VALKYRIE f Various
Means "chooser of the slain"
, derived from Old Norse valr
"the slain" and kyrja
"chooser". In Norse myth the Valkyries were maidens who led heroes killed in battle to Valhalla.
VALLI f Hinduism
Means "creeping plant"
in Dravidian. In Dravidian mythology the goddess Valli was the wife of Murunga.
VANESSA f English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch
Invented by author Jonathan Swift for his poem Cadenus and Vanessa
(1726). He arrived at it by rearranging the initial syllables of the first name and surname of Esther
Vanhomrigh, his close friend. Vanessa was later used as the name of a genus of butterfly. It was a rare given name until the mid-20th century, at which point it became fairly popular.
VANNA (2) f & m Khmer
in Khmer, ultimately from Sanskrit.
VARDO f Georgian
Derived from Georgian ვარდი (vardi)
, ultimately from Persian via Armenian.
VARPU f Finnish
From the Finnish name for a type of berry bush.
VASHTI f Biblical
Possibly means "thread"
in Hebrew, but it is most likely of Persian origin. In the Old Testament this is the name of the first wife of King Ahasuerus of Persia before he marries Esther.
VASUDHA f Indian, Hindi
Means "producer of wealth"
in Sanskrit, used to refer to the earth.
VEASNA m & f Khmer
Means "opportunity, good fortune, fate"
VEGA f Astronomy
The name of a star in the constellation Lyra. Its name is from Arabic الواقع (al-Waqi')
meaning "the swooping (eagle)".
VELDA f English
Meaning unknown, possibly a derivative of the Germanic element wald
meaning "power, rule"
VELIA f Italian
From the Roman family name Velius
, which possibly means "concealed"
VELMA f English
Probably a variant of WILMA
, the spelling with an e
perhaps due to the influence of SELMA (1)
. This name has been in use since the 19th century.
VELVET f English
From the English word for the soft fabric. It became used as a given name after the main character in Enid Bagnold's book National Velvet
(1935) and the movie (1944) and television (1960) adaptations.
VENETIA f English
Originally this was probably a Latinized form of GWYNEDD
. It also coincides with the name of the city in Italy, called Venice
in English. This name was borne by the celebrated beauty Venetia Stanley (1600-1633). Benjamin Disraeli used it in his novel entitled Venetia
VENUS f Roman Mythology
Means "love, sexual desire"
in Latin. This was the name of the Roman goddess of love and sex. Her character was assimilated with that of the Greek goddess Aphrodite
. As the mother of Aeneas
she was considered an ancestor of the Roman people. The second planet from the sun is named after her.
VERA (1) f Russian, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Belarusian, Georgian
in Russian, though it is sometimes associated with the Latin word verus "true"
. It has been in general use in the English-speaking world since the late 19th century.
VERBENA f Various
From the name of the verbena plant, which is derived from Latin verbena
meaning "leaves, twigs".
VERDANDI f Norse Mythology
From Old Norse Verðandi
meaning "becoming, happening"
. Verdandi was one of the three Norns, or goddesses of destiny, in Norse mythology. She was responsible for the present.
VERENA f German, Late Roman
Possibly related to Latin verus "true"
. This might also be a Coptic form of the Ptolemaic name BERENICE
. Saint Verena was a 3rd-century Egyptian-born nurse who went with the Theban Legion to Switzerland. After the legion was massacred she settled near Zurich.
VERITY f English
From the English word meaning "verity, truth"
. This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
VERNA f English
Feminine form of VERNON
, sometimes associated with the Latin word vernus "spring"
. It has been in use since the 19th century.
VERONA f Various
From the name of the city in Italy, which is itself of unknown meaning.
VERONICA f English, Italian, Romanian, Late Roman
Latin alteration of BERENICE
, the spelling influenced by the ecclesiastical Latin phrase vera icon
meaning "true image"
. This was the name of a legendary saint who wiped Jesus
' face with a towel and then found his image imprinted upon it. Due to popular stories about her, the name was occasionally used in the Christian world in the Middle Ages. It was borne by the 17th-century Italian saint and mystic Veronica Giuliani. As an English name, it was not common until the 19th century, when it was imported from France and Scotland.
VERONIKA f Russian, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Slovene, Croatian, Macedonian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Lithuanian, Latvian
Form of VERONICA
in several languages.
VESLEMØY f Norwegian
Means "little girl"
from Norwegian vesle
"little" and møy
"girl". This name was created by Norwegian writer Arne Garborg for the main character in his poem Haugtussa
VESNA f Croatian, Serbian, Slovene, Macedonian
in Slavic. This was the name of a Slavic spirit associated with the springtime. In many Slavic languages this is now the poetic word for "spring". It has been used as a given name only since the 20th century.
VESTA f Roman Mythology
Probably a Roman cognate of HESTIA
. Vesta was the Roman goddess of the hearth. A continuous fire, tended by the Vestal Virgins, was burned in the Temple of Vesta in Rome.
VIENNE f French (Rare)
From the French name of the capital city of Austria, known in English as Vienna
VILJA f Finnish
Possibly from the Finnish word vilja
meaning "cereal, grain"
or the Swedish word vilja
meaning "will, intent"
VIOLET f English
From the English word violet
for the purple flower, ultimately derived from Latin viola
. It was common in Scotland from the 16th century, and it came into general use as an English given name during the 19th century.
VIRGINIA f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of the Roman family name Verginius
, which is of unknown meaning, but long associated with Latin virgo "maid, virgin"
. According to a legend, it was the name of a Roman woman killed by her father so as to save her from the clutches of a crooked official.... [more]
VIRVA f Finnish
Possibly derived from Finnish virvatuli
meaning "will o' the wisp"
. In folklore, will o' the wisp is a floating ball of light that appears over water.
VISITACIÓN f Spanish
in Spanish. This name is given in reference to the visit of the Virgin Mary
to her cousin Elizabeth.
VIVIAN m & f English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
From the Latin name Vivianus
, which was derived from Latin vivus "alive"
. Saint Vivian was a French bishop who provided protection during the Visigoth invasion of the 5th century. It has been occasionally used as an English (masculine) name since the Middle Ages. In modern times it is also used as a feminine name, in which case it is either an Anglicized form of BÉBINN
or a variant of VIVIEN (2)
VIVIEN (2) f Literature, Hungarian
Used by Alfred Lord Tennyson as the name of the Lady of the Lake in his Arthurian epic Idylls of the King
(1859). Tennyson may have based it on VIVIENNE
, but it possibly arose as a misreading of NINIAN
. A famous bearer was British actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), who played Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind
WAKANA f Japanese
From Japanese 和 (wa)
meaning "harmony" and 奏 (kana)
meaning "play music, complete", as well as other combinations of kanji that are pronounced the same way.
WALBURGA f German
Means "ruler of the fortress"
from the Germanic elements wald
"power, leader, ruler" and burg
"fortress". This was the name of an 8th-century saint from England who did missionary work in Germany.
WALLIS m & f English (Rare)
From a surname that was a variant of WALLACE
. Wallis Simpson (1895-1986) was the divorced woman whom Edward VIII married, which forced him to abdicate the British throne.
WANDA f Polish, English, German, French
Possibly from a Germanic name meaning "a Wend"
, referring to the Slavic people who inhabited eastern Germany. In Polish legends this was the name of the daughter of King Krak, the legendary founder of Krakow. It was introduced to the English-speaking world by the author Ouida, who used it for the heroine in her novel Wanda
WANGCHUK m & f Tibetan, Bhutanese
in Tibetan, from དབང (dbang)
meaning "power" and ཕྱུག (phyug)
meaning "wealthy, possessing". This is the Tibetan name for the god Shiva
WASSA f Anglo-Saxon
Meaning uncertain. It may be a short form of a longer name such as Wāðsige
, composed of the elements wāð
"hunt" and sige
WAYAN m & f Indonesian, Balinese
From Balinese wayah
meaning "old, mature"
, ultimately from Sanskrit वयस् (vayas)
meaning "energy, strength, age". This name is traditionally given to the first-born child.
WEI m & f Chinese
From Chinese 威 (wēi)
meaning "power, pomp", 巍 (wēi)
meaning "high, lofty, towering" or 伟 (wěi)
meaning "great, robust, extraordinary". As a feminine name it can come from 微 (wēi)
meaning "small" or 薇 (wēi)
meaning "fern". This name can be formed by other Chinese characters besides those shown here.
WEN m & f Chinese
From Chinese 文 (wén)
meaning "literature, culture, writing", as well as other characters with a similar pronunciation.
WENCHE f Norwegian
Norwegian variant of WENKE
. A famous bearer is the Norwegian singer Wenche Myhre (1947-), known as Wencke
in some countries so as to avoid pronunciation confusion.
WENDY f English
In the case of the character from J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan
(1904), it was created from the nickname fwendy "friend"
, given to the author by a young friend. However, the name was used prior to the play (rarely), in which case it could be related to the Welsh name GWENDOLEN
and other names beginning with the element gwen
meaning "white, fair, blessed". The name only became common after Barrie's play ran.
WENKE f Low German
Low German diminutive of Germanic names containing the element win
WHITNEY f & m English
From a surname that was originally derived from a place name meaning "white island"
in Old English. Its popular use as a feminine name was initiated by actress Whitney Blake (1925-2002) in the 1960s, and further boosted in the 1980s by singer Whitney Houston (1963-2012).
WILDA f English
Meaning unknown, perhaps from a German surname, or perhaps from the English word wild
. It has been in use since the 19th century.
WILLIE m & f English
Masculine or feminine diminutive of WILLIAM
. A notable bearer is the retired American baseball player Willie Mays (1931-).
WINDSOR m & f English (Rare)
From an English surname that was from a place name meaning "riverbank with a windlass"
in Old English (a windlass is a lifting apparatus). This has been the surname of the royal family of the United Kingdom since 1917.
WINNIE f English
Diminutive of WINIFRED
. Winnie-the-Pooh, a stuffed bear in the children's books by A. A. Milne, was named after a real bear named Winnipeg
who lived at the London Zoo.