SAVANNAH f English
From the English word for the large grassy plain, ultimately deriving from the Taino (Native American) word zabana
. It came into use as a given name in America in the 19th century. It was revived in the 1980s by the movie 'Savannah Smiles' (1982).
SCARLET f English (Modern)
Either a variant of SCARLETT
or else from the English word for the red colour. The word is derived (via Old French and medieval Latin) from Persian سقرلاط (saghrilat)
, the name of a type of cloth.
SCARLETT f English
From a surname which denoted a person who sold or made clothes made of scarlet (a kind of cloth, ultimately derived from Persian سقرلاط (saghrilat)
). Margaret Mitchell used this name for Scarlett O'Hara, the main character in her novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936). Scarlett's name came from her grandmother's maiden name.
SCOUT f English (Rare)
From the English word scout
meaning "one who gathers information covertly", which is derived from Old French escouter
"to listen". Harper Lee used this name in her novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1960).
SELBY m & f English (Rare)
From an English surname which was from a place name meaning "willow farm" in Old Norse.
SEPTEMBER f & m English (Rare)
From the name of the ninth month (though it means "seventh month" in Latin, since it was originally the seventh month of the Roman year), which is sometimes used as a given name for someone born in September.
SEQUOIA f & m English (Rare)
From the name of huge trees that grow in California. The tree got its name from the Cherokee scholar Sequoya (also known as George Guess), the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.
SERAPHINA f English (Rare), German (Rare), Late Roman
Feminine form of the Late Latin name Seraphinus
, derived from the biblical word seraphim
which was Hebrew in origin and meant "fiery ones". The seraphim were an order of angels, described by Isaiah in the Bible as having six wings each. This was the name of a 13th-century Italian saint who made clothes for the poor. As an English name, it has never been common.
SERENA f English, Italian, Late Roman
From a Late Latin name which was derived from Latin serenus
meaning "clear, tranquil, serene". This name was borne by an obscure early saint. Edmund Spenser also used it in his poem 'The Faerie Queene' (1590).
SERENITY f English (Modern)
From the English word meaning "serenity, tranquility", ultimately from Latin serenus
meaning "clear, calm".
SHANIA f English (Modern)
In the case of singer Shania Twain (1965-), who chose it as her stage name, she has claimed it was based on an Ojibwa phrase meaning "on my way". This appears to be untrue.
SHANNON f & m English
From the name of the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, called Abha na tSionainn
in Irish. It is associated with the goddess Sionann
and is sometimes said to be named for her. However it is more likely the goddess was named after the river, which may be related to Old Irish sen
"old, ancient". As a given name, it first became common in America after the 1940s.
SHARON f English
From an Old Testament place name, in Hebrew שָׁרוֹן (Sharon)
, which means "plain", referring to the fertile plain near the coast of Israel. This is also the name of a type of flowering shrub, the rose of Sharon. It has been in use as a given name since the 1920s, possibly inspired by the heroine in the serial novel 'The Skyrocket' (1925) by Adela Rogers St. Johns.
SHAWNEE f English (Modern)
Means "southern people" in the Algonquin language. The Shawnee were an Algonquin tribe who originally lived in the Ohio valley.
SHEENA f Scottish, English
Anglicized form of SÌNE
. This name was popularized outside of Scotland in the 1980s by the singer Sheena Easton (1959-).
SHELBY m & f English
From a surname, which was possibly a variant of SELBY
. Though previously in use as a rare masculine name, it was popularized as a feminine name by the main character in the movie 'The Woman in Red' (1935). It was later reinforced by the movie 'Steel Magnolias' (1989) in which Julia Roberts played a character by this name.
SHELL f English
Short form of MICHELLE
. It can also be simply from the English word shell
(ultimately from Old English sciell
SHELLEY f & m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "clearing on a bank" in Old English. Two famous bearers of the surname were Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), a romantic poet whose works include 'Adonais' and 'Ozymandias', and Mary Shelley (1797-1851), his wife, the author of the horror story 'Frankenstein'. As a feminine given name, it came into general use after the 1940s.
SHEREE f English
Variant of SHERRY
. This particular spelling was popularized by American actress Sheree North (1932-2005), who was born Dawn Shirley Crang.
SHERIDAN m & f English
From an Irish surname which was derived from Ó Sirideáin
meaning "descendant of Sirideán". The name Sirideán
means "searcher" in Gaelic.
SHERRY f English
Before the 20th century this was probably from the Irish surname Ó Searraigh
meaning "descendant of Searrach" (a name meaning "foal" in Gaelic). Later it may have been reinforced by the French word chérie
meaning "darling", or the English word sherry
, a type of fortified wine named from the Spanish town of Jerez. This name came into popular use during the 1920s, inspired by other similar-sounding names and by Collette's novels 'Chéri' (1920, English translation 1929) and 'The Last of Chéri' (1926, English translation 1932), in which it is a masculine name.
SHIRLEY f & m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "bright clearing" in Old English. This is the name of the main character in Charlotte Brontë's semi-autobiographical novel 'Shirley' (1849). The child actress Shirley Temple (1928-2014) helped to popularize this name.
SIBYL f English
From Greek Σιβυλλα (Sibylla)
, meaning "prophetess, sibyl". In Greek and Roman legend the sibyls were ten female prophets who practiced at different holy sites in the ancient world. In later Christian theology, the sibyls were thought to have divine knowledge and were revered in much the same way as the Old Testament prophets. Because of this, the name came into general use in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. The Normans brought it to England, where it was spelled both Sibyl
. It became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was revived in the 19th century, perhaps helped by Benjamin Disraeli's novel 'Sybil' (1845).
SIDNEY m & f English
From the English surname SIDNEY
. It was first used as a given name in honour of executed politician Algernon Sidney (1622-1683). Another notable bearer of the surname was the poet and statesman Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586).
SIDONY f English (Archaic)
Feminine form of SIDONIUS
. This name was in use in the Middle Ages, when it became associated with the word sindon
(of Greek origin) meaning "linen", a reference to the Shroud of Turin.
SIENNA f English (Modern)
From the English word meaning "orange-red". It is ultimately from the name of the city of Siena in Italy, because of the colour of the clay there.
SIERRA f English (Modern)
Means "mountain range" in Spanish, referring specifically to a mountain range with jagged peaks.
SILVIA f Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, English, German, Late Roman, Roman Mythology
Feminine form of SILVIUS
Silvia was the mother of Romulus
, the founders of Rome. This was also the name of a 6th-century saint, the mother of the pope Gregory the Great. It has been a common name in Italy since the Middle Ages. It was introduced to England by Shakespeare, who used it for a character in his play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594). It is now more commonly spelled Sylvia
in the English-speaking world.
SKY f English (Modern)
Simply from the English word sky
, which was ultimately derived from Old Norse sky
SKYE f English (Modern)
From the name of the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. It is sometimes considered a variant of SKY
SONDRA f English
Variant of SAUNDRA
. It was popularized in the English-speaking world by a character in Theodore Dreiser's novel 'An American Tragedy' (1925) and the subsequent movie adaptation (1931).
SONYA f Russian, English
Russian diminutive of SOPHIA
. This is the name of a character in Leo Tolstoy's novel 'War and Peace' (1869, English translation 1886).
SOPHIA f English, Greek, German, Ancient Greek
Means "wisdom" in Greek. This was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Legends about her probably arose as a result of a medieval misunderstanding of the phrase Hagia Sophia
"Holy Wisdom", which is the name of a large basilica in Constantinople.... [more]
SORREL f English (Rare)
From the name of the sour tasting plant, which may ultimately derive from Germanic sur
SPIRIT f English (Rare)
From the English word spirit
, ultimately from Latin spiritus
"breath", a derivative of spirare
SPRING f English
From the name of the season, ultimately from Old English springan
"to leap, to burst forth".
STACY f & m English
Either a diminutive of ANASTASIA
, or else from a surname which was derived from Stace
, a medieval form of EUSTACE
. As a feminine name, it came into general use during the 1950s, though it had earlier been in use as a rare masculine name.
STAR f English
From the English word for the celestial body, ultimately from Old English steorra
STELLA (1) f English, Italian, Dutch, German
Means "star" in Latin. This name was created by the 16th-century poet Sir Philip Sidney for the subject of his collection of sonnets 'Astrophel and Stella'. It was a nickname of a lover of Jonathan Swift, real name Esther Johnson (1681-1728), though it was not commonly used as a given name until the 19th century. It appears in Tennessee Williams' play 'A Streetcar Named Desire' (1947), belonging to the sister of Blanche DuBois and the wife of Stanley Kowalski.
SUELLEN f English
Contraction of SUSAN
and ELLEN (1)
. Margaret Mitchell used this name in her novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936), where it belongs to Scarlett's sister.
SUMMER f English
From the name of the season, ultimately from Old English sumor
. It has been in use as a given name since the 1970s.
SUNDAY f English
From the name of the day of the week, which ultimately derives from Old English sunnandæg
, which was composed of the elements sunne
"sun" and dæg
SUNNY f English
From the English word meaning "sunny, cheerful".
SUNSHINE f English
From the English word, ultimately from Old English sunne
"sun" and scinan
SUSAN f English
English variant of SUSANNA
. This has been most common spelling since the 18th century. A notable bearer was the American feminist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906).
SUSANNA f Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Dutch, English, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Old Church Slavic
From Σουσαννα (Sousanna)
, the Greek form of the Hebrew name שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (Shoshannah)
. This was derived from the Hebrew word שׁוֹשָׁן (shoshan)
meaning "lily" (in modern Hebrew this also means "rose"), perhaps ultimately from Egyptian sšn
"lotus". In the Old Testament Apocrypha this is the name of a woman falsely accused of adultery. The prophet Daniel
clears her name by tricking her accusers, who end up being condemned themselves. It also occurs in the New Testament belonging to a woman who ministers to Jesus
SYBIL f English
Variant of SIBYL
. This spelling variation has existed since the Middle Ages.
SYDNEY f & m English
From a surname which was a variant of the surname SIDNEY
. This is the name of the largest city in Australia, which was named for Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney in 1788. Since the 1990s this name has been mainly feminine.
TABITHA f English, Biblical, Biblical Greek
Means "gazelle" in Aramaic. Tabitha in the New Testament was a woman restored to life by Saint Peter
. Her name is translated into Greek as Dorcas (see Acts 9:36). As an English name, Tabitha
became common after the Protestant Reformation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the television show 'Bewitched', in which Tabitha (sometimes spelled Tabatha) is the daughter of the main character.
TACEY f English (Archaic)
Derived from Latin tace
meaning "be silent". It was in use from the 16th century, though it died out two centuries later.
TALLULAH f English (Rare)
Popularly claimed to mean "leaping waters" in the Choctaw language, it may actually mean "town" in the Creek language. This is the name of waterfalls in Georgia. It was borne by American actress Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968), who was named after her grandmother, who may have been named after the waterfalls.
TAMARA f Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Hungarian, English, Dutch, Spanish, Italian
Russian form of TAMAR
. Russian performers such as Tamara Karsavina (1885-1978), Tamara Drasin (1905-1943), Tamara Geva (1907-1997) and Tamara Toumanova (1919-1996) introduced it to the English-speaking world. It was also borne by the Polish cubist painter Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980).
TAMIA f English (Modern)
Elaborated form of the popular name syllable Tam
, from names such as TAMARA
. It was popularized by Canadian singer Tamia Hill (1975-), who is known simply as Tamia.
TAMIKA f English
Variant of TAMIKO
, inspired by the American jazz singer Tamiko Jones (1945-) or the American movie 'A Girl Named Tamiko' (1963).
TANSY f English (Rare)
From the name of the flower, which is derived via Old French from Late Latin tanacita
TARA (1) f English
Anglicized form of the Irish place name Teamhair
, which possibly means "elevated place" in Gaelic. This was the name of the sacred hill near Dublin where the Irish high kings resided. It was popularized as a given name by the novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936) and the subsequent movie adaptation (1939), in which it is the name of the O'Hara plantation.
TARYN f English
Probably a feminine form of TYRONE
. Actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian created it for their daughter Taryn Power (1953-).
TATIANA f Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Polish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Greek, Georgian, English, Russian, Bulgarian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of the Roman name Tatianus
, a derivative of the Roman name TATIUS
. This was the name of a 3rd-century saint who was martyred in Rome under the emperor Alexander Severus. She was especially venerated in Orthodox Christianity, and the name has been common in Russia (as Татьяна
) and Eastern Europe. It was not regularly used in the English-speaking world until the 1980s.
TATUM f English (Modern)
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "Tata's homestead" in Old English.
TAWNY f English (Modern)
From the English word, ultimately deriving from Old French tané
, which means "light brown".
TAYLOR m & f English
From an English surname which originally denoted someone who was a tailor, from Norman French tailleur
, ultimately from Latin taliare
"to cut". Its modern use as a feminine name may have been influenced by British author Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985).
TEAGAN m & f English (Modern)
From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Tadhgáin
meaning "descendant of Tadhgán". The given name Tadhgán
is a diminutive of TADHG
TEAL f English (Rare)
From the English word for the type of duck or the greenish-blue colour.
TEMPERANCE f English (Archaic)
From the English word meaning "moderation" or "restraint". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
TEMPEST f English (Rare)
From the English word meaning "storm". It appears in the title of William Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest' (1611).
TEMPLE m & f English (Rare)
From a surname which originally belonged to a person who was associated with the Knights Templar, a medieval religious military order.
TERESA f Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Finnish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English
Cognate of THERESA
. Saint Teresa of Ávila was a 16th-century Spanish nun who reformed the Carmelite monasteries and wrote several spiritual books. It was also borne by the beatified Albanian missionary Mother Teresa (1910-1997), who worked with the poor in Calcutta. She adopted the name in honour of the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux, who is the patron of missionaries.
TERRA f English
Variant of TARA (1)
, perhaps influenced by the Latin word terra
meaning "land, earth".
TERRY (1) m & f English
From an English surname which was derived from the medieval name Thierry
, a Norman French form of THEODORIC
TERRY (2) m & f English
Diminutive of TERENCE
. A famous bearer was Terry Fox (1958-1981), a young man with an artificial leg who attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He died of the disease before crossing the country.
TESS f English, Dutch
Diminutive of THERESA
. This is the name of the main character in Thomas Hardy's novel 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles' (1891).
THANKFUL f English (Archaic)
From the English word thankful
. This was one of the many virtue names used by the Puritans in the 17th century.
THELMA f English
Meaning unknown. It was a rare name when British author Marie Corelli used it for the Norwegian heroine of her novel 'Thelma' (1887). The name became popular around the end of the 19th century after the novel was published. It is sometimes claimed to derive from Greek θελημα (thelema)
meaning "will", though this seems unlikely.
THEODORA f English, Greek, Ancient Greek
Feminine form of THEODORE
. This name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by several empresses including the influential wife of Justinian in the 6th century.
THERESA f English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
From the Spanish and Portuguese name Teresa
. It was first recorded as Therasia
, being borne by the Spanish wife of Saint Paulinus of Nola in the 4th century. The meaning is uncertain, but it could be derived from Greek θερος (theros)
"summer", from Greek θεριζω (therizo)
"to harvest", or from the name of the Greek island of Therasia (the western island of Santorini).... [more]
TIA f English
Short form of names ending with tia
. It has been suggested that its use since the 1950s is the result of the brand name for the coffee liqueur Tia Maria. In the brand name, Tia
is not a given name; rather, it means "aunt" in Spanish or Portuguese.
TIFFANY f English
Medieval form of THEOPHANIA
. This name was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany (January 6), the festival commemorating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus
. The name died out after the Middle Ages, but it was revived by the movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961), the title of which refers to the Tiffany's jewelry store in New York.
TITTY f English
Diminutive of LETITIA
. This is now a slang word for the female breast, and the name has subsequently dropped out of common use.
TOBY m & f English
Medieval form of TOBIAS
. It was sometimes used as a feminine name in the 1930s and 40s due to the influence of American actress Toby Wing (1915-2001).
TOPAZ f English (Rare)
From the English word for the yellow precious stone, the birthstone of November, ultimately derived from Greek τοπαζος (topazos)
TOPSY f English (Rare)
From a nickname which is of unknown meaning, perhaps deriving from the English word top
TRACY f & m English
From an English surname which was taken from a Norman French place name meaning "domain belonging to THRACIUS
". Charles Dickens used it for a male character in his novel 'The Pickwick Papers' (1837). It was later popularized as a feminine name by the main character Tracy Lord in the movie 'The Philadelphia Story' (1940). This name is also sometimes used as a diminutive of THERESA
TRINITY f English
From the English word Trinity
, given in honour of the Christian belief that God has one essence, but three distinct expressions of being: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It has only been in use as a given name since the 20th century.
TWILA f English
Meaning unknown. Perhaps based on the English word twilight
, or maybe from a Cajun pronunciation of French étoile
"star". It came into use as an American given name in the late 19th century.
UNITY f English (Rare)
From the English word unity
, which is ultimately derived from Latin unitas
URSULA f English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Finnish, Late Roman
Means "little bear", derived from a diminutive form of the Latin word ursa
"she-bear". Saint Ursula was a legendary virgin princess of the 4th century who was martyred by the Huns while returning from a pilgrimage. In England the saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and the name came into general use at that time.
VALE f English
From the English word meaning "wide river valley".
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.
VELDA f English
Meaning unknown, possibly a derivative of the Germanic element wald
meaning "power, rule".
VELMA f English
Probably a variant of WILMA
, the spelling with an e
perhaps due to the influence of SELMA
. 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' (1837).
VERA (1) f Russian, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian
Means "faith" 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.
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.
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.