OF THE GIRL NAME ESPERANZA
We try very hard not to play favorites, but on this one we have to throw in the towel. You’d be hard-pressed to find a name so beautiful yet so neglected and under-appreciated. Lucky is the parent who discovers this gem of a name hiding at the bottom of the American female naming charts today. As a distinctly Spanish female name, Esperanza first appeared on the U.S. charts in 1913 and reached her peak popularity in the late 1920s and early 30s. Despite the fact that the Hispanic-American population has grown remarkably since mid-century, Esperanza was never a readily embraced name even among American Latinos. For most of the 1960s up through the mid-90s, the name dropped on and off the charts consistently until finally returning (hopefully) permanently in 1995. Esperanza saw a good little push up the charts between 1999 and 2000 thanks to the critical success of a film called “The Mask of Zorro” (1998) featuring a character named Esperanza (played by Mexican actress Julieta Rosen). Outside of this one brief pop-culture-influenced nudge up the charts; Esperanza has experienced mainly downwards momentum since the turn of the 21st century. How perplexing! Esperanza is such a gorgeous name. Four-syllables? Check. Womanly? Check. Beautiful? Check. Dramatic? Check. Original? Check. Lovely meaning? Check. We also think this one has some Wild Wild West flair – the name makes us picture a feisty, strong and spirited Mexican woman in the southwest before California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas joined the Union – someone who belongs in open, rugged spaces and has the healthy constitution to withstand all the elements. It’s a happy name, a “hopeful” name and a wistfully beautiful one. Potential nicknames include Anza, Espie, Essie, Pelancha, Pera, Rani, Ranza and Zaza. But, honestly, who would ever want to truncate this absolutely gorgeous name? It may be too exotically Spanish for the average non-Hispanic parent, but it’s certainly more multidimensional than plain old Hope. Multi-talented musician Esperanza Spalding is a famous American name bearer. She holds the distinction of being the first JAZZ artist to win the Best New Artist Grammy award (2011). Spaulding’s ethnic heritage includes African-American, Native-American, Welsh and Hispanic. We also love that Esperanza is a Number Six in numerology – a very “hopeful” and optimistic number. Have we gushed enough? Obviously we give two resounding thumbs-up on this underused beauty.