Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Taissa Farmiga has a lot to smile about

Today I saw the news that Taissa Farmiga will be returning for season three of 'American Horror Story'. She didn't have a role in season two, but I remember seeing her name every week in the opening credits of season one and being intrigued. Mainly because Taissa is a very pretty looking name, but also because I was wondering how it's meant to be pronounced and where it can from.

Taissa pronounces her name as Ta-EE-sa. Her background is Ukrainian American, and she is the younger sister of Vera Farmiga. I loved Vera in 'Up in the Air' with George Clooney, and she is currently starring in the TV show 'Bates Motel' as Norman Bates' mother Norma. Taissa's first acting role was as a younger version of Vera's character in the 2011 movie 'Higher Ground', which was also sister Vera's directorial debut. Taissa also has four movies due out this year, including a role in the upcoming movie 'The Bling Ring' alongside Emma Watson.

Finding information about this name is kind of like tracing a family tree. Taissa is thought to come from the Russian name Taisiya, pronounced tah-EE-see-yah. In turn, Taisiya comes from the Greek name Thais. The meaning of Thais is uncertain, with some sources saying it means 'bandage', some saying 'bond' and some saying 'beloved' (although this may actually be related to similar name Thaiz instead).

Thais was the name of a famous companion (well, technically courtesan) of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. However she repented, converted to Christianity and was made a saint. Her saint day is October 8. Saint Thais has inspired and is the subject of a novel by Anatole France, an opera by Jules Bassenet, a play, a film and a statue. Perhaps because of the novel and opera, Thais is quite a popular name in France. It's also well known in Brazil, and in both countries is pronounced tah-EES. 

Thais is also thought to be the origin of the Character Thaisa in Shakespeare's play 'Pericles'. Thaisa (pronounced TAH-ee-sah) is Pericles wife, who appears to die on board a ship during childbirth but actually survived and entered a convent. Perhaps because they both share the same root, it seems that the names Thaisa and Taissa are quite similar, although in pronunciation they differ in their emphasis.

Taissa has quite an international background, and has rarely charted in the US. Admittedly, some people might find it a little hard to pronounce, and be tempted to say it TAY-is-sah or TYE-is-sah, especially since similar looking name Kai is often pronounced KYE or KAY. This would probably be fine, and could open up different nickname possibilities such as Tai. But the original just feels so prettily exotic it'd be a shame to change the pronunciation.

It may be a rare name to most of us currently, but I have a feeling that Taissa Farmiga's star is on the rise - which will mean more and more exposure of this name. It would probably be best to use this one now before she's a household name and everyone will just assume you used it because you love the actress, not simply because Taissa is a gorgeous and distinctive name.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm confused. How could Thais be a companion of Alexander the Great 400 years BEFORE CHRIST and convert to Christianity? Am I misunderstanding something?
    Other than that, really cool article. Thanks!

  3. Well, the name of my daughter is Taissa. We are from Brazil. That time the name of the Mikhail Gorbachev and your wife Raisa Gorbachova start to be very well known. The pronuntiation of Raisa in portuguese is something like Raissa. With a lot of imagination and creativity, brazilians started to adapt the name and create new versions: Taissa. Raissa, Raira.....That is from where I took the name of my daughter :)