Monday, November 5, 2012


Up and coming young actress Ophelia Lovibond
Today's name is inspired by a recent trip to Ikea. You know how everything has a name, and most of those names seem a little strange and crazy if English is the only (or main) language you speak. Well, on this trip I bought a blanket with the name Ofelia, which seemed to suit the light and fluffy white blanket perfectly.

Ofelia (pronounced oh-FEEL-ya) is the Spanish/Italian version of Ophelia, and is mainly used in Spanish speaking countries such as Argentina, Chile, or Mexico. It is also a Portugese name, with the slightly different pronunciation of oh-FEH-lyah (thanks Zeffy!). It means 'who assists or who helps', as the original name derives from the Greek word ofeleia, which has this meaning. Ofelia is also a Saint name, used in memory of Danish Roman Catholic Martyr Saint Ofelia. St Ofelia's name day is recognised in Italy as February the 3rd.

Most people recognise the name Ophelia as the character from Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', written in 1600, although it's first use was reportedly in the poem 'Arcadia', written in the 15th century by Jacopo Sannazaro. Shakespeare's Ophelia was quite a tragic figure. A young noblewoman from Denmark, Ophelia is presented as a potential wife for Hamlet. However she is treated very poorly by Hamlet, and eventually goes insane and drowns herself.

A lot of people have been put off using Ophelia/Ofelia for their daughters due to the tragic demise of Shakespeare's character, and fears of their children being taunted with lewd "I feel 'ya" comments. However these perceptions are wearing off, and examples of people who bear this name include:
  • Dr Ofelia Zepeda, American poet and intellectual
  • Spanish actress Ofelia Guilmain
  • Mexican actress Ofelia Medina
  • British actress Ophelia Lovibond
  • First mixed race model in America, Ophelia DeVore
  • Cousin Ophelia in 'The Addams Family'
  • O (short for Ophelia), main character in 2012 movie 'Savages', played by Blake Lively
  • Ofelia, main character in Guillermo Del Toro's dark 2006 movie 'Pan's Labyrinth'

I quite like Ofelia/Ophelia. It has a classic, stately feel to it, and cool nickname options Fee, Lia or O add a bit of spunk to it. As you've probably guessed, the Ophelia spelling is currently more popular in America. It's been on the rise in the past couple of years after dropping out of the top 1000 in 1959, and in 2011 was ranked #1864, given to 107 girls. Ofelia on the other hand has actually been a more consistent performer on the charts, lower than Ophelia but with fewer dramatic rises and falls in popularity. It ranked #3368 in America in 2011, given to 48 girls.

I like both variations, and personally feel that Ophelia looks more aristocratic, while Ofelia feels a little more approachable and friendly. So I'd probably lean more towards Ofelia. But maybe that's just me. What do you think?

Happily snuggled up in the Ofelia blanket
Photo courtesy of Lauren Rutherford Photography


  1. Ofelia is lovely. I've always liked how elegant she sounds, but I like the more familiar Ophelia. On a quick side note, Portugal doesn't speak Spanish. Ofélia is the Portuguese form of Ophelia and it is pronounced more like Oh-FEH-lyah :)

  2. Thanks Zeffy, it's sometimes hard to pick up different nuances in pronunciation etc without hearing it!

    I've updated the post to include this :)

  3. Ofelia is gorgeous, and yes in a way it sort of strips off the bad image that Ophelia has (from Hamlet). I wouldn't use it personally but it is a pretty name.

  4. I am an Ofelia. All of my life my nick name has been Ofe, when people find out what my name is I have always gotten a positive response. They love the sound and the regal ness about it.
    I had a hard time with it at first early in school because how different it was and that first day at school was always the hardest, but it made me stand out and after awhile I used it to my advantage.

    Now I can tell you that I am very proud and LOVE my name !

    1. It's great to hear that not only do you have this name, but that you love it! It is quite a regal sounding name :)

    2. My name is Ofelia, my mother name was Ofelia too, my friends and family call me Ofe,I love my name, the way Saint Ofelia festivities is April 2nd. hum... I wonder if someone give a present...... will be nice

    3. Where did you find out about April 2nd. I used to see it on calendars on April second, but I could not find anything that confirmed it is still on April Second.

  5. I love my name regardless. Of what people think. I read in a passage that. Ofelia is a heart. Seeker. And yes I like to help. People and yes my name come from Greek. Remember the Greek.I THANK. GOD FOR MY NAME AMEN!!!

  6. Today, July 26th, 2014, my youngest daughter, Nicole Arianne, gave birth to my newest grandchild. A baby girl, weighing in at 7 lbs. 14 ozs., she is named Ophelia Star. When I first heard Nicole liked the Ophelia I thought of Hamlet and also how regal the name sounded and the fact that Nicole was a drama major in college. She didn't pursue the theater life though and went from NYC, the family home to living in Charleston, SC where Ophelia is more common but still not too often heard. The middle name of Star was the Father's idea since a few night's before she was born he took a break at work and went outdoors to get some fresh air. Looking up at the night sky he immediately saw a shooting star and thought it would make a nice sounding name with Ophelia. I love it. He will have this sweet story to tell my little granddaughter when she asks why they chose her names. We are thrilled to have our Ophelia and I want to thank you so much for the information you made available on this site. I am pleased to know it is a saint's name too since we are Roman Catholic and I knew Star wouldn't be one. Wonderful site here and again thank you so much. Just call me Grandma Stork. Yes, Stork is my married name.

    1. What a beautiful story - thanks for sharing, and congratulations on the new addition to your family!

  7. I am very proud and happy that my name is Ofelia that really describes my personality of always offering help. Wow knowing that it was the name of an Italian saint...

  8. In Spanish the name Ofelia is pronounced oh-FEH-lee-ah. The "I" is it's own syllable. It does not make a blended sound with the "A".