Spotlight on: Aida

Add another name to the “Why isn’t this one in the top 1000?” pile. What makes Aida promising?

It’s short, dominated by vowels and ends in A, very much like these names that are on the rise, Ada #494, Ayla #348, and Isla #268.

Aida has an exotic style that appeals to many parents today. Aida is a variant of the Arabic Ayda, which means “returning visitor”. In my mind, Aida is like Noor. Both are Arabic names with cross-cultural appeal.

Aida has surname roots, being a Japanese surname, possibly meaning “run across the field”.

The name has literary roots that are alluring to some parents. Aida’s literary roots are from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, Aida. This puts Aida in company with names like:

  • Olivia (#4) from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and
  • Harper (#54 for girls and #607 for boys), the name of To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee.

As the Ethiopian princess in Verdi’s 19th century opera, Aida is yet another fictional princess name. These names have become hot now. For instance, there’s Aurora (#183) from Sleeping Beauty, Fiona (#267) from Shrek, and Luna (#278) from My Little Pony.

The play Aida was based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette who said the name was authentically Egyptian. He reportedly wrote in a letter:

“Don’t be alarmed by the title. Aida is an Egyptian name. Normally it would be Aita. But that name would be too harsh, and the singers would irresistibly soften it to Aida.”

The similar Aita, which inspired Mariette’s use of Aida, could have been derived from a name recorded on the ancient Rosetta stone, used as a key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs. Aita is also an Italian surname, which originally denoted a person from the town Aieta, Italy. This may explain why Babynames.com lists the origin of Aida as Italian.

Some notable people with the name include:

  • Aida Álvarez - A Puerto Rican politician and journalist, the first Hispanic woman and Puerto Rican to hold a United States Cabinet level position.
  • Aida Turturro – An American actress known mostly for her role on The Sopranos.
  • Aida Yespica - A Venezuelan beauty queen.
  • Aida Mollenkamp – Food Network personality who hosted the network’s first interactive show Ask Aida. Interesting side-note: Aida Mollenkamp’s sister and public relations manager is named Ivy (#265), a fashion forward name on the rise.
  • Aida El-Ayoubi - An Egyptian singer.

It’s a wonder why a name so dynamic was only given to 146 baby girls in 2011, not much of a change from the 154 baby girls named Aida in 2010.  Aida seems to have European flare and I wondered if it was more popular in Europe, where they may be more familiar with Egyptian singers, especially one like Aida El-Ayoubi with German heritage.

It doesn’t seem that way for the moment. Aida may be on the decline in parts of Europe. Aida was in the top 99 for Spain, but that was almost 10 years ago in 2003. Aida was #52 in 2010 for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a decline from #36 in 2009. There is promising news in the U.K., where the name is just as obscure as in the U.S. but might be climbing. In the U.K. there were 30 Aida’s born in 2011, a slight increase from 17 Aida’s born in 2010.

Aida (pronounced  ah-ee-duh) is what I would consider a rare name. The name wavered in and out of the bottom of the top 1000 until 1976, and hasn’t returned since. Aida peaked at #724 in 1957.

This is another name that could get a boost if it makes a strong pop culture appearance. The Food Network chef, Aida Mollenkamp, is not famous enough to propel this name into stardom by herself. The name needs to appear on several minor celebrities like Ms. Mollenkamp or a few celebrity babies, and then it could reach its potential. Based on style, Aida is a name with the potential to reach the top 300 and perhaps become a modern hit.

Readers: What do you think of Aida?

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Comments

  1. I think it’s very pretty, and I would be thrilled to hear it on someone’s kiddo, but I feel like it’s a teeny bit hard for people to pronounce correctly. It’s also a bit close to Amelia, my sister’s name.

    • You might be right about the problems with pronunciation. And maybe the similarity to other current names may be what’s keeping Aida from being more popular. Maybe a lot of people might like Aida but simply prefer Ada, Amelia, Ayla, etc. and using one of those names might rule out Aida for later born daughter since they are very similar.

  2. It seems rather like Zara – both Arabic names that have a long history as operatic names in Europe. However, Zara is a lot easier to pronounce. Aida is so very vowel-heavy that it’s hard to distinguish the syllables for the average English-speaker.

    It’s a lovely name though, and I would like it to see it used more often. It’s a princess name that doesn’t sound princessy.

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