Unfairly Dated Names: Cynthia

Unfairly Dated Names are a subset of Spotlight Names most people don’t consider old-enough to recycle. Most of these names peaked around 15-60 years ago and are often typecast as parent and grandparent names. But their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stylish stand-outs for modern children. At one point these names were ahead of the trends, and likely will be again.

Artemis the Greek moon goddess, sometimes called Cynthia

Unfairly Dated Name: Cynthia

Maybe Cindy is your middle-aged neighbor working in her garden or your boss’ grandmotherly assistant. To many, especially some Baby Boomers struggling with their life-long nickname in middle-age, Cindy is the perpetual little girl.

Reinforcing this impression is Cindy Brady, the lisping pigtailed youngest member of the Brady Bunch TV clan who will never age past 12 in syndication.

Cynthia has lived in the shadow of its assumed nickname for decades. This is unfortunate since the full name Cynthia is an ethereal choice with Greek mythology origins. Say Cynthia out loud and rediscover its loveliness.

Imagine being an expectant parent before the 1950’s when Cynthia peaked in the top 10. Cynthia must have sounded almost musical. The name really does roll well off the tongue. Those who were aware of the name’s Greek Mythology origins were probably intrigued.

Even the nickname Cindy, which dates the name today, was probably a selling point back then. Cindy may seem juvenile on a 55-year-old today, but would have seemed cute on a 5-year-old back in 1960.

If you feel Cindy is simply too cute at any age and any decade, consider the future impressions of Abby, Maddy, and Addy, all popular on children today. The theory is that once Abby, Maddy, and Addy reach adulthood, they can use their given names Abigail, Madison, Madeline, Addison, Adeline or Adelaide.

That could happen, but how often does that happen? Chances are in 50 years we will have a few middle-aged Abby’s, Maddy’s and Addy’s. Some of them will hate their cute nickname, but not enough to switch to a given name they aren’t used to hearing.

Fortunately side-stepping Cindy is easy; try Thea or just Cynthia, which is simply stunning on its own.

If Cindy dates Cynthia, then Thea can bring the name up-to-date. Like its twin Rhea, Thea is outside the top 1000 and has a fashionable sound.

Thea does have one drawback. It can be both a given name and a nickname for other names such as Dorothea, which could make Thea seem more popular than name stats suggest.

The alternative nickname, Thea, is not Cynthia’s best-selling point. If an alternative nickname and beautiful sound were all Cynthia had, it would still be a nice name but would hardly qualify as unfairly dated.

Cynthia qualifies as unfairly dated for two reasons:

1. Cynthia has astrological meaning. Greek moon goddess Artemis was sometimes called Cynthia because according to legend she was born on Mount Cynthus. This puts Cynthia in the same class as these fashionable names:

  • Stella #73 (3,667 births)
  • Luna #278 (1,138 births)
  • Celeste #453 (665 births)
  • Nova #884 (293 births)

All of these names appear on the rise. Luna broke the top 300 for the first time in 2011.

Nova’s numbers hardly make Nova popular, but #884 is an impressive rank considering the name just reentered the top 1000 after being absent since 1938. Nova could disappear as quickly as it came, but that seems unlikely considering Nova follows a fashionable pattern: four letters, two syllables, a-ending and the letter V.

2. Cynthia has roots in Greek Mythology putting her in the same class as these fashionable names:

  • Chloe #10 (10,917 births)
  • Iris #303 (1,041 births)
  • Athena #313 (998 births)
  • Daphne #450 (671 births)

Most of these names appear on the rise, except for Chloe which may have reached a plateau in the top 10.

Today Cynthia ranks at #429 and has declined since its peak at #7 in 1957. Typical of mid-century names, Cynthia has a bell curve trend pattern. Cynthia was somewhat uncommon a century ago, and then gradually increased and peaked mid-century. Cynthia plateaued for a few years and then rapidly declined. Its current numbers are similar to those a century earlier.

Today adventurous parents might be more excited to put Artemis on the birth certificate. Artemis has the advantage of being unique, being outside the top 1000 for the moment. In 2011 only 39 newborn girls were named Artemis, up from 21 Artemis’ born in 2010.

Maybe Artemis is more appealing to parents seeking something unusual. But imagine both names have never been in the top 1000. Say Artemis and Cynthia out loud. Be honest with yourself. Which one truly sounds prettier? And do you know what? I don’t mind Cindy.

Readers: Which Greek moon goddess name do you prefer: Artemis or Cynthia?

Photo credit


  1. I see this name quite often perusing US census records from the mid to late 1800s. Cynthia seems to have been fairly popular in the early to mid 1800s, at least in the South. It’s worth noting that the name is always spelled Synthia and never Cynthia.

  2. It’s funny that Cynthia is unpopular despite its possession of the currently popular y. But then again, people like putting y’s where i’s used to be. Cinthya anybody?

  3. I saw a little Cynthia Rose in a birth announcement recently, which I thought seemed very pretty, and no different from Olivia, Samantha or Sienna really.

    I checked the stats here, and although Cynthia peaked in the 1940s and then a slightly lesser peak in the 1960s, she is currently having a mild mini-revival, which pleases me.

  4. I used to really like the name Cynthia, but the feeling has cooled somewhat of late through no fault of her own. I do still quite like Cindy, helped by the fact that I met one my age when I went for my driving theory exam last year.

  5. My neighbor has a granddaughter named Cynthia Anne a sister to Nelly May. Cynthia is named after her grandma though.

  6. Agh! Cynthia is a dilemma for me. It’s my mother’s name. We want to name our children after family. And it’s–for us–her only usable name.

    Growing up, I always heard my mother complain about her name; she said it was too “austere.” My mother felt that her mother announced enormous social ambitions in giving her such a “debutante” name. And in literature (my obsession), those Cynthias are usually grasping, social climbers. So I’m far from predisposed to it.

    But when the topic came up one day, my mother sounded enthusiastic about the idea of Cynthia being used. It totally threw me for a loop. “But you always told us you hated your name!” I sputtered.

    “It’s alright. You could call her Cindy or something.” (My mother goes by “Cindy.”)

    My DH is far from convinced that we could make this work since he also dislikes the name. I do like the Artemis connection and its Greek mythological tale. But my mother wouldn’t consider an Artemis (“Mimi”) a tribute. So Cynthia is currently a middle name in our master plan. If only I hadn’t grown up with such a strongly negative impression of this name…

    • Cynthia would make a great middle name with the right first name, but the challenge is finding the right first name. Cynthia doesn’t go with everything. For example, Cynthia Rose sounds nice, but reversing the names, Rose Cynthia doesn’t sound as good to me. But maybe something like that would work. Maybe Lila Cynthia or Lyla Cynthia would work. If you like modern names, maybe Briar Cynthia.

      • Try lynn or leigh,lee or Autumn. I wish I waas born a Cynthia instead of just plian old Cindy. I was named after a song.

        • Cindy Louise says:

          If anyone else ever checks this, let me add my note. As a “just Cindy” who is also cursed with the middle name “Louise,” (which is a fine middle name if your first name is NOT Cindy), I would love to change my name to Cydni (or Sydney) if it wouldn’t hurt my parents’ feelings. I’m 55 years old and Cindy isn’t a good fit. At all. Think long term when you name your children!

  7. I’m in my 30s and my name is Cynthia. I have never ever been called Cindy thank goodness. I love having a unique name and thought it funny that it’s never made a comeback with other older names.

  8. My Missouri grandmother was named Cynthia. Her friends called her Cynthie (not Cindy) and I always thought it sounded sweet and old fashioned in a good way.

  9. My name is Cynthia, I’ve only come across another 2 my whole life – I’m 25. I’ve always thought my name was quite unique, but not old – it’s funny to read how other people see it! My nicknames are Cyn or Cynth – never Cindy, thank god. That could be because I was brought up in England though, not the US 🙂

  10. Grew up being called cindy. As a teenager some called me cynt. Which I preferred over cindy. It was a hard time getting people to realize I dont want to be called cindy. I love my full name now and I always get complimented on it being a pretty name. I grew into my name. To all the Cynthia’s out there.

  11. I wrote a piece of travel writing on tracing my name back to its roots in Delos, Greece. For Cynthias everywhere!

    • Hi Cynthia,
      Wonderful, you did way more than I could have done. I always got th information they gave in the dictionary and no more. The article makes my name seem more like me. I love adventure and my family has always said I march to my own drum beat. Now I see why. I do not like restraints whatsoever—so the part about being elusive..actually shed some light on me.
      oh, and by the way the scenery looks amazing! Wish I could have been there……well I was there for a minute.
      Cynthia L.

  12. Aurelia Breeze says:

    My thirty five year old mom loathes her name Cynthia with a fiery passion to rival even her flaming hair. She goes by Cindy as she always has and if anyone calls her Cynthia or Cindy Lou Who… *wince* She finds it “formal, rigid, weak, conforming and just plain ugly.” So at thirteen I’ve kinda been raised to hate the name.

  13. Im a Cynthia who has only been called Cindy and Sin. It’s just all I know. My mother got flak for naming me a non christian name…so I love my rebel name. Some of my christian friends said my name was the worst because I am often called “Sin” and that bothers them. LOL! they don’t like the greek moon goddess thing either. oh yah, since I’m an atheist I prefer astro names. Bring on the Stellas!

    • Me too!…I’m often called “Sin” because I’m rebellious and an atheist. Funny! I named my daughter after a jewel. My christian friends are afraid for my “soul. so cute.

  14. Love this!
    As a travel writer, I wrote a piece on coming to terms with my outdated name by tracing its roots in Greece:

  15. Nice article, thanks. I was born in 1964 and cycled between Cindy and Cynthia until High School. I switched to Cyndi on a friend’s suggestion and never looked back. Cynthia is still my legal name but no one calls me that. I sometimes use Cyn. I’m curious to know why Cynthia had such a meteoric rise in the 50’s then all but disappeared by the end of the 70’s.

  16. Cynthia Jean says:

    To me, Cynthia is a wonderful name! My Mom named me (a 1957 baby) that after a girl who she really admired in HS in the 40’s. I also have the same middle name, “Jean”, as my namesake. I think they go together well… Cynthia Jean. I vividly recall as a child being taught how to write my formal name “Cynthia”, and then being told that the short name is spelled Cindy – reversing the y and i. That opened up huge doors of imagination for me – quite liberating! “What other rules in life can I interpret and play with?”, I pondered. And I lived my life accordingly. I quickly decided I would reverse the “wrong” spelling of Cindy back to Cyndi (as it should be!) Funny thing, almost every Cynthia I know has internalized this and spells Cindy in a unique way. In fact, now when I say my name is Cindy, most folks often ask… how do you spell it? They’re clearly used to our loose interpretation of spelling rules for Syndee names! I quickly shared the “rules” with my friends and cousins. So Mary changed her name to Mari; Karen to Karin, and so on. What intrigues me most is all the nicknames I’ve collected in life from almost everyone I know: Cyn, Cyndi, Cynz, Cynza, Cyndi-Mae, Cyndi-Jean, CJ, Cynd-a-Lindz, Cyndi-Lou (Who), Cinderella, Cinzano, and Cinnamon. Have no clue how I got them, but they make me smile. Mom mostly called me by Cynthia, and she added an emphatic “Jean!” when she was mad – lol! My hubby has forever given me “his own” nickname “Cynthius”, which I’ve adored. We never knew of the Mt. Cynthus connection – too funny! Well, all names go in and out of favor in cycles. They usually skip a generation or two then come right back in high style. I think Cynthia will stand the test of time. After all, it’s been here since the Greek Goddesses roamed the Earth (and/or Moon?)! This is a fun site. Remember – a name is what you make of it. Power on sister Cynthias everywhere! 🙂

  17. I am a Cynthia, born in 1981. Was named Cynthia Micque pronounced (mic-kae) by my parents. I love and embrace my name as many people in my generation do not have it. I find that people are normally pleasantly surprised and have a interesting story about how they knew someone a long time ago with the name, or say they think it’s pretty. I use my full first and middle name on job applications, and almost always get an intriguing response, and am often told that it is sounds beautiful together (once they ask how to pronounce my middle name). When shortened, my friends call me Cynt, not Cindy, and that makes it sound more confident and sexy (wink), especially from guys, but loooove being called Cynthia on a regular basis.

  18. Cyd Kirkham says:

    My name is Cynthia. I always hated çyndi, went by Cynthia my whole childhood until quite by accident I started going by Cyd at 15. Pele always ask how you get Cyd from Cynthia. Easy take the n and the i out of çyndi.

  19. My sisterand my mom calls me Cynthia it’s sound normal, however when someone else call me Cynthia it just sounds a bit strange. I go by Cyndi Lou or Lou Lou or just Cynd. Yes my mother named me Cynthia Lou in doing so I could have a professional name as Cynthia.

  20. Wow! i never knew so many people had my name! I find it funny that you suggest my EXACT name– Cynthia Rose… lol 🙂 I am 15, and when i meet people, they sometimes say that they’ve never met anyone with my name, but that it’s very pretty and they like it. I do NOT go by Cindy or Cyndi, or Cyn, or Cynth. I just use my name. as mentioned above, Cyndi/Cindy is overused and it can be someone’s ACTUAL name, not a nickname, as well as being used as a nickname for Lucinda (which is what my Grandmother does). too confusing. and Cyn sounds like SIN, which, being Christian, i really don’t want to do…. lol. If you want a teenager’s impression of the name Cynthia…. I wouldn’t change it. It’s so different now, very unique! and when you go to school, chances are you won’t have a bunch of other girls with the same name (like hannah). I think it’s a very mature sounding name, and also it reminds me of the Jane Austen time period. Did you know there is usage from the Elizabethan era? I think it was either Christopher Marlowe or Sir Walter Raleigh who wrote a poem with a girl named Cynthia…. and that was in the 1600’s! 🙂


  1. […] form of Caelestis Latin for “of the sky, heavenly”. Chandra – Sanskrit for moon. Cynthia – Epithet of the Greek moon goddess Artemis. Danica – Slavic for “morning star”. […]

  2. […]  the uncommon name that perfectly fits in. The similar Athena (#313 in 2011) is one of several Greek girl names on the rise. L-dominant vowel names in the top 500 include Elena, Alana, and […]

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