Sylvana: Meaning and Usage?

We're considering adding Sylvana to our short list of girl names. 

Behind the Name has such little information on the name and its meaning and usage. Does anyone here have information on its meaning or origin? I had hoped it was related to or derived from Sylvester, since we like the meaning ("of the forest" according to Behind the Name) of this name. 

Also, any insight into why the name has never charted in the top 1000? Its lack of popularity is surprising to me, especially since I went to grade school with Sylvana, my sister had a college friend Sylvana and my husband worked with a Silvana. 

General feedback on the name is welcome too!


February 14, 2016 9:53 PM

Sylvana and Silvana are both variations of the same name, that indeed derive from the Latin roots of Sylvester and Sylvie/Sylvia/Silvia "of the Forest". The French form that I know is Sylvaine.

It's quite common in my country for women in their mid-forties and fifties, just as Silvia is as well.

The most common last name ever is Silva from the same Latin roots and Silveira is also way up there. These are never used as first names, last names as firsts are almost completely unheard of. The word "selva," also is of the same roots and is our equivalent of the word jungle.

I hope I helped!

February 15, 2016 8:52 AM

Wonderful, thanks.

Sounds like the name is dated/a 'mom' name where you live.

February 15, 2016 12:02 PM

My primary association with Silvina is fictional: she's a character in the Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffery. The character is a strong, capable woman, stern and yet kind, so it's not a bad association, but it would take a few minutes to get used to on a child. :-)

In English, the usual feminine counterpart to Sylvester is Sylvia.

February 15, 2016 2:04 PM

I think in the states (at least around here) it would be associated with the tutoring center, Sylvan.

It is such a widespread brand out here that I think the association would be very strong, especially for people like me who have never met Sylvanas but are familiar with Sylvan.

If it wasn't so firmly a corporate name for me, I'd agree that it has a lot of appealing qualities. 

I LOVE the name Sylvie, and I'd be delighted to meet a young one. I feel like it's a name that gets discussed on here a lot but seems to be the perpetual bridesmaid, as it were.

February 15, 2016 6:47 PM

Oh, I hadn't thought of Sylvan, which is kind of suprising since I actually know someone with that name.  For me, Sylvana makes me think of the brand name Sylvania.  It used to be much more well-known, but I wonder if perhaps it had somethig to do with Sylvana never really taking off for previous generations in the U.S.

February 19, 2016 3:57 PM

Oh, that's an interesting point.

I should probably also add that I am fairly obsessed with getting some extra help for my younger son right now, so I probably have tutoring on the brain! 

February 16, 2016 1:18 PM

I also went to school with a Sylvana! I think it's a fantastic name. I'm vaguely familiar with Sylvan Learning Centers or whatever they are but to me it's not the most obvious association, especially because it's not quite the same name. I think it's one of those names that has just for whatever reason (lack of pop-culture impetus at a time when the sounds are in) never gone into a major crush of popularity. However, I think it is heard of and it has been very consistently used, albeit at low rates (outside the top 1000). I think it's a nice timeless name that people will have heard of before, for the most part, thanks to its long history of use... but those who haven't will take to it very naturally since it also seems like it could naturally arise from a Sylvia-Anna mashup, too. In either case, I would bet that people will be delighted to hear on your daughter. It's consistent with enough popular sounds (the prominent V and the -ana endings) that I would expect to be broadly well-received even if it is new to some people.

By EVie
February 18, 2016 9:56 PM

I've known one Sylvana. She appeared white but had a Korean surname, which may or may not have been her married name--no idea what her actual background was.

The y spelling of Sylvana is a bit of a mystery to me. You're right that Behind the Name doesn't offer much info. Silvanus is the name of a Roman god, and Silvana is the Latin/Italian form. I looked at the family tree of Sylvia for comparison, which also began as a Roman name with an i spelling (Silvius/Silvia). The Syl- beginning developed from that in English, German, French, Polish and Scandinavian languages. Behind the Names notes that the Sylvia spelling in English has been the most common since the 19th century. Wikipedia doesn't list any pre-20th century Sylvanas, though there was an 1810 opera called Silvana, and I don't see any Sylvanas at all in the 19th century SSA data. So if I had to guess, I would say that Sylvana is a fairly modern spelling modeled on Sylvia.

February 18, 2016 10:46 PM

Sylvain/Sylvaine are the French forms of Latin Silvanus/Silvana.

By EVie
February 19, 2016 3:46 PM

True, so perhaps Sylvana represents a sort of mash-up of the French and Latin forms?

February 22, 2016 6:12 PM

Sylvana/Silvana is a great choice for a baby! My name is Sylvia and Ive always loved it. I rarely meet any others (likewise with Silvana/Sylvana).