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Rowena

Today's name: Rowena

Artwork of the beautiful Rowena and King Vortigern.

Pronunciation: row-EEN-ah, row-ENN-ah, ROW-enn-ah, row-AY-na

Potential nicknames: Row, Rowie, Rowen, Rona, Rena, Wendy

Origin: (1) Old English from Old German, meaning "fame and happiness." (2) Possibly Welsh, meaning "slender and fair" or, less likely, the Saxon form of Celtic Rhonwen, meaning "white skirt," "bright spear," or "fair lance."

Popularity: Rowena is a very rare name, although it did rank toward the bottom of the SSA list until 1963. There were only 7 baby girls named Rowena in 2010, slightly increasing to 15 births in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) One of two heroines in Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" from 1819. In the movie her name is pronounced the traditional way, row-EE-nah. (2) Geoffrey of Monmouth claims Rowena was the daughter of Saxon chief Hengist, therefore making her a princess. This was supposedly the first mention of the name Rowena. She was also married to King Vortigern, therefore making her a queen. (3) Rowena Jackson, a prima ballerina from New Zealand. (4) Rowena is a character in Edgar Allen Poe's "Ligeia." (5) Rowena Ravenclaw is one of the four founders of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

A still of Rowena from the 1982 "Ivanhoe" movie, played by Lysette Anthony.

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