The Baby Name Olivia

Some interesting women bear the name Olivia.

Over shoulder view of mid adult man carrying baby daughter on riverside
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Olivia has been floating around the top ten most popular girls' names for the past ten years, and peaked at No. 2 in 2014. From the Latin word for "olive," the name has been around since the 13th century, but its first prominent usage was in Shakespeare's 1602 comedy Twelfth Night.

In the play, Duke Orsino tries to win the fair Olivia's heart, but instead she falls in love with his messenger, Cesario.

The olive had particular significance in ancient times, as a symbol of the goddess Athena in Greece. Its leaves and branches were used in wreaths and peace offerings. With that connotation, it's understandable why parents would choose the name Olivia for their baby girl.

Popularity of Olivia

She barely made a blip on the radar of popular names for a long time, but in 1972, the popular TV show, The Waltons hit the airwaves, and one of its main characters was named Olivia, which sparked interest in the name. Though still not incredibly popular, the name climbed in prominence, and in 1976, the number of baby girls born with the name nearly quadrupled.

Olivia finally broke into the top 100 names in 1990, the top 50 names in 1993, and by 2001 achieved her status within the top 10. In 2014, she held the No. 2 spot. Despite her recent popularity, Olivia does not find a spot in the Top 100 Names of the Past Century., so it will be interesting to see if the name has staying power, or is just a millennial fad.

Olivia's Nicknames

The very formal-sounding Olivia has some very cute nicknames, and even an alternate spelling of Alivia. Shortened versions of Olivia include Liv, Livvy, Livia, and Ollie.

Sibling Name Suggestions for Olivia

Parents concerned about choosing a sibling name that meshes well with the name Olivia might consider another of the wildly popular girls' names of the millennial generation, which include Sophia, Isabella, Emma and Mia.

For a brother, modern-era names with some history would pair well with Olivia, including Noah, Zachary, Alexander or Ethan.

Middle Names for Olivia

Many names flow nicely with the first name Olivia, but ideally you'll want to try to avoid names that start in a vowel, since Olivia ends in a double-vowel sound. Classic names like Olivia Rose, Olivia Claire, Olivia Jane or Olivia Grace are lovely-sounding matches.

Well-Known Olivias in Pop Culture and History

Olivia has been widely used as a name for television characters, including Olivia Walton, Detective Olivia Benson from the crime drama Law & Order SVU, and the White House fixer Olivia Pope on the drama Scandal.

And of course there have been several real-life Olivias as well. Olivia de Havilland is the oldest living actor to win an Academy Award, and it was she was among the first to popularize the name in the U.S. In the 1980s, Australian singer Olivia Newton-John gave the name another boost, and actresses Olivia Munn and Olivia Wilde have kept the name popular among millennials.

Celebrity Babies Named Olivia

There have been no shortage of celebrity babies named Olivia in recent years. A partial list includes:

  • Olivia Jane Hanks (2011), daughter of actor Colin Hanks
  • Olivia Van Der Beek (2010), daughter of actor James Van Der Beek
  • Olivia Marie Armstrong (2010), daughter of cyclist Lance Armstrong

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