Sometime this past year I was eating dinner out, and I remember some college-age guys sitting in the booth next to us flirting with an attractive waitress. She introduced herself as Phaedra. I made a mental note and Phaedra went on the Spotlight Name list, and had hung out there. Waiting. Other names would come up and Phaedra waited her turn.
And then Phaedra’s time came. The name appeared in Nameberry 9 on nameberry a couple of weeks ago. Nameberry is a large baby name blog with a weekly series on newsworthy names written by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain, called Nameberry 9. Phaedra made the list last month because Peaches Geldof, a British journalist, model, and daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, is apparently considering the name for baby number two.
When you answer to Peaches and your siblings are Pixie, Fifi Trixibelle, and Tiger Lily (half-sister) and the time comes to name your own offspring, society expects you to follow one of two paths:
- You give your kids completely conventional names as a form of rebellion or
- You try to show-up your parents by giving your kids even more bizarre names.
For baby number one, a boy named Astala, Peaches chose the second path. She plans to continue on that path for baby two—reportedly she’s expecting another boy. A boy to be named Phaedra.
While I wholeheartedly endorse Phaedra on a girl, I can’t endorse Phaedra on a boy. That ventures too far on the “too different” path for Upswing Baby Names. Surprising is not always good.
Phaedra, being similar to Phoebe (#310) and Daphne (#450), is right on trend. Phaedra, Phoebe and Daphne are all Greek mythology names with the ph consonant digraph. These names seem to be on the verge of breaking out. Expect to see more of them in the top 1000 within the next few years.
One such name that could soon hit the top 1000 is Persephone. Persephone has never been in the top 1000. There were only 134 newborn girls named Persephone last year, but it gets a lot of attention on nameberry where a search of the database yields 2,426 results (at the time of writing) from user submitted forums and name lists. I consider any name with nameberry search results in the four-digits promising.
Phaedra belongs to the “Greek Mythology ph names” group, yet doesn’t get the same attention as Phoebe, Daphne and Persephone. At the time of writing, Phaedra gets only 522 nameberry search results, and was given to 23 newborn girls last year (and fewer than 5, if any, boys).
Phaedra is from the Greek phaidra, which is derived from phaidros, meaning “bright”. In Greek Mythology Phaedra was married to Theseus and fell in love with his son, Hippolytus. There are a few versions of the story. In one of the versions, Phaedra kills herself after Hippolytus rejects her.
There are a couple of 60s pop culture references to Phaedra. There is a 1962 film by the same name based on the Greek myth. And there is a 1967 psychedelic pop song, “Some Velvet Morning” recorded by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra with lyrics referring to a mysterious woman named Phaedra. These events were not enough to land Phaedra in the top 1000 that decade.
Like Phoebe, Phaedra is difficult for me to spell. This may be just me, but I tend to switch two of the vowels. I always want to put the E first. But other than that, I can’t think of many practical drawbacks.
Phaedra may not get a lot of attention simply because the name is unfamiliar to a lot of people. If Greek Mythology ph names get more popular, as I believe they will, we will probably hear more of Phaedra.
Readers: What do you think of Phaedra?