January 23, 2011


updated Sept 2015
Penelope ~ Weaver; loom worker ~ Greek origins

Penelope and the Suitors, John WIlliam Waterhouse

The name Penelope makes me sigh in a "it's so dreamy" sort of way. I've got a little name crush on this one because it has so many great qualities. It's fun to pronounce, it originates from Greek (I gravitate toward Greek names) and it has adorable variations.

I think Penelope strikes a balance between classically beautiful and contemporary. It has a sort of spunky sound while also carrying an epic historical element that makes it feel more classic than it technically is. The name hasn't been used in America with any consistency, showing a peak in the 1930s, disappearing for awhile, and now returning to fashion.

History & Meaning
It's the name of Odysseus' wife in Homer's The Odyssey, estimated to be written in 8th century B.C. She is known for her faithfulness to her husband through two decades of his absence, as well as her cunning wit and strength of character.

The name Penelope has a somewhat complicated origin, and the meaning is debated. Check out this section of a Wikipedia article if you want the whole scoop.

Name Rank & Popularity
Welcome to the top 50, Penelope! Penelope is ranked at 42 in the US for the year 2014. Since I originally published this post, its continued a sharp upward trend. I'm pretty happy with its success, as it wasn't even in the top 1,000 names ten years ago and is continuing to go up the charts.

  • Lopa
  • Nell or Nellie
  • Pela
  • Pen
  • Penna
  • Penny, Pennie, Peni, or Penney
  • Popi
  • Poppy ~a more creative pet form popping up in recent years~
Prominent Penelopes (I heart alliteration)
  • Penelope Cruz, actress
  • Penelope Ann Miller, actress
  • Penelope Houston, singer/songwriter
Celebs who named their daughter Penelope
  • Jessalyn Gilsig, actress known for her role in Glee
  • Taylor Hansen, musician/singer

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