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Quick Facts on Sylvia

  • Gender:
  • Girl
  • Origin:
  • English, Latin
  • Number of syllables:
  • 3
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 505
Simple meaning:
From the forest

Characteristics of Sylvia

  • Mystical
  • Wise
  • Eccentric
  • Intuitive
  • Imaginative
  • Philosophical
  • Solitary

Etymology & Historical Origin - Sylvia

Sylvia is derived from an Old Roman family name Silvius from the early Latin “silva” meaning “wood, forest”. Three things make the female name Sylvia/Silvia notable. For one, Rhea Silvia was the mythical mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome in the 8th century B.C. She was the daughter of the King of Alba Longa (an ancient city in Latium that predated Rome) who was also descended from Aeneas (mythological hero who defended Troy against the Greeks). Rhea Silvia’s father and brother were killed by her hostile uncle who usurped power in Alba Longer. To ensure she did not procreate a potential rival heir, Rhea Silvia was compelled to become a Vestal Virgin (a virgin priestess to the goddess of hearth and home). However, Silvia became pregnant with Romulus and Remus, seduced by the god of war (Mars) who spotted her in the forest and impregnated her. The name Rhea Silvia means “guilty woman from the forest” composed of the ancient Latin elements “rea” (guilty) and “silva” (“forest”) in reference to her seduction by Mars when she was supposed to remain virginal. In any case, had Silvia not bore her twins, then the founding of Rome many never have taken place (essentially making her the matriarch of Rome). The next Silvia we’ll mention is the 6th century saint (also the mother of Pope Gregory the Great); she was the one who really served to popularize the name Silvia during the Middle Ages (naming children after saints was all the rage in medieval times). Lastly, Silvia is a Shakespearean character and so enjoys a fair amount of literary cachet. In the Bard’s 1591 play “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” Silvia is the willful daughter of the Duke of Milan who rebels against her father in an effort to be with her one true love Valentine. So the name Silvia is very multifaceted when it comes to mythology, saintliness and literature. From the 19th century onward, Sylvia became the preferred English spelling of this old Latin beauty.

Popularity of the Name Sylvia

Not surprisingly, Sylvia has been around in America since at least the 19th century. In fact, back at the turn of the 20th century, Sylvia was slowly making her way to the Top 100. Between 1909 and 1954 Sylvia did enjoy her place in the sun and was often a popular name choice for American baby girls. Her greatest achievement on the charts came in 1937 when Sylvia was the 50th most commonly used girl’s name in the country. However, by the 1980s, it became clear that Sylvia was going out of style as she continued her quiet descent down the charts. Today Sylvia is used with very little frequency. The name remains familiar and recognizable; it’s just not that common anymore (except maybe on our grandmas and great aunts). Sylvie is the French version which we think is cute, and Silly Sylvia is a possible affectionate nickname. Sylvia is a beautiful, classic, ancient and fairly neglected name today. That’s good news for parents looking for a traditional choice, but one that’s not trendy and overused (for instance, Sylvia instead of Sophia). Sylvia is a name to consider, especially if you can see the forest for the trees.
Popularity of the Girl Name Sylvia
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Sylvia

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Sylvia

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Sylvia

    Silvia (Two Gentlemen of Verona) Silvia is the spirited daughter of the Duke of Milan who is in love with Valentine, one of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare’s early comedy of about 1590/91. Silvia seems to be a gal who has it all; yes, she’s the probably overprotected daughter of nobility, but she also has beauty, spunk and suitors galore. It seems, however, that Daddy the Duke is in favor of one (Thurio) who doesn’t quite meet her standards, so he locks her in a tower every night to be sure she doesn’t get up to no good. Never underestimate a lady in love. When Valentine’s pal, Proteus, joins him in Milan, Proteus also falls in love with Silvia, quite forgetting he had just pledged eternal love to Julia back home in Verona. Having received Valentine’s confidences about his and Silvia’s plans to elope, Proteus wastes no time in telling on them, allowing the Duke to thwart their plans. Valentine is banished and falls in with a band of outlaws. Silvia then escapes but is waylaid by the outlaws (minus Valentine, of course), and Proteus comes to her rescue. Don’t be too soon to laud him – his price is her virtue, which she refuses and which he threatens to take forcibly, but she is saved by Valentine, who has been watching unseen. And no, don’t be too soon to laud him, either – as soon as Proteus apologizes to him, Valentine offers Silvia right back to him. And we’re not even mentioning what a raw deal Julia is getting all this time! Needless to say, everyone is absolutely reconciled and happy with everyone else at the end, and all that’s marrying gets married, with Daddy’s blessing thrown in. With all due respect to the times and mores, we say: “Silvia! Ya shoulda stood with the outlaws!”

  • Popular Songs on Sylvia

    Popular Songs on Sylvia

    Son & Sylvia - a song by Eric Clapton

    Sylvia - a song by the Eurythmics

    Sylvia - a song by Stevie Wonder

    Sylvia - a song by The Briefs

    Sylvia - a song by Paul Robeson

    Sylvia Plath - a song by Ryan Adams

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Sylvia

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Sylvia

    Dear Sylvia (Alan Cumyn) - Now in paperback, Dear Sylvia is a sequel to The Secret Life of Owen Skye (winner of the Mr. Christie’s Book Award) and After Sylvia. Much to his despair, Owen Skye watches his true love, Sylvia Tull, move away. But he still has the stationery set she gave him for his birthday, so at least he can keep telling her stories, even if it’s only by mail. So Owen begins to write down all the things that are going on: his little brother getting his head stuck in the banister, the disastrous camping trip with his horrible girl cousins, how his new baby cousin will only stop screaming in his arms. But despite his carefully crafted efforts, Owen can’t bring himself to mail the letters. While he knows he’s a born writer, getting the right words onto the page is another story altogether. Young readers can easily identify with Owen as he wrestles with spelling, his insecurity as a writer, and his deep desire to tell Sylvia what’s going on in his life — and in his heart. With this irresistible epistolary novel, Alan Cumyn has given his acclaimed series an original and engrossing twist. Recommended for ages 8-12.

    Sylvia & Aki (Winifred Conkling) - Sylvia never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school. Aki never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year. The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever. Here is the remarkable story based on true events of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu, two ordinary girls living in extraordinary times. When Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to register at the same school Aki attended and are instead sent to a “Mexican” school, the stage is set for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. Ultimately, Mendez vs. Westminster School District led to the desegregation of California schools and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally. Through extensive interviews with Sylvia and Aki—still good friends to this day—Winifred Conkling brings to life two stories of persistent courage in the face of tremendous odds. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Sylvia and Bird (Catherine Rayner) - Sylvia is the only dragon in the world and very lonely. But then she meets Bird. Bird is tiny and chirpy, nothing like the huge dragon. And Sylvia worries that maybe she and her little friend are too different to remain friends. Together the two friends take a journey that will change Sylvia’s life forever. From the award-winning creator of Augustus and His Smile comes a tender story about belonging and the power of true friendship. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen (Lisa Campbell Ernst) - Wildly costumed for every occasion, Sylvia Jean is famous for always having the perfect outfit. She’s a superhero when she wants to be brave, a swan when she must be elegant in ballet class, and a clown when people need cheering up. When a town-wide costume contest is announced, everyone assumes Sylvia Jean will be triumphant. But Sylvia Jean panics. How will she ever top her previous performances? After some musing and mulling (and not a little moaning), she once again conjures up an astonishing way to amaze the crowd—by going as herself. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Sylvia Jean, Scout Supreme (Lisa Campbell Ernst) - When Sylvia Jean's scout troop sets out to earn their Good-Deed badges, the boisterous girl pig knows just what to do: take care of her old, injured neighbor. Unfortunately, Sylvia Jean's over-the-top energy proves too much for the ailing Mrs. VanHooven, whose doctor has prescribed peace, quiet, and no Sylvia Jean. Not to be deterred, the crafty pig scout heads straight to her handy dandy costume closet, and soon Mrs. VanHooven is visited by an artist, a cowboy, a ballerina, and others. But how will Sylvia Jean earn her badge if she can't take credit for her good deed? Recommended for ages 4-8.

  • Famous People Named Sylvia

    Famous People Named Sylvia

    Famous People Named Sylvia - Sylvia Plath (writer); Sylvia Browne (psychic); Queen Silvia of Sweden (royalty); Sylvia Crawley (basketball player); Sylvia Robinson (musician/record executive)

  • Children of Famous People Named Sylvia

    Children of Famous People Named Sylvia

    Famous People Who Named Their Daughter Sylvia - We cannot find any celebrities or famous people who have named their child Sylvia.

  • Historic Figures

    Sylvia - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Sylvia Plath (27 Oct 1932 – 11 Feb 1963) - Sylvia Plath was the much lauded and tormented poet and author of The Bell Jar, who tragically took her own life at the age of thirty. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of a professor of German and biology, Otto, and his wife, Aurelia Schober Plath, whom he met while she was his master’s student at Boston University. Otto died when Sylvia was only eight years old, and this seems to have had a profound effect upon the rest of her life. Sylvia was ambitious and driven from the start, writing poetry and journals from an early age. Along with her literary proliferation, Sylvia suffered from bouts of depression and attempted suicide, enduring psychotherapy and electroshock treatments. In 1952, she won the magazine Mademoiselle’s fiction contest, earning her a place as a guest editor for a month the following year, out of which grew her experiences as related in The Bell Jar. Upon graduation from Smith College, she matriculated at Cambridge University in England, where she met and married, in 1956, the man who was to later become England’s Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. Together they embarked upon a golden future of love and poetry, which, as is well documented, fell into ashes before many years passed. While happy about giving birth to her daughter and son, Sylvia was nonetheless still subject to depressions, a state that was not at all helped by Ted’s affair with another woman, for whom he left Sylvia and the children. Deeply awash in her own sorrows, Sylvia committed suicide by oven-gassing herself in her little London flat on February 11, 1963, while her small children slept in a sealed-off bedroom close by. Her prolific output remains to offer some consolation for a life cut so short, but the tragedy of that suicide seems to have recreated itself over again. In 1969, the woman for whom Ted Hughes left Sylvia, Assia Welville, killed herself and their four year old daughter. In 2009, one of those little children in the bedroom, her son, Nicholas, killed himself at the age of 47. In 1970, Ted Hughes married again, to Carol Orchard; they remained married until his death in 1998 and they had no children. Months before Sylvia committed suicide, Ted Hughes wrote to a family member that no one seemed to understand “Sylvia’s particular death-ray”, which apparently made it “… impossible for me to live married to.” Indeed.

Personality of the Girl Name Sylvia

The number Seven personality is deeply mystical and highly in tune with their spirituality. They operate on a different wavelength than the average joe. Spending time alone comes easily to Sevens, as it gives them time to contemplate philosophical, religious and spiritual ideas in an effort to find "real truth".  Sevens are wise, but often exude mystery as if they are tapped into something the rest of us don't understand. They love the outdoors and are fed by nature. Sevens are constantly seeking to understand human nature, our place in the universe, and the mystery of life in general. This makes them quite artistic and poetic, but they are also keen observers with high intellect - so they are equally scientific-minded. Sevens are charitable and care deeply about the human condition.

Variations of the Baby Name - Sylvia

  • No Variations Found.
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