This pretty, vintagy appellation with the stellar meaning was first introduced as a given name way back in the 16th-century. Sir Philip Sidney gave this name star-power when he used it for one of his sonnets Asphodel & Stella. To further boosts the name’s popularity, it has references to the Virgin Mary, derived from one of the many epithets to the mother of Christ, Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), is a sort of poetic reference to Mary as a guiding light for lost souls. Due to these connotations, the name caught on big time in places as far south as Spain and all the way east in Poland. Despite its literary references in England, the name never really caught on, in fact, in Great Britain today, Stella is the name of a ledger, which makes the name somewhat of a turn off for British parents. While in the United States, the name has had somewhat of a history since the turn of the century. Thanks to an influx of Polish immigrants, the name became very popular in the United States, Stella being a very popular Polish given name at that time, either being an anglicization for Stela or Stanislawa. Due to its enormous popularity among the Polish community, the name became a sort of stereotype name for Polish women from the 1920s-30s. Today, the name has lost those stereotypes, but for the granddaughters and great grandaughters of those very same immigrants, the name has held a lot of charm and appeal, holding fuzzy warm memories of old world grandmas for a whole new generation of parents. This might explain its sudden resurgence in popularity. In 1999, Stella sat at a mere # 725 of the Top 1000 names in the United States. Fast forward 9 years and it nows sits at # 186 of the top 1000 female names of 2008, and will probably rise. It has the same feel as other popular vintagy names such as Ava, Grace and Sophia. So don’t be surprised to see little Stellas coming to a school near you very soon. Though the name has Polish roots for many Americans, the name is considered rather old fashioned in Poland these days, meanwhile just further north in Sweden, the name has caught on quite a bit. It came in at # 33 in 2007 among the Top 100 female names of Sweden. Down under, in Australia, the name comes in at # 99. If you are concerned about the possible future over popularity of this name, then you might like the more unusual alternatives of Estelle, Estella and the Spanish Estrella (es-STRAY-yah). There is the Portuguese elaborate form of Stelina, and there is the Romanian Steliana, though that has a completely different etymology from Stella, it is derived from the Greek Styliani which is a feminine form of Stylianos meaning “piller.”
Other pop culture references are Stella Dubois Kowalski from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Called Desire. It is also borne by the daughter of Paul and Linda Macartney.
Its designated name day is July 14.