Her name is perfect, she’s a petite, blue eyed, blond, always happy. With an outlook of the glass is always half full. She couldn’t be named anything else.

  7. Effie costa says:

    I love the the name Effie considering its my actual name, I don’t know any other effie’s apart from my grandmother. It is a nickname as my full name is Efthimia, but I very rarely use my full name. 🙂

  8. I named my daughter Effie! She is 4 now and I’ve yet to meet another effie!!

  9. Effie Kendall says:

    My given name is Effie; as was my aunt and my grandmother.

  10. My given name is actually Effie Snow and I have always loved it. I have never heard of the show Skins, but with the Hunger Games series becoming movies, I feel there may soon be an upswing in the use of Effie as more than a nickname.

    (My name spawned Effie Trinket & President Snow)

  11. We named our daughter Effie Rain in 2013


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