Some names are so beautiful that their rareness escapes all logic. Perpetua, I perceive, falls in this category. This name derives from Latin and means “continual” or “everlasting.” Pronunciation-wise, the last two syllables ‘tua’ can be said like “chew-uh” or “tyoo-uh.” Possible nicknames for Perpetua include Perri, Pet, Petra, and Petal.
In 2015, only 13 baby girls were named Perpetua in the U.S. That’s still comparatively high when you realize that it’s only appeared in the SSA birth data in the past 10 years. Peak usage was in 2013 with 17 girls.
Perhaps strangely, Perpetua doesn’t even appear in the latest England/Wales data. Why do I say ‘strangely?’ Well, I was under the impression that Perpetua was something of a British-ism. Off the top of my head, I immediately think of the Bridget Jones character Perpetua (who admittedly was snobbish, though she’s somewhat redeemed by her approval of Bridget’s telling off Daniel) and the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Card figure Perpetua Fancourt…both obviously British, or at least not American.
That aside, I do believe most modern usage is religious in nature. Perpetua semi-frequently appears on Sancta Nomina, which is a Catholic baby naming site (do check that out, even if you’re not Catholic. Lovely naming styles!). Indeed, Perpetua is the name of a famous early saint who was martyred at Carthage in the early 200s, during the reign of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. St. Perpetua is also believed to be one of the earliest female Christian writers; she wrote a prison diary, which you can read here.
What do you think of the name Perpetua?