Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Sophia

The name Sophia comes from the Greek word "sophos" (Σοφία) which means "wisdom". The usage of the name Sophia for girls dates way back to the Greek and Roman cultures of Antiquity and was often bestowed for its moral qualities. In medieval times, the name spread among Christians in veneration of a 2nd century saint, Sophia the Martyr. Born in Italy, Sophia named her three young daughters Faith, Love and Hope. It is believed that Sophia’s daughters were all tortured and beaten to death for their Christian beliefs under the pagan reign of Emperor Hadrian. After this cruel and senseless bloodbath, Sophia buried her daughters and remained at their graves for three days until she herself succumbed to death (presumably from heartbreak). The legend of St. Sophia spread in the Middle Ages and the name was readily adopted by Christians all over Europe. By the 17th century, Sophia was a common name among royalty throughout the continent, and eventually it arrived to England by way of the German House of Hanover (when they inherited the English throne). Today, Sophia is the #1 name in the United States and ranked #3 in Canada. Sophia is also popular among the English, Scottish, Irish, French and Australians, but these countries still prefer the French Sophie to the more flowery Greek Sophia. The Italian and Spanish version Sofía is hugely popular in Italy, Spain and South America. Internationally, within the Western World, you’d be hard pressed to find a name more popular than Sophia right now.

All About the Baby Name – Sophia



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Sophia is a time-tested name in America; she’s been around consistently on the charts since the U.S. government first began tracking naming trends more than 100 years ago. However, Sophia’s peak popularity is occurring at this very moment in time. In 2011, the name reached the coveted #1 spot on the charts (upsetting Isabella) for the first time in the history of her usage. Sophia is indeed all the rage right now, and who can blame American parents? The name follows the fashionable trend which favors the feminine “classics”; names with old-fashioned charm but don't feel out-dated or too “old lady”. Derivations of the name Sophia, such as Sofia and Sophie, are also extremely popular in America. Sonia (a variant of Sonya) is the Russian diminutive of Sophia. This “wise” beauty is so lovely and sophisticated, it’s no wonder it’s being embraced by so many different cultures worldwide.

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Cultural References to the Baby Name – Sophia

Literary Characters


Sophia Primrose is one of the two daughters of the title character in Oliver Goldsmith’s highly popular novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, first published in 1766. This is practically a re-telling of The Book of Job – the vicar, at the outset in full flush of contentment, suddenly loses all, and his daughter, Sophia, is one of the unfortunate victims of his (temporary) downfall. She is not as beautiful as her sister, but Sophia is good and kind-hearted, and longs only for the love of one good man. When she does meet a man who rescues her from drowning, a Mr. Burchell, it appears that he is poor, and such a marriage cannot be encouraged. The Primroses are in reduced circumstances, but it would appear that even had they still retained their former fortunes, a societal prejudice would have precluded any such arrangement. Well, not to fear, this is the eighteenth century, and goodness shall surely be rewarded. As it happens, Mr. Burchell is really Sir William Thornhill, who poses as a poor man and roams around the countryside checking out peoples’ reactions to him, and making assessments accordingly. This is all right, however, because Sophia passed the litmus test – she is kind and courteous to one and all. The Vicar and Mama Primrose don’t come off smelling quite as sweet, but good Sir Thornhill generously chooses to ignore that. Sophia and Sir William are married, the vicar’s fortunes are restored, and everyone lives happily ever after. Job should have had it so good.

Sophia Western is a character in Henry Fielding’s 1749 comic novel, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, which was made into a memorable film in 1963, with Susannah York as Sophia. Sophia is the very essence of a beautiful, modest and virtuous young girl of her times; as the daughter of Squire Western, she becomes the love interest of Tom, a foundling who has been raised by a neighbor of the Westerns, Squire Allworthy. Tom, due to his thought-to-be lowly birth status, is not considered a suitable match for her. It’s just as well that the course of love does not run well for these two at first, because then we wouldn’t have such a rollicking story. As the picaresque tale unfolds, Tom manages to bed many a beauty before it is discovered that his lineage is, indeed, impeccable, therefore worthy of Sophia’s hand. During all this, our Sophia is not just a goody-two-shoes; she defies her father and refuses to marry the man he has chosen, and she sets out to find Tom when she thinks he has come to harm. She is generous and good-hearted, and more than a worthy mate to such a high-spirited man. Of course, all ends well, and the two marry with the beaming approval of all about them; our only concern is that Sophia didn’t have the same extensive premarital advantages as Tom – we hope it doesn’t cause trouble seven years into the union!

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Sophia

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Sophia

Famous People


Sophia Loren (actress)
Sophia Bush (actress)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Sophia

Historic Figures


Sophia was the Empress of Byzantium which became the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire after Rome itself was conquered and sacked in A.D. 410. When Sophia’s husband, Emperor Justin II, descended into madness, Sophia became the co-ruler of the Empire along with the legendary general Tiberius II Constantine.