What's in a Name? Mario Lopez's Daughter, Gia Francesca

Celebrity Moms Sep. 16, 2010 AT 3:03PM
What's in a Name? Mario Lopez's Daughter, Gia Francesca Credit: John Shearer/WireImage.com

Nameberry.com editors Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz -- who penned the books Baby Name Bible and Beyond Ava & Aiden -- are blogging for UsMagazine.com about why celebs choose the names they do, and what they mean.

When Courtney Mazza and Mario Lopez's daughter was born on September 11, the couple chose two names -- Gia and Francesca -- that reflected their Latin roots.

BLOG: Read more "What's in a Name?" columns

Gia is a short form of Gianna, which in turn is a diminutive of Giovanna, the feminine version of Giovanni, the Italian equivalent of John -- all of them meaning God's gracious gift.

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Gia first made a strong impression on the American public via Gia Carangi, the ill-fated supermodel whose filmed biography provided Angelina Jolie's breakout role in 1998. It is now No. 590 in the ranks of most popular names, having entered the Top 1000 in the year 2000, and has been rising ever since. It was chosen by Matt Damon and his wife for their daughter in 2008.

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Gia is one of several Gia-starting baby names to have entered the celebrisphere. Jill Hennessey named her son Gianni, Kobe Bryant has a daughter named Gianna, and Sting has a now teenaged son called Giacomo. Overall, the most popular of these is Gianna, now in the Top 100 at No. 76.

Francesca is another name of Italian origin that is becoming increasingly well used in the U.S. It too was given a boost by a book and movie, The Bridges of Madison County (which was published in 1992), and sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The movie, released three years later, starred Meryl Streep as Francesca, and Clint Eastwood, who named his own daughter Francesca.

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Other celeb parents of Francescas include Jason Bateman, Erik Estrada, Martin Scorsese and Ringo Starr. The name is also having a big renaissance in its country of origin, where it's in the Italian Top 10, at No. 9, and is popular in the UK as well.

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