Gender Feminine
Pronounced Pron. o-LIV-ee-ə(English) o-LEE-vya(Italian, German) o-LEE-bya(Spanish) AW-LEE-VYA(French) O-lee-vee-ah(Finnish)  [key·IPA]

Meaning & History

This name was used in this spelling by William Shakespeare for a character in his comedy Twelfth Night (1602). This was a rare name in Shakespeare's time [1] that may have been based on Oliva or Oliver, or directly from the Latin word oliva meaning "olive". In the play Olivia is a noblewoman who is wooed by Duke Orsino but instead falls in love with his messenger Cesario, who is actually Viola in disguise.

Olivia has been used in the English-speaking world since the 18th century, though it did not become overly popular until the last half of the 20th century. Its rise in popularity in the 1970s may have been inspired by a character on the television series The Waltons (1972-1982) [2] or the singer Olivia Newton-John (1948-2022). In 1989 it was borne by a young character on The Cosby Show, which likely accelerated its growth. It reached the top rank in England and Wales by 2008 and in the United States by 2019.

A famous bearer was the British-American actress Olivia de Havilland (1916-2020).

Related Names

VariantsAlivia, Olyvia(English)
DiminutivesLiv, Livia, Livvy, Livy, Ollie(English) Viivi(Finnish) Vivi(Swedish) Vivi(Norwegian) Vivi(Danish)
Other Languages & CulturesOlívie, Olivie(Czech) Olívia(Hungarian) Oliwia(Polish) Olívia(Portuguese) Olívia(Slovak)
Same SpellingOlívia
User SubmissionÓlivía

People think this name is

classic   formal   upper class   natural   wholesome   refined   serious  

Name Days

Austria: March 5
Estonia: April 16
Finland: May 29
France: March 5
Spain: February 3
Spain: June 10
Sweden: April 15

Images

Depiction of Olivia from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', by artist Charles Robert Leslie (1876)Depiction of Olivia from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', by artist Charles Robert Leslie (1876)

Categories

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Sources & References

  1. Uckelman, Sara L. "Names Shakespeare Didn't Invent: Imogen, Olivia, and Viola Revisited." Names: A Jornal of Onomastics, vol. 67, no. 3, Sep. 2019, page 155.
  2. Evans, Cleveland Kent. The Great Big Book of Baby Names. Publications International, 2006, page 539.
Entry updated June 9, 2023