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, Swedish, 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]
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)
WALLIS m & f English (Rare)
From a surname which 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' (1883).
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.
WENONAH f English (Rare)
Variant of WINONA
. This spelling of the name was used by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the mother of Hiawatha in his epic poem 'The Song of Hiawatha' (1855).
WHITNEY f & m English
From a surname which 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-).
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.
WREN f English (Rare)
From the English word for the small songbird. It is ultimately derived from Old English wrenna
YOLANDA f Spanish, English
From the medieval French name Yolande
, which was probably a form of the name Violante
, which was itself a derivative of Latin viola
"violet". Alternatively it could be of Germanic origin.... [more]
ZARA (1) f English (Modern)
English form of ZAÏRE
. In England it came to public attention when Princess Anne gave it to her daughter in 1981. Use of the name may also be influenced by the trendy Spanish clothing retailer Zara.
ZENA f English
Meaning unknown. It could be a variant of XENIA
or a diminutive of names featuring this sound, such as ALEXINA
. This name has occasionally been used since the 19th century.
ZINNIA f English (Rare)
From the name of the flower, which was itself named for the German botanist Johann Zinn.
ZOE f English, Italian, Ancient Greek
Means "life" in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of EVE
. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe
has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).
ZOLA (1) f English
Meaning unknown, perhaps an invented name. It has been in occasional use in the English-speaking world since the 19th century. It coincides with an Italian surname, a famous bearer being the French-Italian author Émile Zola (1840-1902).
ZULA (2) f English
Meaning unknown. It has been in use since the 19th century. It is possibly related to the name of the African tribe that lives largely in South Africa, the Zulus. In the 19th century the Zulus were a powerful nation under their leader Shaka.