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Fiamma & Fiammetta

fiammetta emma sandys
Fiammetta by Emma Sandys


Fiamma (fee-AH-mah, FYAH-mah) and Fiammetta (fee-ah-MAY-tah, fya-MAY-tah) are medieval Italian girl's names meaning "flame," and "little flame, little fiery one." Fiamma is the actual word for flame, Latin flamma, in medieval Italian. In the U.S. it is not used at all. In Italy the name is sometimes used to express the flame of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and it is a very uncommon name there - not even in the top 200.

One namesake is the late fashion designer Fiamma Ferragamo, who was a member of the Ferragamo fashion house with other extremely well named women - Ginevra, Vittoria, Fulvia, and Vivia to name a few. There's also comic author Fiamma Luzzati, model Fiammetta Cicogna, journalist Fiammetta Fadda, Italian actress Fiammetta Baralla, Swiss actress Fiamma Camesi. Most recently "La Fiamma" was used as a character's nickname in the show Mozart in the Jungle. There is also an Italian singer who goes by Fiammetta.

Further back in time we have Fiammetta Frescobaldi, an Italian writer who died in 1586. She was born Brigida, but coming from a wealthy family who wanted to preserve their fortune for their son, she went to the Dominican convent and took the religious name of Sister Fiammetta. Her translations and writings covered a wide variety of topics. On the other side of the spectrum, Fiammetta Michaelis was a courtesan who died in 1512, who was tied to Cesare Borgia.

Fiamma was also the pseudonym of a love interest of 14th century writer Giovanni Boccacio, and for her he wrote Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta. Because of this, the well-read Italians gave the name some popularity, then again in the 19th century (much like the Victorians gave new life to ancient Greek, Roman and literary names). The name was also used for a narrator in Filocolo and the Decameron. In other literature, Fiamma was a character in The Evil Eye by Edgar Ravelston.

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Allifair

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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…