Spotlight on: Felicity

Felicity’s one of those names that I love seeing considered. Though it’s more familiar to us here in this community than not, it’s actually fairly unusual — take a look at its popularity chart:

felicity
From SSA.gov

Isn’t that so interesting? From 1900 to 1997, it wasn’t in the top 1000 at all. Doesn’t that surprise you? Then on September 29, 1998 the show Felicity aired, which accounts for the name’s appearance at no. 818 in 1998 and the HUGE leap it made the next year! It stayed between 400 and 800 ever since, being currently at the most popular it’s ever been, at no. 360. Part of the reason for the recent increase in popularity might also be due to actresses Felicity Jones and Felicity Huffman (who’s one of eight! Six girls besides her: Mariah, Betsy, Grace, Isabel, Jessie, Jane, and one brother: Moore, Jr.) and also the Revolutionary War-era American Girl doll by the same name. But even still, no. 360 is really not that popular at all, especially given what we know about name popularity today (here, here). All in all, I think it’s sort of in a sweet spot of popularity — uncommon yet familiar.

And of course, its saintliness! St. Felicity’s story is one of the very best — as New Advent puts it (using the variant Felicitas):

Felicitas, who at the time of her incarceration was with child (in the eighth month), was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women. Happily, two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On 7 March, the five confessors were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the pagan mob they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set at the men, and a wild cow at the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword.”

Felicity was the maidservant of St. Perpetua, also a mother of an infant who was martyred at the same time — they share a feast day: March 7. That Felicity is St. Felicity of Carthage, but there are others too, like St. Felicity of Rome who was mother to seven sons and was forced to watch them all killed in front of her in order to get her to renounce her faith (it didn’t work); she was then martyred.

Felicity’s also a virtue-type name — it means “happiness” — which puts it in league with names like Grace, Faith, Hope, Sophia, and Verity. It’s got so much going for it in its full form, but I feel like a big part of the conversation around the name Felicity involves nicknames — specifically, I know parents who decide not to go with Felicity because they can’t figure out a nickname they like. Some traditional ones are Fliss(y), Liss(y), Lissa, Fil, Flick, and Flicka (Felicity Huffman has a web site for women in general and moms in particular called What the Flicka), but what else can we get out of it?

Ages ago one of you (eclare) suggested Lily as a nickname for Felicity, which I thought was brilliant. Another of you (Margaret) has a daughter named Felicity who gets called Fin — a nickname from one of her middle names, but I totally think it could work for something like Felicity Nora. Zita is a Hungarian diminutive of the name, and Zyta a Polish short form — I really like both those options. The comments for the entry on behindthename include Fee and Felly as nicknames, which are cute. Cissy could probably work, as could Liddy, which I love. What other ideas do you have?

What do you think of the name Felicity? Would you name a daughter Felicity, or have you? Does she go by a nickname? Do you know any little Felicitys?

 

 

 

94 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Felicity

  1. I actually know a Felicitas – a good (Catholic, actually) friend of mine who’s my age… 26, born in ’91. She was born in Germany to German parents and raised in the US. The name isn’t unheard of in Germany… there’s an old German movie star named Felicitas I think, and Germans generally know how to pronounce it, unlike Americans! Still, I don’t think it’s “popular” there, per se.

    I don’t think I actually know any Felicitys. It’s a great name! I loved the American Girl books when I was young so I think that’s how I was first exposed to it. And I read about Sts Felicity and Perpetua when I was looking for a Confirmation saint. So great!

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  2. I know two little Felicitys – one is three, the other less than a year – both have Catholic parents. I like that it’s one of the female saints in the canon (like my Lucia -Lucy- and our chosen name for a future girl, Cecilia).

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  3. I love the name Felicity! To me, the full name is so much more beautiful than any nickname, so it’s not a problem that there isn’t an obvious one.

    There is a character named Felicity in the TV series “Arrow”, which made me think of it as an “usable” name for non-Catholics (before, I only associated it to St. Felicity).

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  4. I love Felicity. So Catholic and so sweet. I considered it briefly but wasn’t sure how it sounded with my last name which starts with a T and has a strong “s” sound as well.

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  5. I’m 53 and have only ever met 2 Felicitys in my life time I think. .one I was at school with..the only daughter in a Catholic family with 4 boys. it always struck me as a very feminine name for their very blond blue eyed girl.
    The other is a friend of my daughter’s ..so mid 20s. Interestingly also blonde and blue eyed lol.

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  6. It is a sweet name that has grown on me in recent years.Seems like there is a Felicity in our extended regional homeschool community, but not sure. Can’t think of any I know for sure.

    Felicia also comes from Felicitas and seems to be the variation that has enjoyed the most popularity in the US. It is now quite low with Felicity being much more popular variation currently. Felicia peaked in the top 100 (#90) in 1986 (thanks to General Hospital, I think).

    The popularity rank of Felicity in the 300s is pretty good for the virtue names – excluding the wildly popular Grace, followed by Faith. Only those two have been in top 100 (Constance only other virtue name to break top 100 but that was in 1950s). Hope came next closest recently but is in mid-200s now. And Joy is a fairly constant in top 200, almost breaking the top 100 in 70s. Most of the other virtue names aren’t even in the top 1000. So I think Felicity is doing quite well overall – and is in an upward trend.

    I was intrigued by the trends due to celebrity (AG doll, TV shows) and spent a little time exploring. Felicity was fairly constant (and low) for a long time with a slow but steady climb from 1991-98. [Felicity American Girl doll was introduced in 1990]. Then between 1998 and 1999 number of girls named that more than doubled. [Felicity TV show started 1998]. That was peak and then slow drop until 2010 when it started climbing again and 2013-15 increases are more significant as you can see from Kate’s posted SSA chart. [Arrow started in 2012].

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  7. We have a Felicity Perpetua! Our 2 year old at the time, couldn’t pronounce her little sister’s name (F’s and L’s are so tricky for toddlers), so she called her “Cee-Tee” and then it got shortened even more to “Cee- Cee”. I like the nickname “Fliss” mentioned earlier in the comments. That’s really cute!

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  8. I associate it with Puritans for some reason, though I don’t think it was a common Puritan name. I read a children’s book about a French indentured servant girl placed with a Puritan family. The girl was called Félicité, the French version of the name. The Puritan family called her Felicity and made her tame her passionate, wild ways. I think of it as a name for a brunette with dark eyes because of the description of that character.

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  9. We know a Felicity. She’s seven and has siblings named Emma, Catherine, Sarah, George, and Benjamin.

    Otherwise, I associate it most strongly with the American Girl doll & character because American Girl was a huge part of my childhood.

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  10. Felicity! The best. Our little Fin is also particularly blessed by her priest godfather who I know remembers her particularly at Masses when he says her name in the Eucharistic Prayer. Lately, I’ve been crushing on Fitz as a nickname, and I think that could work too. She also gets call Felic, pronounced “fuh-liss” by several friends. A few older priests that we know will call her Felicitas, which I think it so endearing. I liked the show and the American Girl doll, so I’m not bothered at all by those connections. We know two other young Felicitys, both in big Catholic families, but we don’t know anyone in our peer group (late 20s-30s) with the name. Also, I had no idea that Zita was a diminutive!

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  11. This! “particularly blessed by her priest godfather who I know remembers her particularly at Masses” – now I remember another Felicity because of this. We have a dear priest friend with a niece Felicity and it struck me when I heard him say the name during the canon of his first Mass. So cool.

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  12. Felicity is probably in my top ten girl names but probably not high enough to actually get used unless the Lord decides to give us a much bigger family than we’re currently planning for. She was my favorite AG doll and she is my fave character on Arrow. And I love the story of Sts Felicity and Perpetua!! I had always heard their names but didn’t know what they were about until maybe a few years ago. I was floored. Love it.

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  13. This whole conversation as it applies to American Girls has got me thinking. I am wondering how much influence AG dolls/books/movies have on naming. Does it influence future name popularity or does it ride already trending names – or both? And as the girls who grew up with AG come of baby naming age (the first wave is currently in late 20s/early 30s so definitely in the childbearing range) will we see impacts there from the nostalgia? Hmmm…

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    • Well I grew up with AG and I’m pretty close to past childbearing years. The original dolls were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly, introduced in 1986, followed by Felicity about 5 years later. (My youngest sister got Felicity.) I know one little Samantha and one or two little Mollys, no Kirstens. So…I don’t know! Now they cycle the dolls in and out all the time (the company was purchased by Mattel in the late 90s and has a different “feel” in my opinion…)

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      • Oops, yes, grace, my math was off. I knew AG girls first appeared in 1986. Didn’t go back far enough to the 10 year old girls who would have already been born then – lol. So we do have potentially 40 year olds influenced by AG. The more I think about it though, AG nostalgia probably doesn’t play much into current naming, so it is more of a factor in naming influence over time since they started. The AG doll names were most popular right in there specific time-frames of introduction. And for currently naming moms those names are their peers growing up, so not as likely to be the names they give their own daughters.

        The first dolls, Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly have naming correlation in those early years. But…was it that the doll names raised awareness and increased the popularity or did AG ride an already popular name which would help sales? Kirsten as name jumped quite a bit in popularity in 1987 from the previous years – and reached a peak in 1996. Samantha was already rising by that time but took a jump in 1986 which continued significantly over next 4 years with its peak in 1991. For Molly there is also a noticeable increase in the name given between 1987-91 – with 1991 being the peak. We already discussed Felicity. Kaya is another interesting one. Almost a non existent name in 70s (when it first appears on list) then started to appear much more – though still only 400 girls per year when the doll was introduced in 2002. Rose about a hundred the next 2 years than started dropping – so would seem more like AG named it for the trend and it didn’t have a lot of impact – and not long lived.

        The “Girl of Today” dolls I feel seem in some cases to be named names that were most popular 8-12 years before they came out (so maybe would be the same name as a lot of that age girl or her friends – which is appealing to girls. Isabelle and Grace dolls fit that. Then there is the Mia doll which was a currently trending name when the doll came out (2008) but it had leveled and shot back up the year after the doll and is now #6.

        All very curious and kind of fun to consider.

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      • I’m wondering if there’s any connection at all. I mean women in their 20’s and 30’s are probably not the audience of AG and not likely naming their children after currently introduced toys. And, at least for those original three dolls, it seems weird that they’d look at names that were on the rise for newborns of the same year. I have always thought that Kirsten was given a typically Swedish name but that would be easy to pronounce and at least kind of familiar to Americans. Samantha’s name was meant to reflect the lavishness of the Victorian era (whether it was actually a commonly used name in that era or not). Molly’s name is a puzzle to me because it doesn’t seem to evoke the 1930’s/40’s/WWII era (the character would’ve been born in 1935) at all. I’m sure there were people born in 1935 with the name Molly, but generally it seemed kind of anachronistic to me. This was the doll I had and I even thought that as a 10-year-old in 1988. I didn’t know a single adult named Molly. In fact, I’ve known 5 Mollys in my life and all 5 were born in 1978. 😂 Even today, I can only think of one little Molly, the 6-year-old daughter of an online friend. So perhaps Molly doll’s name was chosen to reflect young girls of the 80’s more than young girls of the 40’s? No idea.

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  14. Oh! I realized that we know one other Felicity! She’s 10 or 11 and goes to the (non-denominational Protestant) church of one of my best friends. We don’t see that family too often, but a few times a year at birthday parties, etc., for my friends’ children. I believe she has one or two little brothers but I don’t recall their names.

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  15. I love Felicity! It’s such a joyful name. I wouldn’t nickname it. Alas, it sounds terrible with my married name (which starts with “Phil”), so I’ve had to live vicariously through other Catholic families ❤

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  16. We have a two year old name Felicity. Her nicknames are Fee and Fifi (this one was not intentional, it’s just what her six year old sister started calling her).

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  17. […] (3) Felicity I took special notice of the names that were similar to Gemma, since her style is a little bit different than her sisters’ — not in a bad way at all! They go together so well! Just a little less popular. One that jumped out to me was Felicity — I love Felicity with Francine’s older girls! I did a spotlight of it, including nickname ideas, here. […]

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