VANCE m English
From an English surname that was derived from Old English fenn
meaning "marsh, fen"
VANESSA f English, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Dutch
Invented by author Jonathan Swift for his 1726 poem Cadenus and Vanessa
. 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.
VAUGHN m Welsh, English
From a Welsh surname that was derived from Welsh bychan
VELDA f English
Meaning unknown, possibly a derivative of the Germanic element wald
meaning "power, rule"
VELMA f English
Probably a variant of WILMA
, the spelling with an e
perhaps due to the influence of SELMA (1)
. This name has been in use since the 19th century.
VELVET f English
From the English word for the soft fabric. It became used as a given name after the main character in Enid Bagnold's book National Velvet
(1935) and the movie (1944) and television (1960) adaptations.
VENETIA f English (Rare), Greek
Originally this was probably a Latinized form of GWYNEDD
. It also coincides with the Latin name of the city of Venice
in Italy. This name was borne by the celebrated beauty Venetia Stanley (1600-1633). Benjamin Disraeli used it in his novel entitled Venetia
VERA (1) f Russian, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Belarusian, Georgian
in Russian, though it is sometimes associated with the Latin word verus "true"
. It has been in general use in the English-speaking world since the late 19th century.
VERE m English (Rare)
From a Norman surname, which was from a French place name, which was itself derived from a Gaulish word meaning "alder"
VERITY f English
From the English word meaning "verity, truth"
. This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
VERNA f English
Feminine form of VERNON
, sometimes associated with the Latin word vernus "spring"
. It has been in use since the 19th century.
VERNON m English
From a Norman surname, which was from a French place name, ultimately derived from the Gaulish word vern
VERONICA f English, Italian, Romanian, Late Roman
Latin alteration of BERENICE
, the spelling influenced by the ecclesiastical Latin phrase vera icon
meaning "true image"
. This was the name of a legendary saint who wiped Jesus
' face with a towel and then found his image imprinted upon it. Due to popular stories about her, the name was occasionally used in the Christian world in the Middle Ages. It was borne by the 17th-century Italian saint and mystic Veronica Giuliani. As an English name, it was not common until the 19th century, when it was imported from France and Scotland.
VICTOR m English, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Dutch, Swedish, Late Roman
Roman name meaning "victor, conqueror"
in Latin. It was common among early Christians, and was borne by several early saints and three popes. It was rare as an English name during the Middle Ages, but it was revived in the 19th century. A famous bearer was the French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who authored The Hunchback of Notre Dame
and Les Misérables
VINAL m English (Rare)
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "vine hall"
in Middle English.
VINCENT m English, French, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Slovak
From the Roman name Vincentius
, which was derived from Latin vincere
meaning "to conquer"
. This name was popular among early Christians, and it was borne by many saints. As an English name, Vincent
has been in use since the Middle Ages, though it did not become common until the 19th century. Famous bearers include the French priest Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) and the post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).
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.
VIRGIL m English, Romanian
From the Roman family name Vergilius
, which is of unknown meaning. This name was borne by the 1st-century BC Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro, commonly called Virgil, who was the writer of the Aeneid
. Due to him, Virgil
has been in use as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century.
VIRGINIA f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek, 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)
WALDO m English, Ancient Germanic
Originally a short form of Germanic names containing the element wald
. In the Middle Ages this name became the basis for a surname. Its present use in the English-speaking world is usually in honour of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), an American poet and author who wrote on transcendentalism. He was (probably) named after the 12th-century Christian radical Peter Waldo, who was from Lyons in France. Though Waldo and his followers, called the Waldensians, were declared heretics at the time, they were later admired by Protestants.
WALKER m English
From an English surname that referred to the medieval occupational of a walker, also known as a fuller. Walkers would tread on wet, unprocessed wool in order to clean and thicken it. The word ultimately derives from Old English wealcan
WALLACE m English, Scottish
From a Scottish and English surname that originally meant "Welsh"
in Norman French. It was first used as a given name in honour of Sir William Wallace, a Scottish hero who led the fight against English invasion in the 13th century.
WALLIS m & f English (Rare)
From a surname that 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.
WALT m English
Short form of WALTER
. A famous bearer was the American animator and filmmaker Walt Disney (1901-1966).
WALTER m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Italian, Ancient Germanic
From a Germanic name meaning "ruler of the army"
, composed of the elements wald
"rule" and hari
"army". The Normans brought it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Wealdhere
. A famous bearer of the name was the English courtier, poet and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618). It was also borne by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), a Scottish novelist who wrote Ivanhoe
and other notable works.
WALTON m English
From a surname that was originally taken from various Old English place names meaning "stream town"
, "wood town"
, or "wall town"
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
WARD (1) m English
From an occupational surname for a watchman, derived from Old English weard
WARDELL m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "watch hill"
in Old English.
WARREN m English
From an English surname that was derived either from Norman French warrene
meaning "animal enclosure"
, or else from the town of La Varenne in Normandy. This name was borne by the American president Warren G. Harding (1865-1923).
WARWICK m English (Rare)
From a surname that was derived from the name of a town in England, itself from Old English wer
"weir, dam" and wíc
WASHINGTON m English
From a surname that was originally derived from the name of an English town, itself meaning "settlement belonging to WASSA's people"
. The given name is usually given in honour of George Washington (1732-1799), commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States.
WATSON m English
From an English surname meaning "son of WAT"
. A famous fictional bearer of the surname was Dr. Watson, the assistant to Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mystery stories beginning in 1887.
WAYLON m English
Variant of WAYLAND
. This name was popularized by country music singer Waylon Jennings (1937-2002), who was originally named Wayland.
WAYNE m English
From an occupational surname meaning "wagon maker"
, derived from Old English wægn
"wagon". Use of it as a given name can be partly attributed to the popularity of the actor John Wayne (1907-1979). Another famous bearer is Canadian hockey player Wayne Gretzky (1961-), generally considered the greatest player in the history of the sport.
WEBSTER m English
From an occupational surname meaning "weaver"
, derived from Old English webba
WELDON m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "hill near a spring"
in Old English.
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.
WESLEY m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "west meadow"
in Old English. It has been sometimes given in honour of John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism.
WESTON m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "west town"
in Old English.
WHITAKER m English (Rare)
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "white field"
in Old English.
WHITNEY f & m English
From a surname that 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).
WILBUR m English
From an English surname that was originally derived from the nickname Wildbor
meaning "wild boar"
in Middle English. This name was borne by Wilbur Wright (1867-1912), one half of the Wright brothers, who together invented the first successful airplane. Wright was named after the Methodist minister Wilbur Fisk (1792-1839).
WILBURN m English
From a surname that was probably originally derived from an unknown place name. The second element corresponds with Old English burne
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.
WILEY m English
From a surname that was derived from various English place names: towns named WILLEY
or the River WYLYE
WILFORD m English
From a surname that was originally derived from a place name meaning "willow ford"
in Old English.
WILFRED m English
Means "desiring peace"
from Old English wil
"will, desire" and friþ
"peace". Saint Wilfrid was a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop. The name was rarely used after the Norman Conquest, but it was revived in the 19th century.
WILKIE m English
From an English surname that was originally derived from a diminutive of the given name WILLIAM
WILL m English
Short form of WILLIAM
or other names beginning with Will
. A famous bearer is American actor Will Smith (1968-), whose full name is Willard.
WILLARD m English
From an English surname that was derived from the Germanic given name WILLIHARD
(or the Old English cognate Wilheard
WILLIAM m English
From the Germanic name Willahelm
meaning "will helmet"
, composed of the elements wil
"will, desire" and helm
"helmet, protection". Saint William of Gellone was an 8th-century cousin of Charlemagne
who became a monk. The name was common among the Normans, and it became extremely popular in England after William the Conqueror was recognized as the first Norman king of England in the 11th century. From then until the modern era it has been among the most common of English names (with John
WILLIE m & f English
Masculine or feminine diminutive of WILLIAM
. A notable bearer is the retired American baseball player Willie Mays (1931-).
WILLOUGHBY m English (Rare)
From a surname that was originally derived from a place name meaning "willow town"
in Old English.
WILSON m English
From an English surname meaning "son of WILLIAM"
. The surname was borne by Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the American president during World War I.
WILT m English
Short form of WILTON
. This name was borne by basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999).
WILTON m English
From a surname that was derived from the names of several English towns. The town names mean variously "willow town", "well town" or "town on the River Wylye" in Old English. The river name is itself of Celtic origin, possibly meaning "tricky".
WINDSOR m & f English (Rare)
From an English surname that was from a place name meaning "riverbank with a windlass"
in Old English (a windlass is a lifting apparatus). This has been the surname of the royal family of the United Kingdom since 1917.
WINFIELD m English
From a surname that originated from various English place names, themselves derived from Old English winn
"meadow, pasture" and feld
WINFRED m English
Means "friend of peace"
from the Old English elements wine
"friend" and friþ
"peace". This was the birth name of the 8th-century missionary Saint Boniface. It became rare after the Norman Conquest, though it was revived in the 19th century.
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.
WINSLOW m English (Rare)
From a surname that was derived from an Old English place name meaning "hill belonging to WINE"
. A famous bearer of this name was American painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910).
WINSTON m English
From a surname derived from an English place name, which was in turn derived from the Old English given name WYNNSTAN
. A famous bearer was Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the British prime minister during World War II. This name was also borne by the fictional Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984
WINTHROP m English
From a surname that was originally taken from town names meaning either "WINE
's village" or "WIGMUND
's village" in Old English.
WINTON m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "enclosure belonging to WINE"
in Old English.
WOODROW m English
From a surname that was originally derived from a place name meaning "row of houses by a wood"
in Old English. This name was popularized by American president Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924).
WOODY m English
Either a diminutive of WOODROW
, or else from a nickname derived from the English word wood
. A famous bearer is film director Woody Allen (1935-).
WREN f English (Modern)
From the English word for the small songbird. It is ultimately derived from Old English wrenna
WRIGHT m English
From an occupational surname meaning "craftsman"
, ultimately from Old English wyrhta
. Famous bearers of the surname were the Wright brothers (Wilbur 1867-1912 and Orville 1871-1948), the inventors of the first successful airplane, and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), an American architect.
WYATT m English
From an English surname that was derived from the medieval given name WYOT
. Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was an American lawman and gunfighter involved in the famous shootout at the OK Corral.
WYSTAN m English (Rare)
From the Old English name Wigstan
, composed of the elements wig
"battle" and stan
"stone". This was the name of a 9th-century Anglo-Saxon saint. It became rare after the Norman Conquest, and in modern times it is chiefly known as the first name of the British poet W. H. Auden (1907-1973).
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
XAVIER m English, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish (Archaic)
Derived from the Basque place name Etxeberria
meaning "the new house"
. This was the surname of the Jesuit priest Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) who was born in a village by this name. He was a missionary to India, Japan, China, and other areas in East Asia, and he is the patron saint of the Orient and missionaries. His surname has since been adopted as a given name in his honour, chiefly among Catholics.
YANCY m & f English
From a surname, which was an Americanized form of the Dutch surname Jansen
meaning "JAN (1)'s son"
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]
YORK m English
From a surname, which was derived from York, the name of a city in northern England. The city name was originally Eburacon
, Latinized as Eboracum
, meaning "yew" in Brythonic, but it was altered by association with Old English Eoforwic
, meaning "pig farm".
ZACHARIAH m English, Biblical
Variant of ZECHARIAH
. This spelling is used in the King James Version of the Old Testament to refer to one of the kings of Israel (called Zechariah in other versions).
ZACHARY m English, Biblical
Usual English form of ZACHARIAS
, used in some English versions of the New Testament. This form has been in use since the Middle Ages, though it did not become common until after the Protestant Reformation. It was borne by American military commander and president Zachary Taylor (1784-1850).
ZANE (1) m English
From an English surname of unknown meaning. It was introduced as a given name by American author Zane Grey (1872-1939). Zane was in fact his middle name - it had been his mother's maiden name.
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.
ZECHARIAH m Biblical, English
From the Hebrew name זְכַרְיָה (Zekharyah)
meaning "YAHWEH remembers"
, from זָכַר (zakhar)
meaning "to remember" and יָה (yah)
referring to the Hebrew God. This is the name of many characters in the Old Testament, including the prophet Zechariah, the author of the Book of Zechariah. The name also appears in the New Testament belonging to the father of John
the Baptist, who was temporarily made dumb because of his disbelief. He is regarded as a saint by Christians. In some versions of the New Testament his name is spelled in the Greek form Zacharias
or the English form Zachary
. As an English given name, Zechariah
has been in occasional use since the Protestant Reformation.
ZELLA f English
Meaning unknown, possibly an invented name. It arose in the 19th century.
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, German, Czech, Ancient Greek
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.... [more]
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.