Skip to main content

Eugene & Eugenie

Napoleon III, Eugenie, and their Son for Adoption Siamese Ambassadors, by Jean-Leon Gerome

Eugene is a boy's baby name of Greek origin, coming from the word eugenes, meaning "well-born," as in "noble." In my little corner of the world this name was regarded the same way the character Eustace acted in C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia - a bit of a dweeb, a dated name, and very annoying. But there is always more to a person than meets the eye, and name judgement can be unnecessarily harsh. That is why I was thrilled to hear the love interest's real name in Disney's Tangled (2010) animated film: he goes by Flynn Rider, but he reveals his birth name Eugene. He expressed a sort of embarrasement that his name was Eugene, much the same way actor Jim Carrey did when revealing his middle name was Eugene.

While Flynn went from almost rare and 81 boys given the name in 2010, to 212 the next year and still rising, Rider only went up a little bit and came back down to 45 births in 2016, but the spelling Ryder sits at a very happy rank of #102. Eugene last saw its heyday in 1927, when it was given to 9,745 boys that year, but was never outside the top 1000. It was top 50 between the start of the charts and the 40's. In 2016 Eugene was only given to 298 boys, a rank of #788, barely rising since Tangled. The variant Eugenio was given to 44 boys in 2016. But Eugene definitely deserves more recognition. It has a Gene (Eugene!) Kelly sort of classy-handsome quality, and international appeal, while being historically dense (four popes and several saints) and ideally unique thanks to its spelling, at least compared with modern names like Ryder.

What other historical namesakes does Eugene have? Playwrights Eugene Ionesco and Eugene O'Neill, romantic painter Eugene Delacroix, socialist politician Eugene Debs, French naturalist Eugene Simon, theoretical physicist Eugene Wigner, three NFL football players, astronaut Eugene Cirnan, and many more. Don't forget Prince Eugene of Savoy, but here's a long list of others, including six prime ministers and fourteen Olympic medalists, and here's one that seems to go on forever.

In the arts there is Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin, a character in the Grease musical, a character in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, a character in the DC Universe's Preacher, and two different songs.

Eugenie (yu-JEE-nee), Eugena (yu-JEE-nah) and Eugenia (yu-JEEN-yah) are girl's baby names that are rare. Eugenie saw two spikes in popularity since 1880. One was in 1920 with 72 girls given the name, and another in 1953 when 60 girls were given the name. You can see that by 'spike in popularity' I mean it went from being a little obscure to a little bit more noticeable, although it was never so rare that it was unrecognizable, and the overall amount of babies being born in 1920 was much lower than it is now. In 2016 it was even less popular, given to only 7 girls. Eugenia saw one big spike in 1921 when it was given to 606 girls, much more popular than Eugenie. In 2016 it was given to a mere 40 baby girls. The most Eugena was given was in 1965 to 33 girls, and it was last on the records in 2007 when it was given to 7 girls.

The spelling options Eugina and Euginia have also been used, along with Evgenia and other spellings where v is a typical replacement for u. There's also short forms Eugie and Genie, and the TV show I Dream of Jeannie, although not how a Eugenie variant would be spelled, may have given that nickname a little boost.

As for credentials, the Duke and Duchess of York named one of their daughters Eugenie, and there was a 3rd century saint from Rome who escaped death by disguising herself as a man. There's also Princess Eugenie of France (1853-1971), Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg, Saint Marie-Eugenie, Blessed Eugenia Ravasco, and Blessed Eugenia Picco. And here's a fun fact: the film maker and actor behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding is actually Eugenia (Nia) Vardalos. Here's a very long list of namesakes.

You might also consider the exotic Russian variant, Zhenya, or short-form Gina, which can be derived from other names as well.


  1. This is a really unique blog, it's so fun to read even if you're not looking for a baby's name! I can stalk my friend's name origins here.. lol


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…