Roxana, wife of Alexander the Great

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Persian
Meaning: “dawn; light.”
Eng (rock-ZAN-na); (rock-ZAH-nah)

The name is a Hellenized version of the ancient Persian female name, Roshanak, meaning “dawn; light.”

The name was introduced into the Western World, when Alexander the Great married the daughter of Oxyartes of Bactria, her name being Roshanak, later Hellenized to Roxane Ρωξανη. She was the only one of his wives to bear Alexander an heir, both of whom were later assisinated by Cassander.

The name has always been common in Greece, and in the Middle East, but since it was never a saints name, the name did not actually become common in continental Europe until the 18th-century. It may have possibly been due to the  Daniel Dafoe novel, Roxana (1724). However, the 18th-century was also a time of Classical Revival, so its appearance in the mainstream may have actually been due that paricualr trend.

The name also appears as the name of the lady love of Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand.

In recent years, it was the subject of a song by Sting’s The Police, which recounts the exploits of a prostitute named Roxanne. Due to the song, the name has currently carried an overtly sultry image.

As of 2009, Roxana did not rank in the U.S. top 1000. Though well known, she has never been a popular name. In 1889 she appeared for the first time as the 802nd most popular female name, disappearing off the charts and re-entering the top 1000 almost a century later, coming in as the 874th most popular female name in the United States.

Roxane first appeared in the U.S. top 1000 in 1952 and remained within the lower part of the top 1000, completely disappearing off the charts after 1969.

Other forms of the name include:

Roksaana (Baloch)
Roxana Роксана (Belarusian/English/Macedonian/Romanian/Russian/Scandinavian/Spanish)
Roksana (Bosnian/Croatian/Lithuanian/Polish/Serbian)
Rhóxané (Czech/Hungarian)
Roxane (Dutch/French/English/German/Greek)
Roshanak روشنک (Farsi/Persian)
Roksane (Finnish)
Roxanne (French/English)
Roxána/Roxán (Hungarian)
Rossana/Rossane (Italian)
Raushan Раушан (Kazakh)
Rosana (Portuguese)
Ruxana (Romanian)
Ruxandra (Romanian)
Rukhshan/Rukshana (Tajik)
Rushana/Rushaniya (Tatar)
Rukhsana/Rukshana (Urdu)

A common English short form is Roxy/Roxie, a popular Iranian diminutive is Roshie.

Though not a saints name, she still boasts her own name-day in Hungary, September 27.



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