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Cecilia Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Cecilia including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Cecilia Overview

  • Meaning: The name Cecilia means “blind.”
  • Gender: Cecilia is a feminine name.
  • Origin: The origin of the name Cecilia is the mythological King Caeculus, whose name means “little blind one.”
  • Pronunciation: “sah-SIYL-yah” and “sah-SIY-lih-ah.”
  • Popularity: Cecilia is a popular name, ranked 132nd in the United States.
  • Nicknames: Cece, Cele, Celia, Celi, Cissy, Lia.
  • Variations: Cäcilia, Cécile, Cecília, Cecilija, Cilka, Sheila, Zilla.
  • Namesakes: Cecilia Argon, Cecilia Bartoli, Cecilia Tan

What Does Cecilia Mean?

The name Cecilia means “blind,” derived from the Latin word “caecus.”

What Is the Origin of the Name Cecilia?

Cecilia has both mythological and historical origins based in ancient Rome.

The name comes from the mythological King Caeculus, who was a master of fire. Despite his power over the element, the smoke made him blind. Thus, his name means “little blind boy” (1).

Over time, his family line became known as the gens Caecilia.

Its continued popularity, particularly in the Catholic community, stems from Saint Cecilia of Rome, a virgin martyr killed for refusing to pay tribute to the Roman pantheon. It’s said that she lived for three days following her execution, despite being burned as ordered by the prefect Almachius (2).

After her parents forced her to marry, despite her vow of purity, she sat apart from the wedding party and silently sang to God, earning her status as the patron saint of music and musicians.

How Popular Is the Name Cecilia?

The name Cecilia is quite popular.

In the last two decades, it has steadily increased in popularity from 283rd place in 2000 to its current standing as the 132nd most widely-used girl name in the United States (3).

How Do I Pronounce Cecilia?

The pronunciation of Cecilia shifts depending on the language.

There are two standard pronunciations in English: “sah-SIYL-yah” and “sah-SIY-lih-ah.”

Alternatively, the Italian pronunciation maintains the hard “C” sound: “CHeh-chiy-lyaa.”

Spanish-speaking countries combine the English and Italian pronunciation by maintaining the “s” sound but saying the final vowels as a phonetic synaeresis: “seh-SIY-lyaa.”

Is Cecilia a Boy or Girl Name?

Cecilia is a feminine name, but Cecil is a masculine variant with the same origin and meaning.

Variations of Cecilia

Cecilia appears across languages and cultures. In Welsh, the name serves as an alternative spelling of the more traditional “Seissylt,” which means “sixth.”

  • Cäcilia (German)
  • Cécile (French)
  • Cecília (Catalan)
  • Cecilija (Croatian)
  • Cecily (Welsh)
  • Cecylia (Polish)
  • Cila (Portuguese)
  • Cilka (Slovene)
  • Sheila (Irish)
  • Sidsel (Norwegian)
  • Síle (Irish)
  • Sileas (Scottish)
  • Silja (Estonian)
  • Silje (Danish, Norwegian)
  • Silke German)
  • Sille (Danish)
  • Tsetsiliya (Russian)
  • Zilla (German)

Nicknames for Cecilia

Cecilia is an adorable name in its own right, but it also offers many charming diminutive forms.

  • Cece
  • Cee
  • CeeCee
  • Cele
  • Celia
  • Celie
  • Celi
  • Cili
  • Cilla
  • Cissy
  • Lia
  • Sissy

Similar Names to Cecilia

If you love the idea of naming your little one after a female saint, these similar names to Cecilia are excellent options.

Middle Names for Cecilia

Cecilia is a classically elegant moniker that pairs best with timeless yet sophisticated middle names.

Sibling Names for Cecilia

When naming your little Cecilia’s sibling, these options evoke a similar, traditional feeling.

For Sisters

For Brothers

Famous People Named Cecilia

Your sweet Cecilia will share a namesake with singers, actresses, athletes, royalty, and scientists.

  • Cecilia: Mononymous Chilean singer, born Cecilia Pantoja.
  • Cecilia Argon: American scientist and pilot who co-invented the treap data structure.
  • Cecilia Bartoli: Italian mezzo-soprano opera singer.
  • Cecilia Beau: American painter and portraitist.
  • Cecilia Cheung: Chinese-Australian actress and singer.
  • Cecilia Colledge: British figure skater and Olympic silver medalist.
  • Cecilia Forss: Swedish actress.
  • Cecilia Gustavsdotter Vasa: Princess of Sweden in the 16th century.
  • Cecilia Nilsson: Swedish athlete.
  • Cecilia of Normandy: French abbess and eldest daughter of William the Conquerer.
  • Cecilia Tan: American writer and activist.

Cecilia in Popular Culture

The name Cecilia is relatively rare in pop culture, despite its popularity in the United States.

  • Cece Parekh: Character in the television show “New Girl.”
  • Cecelia: Tribute from district eight in the novel “Catching Fire.”
  • Cecilia: Titular subject of Simon & Garfunkle’s 1970 hit single.
  • Cecelia Halpert: Daughter of Jim and Pam Halpert in the American adaptation of “The Office.”
  • Cecelia (Sissy) Jupe: Character in the novel “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens.
  • Cecilia Smith: Character in the television show “7th Heaven” portrayed by Ashlee Simpson.
  • Cecilia Wiznarski: Character in the television show “Time of Your Life” portrayed by Pauley Perrette.

Cecilia FAQs

Still not sure if Cecilia is the right fit for your little one? These frequently asked questions might help you decide.

Is Cecilia a Royal Name?

Cecilia has featured in royal lineage as both legitimate nobility and as consorts.

Sweden had two princesses named Cecilia in the 16th and 19th centuries. Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, grandmother of Queen Elizabeth the II, was the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

Cecilia Gallerani, a consort of the Duke of Milan, served as the subject for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Lady with an Ermine”.

Is Cecilia a Pretty Name?

Cecilia is a lovely name with a melodic lilt that harkens back to its musical origins.

Who Is Cecilia in the Bible?

There is no person named Cecilia in the Bible, but Saint Cecilia is one of the most celebrated martyrs of the Catholic church.

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