Girl Baby Name

Olivia

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Quick Facts on Olivia

  • Gender:
  • Girl
  • Origin:
  • English, French, Latin
  • Number of syllables:
  • 4
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 3
Pronunciation:
ә-LIV-ee-ә
Simple meaning:
Olive tree, emblem of peace

Characteristics of Olivia

  • Freedom-loving
  • Adventurous
  • Adaptable
  • Intellectual
  • Easygoing
  • Progressive
  • Sensual

Etymology & Historical Origin - Olivia

Believe it or not, the name Olivia was first coined by William Shakespeare in his play Twelfth Night (c. 1599). It is thought that he chose the name as the feminine version of "Oliver" or simply the Latin word for olive, "oliva". 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 after the great floods subsided. The olive leaf became a symbol of impending peace. Perhaps this is why Shakespeare chose the name Olivia for his lovely heroine, as a way of foreshadowing the “peaceful” conclusion to his comedic play about a countess in mourning, a shipwrecked castaway, disorderly suitors, disguises and mistaken identities. The play also takes place in the ancient region of Illyria on the western Balkan Peninsula against the Adriatic Sea (a former province of the Roman Empire). By coining the name Olivia, Shakespeare may have also been looking for a more exotic or unusual name for his foreign Illyrian countess. Olivia is currently the #1 ranked girl’s name in England (while Oliver is the #1 name for boys among Brits). Apparently England can’t get enough of their olives! Olivia is also ranked in first place in Canada. It’s currently the third most popular name in Australia and ranked fourth in the United States and Scotland. Olivia is also heavily used among nations of northern Europe.

Popularity of the Name Olivia

The name Olivia has never left the Top 500 list of girl names in the United States in the past 100+ years so this is a name which has been in constant, uninterrupted use. For most of the 20th century, Olivia was used on the higher end of moderation. In other words, the name was familiar and fairly common, but by no means trendy or ϋber-popular. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Olivia started to see significant jumps up the female naming charts (about 300 positions in one decade). This was influenced by a widely watched and long-running television drama series called “The Waltons” which featured a matriarch named Olivia Walton. American parents of the 70s took note and started to use the girl’s name Olivia with greater frequency. The name stuck and caught on in popularity as the decades progressed. At the turn of the 21st century (2001), Olivia finally achieved a hard-won spot on the Top 10 list of most favorite girl names in America, and she’s showing no signs of budging. Olivia shares the same "antique" turn-of-the-century charm as many other popular girl names today, such as Sophia, Emma, and Abigail. While Olivia's current trendiness cannot be denied, the name has been popular for over a hundred years. Its historic endurance speaks to the name's universal appeal and staying power.
Popularity of the Girl Name Olivia
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Olivia

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Olivia

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Olivia

    Olivia (The Color Purple) Olivia is a character in Alice Walker's "The Color Purple". She is the biological daughter of Celie and her stepfather. Olivia is adopted by a minister and his wife, along with her brother, and is eventually brought to Africa. There, Olivia befriends a local village girl. Their relationship serves to illuminate the strength in bonds between women. There is a lovely moment in the book when Celie writes: "somebody ole would have eyes like that. So I call her ole Livia."

    Olivia (Twelfth Night) Olivia is a character in one of William Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedies, Twelfth Night, believed to have been written around 1600/01. Olivia is a beautiful young noblewoman, who is of great interest to the many suitors who pursue her, but she is grief stricken over the recent death of her brother, and prefers to remain in deep mourning for seven years. However, that vow goes by the wayside when Viola, disguised as a male servant, Cesario, appears on the scene, and Olivia falls hard for her/him. Viola believes that her own brother, Sebastian, has died in a shipwreck, so already these two have a lot in common, what with the dead brothers and all. Olivia puts all her considerable charms to work to entice Cesario to marry her. In this, she is being pretty cool – not only is she appreciating the androgynous nature of gender, she is also laying aside matters of social standing and class. Way to go, Olivia! Naturally, we cannot leave things at this pass in the 17th century, but Olivia takes a pretty good crack at it. In the end, she marries Viola’s look-alike brother, Sebastian, who is not only a nobleman himself, he is also not dead. All’s well that ends well.

  • Popular Songs on Olivia

    Popular Songs on Olivia

    Olivia - a song by Edie Brickell

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Olivia

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Olivia

    Dinner with Olivia (Emily Sollinger) - Olivia is thrilled to be invited to Francine's house for dinner...she just knows it's going to be a very sophisticated evening. And then it's time for Olivia to have Francine over...but what will Francine think of her family's casual table manners? Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Nate the Great on the Owl Express (Marjorie Sharmat) - All aboard the Owl Express! Nate, the great detective, and his dog Sludge, hit the rails on their latest case. Their mission: To guard an owl named Hoot. Hoot belongs to Nate's cousin, Olivia Sharp, and she thinks someone on the train might be out to get her feathered friend. But whooo? Recommended for ages 5-8.

    Olivia (Ian Falconer) - Have fun with Olivia: dressing up, singing songs, building sand castles, napping (maybe), dancing, painting on walls, and -- whew! -- going to sleep at last. “Olivia” is part of an award winning series of books by Ian Falconer. Other “must have” titles from this series are Olivia Saves the Circus; Olivia's Opposites; Olivia Counts; Olivia...and the Missing Toy; Teatro Olivia; Olivia Forms a Band; Dream Big (starring Olivia); Olivia Helps with Christmas; Olivia Goes to Venice; and Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Olivia and the Babies (Jodie Shepherd) - Olivia notices all the attention her mom gets when she's out with baby William. This makes Olivia wonder... what if she had "Little Olivias" to show off? Before long, Olivia's pets are wearing baby clothes and have had their names changed to Little Olivia 1 and 2. A fun new spin on "playing house", Olivia style! Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Olivia the Princess (Natalie Shaw) - A real princess is coming to Olivia s town! And when Olivia and Princess Stephanie meet, they realize they look very much alike so much so that they trade places. Princess Stephanie will go home to Olivia s house, and Olivia will spend the day in the castle! Enjoy the royal treatment with Olivia in this beautiful book with intricate pop-up windows and pull-tabs that allow readers to interact with the story. Olivia is thrilled to learn a real-life princess will visit her town. When Princess Stephanie shows up, she and Olivia meet and realize they look almost exactly alike! Hilarity ensues in this charming story; a sure fire hit! Recommended for ages 3-6.

  • Famous People Named Olivia

    Famous People Named Olivia

    Famous People Named Olivia - Olivia Newton-John (singer/actress); Olivia De Havilland (actress); Olivia Wilde (actress)

  • Children of Famous People Named Olivia

    Children of Famous People Named Olivia

    Famous People who Named their Daughter Olivia - Al Pacino (actor); Beverly D'Angelo (actress); Denzel Washington (actor); Eddie Vedder (musician); Joe Piscopo (comic); Joely Fisher (actress); Justine Bateman (actress); Kirk Cameron (actor); Lance Armstrong (cyclist); Roald Dahl (author); Sara Evans (country singer); Wanda Sykes (comic/actress)

  • Historic Figures

    Olivia - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Olivia - We cannot find any people of historical significance with the first name Olivia.

Personality of the Girl Name Olivia

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Variations of the Baby Name - Olivia

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