Meaning & History
From Greek Σίβυλλα (Sibylla), meaning "prophetess, sibyl". In Greek and Roman legend the sibyls were 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 imported it to England, where it was spelled both Sibyl and Sybil. It became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was revived in the 19th century, perhaps helped by Benjamin Disraeli's novel Sybil (1845).
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Entry updated November 20, 2020