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History of the name "Tiffany"

Long before the contemporary pop singer arose, the name "Tiffany" has been a popular name, with connotations of elegance and class. Here is some information on its origins, and the various uses to which it has been put. (For another source for info on the subject, YouTuber CGP Grey has a video tracing the name's history, and a followup video recounting one false lead he followed for a long time.)

  • 1200 AD - "Tifinie" is used in Old French to mean "Epiphany." It derived from a similar Late Latin word which in turn came from the Greek "theophaneia," meaning an appearance or manifestation of God. ("Theo" = God, "phaneia" = appearance; the "phan..." element is related to such words as "phantom," "fantasy," and "fancy," but not to the "fan" in "fan club" or "fanzine," which is short for "fanatic," and is from a completely different etymological source.) A later French spelling is "tiphanie."

  • 1600 - "Tiffany" has been borrowed into English, and has taken on its modern spelling. It is used occasionally as a synonym for "Epiphany," and also as a name for a kind of light silk or gauze.

  • 1633 - William Austin writes the following in his Devotionis Augustinae flamma, or certaine meditations, published posthumously in 1635, and cited in the Oxford English Dictionary in its definition of "Tiffany": "This is Twelfe day... But more anciently and most properly it was called the Epiphany... Our great grand Fathers... as the legend sayes called it the Tiffany... we must know it signifies Aparition or Manifestation from above."

  • 1600s -- The first Tiffany in America was Humphrey Tiffany, who was killed by lightning near Attleboro, Massachusetts riding with Miss Loh:

    Squire Tiffany and Mistress Loh
    By a stroke of lightning into eternity did go

    Also among the Tiffanys is the inventor of the bazooka. (Source: Bruce Tiffany)

  • Feb. 15, 1812 - Birth of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the jeweler who would found the famous Tiffany & Co. in New York City, known for its elegance.

  • 1837 - Founding of Tiffany & Co. (It would celebrate its 150th anniversary in 1987, the same year as singer Tiffany's mall tour.)

  • Jan. 17, 1848 - Birth of Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of jeweler Charles Lewis Tiffany. Louis would become a famous artist, creating Tiffany lamps and Tiffany glass.

  • Feb. 18, 1902 - Death of Charles Lewis Tiffany.

  • Feb. 18, 1933 - Death of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

  • 1958 - Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote (1924-1984), is published. As a result of this title, tourists in New York are always asking the staff of the jeweler Tiffany's when they serve breakfast, but they actually did not serve any meals there at the time (though they have since added a "Blue Box Cafe" that does indeed serve breakfast, though it's closed for renovations as of this writing). The title is merely metaphorical.

  • 1961 - Breakfast at Tiffany's is made into a movie, starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebesen, and Mickey Rooney.

  • Nov. 11, 1964 - Debut of comic strip Tiffany Jones.

  • August, 1965 - British singer Tiffany, former vocalist of the Liverbirds and the Dimensions, releases her first single, "Am I Dreaming." Her career fizzles out within a year, though.

  • Oct. 2, 1971 - Birth of present-day pop star Tiffany. (See chronology for highlights of her life and career.)

  • 1973 - The comic strip "Tiffany Jones" is made into a movie.

  • 1974 - The typeface "Tiffany" is designed by Ed Benguiat by blending earlier typefaces "Ronaldson" and "Caxton."

  • Mid 1970s - In the "Benji" movies, the title canine's "girlfriend" is a poodle named Tiffany.

  • 1977 - The Eagles' hit "Hotel California" includes the lyric, "Her mind is Tiffany-twisted..."

  • Jan. 27, 1979 - A Dutch band named "Tiffany" records their first song, "Late Night Show," which reaches #24 in the charts in the Netherlands. Their other singles were "Presidential Suite" and "Spoonful of Loving," all recorded in 1979 and 1980.

  • Sept. 12, 1979 - The character Tiffany Welles, played by Shelley Hack, debuts on Charlie's Angels. She lasts only one season, before being replaced by Tanya Roberts, as Julie, for the show's last year.

  • 1984 - A survey of the most popular names for female babies lists "Tiffany" as #1 for non-whites, and #32 for whites.

  • 1984 - Cajun artist George Rodrigue begins painting his deceased dog Tiffany (1970-1980), and these images become famous as the "Blue Dog", appearing in many of his paintings and related merchandise.

  • Mar. 25, 1990 - Dave Barry's syndicated humor column uses Tiffany as the name of a life-size, bikini-wearing inflatable doll who was engaged to a friend of his until he found a fiancee who was a real human being. "But you had to feel bad for Tiffany," said Barry, "who quickly went from the role of Beautiful Bride-To-Be to the role of Deflated Wad In A Closet, which is a tragic waste when you consider that she is more than qualified to be vice president."

  • Dec., 1995 - Deep Blue Something has a hit song entitled "Breakfast At Tiffany's".


This page was created in 1990 as a text document, was converted to HTML on 28 Apr 1996, and was last modified 11 Jun 2022.
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