ALEXIS m & f German, French, English, Greek, Ancient Greek
From the Greek name Αλεξις (Alexis)
, derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo)
meaning "to defend, to help". This was the name of a 3rd-century BC Greek comic poet, and also of several saints. It is used somewhat interchangeably with the related name Αλεξιος
, borne by five Byzantine emperors. In the English-speaking world it is more commonly used as a feminine name.
ALYSSA f English
Variant of ALICIA
. The spelling has probably been influenced by that of the alyssum flower, the name of which is derived from Greek α (a)
, a negative prefix, combined with λυσσα (lyssa)
meaning "madness, rabies", since it was believed to cure madness.
APRIL f English
From the name of the month, probably originally derived from Latin aperire
"to open", referring to the opening of flowers. It has only been commonly used as a given name since the 1940s.
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in Taming of the Shrew
(1593) and Othello
BLAIR m & f Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname that is derived from Gaelic blár
meaning "plain, field, battlefield"
BOB m English, Dutch
Short form of ROBERT
. It arose later than Dob
, which were medieval rhyming nicknames of Robert. It was borne by the character Bob Cratchit in Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol
(1843). Other famous bearers include American folk musician Bob Dylan (1941-) and Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley (1945-1981).
CHAD m English
From the Old English name Ceadda
, which is of unknown meaning, possibly based on Welsh cad "battle"
. This was the name of a 7th-century English saint. Borne primarily by Catholics, it was a rare name until the 1960s when it started to become more common amongst the general population. This is also the name of a country in Africa, though it originates from a different source.
CHARLIE m & f English
Diminutive or feminine form of CHARLES
. A famous bearer is Charlie Brown, the main character in the comic strip Peanuts
by Charles Schulz.
COCO f Various
Diminutive of names beginning with Co
, influenced by the word cocoa
. However, this was not the case for French fashion designer Coco Chanel (real name Gabrielle), whose nickname came from the name of a song she performed while working as a cabaret singer.
COURTNEY f & m English
From an aristocratic English surname that was derived either from the French place name Courtenay
(originally a derivative of the personal name Curtenus
, itself derived from Latin curtus
"short") or else from a Norman nickname meaning "short nose". As a feminine name in America, it first became popular during the 1970s.
CRYSTAL f English
From the English word crystal
for the clear, colourless glass, sometimes cut into the shape of a gemstone. The English word derives ultimately from Greek κρυσταλλος (krystallos)
meaning "ice". It has been in use as a given name since the 19th century.
CYNTHIA f English, Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Κυνθια (Kynthia)
, which means "woman from Kynthos"
. This was an epithet of the Greek moon goddess Artemis
, given because Kynthos was the mountain on Delos on which she and her twin brother Apollo
were born. It was not used as a given name until the Renaissance, and it did not become common in the English-speaking world until the 19th century.
DAX m English
From an English surname that was derived either from the town of Dax in France or else from the Old English given name Dæcca
(of unknown meaning).
DELTA f English
From the name of the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, Δ
. It is also the name for an island formed at the mouth of a river.
DUSTY m & f English
From a nickname originally given to people perceived as being dusty. It is also used a diminutive of DUSTIN
. A famous bearer was British singer Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), who acquired her nickname as a child.
GINGER f English
From the English word ginger
for the spice or the reddish-brown colour. It can also be a diminutive of VIRGINIA
, as in the case of actress and dancer Ginger Rogers (1911-1995), by whom the name was popularized.
HEIDI f German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, English
German diminutive of ADELHEID
. This is the name of the title character in the children's novel Heidi
(1880) by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri. The name began to be used in the English-speaking world shortly after the 1937 release of the movie adaptation, which starred Shirley Temple.
HONEY f English (Rare)
Simply from the English word honey
, ultimately from Old English hunig
. This was originally a nickname for a sweet person.
INDIA f English
From the name of the country, which is itself derived from the name of the Indus River. The river's name is ultimately from Sanskrit सिन्धु (Sindhu)
meaning "body of trembling water, river".
IVY f English
From the English word for the climbing plant that has small yellow flowers. It is ultimately derived from Old English ifig
JACKIE m & f English
Diminutive of JACK
. A notable bearer was baseball player Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.
JADE f & m English, French
From the name of the precious stone that is often used in carvings. It is derived from Spanish (piedra de la) ijada
meaning "(stone of the) flank", relating to the belief that jade could cure renal colic. As a given name, it came into general use during the 1970s. It was initially unisex, though it is now mostly feminine.
JASMINE f English, French
From the English word for the climbing plant with fragrant flowers that is used for making perfumes. It is derived via Arabic from Persian یاسمین (yasamin)
, which is also a Persian name.
JESSICA f English, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish
This name was first used in this form by Shakespeare in his play The Merchant of Venice
(1596), where it belongs to the daughter of Shylock. Shakespeare probably based it on the biblical name ISCAH
, which would have been spelled Jescha
in his time. It was not commonly used as a given name until the middle of the 20th century. It reached its peak of popularity in the United States in 1987, and was the top ranked name for girls between 1985 and 1995, excepting 1991 and 1992 (when it was unseated by Ashley
). Notable bearers include actresses Jessica Tandy (1909-1994) and Jessica Lange (1949-).
KELLY m & f Irish, English
Anglicized form of the Irish given name CEALLACH
or the surname derived from it Ó Ceallaigh
. As a surname, it has been borne by actor and dancer Gene Kelly (1912-1996) and actress and princess Grace Kelly (1929-1982).
KENNEDY f & m English, Irish
From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Cinnéidigh
meaning "descendant of CENNÉTIG"
. The name is often given in honour of assassinated American president John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).
KENYA f English, African American
From the name of the African country. The country is named for Mount Kenya, which in the Kikuyu language is called Kĩrĩnyaga
meaning "the one having stripes". It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 1960s.
KIM (1) f & m English
At the present it is usually considered a short form of KIMBERLY
, but it in fact predates it as a given name. The author Rudyard Kipling used it for the title hero of his novel Kim
(1901), though in this case it was short for KIMBALL
. In her novel Show Boat
(1926) Edna Ferber used it for a female character who was born on the Mississippi River and was named from the initials of the states Kentucky, Illinois and Mississippi. The name was popularized in America by the actresses Kim Hunter (1922-2002) and Kim Novak (1933-), both of whom assumed it as a stage name.
MAGNOLIA f English
From the English word magnolia
for the flower, which was named for the French botanist Pierre Magnol.
MARIAH f English
Variant of MARIA
. It is usually pronounced in a way that reflects an older English pronunciation of Maria
. The name was popularized in the early 1990s by the American singer Mariah Carey (1970-).
MILAN m Czech, Slovak, Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Macedonian
From the Slavic element milu
meaning "gracious, dear"
, originally a short form of names that began with that element. A city in Italy bears this name, though it originates from a different source.
MONET f & m Various
From a French surname that was derived from either HAMON
. This was the surname of the French impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926).
MONICA f English, Italian, Romanian, Late Roman
Meaning unknown, most likely of North African or Phoenician origin. In the 4th century this name was borne by the North African saint Monica of Hippo, the mother of Saint Augustine, whom she converted to Christianity. Since the Middle Ages it has been associated with Latin moneo "advisor"
and Greek monos "one"
. As an English name, Monica
has been in general use since the 18th century.
MORGAN (1) m & f Welsh, English, French
From the Old Welsh masculine name Morcant
, which was possibly derived from Welsh mor
"sea" and cant
"circle". Since the 1980s in America Morgan
has been more common for girls than boys, perhaps due to stories of Morgan
le Fay or the fame of actress Morgan Fairchild (1950-).
NAOMI (1) f English, Hebrew, Biblical
From the Hebrew name נָעֳמִי (Na'omi)
. In the Old Testament this is the name of the mother-in-law of Ruth
. After the death of her husband and sons, she returned to Bethlehem with Ruth. There she declared that her name should be Mara
(see Ruth 1:20
NICOLE f French, English, Dutch, German
French feminine form of NICHOLAS
, commonly used in the English-speaking world since the middle of the 20th century. A famous bearer is American-Australian actress Nicole Kidman (1967-).
NINA (1) f Russian, Italian, English, German, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Polish, Slovene, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Belarusian
Short form of names that end in nina
, such as ANTONINA
. It was imported to Western Europe from Russia and Italy in the 19th century. This name also nearly coincides with the Spanish word niña
meaning "little girl"
PANDORA f Greek Mythology
Means "all gifts"
, derived from a combination of Greek παν (pan)
meaning "all" and δωρον (doron)
meaning "gift". In Greek mythology Pandora was the first mortal woman. Zeus
gave her a jar containing all of the troubles and ills that mankind now knows, and told her not to open it. Unfortunately her curiosity got the best of her and she opened it, unleashing the evil spirits into the world.
PEARL f English
From the English word pearl
for the concretions formed in the shells of some mollusks, ultimately from Late Latin perla
. Like other gemstone names, it has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century. The pearl is the birthstone for June, and it supposedly imparts health and wealth.
PHOENIX m & f English (Modern)
From the name of a beautiful immortal bird that appears in Egyptian and Greek mythology. After living for several centuries in the Arabian Desert, it would be consumed by fire and rise from its own ashes, with this cycle repeating every 500 years. The name of the bird was derived from Greek φοινιξ (phoinix)
meaning "dark red".
RAJA (2) m Urdu, Tamil, Indian, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Indonesian
Means "king, ruler"
, from Sanskrit राजन् (rajan)
RAVEN f & m English
From the name of the bird, ultimately from Old English hræfn
. The raven is revered by several Native American groups of the west coast. It is also associated with the Norse god Odin
REBECCA f English, Italian, Swedish, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From the Hebrew name רִבְקָה (Rivqah)
from an unattested root probably meaning "join, tie, snare"
. This is the name of the wife of Isaac
and the mother of Esau
in the Old Testament. It came into use as a Christian name after the Protestant Reformation, and it was popular with the Puritans in the 17th century.
SERENA f English, Italian, Late Roman
From a Late Latin name that 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
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.
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
, 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.
STACY f & m English
Either a diminutive of ANASTASIA
, or else from a surname that 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.
TEMPEST f English (Rare)
From the English word meaning "storm"
. It appears in the title of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest
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.
VALENTINA f Italian, Russian, German, Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, Romanian, Spanish, Greek, Latvian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of Valentinus
(see VALENTINE (1)
). A famous bearer was the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (1937-), who in 1963 became the first woman to visit space.
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.
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.
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.