Celebrity Names Blog

Simona: A Girlie Name for Tough Chicks?

Simona: A Girlie Name for Tough Chicks?
Simona de Silvestro (courtesy manningmbd)

Greetings from Indiana, hotbed of name stories. Oh, and home of the Indy 500, perhaps you've heard of it? Turns out there're name stories here too. 

Consider Danica. It was a fad in the 1980s -- along with Jessica, Erica, Monica and Veronica -- and then fell out the top 1000. But Danica Patrick, 2005's Indy 500 Rookie of the Race, and 2005's IndyCar Rookie of the Year, plumped life back into this sagging name. Leaping back onto the charts in 2005, Danica peaked in 2007 at #307. As Danica Patrick continues to rack up firsts and awards (most recently: Best Finish [4th] by a woman in a top NASCAR race), the name will stay on namer's radars. 

Now consider last year's Indy 500 Rookie of the Race, Simona de Silvestro. The young Swiss rider seems poised to be IndyCar's next sweetheart, when Danica bows out of the series. Will she have Patrick's name influence?

Simona is an alternate form of Simone with an international flair, a girl's version of the chart perennial, Simon. Like that Biblical favorite, Simone and Simona come from the Hebrew for "heard."

Sound-wise, Simona works. True, in 2010, we have only two "-ona" ending names on the charts: Fiona and Leona. But in 1900, we had a dozen, including Iona, Dona, Lona, Nona, Ramona, Winona and Zona. Do the upswing of Fiona and the recent re-emergence on the charts of Leona herald a return to favor for this sound?

Culturally, Simone is a girl-power powerhouse, shared by superstars Simone de Beauvoir (renowned feminist philosopher) and Nina Simone (jazz singer goddess), as well as S1m0ne (a computer generated movie star from the Al Pacino movie, whose name in this case is short for Simulation One.)

The related name, Simonetta, also heralds a super-star: it was the name of Italian painter Botticelli's model for the Birth of Venus. She was said to be the most beautiful woman of her time, a sort of fifteenth-century version of Angelina Jolie. The name is still used in Italy. According to commenter presentperfect on Behind the Name, "In Italy Simonetta was typical of the 1950s (8th most popular name in Rome in 1956). It was an ephemeral fashion: in the 1960s and 1970s the variation Simona was preferered." Also related: Simonida (a Serbian figure of great beauty).

As for contemporary cultural meanings? Without winning anything, Simona de Silvestro's already achieved a kind of heroism for this year's Indy 500 race. She suffered second-degree burns on her hands after a scary, fiery crash last week in practice. Not only did she drive, burned hands and all, in her back-up car, she qualified, er, handily. Now that's tough. (And memo to parents of boys: Silvestro would be a unique entry into the surname and Italian-influenced category of baby boy's names.)

What do you think of the name Simona? Do you prefer Simone, Simonetta, or Simonida?

--L.R.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

May 31, 2011 3:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think Simona is my favorite of the three, though I love them all. De Beauvoir and Nina Simone are indeed two fantastic reasons to choose that name or a version thereof.

Also, "Zona"?

June 8, 2012 5:48 AM
By Marla Ahlgrimm (not verified)

Halep qualified for the main draw at the 2011 Rogers Cup in Toronto but drew 12th-seeded (and 15th-ranked) Svetlana Kuznetsova as her first opponent. After dropping the first set, Halep came back to win 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 in a 2:14 long match that saw Kuznetsova make 50 unforced errors.

November 9, 2012 1:55 AM
By Lore Blaylock (not verified)

The related name, Simonetta, also heralds a super-star: it was the name of Italian painter.

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