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Gender: F Meaning of Philomena: "lover of strength" Origin of Philomena: Greek

Popularity: this week.

Philomena is an earthy Greek name now used in various Latin countries. While it has felt simply clunky for many years, it's starting -- along with such sister names as Wilhelmina and Frederica -- to sound so clunky it's cool.

In Greek myth, Philomena was an Athenian princess who was transformed by the gods into a nightingale to save her from the advances of a lecherous king.

Also a saint's name--that of a thirteen-year-old martyr of early Rome--it's commonly seen in Italy and Spain spelled Filomena. Philomena only started appearing in English-speaking countries in the latter half of the nineteenth century, especially in Scotland and Australia.

In the US, Philomena ranked in the Top 1000 through 1940, peaking at Number 355 in 1915.

Philomena Guinea is the name of protagonist Esther Greenwood's patron in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. New attention was brought to the name via the Oscar-nominated eponymous film based on the real-life Philomena Lee.

Famous People Named Philomena

St. Philomena, obscure early martyr
Annabella Gloria Philomena Sciorra, b. 1960, American actress
Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, b. 1956, British actress
Princess Stephanie Eleonore Maria Elisabeth Kamilla Philomena Veronika of Windisch-Graetz, 1909-2005, daughter of Austrian archduchess Elisabeth Marie (a.k.a. "The Red Archduchess")

Pop Culture References for the Name Philomena

Philomena Lee, title character in the 2013 film "Philomena"
"The Lost Child of Philomena Lee," book by Martin Sixsmith
Philomena, Princess Celestia's pet phoenix on the TV show "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"
Philomena Rostovich, character in the play "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You" by Christopher Durang
Philomena Guinea, character in "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
Philomena Sinnott, wife to Eugene Sinnott and mother of Timothy John in "Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel" (1969) by William Trevor
"That's Philomena!", picture book about a frog named Philomena, by Catherine Bancroft and Hannah Coale

Filimena, Filomenia, Filomina, Filumena, Philomina

Philomena's International Variations

Philomène (French) Filomena (Italian)