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Cordelia

princess cordelia baby name abidaoud 
Princess Cordelia Abidaoud and Hilary Clinton

Today's headline: "Grab it while it's hot!" If the amount of labels under this post are any indication, Cordelia's a modestly rising, historically rich, beautiful trend-setter. The first time I saw Cordelia (kor-DEEL-ya, kor-DELL-ee-uh) was in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and I'm sure most people in my age bracket can say the same. However, these days I'm seeing the name everywhere online. It's become a very popular option for new parents, and has a long list of namesakes, both in real life, literature and media. From the comic book character Cordelia Swan to the real life Phoenician princess Cordelia Abidaoud, it should be a lot of fun looking through all the various Cordelia's out there, past and present. Nameberry reports that two "Babyberries" named Cordelia were born just recently.

Cordelia is a Latin name most likely meaning "heart," from the names Cordula (as in Saint Cordula) and/or Creiddylad, although Creiddlad supposedly has a meaning that relates to the sea according to this source. Cordelia last ranked in 1950. Our records start in 1880, when it ranked at #204, which was it's highest recorded placing and suggests that she once ranked even higher. The short name Delia comes from Cordelia, as do the longer names Cordelle, Cordella, Cordellia and Cordia. In 2011 the name was given to 177 baby girls, the largest amount ever given. Nicknames do not have to be limited to Cordy - Cora, Corda, Delia, Della, Coco, Lia and Cory can be nicknames as well.

Cordelia dates back to about 1100 AD. From King Lear she was the sympathetic daughter, the youngest, and her father's favorite. The two other daughters have less desirable names - Goneril and Regan, and are also dishonest and greedy. Cordelia is killed at the end of the original play, but has reconciled with her father. Cordelia of Britain was a legendary and brave queen often confused with the character from the play because her father's name is Leir, and although there are bold similarities, the story line is much different, and is the original story Shakespeare and Spencer based their versions of King Lear on. She supposedly ruled around the late 8th century. Early Welsh mythology has their own Cordelia, spelled Creiddylad. In these stories she is a lady in King Arthur's court, and said to be the most beautiful girl in the British isles. Two of Arthur's knights fight for her for eternity. Creiddylad has been compared to Persephone and her story compared to the Holly King myth. I mention Creiddylad also because some scholars believe Geoffrey of Monmouth based his Queen Cordeilla on Creiddylad, and Shakespeare on Monmouth's queen. Other scholars believe he took the name from Hollished's Chronicles, where the name originally came from Monmouth anyway. Supposedly, Cordelia was not used as a given name until Shakespeare's play.

Cordelia also features in Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Cordelia by Winston Graham. In real life, the town of Cordele, Georgia was named for Cordelia Hawkins, daughter of the president of SAM railroads, and there was an American suffragist, philanthropist and physician named Cordelia Agnes Greene in the 19th century. In 2005, a woman named Cordelia Scaife May was recognized as "the single most generous person in the United States." One last mention is that Anne of Green Gables wanted to be called Cordelia.

Other than Saint Cordelia, this is also a moon of the planet Uranus, the name of an asteroid, and a genus of butterfly.

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Lavinia

Italian actress Lavinia Longhi
Lavinia (lah-VIN-ee-ah) is a Latin name possibly meaning "purity," but the name is so old that no specific meaning can be given. It could simply mean "woman from Lavinium," which was an ancient town in Rome/more ancient than Rome/Etruscan. Lavinia was known as the "Mother of Rome." In Virgil's Aeneid, Lavinia was betrothed to a man named Turnus, King of the Rutuli, but when the hero Aeneas came to town her father, King of the Latins, changed his mind and wanted Lavinia to marry Aeneas. The two men then fought for her hand, but Aeneas won. Aeneas then built the town of Lavinium for her. Shakespeare had Lavinia as a character in Titus Andronicus, but her story is an unfortunate one not worthy of repeating and not true to Virgil's Lavinia. Ursula le Guin later wrote more in depth about their relationship in her 2008 novel Lavinia. And she's been a character in many more stories, including The Hunger Games. In all l…