Names from A Única Mulher


As we await the release of the 2016 baby name data from Portugal, which should happen sometime in the first days of the new year, let’s take a look at some of the rising names from a (currently) very popular telenovela.



This name belongs to one of the main characters of the telenovela, named Mara Venâncio, and the first one to appear on the list of characters¹. A Biblical name meaning “bitter,”² the name jumped by 179 to 491 counts last year, in effect jumping from 32nd place in 2014 to 22nd last year³. Mara had experienced an earlier boost in 2013, jumping by 202 counts (or 24 places) to 354 counts (or 28th place)³, most likely thanks to a contestant in the 3rd season of Secret Story – Casa dos Segredos, a reality show first broadcast on TVI⁴, which is the same television station that is broadcasting the aforementioned telenovela.

Luís Miguel

This name belongs to another one of the main characters of the telenovela, named Luís Miguel Sacramento, and the first male character to appear on the list of characters¹. Luís and Miguel are Portuguese (and Spanish for Miguel) forms of Louis and Michael. The latest year in which I can get hold of the data for compound names is 2013, where 66 boys were given this compound name, placing it in 36th place and in slightly common territory for that year³. Individually, Luís rose by 49 counts to 368 counts last year (putting it in 36th place, which is the same as in 2014) after falling slightly for a few consecutive years³. As for Miguel, that name also saw a slight rise (by 64 counts) to 1,271 counts (placing it in 8th place, 1 place up from 2014)³.


This name belongs to another one of the main female characters of the telenovela, named Luena da Silva¹. I had covered this name before in my ‘Name Spotlights’ series in which the name, presumably, comes from the name of a town in the Moxico Province of Angola, quite fitting for a telenovela that has been shot in both Portugal and Angola. Before the airing of the telenovela, it was, pretty much, rarely used in the Portuguese-speaking world. Last year, it was given to 94 girls (putting it in 67th place), up from just 8 in 2014³. The percentage change for this is 1,075%, which does seem to be a huge increase considering the make-up of the data available.


This name belongs to the mother of Luís Miguel⁵. A Portuguese and Spanish word meaning “pillar,”⁶ taken from the title of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar, which, for the purpose of this blog post, is written in Portuguese as Nossa Senhora do Pilar⁷, it first entered the current top 100 in 2012 and has been rising steadily since³. Last year, it was given to 87 girls, which would put Pilar in 70th place³. Time will tell if this character would, indeed, make an impact on its popularity.



This name belongs to the maid of the Venâncio family, named Neuza dos Anjos⁵. At this point, the meaning and origin of this name is uncertain, however it’s been commonly referred that it originates from “Néousa,” which is been classified as a Greek name⁸. Neuza left the current top 100 in 2011 and is still outside the top 100 last year, even though it rose to 26 counts from 14 in 2014³.


This name belongs to Luena‘s partner at Studio Seven, named Rafaela Mestre⁵. The feminine form of Rafael, which is derived from the Hebrew name Rafa’el (רָפָאֵל) meaning “God has healed,”² after falling slightly for a few consecutive years, Rafaela rose by 34 counts to 191 counts last year, putting it in 41st place³.


This name belongs to a character who is Brazilian, has few resources and is finishing his Masters in Marketing, named Santiago Ortiz⁵. Derived from Spanish santo meaning “saint” and Yago, the old Spanish form of James², Santiago is rising in popularity, having been in the top 10 since 2013 with a jump from 1,237 births the previous year to 1,462 births in 2013³. Last year, it was given to 1,632 boys, an increase of 204 births and a jump from 5th place in 2014 to 4th³.


This name belongs to the brother-in-law and lawyer of Jorge Sacramento (the husband of Pilar), named Henrique Albergaria⁵. The Portuguese form of Henry, which is derived from the Germanic name Heimirich meaning “home ruler,”² Henrique dropped slightly in 2012, then stagnated for another 2 years³. Last year, it rose by 41 counts to 474 counts (putting it in 32nd place), which isn’t as high as 2011 when it was given to 518 boys, putting it in 28th place³.

UPDATE (4th January 2017)

The list for 2016 is out, time to check on the names listed below to see how they shaped up in 2016:

  • Mara rose by 2 places in ranking to 20th place but dropped in birth count by 2 occurrences to 489.
  • Luís stayed the same in terms of ranking (36th) but it did rise in birth count by 16 occurrences to 384. As for Miguel, it too stayed the same in terms of ranking (8th), but in terms of birth count, it dropped by 68 occurrences to 1,203.
  • Luena jumped by 87 counts and 23 places to 183 occurrences and 44th place. When comparing the 2016 count to the 2014 count of just 8, the percentage change is 2187.5%!
  • Pilar dropped by  13 counts and 2 places to 74 occurrences and 72nd place, so it does seem that the telenovela may not have impacted this name as much as the other names.
  • Neuza dropped by 14 counts to 12 occurrences, below the 2014 count.
  • Rafaela dropped by 13 counts and 4 places to 178 occurrences and 45th place.
  • Santiago rose by 470 counts to 2,102 occurrences, displacing João to become the top boy name in Portugal.
  • Henrique rose by 45 counts and 3 places to 519 occurrences and 29th place, overtaking its previous 2011-2015 peak of 518 occurrences back in 2011.

Those are some of the names that rose thanks to A Única Mulher. If you have any thoughts on this, leave them in the comments section below the sources.

Portugal data available from Nomes e Mais Nomes³
Wikipedia article on A Única Mulher –¹
Behind the Name on:

Official A Única Mulher website –⁵
Portuguese Wikipedia article on Secret Story – Casa dos Segredos (3rd season) –⁴
Wiktionary on ‘pilar’ –⁶
Wikipedia article on Our Lady of the Pillar –⁷
Dicionário de Nomes Próprios on Neuza –⁸

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s