Boy Baby Name


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Quick Facts on Oliver

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • English, German, Latin, Nordic
  • Number of syllables:
  • 3
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 52
Simple meaning:
Elf-army; Ancestral relic, Olive tree (peace)

Characteristics of Oliver

  • Multi-talented
  • Intuitive
  • Oneness
  • Idealistic
  • Philanthropy
  • Independent
  • Perfection

Etymology & Historical Origin - Oliver

There are three possible origins for the English personal name Oliver. First, Oliver is typically considered the modern form of the Old Anglo-Saxon Ælfhere from the Germanic elements “ælf” meaning “elf” and “hari” meaning “army”. Elves featured prominently in early Germanic mythology as possessors of certain magical powers. The elf could use his supernatural powers to either hinder or benefit human progress depending on his mood (although the little devils evolved with more sinister powers in later folklore). As a result, the Olde English “ælf” component was commonly used in the creation of Old Anglo-Saxon personal names (many of which have survived the test of time): Ælfræd "Elf-counsel" (Alfred), Ælfwine "Elf-friend" (Alvin/Elvin), Ælfric "Elf-ruler" (Eldridge), Alberich “King of the elves” (Aubrey). And here’s another interesting little factoid: “ælfsogoða” was the Olde English word for “hiccups”, a condition believed to have been caused by elves. The second possible origin of Oliver comes from an old Scandinavian personal name Áleifr (Olaf), from the Old Norse “óleifr” meaning “ancestor; relic”. Lastly, Oliver’s existence as a personal name could very well have been influenced by Latin "olivarius" or “olive tree”. The olive tree is an emblem of peace, such as when one "extends an olive branch". The root of this can be found in the Bible, Genesis 8:11, when a dove comes to Noah with a freshly plucked olive leaf at the end of the Great Deluge. The olive leaf thus became a symbol of impending peace. The name Oliver appears in the medieval French poem “The Song of Roland” (considered one of the most important pieces of French literature written sometime between the late 11th to early 12th centuries). In the epic poem, Oliver is the contemplative and wise companion-in-arms to the headstrong and sometimes reckless hero Roland. As Oliver astutely informs his friend: “heroism tempered with common sense is a far cry from madness; / Reasonableness is to be preferred to recklessness.” This poem was enormously popular in the Middle Ages, so Oliver’s name became famous (as did Roland’s). Today Oliver is gigantically popular among English-speakers but nowhere more so than in England (currently ranked #2) or Australia (currently ranked #3). It’s also ranked quite high in Scotland, Canada, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the United States. They adore this name in all Scandinavian countries, as well – it’s a Top 10 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Popularity of the Name Oliver

Oliver is enjoying a revival in America right now. At the turn of the 20th century (over 100 years ago), the name was in relatively heavy usage. By the 1960s, however, Oliver fell out of favor and was considered old-fashioned and somewhat out-dated. Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century and Oliver has returned triumphantly. Clearly, Americans are rediscovering the name’s original English charm and unique style. Oliver recently landed a spot on America’s Top 100 in 2009 for the first time in over 100 years. Apparently, American parents finally “got the memo” from our friends across the pond.
Popularity of the Boy Name Oliver
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Oliver

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Oliver

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Oliver

    Oliver (The Song of Roland) "The Song of Roland” is the oldest known French epic poem, dating from around the time of the First Crusade in the late 11th century, and most probably intended as a call to arms by Christians against the heathens. The Christian King Charlemagne is engaged in a conquest in Spain, with one recalcitrant city and king standing. Through a series of treacherous betrayals within the ranks, Charlemagne’s nephew Roland, the hero of the poem, is left without reinforcements to defend against the oncoming Saracens. His good friend, the sensible, prudent and upright Oliver, implores him to blow upon the Oliphant horn and summon Charlemagne back with help. Roland refuses, with the result that twenty thousand men lose their lives. When this disaster is made clear to him, Roland blows mightily upon his horn of elephant tusk in order to summon Charlemagne back for revenge. This last act bursts his lungs, and he dies on the battlefield, a martyr, to be escorted to heaven by angels. The good Oliver, we hope, also makes it into celestial territory, albeit without heavenly escorts.

    Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (Annie) Daddy Warbucks was featured in the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray, debuting in The Chicago Tribune in 1924. He is a rags-to-riches industrialist who, along with his wife, takes in the orphaned child, Annie, and provides security and comfort for her during a series of adventures. Widely adapted to radio, movie, television and musical forms, Daddy Warbucks became famous enough to be named to Forbes’ list of fictional wealthiest characters. His name has taken on a slightly less respectable life of its own, having evolved into a slang term for someone who provides for the lavish security of another, i.e., “a Daddy Warbucks”.

    Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist) Oliver Twist is the much beloved eponymous hero of Charles Dickens’ early novel, “Oliver Twist,” published in 1837/38, portraying the sordid underbelly of social and economic injustice in Victorian England. The book has spawned dozens of movie and television adaptations, musicals, and an enduring affection for the little orphan boy. Oliver, sent to a “baby farm” after his mother dies giving birth to him, is eventually sent to a workhouse as is the custom of the day. He escapes from the mean-spirited poverty of the place, only to land in the grip of a vicious band of thieves in London, led by Mr. Fagin, and including the famous Artful Dodger, the brutal Bill Sikes, and the redemptive Nancy. Facing unbelievably horrendous cruelties, Oliver meets each challenge with the goodness inherent in him, and never sinks to the level of his tormentors. In typical Victorian (well, really, Dickensian) fashion, Oliver turns out to be the progeny of gentle folk after all (how else could he have managed such refined manners and speech, given his background?!). In perhaps the most quoted line from the book, Oliver begs: “Please, sir, I want some more.” Happy boy that Fate finally smiled upon, for he does, indeed, get lots more.

  • Popular Songs on Oliver

    Popular Songs on Oliver

    Moments with Oliver - an instrumental by Rachael Yamagata

    Oliver - a song by Kara's Flowers

    Oliver - a song by Anita Skorgan

    Oliver's Army - a song by Elvis Costello

    Oliver's House - a song by Sheila E

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Oliver

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Oliver

    Bedhead (Margie Palatini) - It was BIG. It was BAD. It was...BEDHEAD! No doubt about it, Oliver's having a very bad hair day. His parents and sister try to help. They push, they pull, they spritz and they spray; they goop, they glop, and they mousse. But Oliver's hair is still way out of control. And today's class picture day! What's a boy to do? Recommended for ages 3-7.

    Dial-A-Ghost (Iva Ibbotson) - When little Oliver Smith inherits the gloomy mansion Helton Hall, his scheming cousins, the Snodde-Brittles, are determined to rid themselves of the orphan heir. They have a perfect plan. They will hire some terrifying ghosts from the Dial-a-Ghost Agency to scare the boy to death. But, as in any Eva Ibbotson novel, the fantastic creatures do not necessarily behave as expected-they are a little too human for that. Soon the ghosts, led by a mysterious girl spirit named Adopta, have joined with Oliver against his cousins. But they may have underestimated the depths of the Snodde-Brittles' evil.... The laughs and frights are thick in this spooky story, which is sure to join Eva Ibbotson's other books as classics of the genre. Recommended for ages 8-11.

    Four-Story Mistake (Elizabeth Enright) - Meet the Melendys! Mona, the eldest, is thirteen. She has decided to become an actress and can recite poetry at the drop of a hat. Rush is twelve and a bit mischievous. Miranda is ten and a half. She loves dancing and painting pictures. Oliver is the youngest. At six, he is a calm and thoughtful person. They all live with their father, who is a writer, and Cuffy, their beloved housekeeper, who takes on the many roles of nurse, cook, substitute mother, grandmother, and aunt. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Ghost in the Noonday Sun (Sid Fleischman) - Oliver is about to turn 12 at midnight and can hardly wait for a lifetime of adventures at sea. His adventures begin sooner than he expects when he is kidnapped by a band of pirates headed by the villainous Captain Scratch. The Captain believes that people born at midnight can spot ghosts and that Oliver will be able to help them claim a guarded treasure. Fast paced adventure. Recommended for ages 9-13.

    Good Job Oliver (Laurel Molk) - Little Oliver Bunny has big plans for the annual strawberry contest. He wants to grow the winning berry but is told that he isn't big enough. His determination and hard work pay off though and he grows a prize berry after all. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    My Teacher for President (Kay Winters) - Oliver, a savvy second grader, has been learning about the president's job, and it seems to him that his teacher would be the perfect candidate. Look at her qualifications! She loves white houses, she's used to being followed everywhere, she attends lots of meetings, she finds jobs for people, and she believes in peace. Oliver's teacher is depicted during a typical school day contrasted with scenes of his heroine carrying out presidential duties. The apt correlation between these two very important jobs makes the book both useful and amusing. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver (Christopher Franceschelli) - Paper-over-board novelty book with a non-removable ribbon that shows Oliver the egg on one side and Oliver the chick on the other in penultimate spread. "Oliver was an egg. There was nothing he could do about it. He could roll to one side. He could roll to the other. He could even stand on his head. But he was simply an egg and that was that. Until one day, everything changed because miracles happen. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver (Syd Hoff) - “I always wanted to work in the circus," said Oliver. "I could be a dancing elephant." But the circus already has ten elephants and they don't need another one. So, Oliver must find somewhere else to go. After a series of comic adventures, Oliver's unique charm and talent win him the attention he deserves, and his dream finally comes true. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver Button Is a Sissy (Tomie DePaola) - Oliver Button would rather read, dance, and draw pictures than play football like the other boys. His classmates' taunts don't stop him from doing what he likes best, and his practice and persistence pay off in the end--when Oliver Button is a star. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Oliver Finds His Way (Phyllis Root) - Oliver the bear becomes lost when he chases a leaf to the edge of the woods, but then he comes up with an idea to find his way back home. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Oliver Has Something to Say! (Pamela Edwards) - Oliver loves trains ... or does he? Oliver is afraid of dogs ... or is he? How do we know, when he never says anything? People assume Oliver is shy, because his chatty parents and bossy sister always talk for him. When he starts prekindergarten and is asked what he would like to do, at first the words don't come out. But once he realizes that this is his big chance to speak up for himself, nothing can stop him! What does Oliver really want to say? Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver Who Would Not Sleep (Mara Bergman) - Oliver Donnington Rimington-Sneep COULDN'T and DIDN'T and WOULD NOT SLEEP! And why should he? As soon as his parents shut his door, Oliver's off on all kinds of explorations: painting and reading, drawing and racing - and a little trip to Mars for good measure. But his explorations end where all explorations should: safe at home, in a warm bed . . . asleep. OLIVER WHO WOULD NOT SLEEP is the perfect bedtime adventure. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver's Amazing Imagination (Angie Girtz) - Getting dressed in his clothes for the day, Oliver is suddenly in his special armor! He needs to be protected as he attempts to sneak past the scary monster guarding the dungeon. He must save the prisoners! Will he save the day and still make it in time for breakfast? Come share the day with Oliver and see where your imagination takes you! Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Oliver's Milkshake (Alison Bartlett) - First, it was his vegetables. Then, it was his fruit. Now, it's his milk - will Oliver ever like what's good for him? Spend a day on the farm with him and find out! Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Tales of Amanda Pig (Jean Van Leeuwen) - Amanda Pig, her brother Oliver, and their parents share a busy day, working and playing together from breakfast to bedtime. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Tales of Oliver Pig (Jean Van Leeuwen) - Oliver Pig experiences a preschooler's life in a loving and understanding family. In this, the first of a series of books, he bakes cookies with Mother on a rainy day, convinces his little sister Amanda to eat dinner, gets ready to play in the snow, and hides from Father. Recommended for ages 4-8.

  • Famous People Named Oliver

    Famous People Named Oliver

    Famous People Named Oliver - Oliver Cromwell (British military commander); Oliver Hardy (comedian from the comic duo “Laurel and Hardy”); Oliver Stone (director); Oliver Ellsworth (U.S. Supreme Court Justice); Oliver Platt (actor); Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (U.S. Supreme Court Justice); Oliver Seibert (hockey player)

  • Children of Famous People Named Oliver

    Children of Famous People Named Oliver

    Famous People who Named their Son Oliver - Bill Hudson (musician); Burt Bacharach (composer); Corbin Bernsen (actor); Fred Savage (actor); Goldie Hawn (actress); Jami Gertz (actress); Martin Short (comic); Olivia D'Abo (actress); Stephen Stills (musician)

  • Historic Figures

    Oliver - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Oliver Cromwell (25 Apr 1599 - 3 Sep 1658) - Oliver Cromwell was an impassioned Puritan and military genius from 17th century England who entered Parliament in 1628 during a period when relations were strained between Parliament and the king (Charles I, who wanted absolute power). When English Civil War broke out in 1642, Cromwell threw himself bravely and enthusiastically onto the front lines despite his lack of military experience and founded the New Model Army. Either it just came naturally to him, or else he was blindly following his faith in “God’s will;” in any case, Cromwell was instrumental in the army’s victory over the royalists. Charles I was executed in 1649 and England became a commonwealth without a monarchy. Under this new republic, Cromwell became its “Lord Protector.” Unfortunately the new political structure was just more of the same old, same old: dictatorships, disagreements, civil unrest, religious freedoms impinged upon, etc. Not to mention that the monarchy was a part of the national fabric and sorely missed, like it or not. After Cromwell’s death (his son was meant to be his successor but didn’t quite have old Dad’s leadership qualities), a political crisis ensued that resulted in the restoration of the monarchy. Charles II (son of Charles I) returned from exile in Europe to assume his rightful place as monarch in 1660, but also agreed to limitations of power.

Personality of the Boy Name Oliver

The number Nine personality represents the completion or ending of the cycle, and a need for perfection. This is the personality that moves from "self" to a greater understanding and compassion for the human condition and the world order. They want to make the world a better place. Nines are capable of great spiritual and humanitarian achievements. They are courageous and fearless, able to fight great battles on behalf of worthy causes. These personalities will not tolerate injustice. They are compassionate people with a strong sensitivity to others. They are able to both educate and inspire. Friendships and relationships are the lifeblood to the Nine, and they place a high value on love and affection. Nines are often exceptionally gifted artistically, and they have a keen imagination and enterprising mind.

Variations of the Baby Name - Oliver

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