Wednesday, April 2, 2014

*phi* Names

Image by Mike Litwin via Flickr

The most popular girl name in the U.S.A. right now is Sophia. It has been on top for the last two years and has a great chance of staying in the top spot for 2013. Parents must really like the look and sound of it! While it has the popular "ah" sound at the end of it, its middle syllable seems quite unique... besides Sophia/Sophie, there have only been a few names in the Top 100 with a *phi* throughout the years: Josephine for girls and Philip/Phillip for boys. And when considering the sound, there is only Effie, Phyllis, and the alternate spelling of Sofia found in the history of the Top 100. This seems to be a group of letters that is immensely popular in the current name on top, but not as much elsewhere.

A quick pronunciation guide is in order. There are three ways to pronounce *phi*. There is fee as in Sophie, there is fi (short i) as in Philip, and there is fy as in Sapphire. The fi pronunciation is most popular with boy *phi* names, while girl names are mostly split between fee and fi.

Now let's take a look at other *phi* names parents are currently using! Here are the names from 2012 and the number of babies given each name...

Apphia 8
Delphine 34
Josephina 73
Josephine 1,921
Phia 5
Philippa 51
Philomena 40
Saphia 5
Saphira 129
Sapphire 126
Seraphim 12
Seraphina 149
Seraphine 23
Sophia 22,158
Sophie 4,532
Sophina 14

Memphis 302
Nephi 13
Phi 5
Phil 16
Philbert 6
Philemon 16
Philip 705
Phillip 873
Philippe 21
Philippos 5
Philopateer 15
Phineas 103
Theophilus 35

Note: I only listed the more popular spelling of each name and I listed any name given to both genders on the side where it was given the most. I also didn't include double names, such as Annasophia, Sophiagrace and Sophiamarie.

The main thing that jumps out at me is the huge gap between the number of girls named Sophia and the combined number of the rest of the group. It's obvious that Sophia is "the" name in this category, but if people want an less popular option, there are some fantastic options on this list to consider.

A little off topic but definitely of interest, there are a few instances where parents have replaced *fi* with *phi* in given names. In 2012, six girls were named Phinley and eight girls were named Phiona.

Do you have a favorite *phi* name? I personally love Josephina, with "Fina" as her nickname. Admittedly, that is the thought that inspired this post.


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