As an English name, Nameberry-approved Sidra is quirky yet on-trend, being a short, exotic import in the style of Layla, Aliyah and Maia; and her appeal lies in her ability to pass for an edgy, offbeat classic – think Phaedra, India, Portia, Aida, Cyrilla. Doesn’t she seem familiar, “not quite English, or American, but not quite not English either”?
For an unapologetically girly name less ordinary than Sandra, Lydia or even Isadora (given to 122 girls in 2010), consider this saucy, pan-Mediterranean beauty.
Arabic SidraThe Muslim girls’ name Sidra (سدرہ) comes directly from the Arabic name for a type of tree, known as the lotus- or lote-tree in English. The sidra tree (also transcribed sidrah or sidr) is an ancient, holy tree that grows in the Middle East, mentioned in the Bible and the Qur’an. When the prophet Muhammad ascended to Paradise he saw a lote-tree marking the end of the seventh, highest heaven, which he called the sidra-tul-muntaha (سدرة المنتهى), “lote-tree of the utmost boundary, of the last frontier” – “beyond which neither prophets nor angels may pass,” only Allah. In Islam it is a symbol of the boundary between the human and the divine, figuratively the highest place in heaven the soul is capable of attaining.
- For more: The sidra (lote) tree; its ethnobotany; a discussion re use of its leaves; its Greek myth; & other symbolism (“the Egyptians pictured their god sitting upon a lote-tree above the watery mud of the Nile,” & the Victorians regarded the tree as a symbol of concord: “harmony between people”)
Hebrew SidraSidra (Hebrew: סדרה) is also a modern Jewish name, literally “order, arrangement, sequence” in Hebrew (related to Classical Hebrew seder). Traditionally the Torah is divided into reading portions, one for each Shabbat of the year, so that in one year’s time the text is completed. Apparently this practice inspired a baby girls’ name as a sidra is simply a weekly Torah portion. Allegedly this name is typical of Jews living in North Africa.
Other usesI’ve also seen Sidra as a short form of Isidra or Ysidra, a Spanish variant of Isidora (“gift of Isis”) – but then, this is probably rare, considering sidra means “cider” in Spanish and the homophone cidra means “citron.” Not that the foods are negative associations, but it could be odd to share a name with them. (But then there’s Ms. Paltrow and her Apple, so who’s to say?)
And as for the “starry” meaning that many sites attribute to Sidra, take it with a grain of salt. In all likelihood it’s based on a made-up etymology from the Dictionary of Given Names (1934), which reads: “Sidra (Latin) Relating to a constellation or to the stars.” Author Flora Haines Loughead apparently traced it back to Latin sidereus “like a star,” from which we get English sidereal, but then, I’m afraid Loughead proves herself a loosey-goosey etymologist (according to her, Sidonie means “an enchantress,” as just one example).
However, it is interesting that the similar-sounding Indian name Sitara means “star” in Hindi. I suppose I’ll leave it with “make of this what you will.”
From a mystical symbol of paradise to a contracted Isidora, Sidra is a solid yet untapped choice that I’ve admired for some time now. She’s darkly romantic with a dash of roughness, and spunky nickname options include Sidda, Sid and Dree. She’d also make a good name for a cat, yes?
Similar names: Cedar, Cedric, Siddalee, Siddiqa, Siddhi, Syritha, Sirona, Sidsel