Skip to main content


petra city 
Petra City

Petra is the [strong, grounded, forgotten classic] female form of Peter, meaning "rock" from Greek petros and Latin petrus, and unlike the pairs Henry and Henrietta, or Julian and Julia, Peter and Petra are not as obvious as counterparts. Today's baby name has also had a wealth of variants over the years, such as Perrin, Perrine, Peta, Petronilla, Peronelle, Petrina, Petronia (used by Anne Rice), Pierina, Pernilla, Pella, Petroula, Petruna, Pernille, Peterina, Peternella, Pierette, Petria, Petrova and Petronella. Pier has sometimes been used for girls due to the 1950's actress Pier Angeli.

Famous namesakes: Perenelle Flamel, the wife of alchemist Nicholas Flamel; Perina, the character in the fairy tale of the girl sold with the pears by Italo Calvino; the supposed daughter of St. Peter, named Petronilla, who was made the patron saint of dolphins even though nothing was known about her; Petronella de Meath, the first woman executed for witchcraft in Ireland. Literary: The Weight of Silence, The ChrysalidsChasing VermeerEnder's Game, Posuer. Current namesakes: Petra Nemcova, Petra Haden, Petra Kelly, Petra Ecclestone, Petra Markham, Petra Pau, Petra Yared and Petra de Steur. Film: The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, When Night is FallingSmiles of a Summer Night. Also the old band Petra, which was Christian rock.

There was also an ancient redstone city in Jordan called Petra. It was rediscovered in 1812 and written about by the poet John William Burgon, who said it was "half as old as time." It is currently considered one of the new "Seven Wonders of the World," along with other marvels like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. The city's discovery may have contributed to the use of Petra as a given name in the 1800's. Because of this city the name can be seen as less of a feminine variation and more of a place name.

In 2012 there were 118 girls named Petra, on a slight decline from the mid-2000's. It was given to more babies per year in the 1920's, and has been used since at least 1881. The spelling Pernella was given to no more than 9 baby girls between 1904 and 1964, not including some years between those dates. Perina was given to no more than 20 girls between 1911 and 1925, not including several years between those dates. Pierina was given between 1907 and 1948 to no more than 17 baby girls. Other than 1968, the Italian variant Pietra has only been used since 2002, not given to more than 11 baby girls. Petria was only used in 1941 on 5 or more girls (as I've said before, the SSA doesn't release the information unless the name was used on 5 or more kids per name). Perrine was only used in 1919 and 1980. Petronella has been used since at least 1884 on no more than 19 girls a year. Petronia was only used between 1919 and 1984 for a total of 7 years, on no more than 10 girls in a year. Petronilla was used between 1907 and 1935 for a total of 10 years, no more than 7 times in a year. Similar international spelling Petronila was used 29 times total. Petrina was used between 1900 and 2011, and 1971 marked the height of its popularity with 99 births that year, making it the 2nd most popular variant.

Despite the low numbers above, Petra did rank in the U.S. every year between 1880 and 1951. It does not rank now. Very few alternate spellings and other variants have been used in the U.S. Petra is the 2nd most popular name in Croatia and very popular in Hungary. It is also common in Germany and the Czech Republic, among other European places, making Petra a very translatable name.


  1. We are going to Petra in November, as well as other stops in thr Middle East! I've been contemplating using Petra as a first or middle someday! I think this could be an easy sell to my husband, who is particularly excited about visiting Petra. I like the idea of using places we've traveled that have been special to us as middles for our (future) children.

    Also, one of the survivors of the Aurora theatre shooting - and a good friend of my brother - is named Petra. There was quite the media buzz about her because she was shot in the head and survived! She is where I fist heard the name and I was very intrigued by it.

  2. That would be a lovely story to explain to your future daughter.
    Sad to hear about your brother's friend Petra, but I'm so glad she made it!

  3. I like Petra name so much. It sounds a pretty, humble, determine, beautiful, wise person. The name of meaning is “Rock, Stone”.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Witchy Baby Girl Names!

Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse
Have a little girl due in October? Looking to name a character? Here's my [seemingly endless] list of witchy-sounding baby names. Most of them also fit in the "clunky but cool" category, or "vintage." Most plants, trees, herbs, spices, flowers, gems, space and nature names fit the bill, because in stories and current practice these things are useful to witches. I've put any actual witch names from legend, myth, literature, movies, etc in bold and up front. I have not considered the names of actual, living people or their Pagan names, and I've left out any characters that only have a surname, or truly ridiculous given names. In the second half you'll see a list of names that, to my knowledge, have not been used for witch characters. Please know that this is not a complete list. Wikipedia has an almost complete list you can view here.
Tabitha, Samantha, Endora, Clara, Serena (Bewitched)
Katrina(Katrina Crane, …


Alifair Hatfield
The baby name Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair, Alafair, or Alafare, has a very interesting history. This girl's name suddenly popped into existence in the U.S. around the mid 1800's, with no mention why or how.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere…

Names inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements

Either by sound or meaning, here are baby names inspired by the Periodic Table. Not all of the elements can have baby name spin-offs, because they're just too unique. For example, Plutonium. So I will include below the number, element name, and possible baby name. Also, there are 118 total so I will do this in two or three parts.

1 Hydrogen
Hydeira, "woman of the water" in  Greek Hydra - the constellation and mythological creature 2 Helium
Heli, Helia, Helios, "sun" in Greek (Heli is Finnish) 3 Lithium
Lithia/Lithiya, same meaning as lithium, "stone" in Greek By sound - Illythia/Ilithyia, "readycomer" in Greek
There are a wealth of names that mean "stone," including Peter, Petra, Ebenezer, Kamen and Sixten 4 Beryllium
Beryl, the gemstone, or one of the three types of beryl: Morganite (Morgan, Mogana), Heliodor (see #2 above), or Aquamarine
Verulia, an old Prakrit name for beryl
Emerald is green beryl - Emeraude, Esmeralda, Emeran…