|SABRA - probably a contraction of "Sabrina" but often used as a given name in its own right. Examples of "Sabra" can be found as far back the mid-1700's in both Northern and Southern states. Its resemblance to the modern Hebrew name "Sabra," meaning cactus plant, is almost certainly coincidental.|
SABRINA - the legendary namesake of the River Severen in Wales, which is called the River Sabrina in ancient Latin sources. (See also Estrilda.) The name was revived by John Milton in his poem "Comus" (1637). Nickname: Sabra.
SAFRONIA - see Sophronia.
SALETA, SALETTA - this unusual name seems to be unique to the American South. The earliest example I've found is from Georgia in the 1790's. Probably an invention using the first syllable "Sal" (from Sally, Salena, etc.) and the feminine suffix "-etta".
SALINA, SALENA, SELENA, SELINA - this is a name of uncertain origin that appeared in England during the 17th century. Also found in Spain, Portugal, and Arab countries. Variation: Celina.
SALLY, SARY - nicknames for Sarah.
SALUDA - uncertain origin. Possibly related to the Saluda Mountains and Saluda River which are located along the border of North and South Carolina. The name reportedly comes from the Cherokee word tsaludiyi meaning "green corn place." Salud is the Spanish word for "health," but this may be a coincidence.
SAMIRA - this name first appears in U.S. records in the late 1700's. It seems to have been most popular in Southern states. It is probably a variation of the Old Testament name "Zemira" (1 Chronicles 7:8). It may be related to the Arabic name "Samira," but this is speculative.
SARAH - Old Testament; the wife of Abraham (Genesis 17:15). Her name means "princess" in Hebrew. Nickname: Sally, Sary.
SEDILIA - apparently a Southern U.S. invention. However, it is also curiously similar to names in Portuguese ("Cedilia"), Arabic ("Sadiya"), and Cherokee ("Sadayi").
SELIMA - this Arabic name may have been popularized in England by Thomas Gray's comic poem, "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat" (1748).
SELINDA - a name introduced by the English playwright William Congreve in a comic verse entitled "Pious Selinda Goes to Prayers," which was set to music in 1695 by Henry Purcell (famous for the phrase, "Would she could make of me a saint, or I of her a sinner.") Also spelled "Celinda."
SENA, SENIA, SINA - this name seems to be an American invention. It can be found in both northern and southern states as early as the mid-1700's. It was frequently a nickname for Asenath, Lucinda, Serena, or similar names, but it was also used as a given name in its own right, especially in the 19th century. Variations: Cena, Cina, Cinia.
SERAFINA, SERAPHINA - the Latinate form of the Hebrew word seraphim, meaning "burning ones," an order of angels described in Isaiah 6:2. This was the name of a 5th century saint. It was a fairly common name in France and Germany, but it does not appear to have been used much in England, if at all. Examples can be found in American records beginning in the late 18th century.
SERENA - from the Latin word serenus, meaning calm, serene. The name "Serena" first appears in American records in the early 1700's, especially in Pennsylvania. The name does not appear to have been used in England prior to the 19th century, and so was probably brought to America by German immigrants.
SERELDA, SERILDA - this unusual name was fairly popular in the South and Midwest during the 19th century. It is likely related to the German "Serhilda" or "Serhilde" which is one of several female names with the root "hild" meaning "battle". Variations: Zerilda, Zerelda.
SIDNEY - a variation of "Sidonia," which the feminine form of the name of the ancient Latin name "Sidonius," meaning "person from Sidon" (Phoenecia). Sidony, Sidonia, Sedainia, and other variations of this name have been used in England since the Middle Ages. St. Sidonius was a 7th-century Irish monk who founded the monastery of Saint-Saens, France.
SHEBA, SHEBY - from the Biblical Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10), or short for Barsheba.
SICILY, SICILIA - see Cecily.
SILLA - a nickname for Drusilla or Priscilla.
SILVIA, SILVEY - see Sylvia.
SINA - see Sena.
SINDA, SINDY - a nickname for Rosinda, Lucinda, or Cynthia.
SINTHA, SYNTHIA - see Cynthia.
SISSA, SISSY - a nickname for Narcissa or Patience. Sometimes used as a pet name for girls of any name.
SOOKIE, SUKY - nicknames for Susan or Susannah
SOPHIA - from the Greek word sophia meaning "wisdom." The name first became popular in England during the Classical Revival period, perhaps due to the influence of Sophia of Hanover (1630-1714), the German mother of King George I. Sophia is also the name of the heroine in Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones (1749).
SOPHRONIA - a Greek word meaning prudent or sensible. This name was introduced to England by the immensely popular Italian epic "Gerusalemme Liberata" ("Jerusalem Delivered") by Torquato Tasso (1576), which was translated into English in 1600 by Edward Fairfax. Variations: Safronia, Sophrony.
SUSANNA, SUSANNAH - New Testament; a pious woman who ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:3). Her name comes from the Hebrew word shoshana meaning "lily." "Susanna" has been a popular name in England since the early Middle Ages. The nickname "Susan" eventually became a given name in its own right.
SYLVANIA - a Latin word meaning forest or woodland, as in Pennsylania -- "Penn's woods." Related to "Sylvanus," the name of the Roman god of shepherds, flocks, and wild places. "Sylvania" was used in America as a female name, and sometimes a male name, beginning in the early 1700's.
SYLVIA - an Italian name popularized by Shakespeare in Two Gentleman of Verona. It comes from the Latin word for forest or wood. Variations: Silvy, Silfy. See also "Sylvania."