AALIYAH f Arabic, English (Modern)
Feminine form of AALI
. It was popularized in the English-speaking world by the singer Aaliyah Haughton (1979-2001), who was known simply as Aaliyah.
ADDISON f & m English
From an English surname meaning "son of ADAM
". Its recent popularity as a feminine name stems from its similarity in sound to Madison
ALEXIS m & f German, French, English, Greek, Ancient Greek
From the Greek name Αλεξις (Alexis)
, which meant "helper" or "defender", derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo)
"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)
"madness, rabies", since it was believed to cure madness.
AMANDA f English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Late Roman
In part this is a feminine form of AMANDUS
. However, it was not used during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century it was recreated by authors and poets who based it directly on Latin amanda
"lovable, worthy of love". Notably, the playwright Colley Cibber used it for a character in his play 'Love's Last Shift' (1696). It came into regular use during the 19th century.
AMBER f English, Dutch
From the English word amber
that denotes either the gemstone, which is formed from fossil resin, or the orange-yellow colour. The word ultimately derives from Arabic عنبر ('anbar)
. It began to be used as a given name in the late 19th century, but it only became popular after the release of Kathleen Winsor's novel 'Forever Amber' (1944).
ARIA f English
Means "song" or "melody" in Italian (literally means "air"). An aria is an elaborate vocal solo, the type usually performed in operas. As an English name, it has only been in use since the 20th century. It is not common in Italy.
ASHLEY f & m English
From an English surname which was originally derived from place names meaning "ash tree clearing", from a combination of Old English æsc
. Until the 1960s it was more commonly given to boys in the United States, but it is now most often used on girls.
AUSTIN m English
Medieval contracted form of AUGUSTINE (1)
. Modern use of the name is probably also partly inspired by the common surname Austin
, which is of the same origin. This is also the name of a city in Texas.
AVA (1) f English
Variant of EVE
. A famous bearer was the American actress Ava Gardner (1922-1990).
BARBARA f English, Italian, French, German, Polish, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Late Roman
Derived from Greek βαρβαρος (barbaros)
meaning "foreign". According to legend, Saint Barbara was a young woman killed by her father Dioscorus, who was then killed by a bolt of lightning. She is the patron of architects, geologists, stonemasons and artillerymen. Because of her renown, the name came into general use in the Christian world in the Middle Ages. In England it became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was revived in the 19th century.
BENTLEY m English
From a surname which was from a place name, itself derived from Old English beonet
"bent grass" and leah
"woodland, clearing". Various towns in England bear this name.
BRANDON m English
From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning "hill covered with broom" in Old English. It is sometimes also used as a variant of BRENDAN
BRANDY f English
From the English word brandy
for the alcoholic drink. It is ultimately from Dutch brandewijn
"burnt wine". It has been in use as a given name since the 1960s.
BRENDA f English
Possibly a feminine form of the Old Norse name Brandr
, meaning "sword", which was brought to Britain in the Middle Ages. This name is sometimes used as a feminine form of BRENDAN
BRITTANY f English
From the name of the region in the northwest of France, called in French Bretagne
. It was named for the Britons who settled there after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons. As a given name, it first came into common use in America in the 1970s.
CADEN m English (Modern)
Sometimes explained as a derivative of the Irish surname Caden
, which is a reduced form of the Gaelic surname Mac Cadáin
meaning "son of Cadán". In actuality, its popularity in America beginning in the 1990s is due to its sound - it shares its fashionable aden
suffix sound with other popular names like Hayden
CADENCE f English (Modern)
From an English word meaning "rhythm, flow". It has been in use only since the 20th century.
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.
CHEYENNE f & m English
Derived from the Dakota word shahiyena
meaning "red speakers". This is the name of a Native American people of the Great Plains. The name was supposedly given to the Cheyenne by the Dakota because their language was unrelated to their own. As a given name, it has been in use since the 1950s.
CHRISTOPHER m English
From the Late Greek name Χριστοφορος (Christophoros)
meaning "bearing CHRIST
", derived from Χριστος (Christos)
combined with φερω (phero)
"to bear, to carry". Early Christians used it as a metaphorical name, expressing that they carried Christ in their hearts. In the Middle Ages, literal interpretations of the name's etymology led to legends about a Saint Christopher who carried the young Jesus
across a river. He has come to be regarded as the patron saint of travellers.... [more]
COLE m English
From a surname which was originally derived from the Old English byname COLA
CORETTA f English
Diminutive of CORA
. It was borne by Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), the wife of Martin Luther King.
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.
DAWN f English
From the English word dawn
, ultimately derived from Old English dagung
DEANNA f English
Either a variant of DIANA
or a feminine form of DEAN
. This name was popularized by the Canadian actress and singer Deanna Durbin (1921-), whose birth name was Edna. Her stage name was a rearrangement of the letters of her real name.
DORIS f English, German, Croatian, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology
From the ancient Greek name Δωρις (Doris)
which meant "Dorian woman". The Dorians were a Greek tribe who occupied the Peloponnese starting in the 12th century BC. In Greek mythology Doris was a sea nymph, one of the many children of Oceanus and Tethys. It began to be used as an English name in the 19th century. A famous bearer is the American actress Doris Day (1924-).
DUSTIN m English
From an English surname which was derived from the Old Norse given name Þórsteinn
). The name was popularized by the actor Dustin Hoffman (1937-), who was apparently named after the earlier silent movie star Dustin Farnum (1874-1929).
EASTON m English (Modern)
From an English surname which was derived from place names meaning "east town" in Old English.
EMERSON m & f English
From an English surname meaning "son of EMERY
". The surname was borne by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), an American writer and philosopher who wrote about transcendentalism.
ERIN f English, Irish
Anglicized form of EIREANN
. It has been used as a given name since the middle of the 20th century.
ERIS f Greek Mythology
Means "strife" in Greek. In Greek mythology Eris was the goddess of discord. She was the sister and companion of Ares
HARPER f & m English
From an Old English surname which originally belonged to a person who played the harp or who made harps. A notable bearer was the American author Harper Lee (1926-2016), who wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
HEATHER f English
From the English word heather
for the variety of small shrubs with pink or white flowers which commonly grow in rocky areas. It is derived from Middle English hather
. It was first used as a given name in the late 19th century, though it did not become popular until the last half of the 20th century.
HOLDEN m English (Modern)
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "deep valley" in Old English. This is the name of the main character in J. D. Salinger's novel 'The Catcher in the Rye' (1951), Holden Caufield.
HUDSON m English
From an English surname which meant "son of HUDDE
". A famous bearer of the surname was the English explorer Henry Hudson (1570-1611).
JALEN m African American (Modern)
An invented name. In America it was popularized in the 1990s by basketball player Jalen Rose (1973-), whose name was a combination of those of his father James
and maternal uncle Leonard
JANICE f English
Elaborated form of JANE
, created by Paul Leicester Ford for his novel 'Janice Meredith' (1899).
JARED m English, Biblical
From the Hebrew name יָרֶד (Yared)
or יֶרֶד (Yered)
meaning "descent". This is the name of a close descendant of Adam
in the Old Testament. It has been used as an English name since the Protestant Reformation, and it was popularized in the 1960s by the character Jarrod Barkley on the television series 'The Big Valley'.
JASMINE f English, French
From the English word for the climbing plant with fragrant flowers which is used for making perfumes. It is derived from Persian یاسمن (yasamen)
(which is also a Persian name).
JASON m English, French, Greek Mythology (Anglicized), Biblical
From the Greek name Ιασων (Iason)
, which was derived from Greek ιασθαι (iasthai)
"to heal". In Greek mythology Jason was the leader of the Argonauts. After his uncle Pelias overthrew his father Aeson
as king of Iolcos, Jason went in search of the Golden Fleece in order to win back the throne. During his journeys he married the sorceress Medea
, who helped him gain the fleece and kill his uncle, but who later turned against him when he fell in love with another woman.... [more]
JENNIFER f English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish
From a Cornish form of the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar
). This name has only been common outside of Cornwall since the beginning of the 20th century, after it was featured in George Bernard Shaw's play 'The Doctor's Dilemma' (1906).
JESSICA f English, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, 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. Notable bearers include actresses Jessica Tandy (1909-1994) and Jessica Lange (1949-).
JORDAN m & f English, Macedonian
From the name of the river which flows between the countries of Jordan and Israel. The river's name in Hebrew is יַרְדֵן (Yarden)
, and it is derived from יָרַד (yarad)
meaning "descend" or "flow down". In the New Testament John
the Baptist baptizes Jesus
Christ in its waters, and it was adopted as a personal name in Europe after crusaders brought water back from the river to baptize their children. There may have been some influence from the Germanic name JORDANES
, notably borne by a 6th-century Gothic historian.... [more]
JUSTIN m English, French, Slovene
From the Latin name Iustinus
, which was derived from JUSTUS
. This was the name of several early saints including Justin Martyr, a Christian philosopher of the 2nd century who was beheaded in Rome. It was also borne by two Byzantine emperors. As an English name, it has occasionally been used since the late Middle Ages, though it did not become common until the 20th century. Famous modern bearers include pop stars Justin Timberlake (1981-) and Justin Bieber (1994-).
KAREEM m Arabic
Variant transcription of KARIM
. A famous bearer of this name is basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947-).
KATINA f Greek, Macedonian
Greek and Macedonian contracted form of KATERINA
. This name had a spike in popularity in America in 1972 when it was used for a newborn baby on the soap opera 'Where the Heart Is'.
KAYLA (1) f English
Combination of KAY (1)
and the popular name suffix la
. Use of the name was greatly increased in the 1980s after the character Kayla Brady began appearing on the American soap opera 'Days of Our Lives'.
KELSEY f & m English
From an English surname which is derived from town names in Lincolnshire. It may mean "Cenel's island", from the Old English name Cenel
"fierce" in combination with eg
KEVIN m English, Irish, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
Anglicized form of the Irish name Caoimhín
, derived from the older Irish Cóemgein
, composed of the Old Irish elements cóem
"kind, gentle, handsome" and gein
"birth". Saint Caoimhín established a monastery in Glendalough, Ireland in the 6th century and is the patron saint of Dublin. It became popular in the English-speaking world outside of Ireland in the 20th century.
KIMBERLY f English
From the name of the city of Kimberley
in South Africa, which was named after Lord KIMBERLEY
(1826-1902). The city came to prominence in the late 19th century during the Boer War. Kimberly
has been used as a given name since the mid-20th century, eventually becoming very popular as a feminine name.
KINGSTON m English (Modern)
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "king's town" in Old English.
KYLE m English
From a Scottish surname which was derived from Gaelic caol
meaning "narrows, channel, strait".
LAUREN f & m English
Variant or feminine form of LAURENCE (1)
. Originally a masculine name, it was first popularized as a feminine name by actress Betty Jean Perske (1924-), who used Lauren Bacall as her stage name.
LEO m German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English, Croatian, Late Roman
Derived from Latin leo
meaning "lion", a cognate of LEON
. It was popular among early Christians and was the name of 13 popes, including Saint Leo the Great who asserted the dominance of the Roman bishops (the popes) over all others in the 5th century. It was also borne by six Byzantine emperors and five Armenian kings. Another famous bearer was Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), a Russian novelist whose works include 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina'. Leo is also the name of a constellation and the fifth sign of the zodiac.
LINDA f English, Dutch, German, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, French, Latvian, Finnish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Ancient Germanic
Originally a medieval short form of Germanic names containing the element linde
meaning "soft, tender". It also coincides with the Spanish and Portuguese word linda
LINDSAY f & m English, Scottish
From an English and Scottish surname which was originally derived from the name of the region Lindsey
, which means "LINCOLN
island" in Old English. As a given name it was typically masculine until the 1960s (in Britain) and 1970s (in America) when it became popular for girls, probably due to its similarity to Linda
and because of American actress Lindsay Wagner (1949-).
LISA f English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Italian
Short form of ELIZABETH
. This is the name of the subject of one of the world's most famous paintings, the 'Mona Lisa', the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo by Leonardo da Vinci.
MACKENZIE f & m English
From the Gaelic surname Mac Coinnich
, which means "son of COINNEACH
". A famous bearer of the surname was William Lyon MacKenzie (1795-1861), a Canadian journalist and political rebel. As a feminine given name, it was popularized by the American actress Mackenzie Phillips (1959-).
MADISON f & m English
From an English surname meaning "son of MAUD
". It was not commonly used as a feminine name until after the movie 'Splash' (1984), in which the main character adopted it as her name after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue in New York City. A famous bearer of the surname was James Madison (1751-1836), one of the authors of the American constitution who later served as president.
MARK m English, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Biblical
Form of MARCUS
. Saint Mark was the author of the second gospel in the New Testament. Though the author's identity is not certain, some traditions hold him to be the same person as the John Mark who appears in the Book of Acts. He is the patron saint of Venice, where he is supposedly buried. Though in use during the Middle Ages, Mark
was not common in the English-speaking world until the 19th century, when it began to be used alongside the classical form Marcus
MASON m English
From an English surname meaning "stoneworker", from an Old French word of Germanic origin (akin to Old English macian
MEGAN f Welsh, English
Welsh diminutive of MARGARET
. In the English-speaking world outside of Wales it has only been regularly used since the middle of the 20th century.
MELISSA f English, Dutch, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology
Means "bee" in Greek. This was the name of a nymph that cared for young Zeus
in Greek mythology. It is also the name of the fairy who helps Rogero escape from the witch Alcina in Ludovico Ariosto's poem 'Orlando Furioso' (1516). As an English given name, Melissa
has been used since the 18th century.
MILEY f English (Modern)
In the case of actress and singer Miley Cyrus (1992-), it is a shortened form of the nickname Smiley
, given to her by her father because she often smiled. Although it was not at all common before she brought it to public attention, there are some examples of its use before her time, most likely as a diminutive of MILES
MISTY f English
From the English word misty
, ultimately derived from Old English. The jazz song 'Misty' (1954) by Erroll Garner may have helped popularize the name.
NEVAEH f English (Modern)
The word heaven
spelled backwards. It became popular after the musician Sonny Sandoval from the rock group P.O.D. gave it to his daughter in 2000.
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-).
OUIDA f Various
Used by the English author Ouida (1839-1908), born Marie Louise Ramé to a French father. Ouida was a pseudonym that arose from her own childhood pronunciation of her middle name LOUISE
PEYTON m & f English
From an English surname, originally a place name meaning "PÆGA
's town". A famous bearer was Peyton Randolph (1721-1775), the first president of the Continental Congress. It is also borne by American football quarterback Peyton Manning (1976-).
QUENTIN m French, English
French form of the Roman name QUINTINUS
. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint, a missionary who was martyred in Gaul. The Normans introduced this name to England. In America it was brought to public attention by president Theodore Roosevelt's son Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918), who was killed in World War I.
RHONDA f English
Probably intended to mean "good spear" from Welsh rhon
"spear" and da
"good", but possibly influenced by the name of the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, which means "noisy". It has been in use only since the 20th century. Its use may have been partially inspired by Margaret Mackworth, Viscountess Rhondda (1883-1956), a British feminist.
RYAN m Irish, English
From an Irish surname which was derived from Ó Riain
meaning "descendant of Rían". The given name Rían
probably means "little king" (from Irish rí
"king" combined with a diminutive suffix).
SAMANTHA f English, Italian, Dutch
Perhaps intended to be a feminine form of SAMUEL
, using the name suffix antha
(possibly inspired by Greek ανθος (anthos)
"flower"). It originated in America in the 18th century but was fairly uncommon until 1964, when it was popularized by the main character on the television show 'Bewitched'.
SAWYER m English (Modern)
From a surname meaning "sawer of wood" in Middle English. Mark Twain used it for the hero in his novel 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876).
SCOTT m English, Scottish
From an English and Scottish surname which referred to a person from Scotland or a person who spoke Scottish Gaelic. It is derived from Latin Scoti
meaning "Gaelic speaker", with the ultimate origin uncertain.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
TRAVIS m English
From the English surname Travis
(a variant of TRAVERS
). It was used in America in honour of William Travis (1809-1836), the commander of the Texan forces at the Battle of the Alamo.
TYLER m English
From an English surname meaning "tiler of roofs". The surname was borne by American president John Tyler (1790-1862).
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).
XANDER m Dutch, English (Modern)
Short form of ALEXANDER
. It was popularized in the English-speaking world by a character on the television series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (1997-2003).