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Olivia - What Does Your Name Mean?

Updated on September 24, 2012

What does the name Olivia mean, what is its origin and who are the famous Olivias? Discover the story behind the name.

Name Meaning: Olivia

Olivia is a female name pronounced Ol-liv-ee-uh.

The name Olivia is derivative of the male name Olivier or Oliver, or the Latin 'oliva'. Depending on the origin, it can have several meanings.

The interesting Germanic meaning is literally "elf army" or "elf warrier", while the old Norse meaning is "ancestor's descendant". The Latin word 'oliva' means "olive' or "olive tree". The olive traditionally represents "peace".

Name Origin: Olivia

"Olivia" spelt in this way is considered English because it first appears in William Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night" which he wrote sometime soon after 1600. It is unknown how he chose the name - perhaps it was an alteration of the older French/Dutch male name "Olivier" or perhaps he named her after the olive tree.

Shakespeare's Olivia is a beautiful and wealthy noblewoman who lives in Illyria. She is grief-stricken by the news of her brother's death. While she is in mourning, a number of men pine for her love and wish to marry her, but she refuses to see suitors.

Another famous Olivia is the Roman Catholic Saint Olivia, whose name is a derivative of "Olive".

According the legend, Olivia was a beautiful girl from a noble family who lived in Palermo, Sicily, in the 9th century. When she was just thirteen years old, she was abducted and taken to be a slave in Tunis. There she was allowed to live in a cave, where she converted many people to Christianity by her miraculous deeds and healing. When this came to the attention of the authorities, she was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death by burning. However, after she converted her executioners, she was instead beheaded.

Saint Olivia is the patron saint of music, and her feast day is June 10th.

Nicknames for Olivia

Livvy, Livia, Liv, Livia, Lulu, Ollie

Famous Olivias

Olivia Mariamne Devenish - British social reformer - 1771-1814
Olivia Ward Bush - American writer - 1869–1944
Olivia Nordgren - Swedish politician - 1880-1969
Olivia Manning - British writer - 1908-1980
Olivia de Havilland - American actress - born 1916
Olivia Newton-John - Australian singer and actress - born 1948
Olivia De Berardinis - American painter - born 1948
Olivia Goldsmith - American writer - 1949-2004
Olivia O'Leary - Irish journalist - born 1949
Olivia Hussey - British actress - born 1951
Olivia Chow - Canadian politician - born 1957
Olivia Williams - English actress - born 1968
Olivia Judson - British biologist - born 1970
Olivia Colman - British actress - born 1974
Olivia Lufkin - Japanese singer - born 1979
Olivia Munn - American actress - born 1980
Olivia Ruiz - French singer - born 1980
Olivia - American singer - born Olivia Longott 1981
Olivia Wilde - American actress - born 1984
Olivia Ong - Singaporean singer - born 1985
Olivia Thirlby - American actress - born 1986
Olivia Tennet - New Zealand actress - born 1991
Olivia Olson - American singer and actress - born 1992
Olivia Price - Australian Olympic sailor - born 1992
Olivia Bonilla - American singer/songwriter and actress - born 1992
Olivia - an American city in Minnesota

Olivia in Fiction

Olivia (the pig) - character in children's books and animations by Ian Falconer
Olivia - character in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night"
Saint Olivia - Roman Catholic patron saint of music
Olivia Robinson - character in children's TV series "Sesame Street"
Oliva Walton - character in the TV series "The Waltons"
Olivia Fuller - character in the TV animation "Family Guy"
Olivia Vertigo - character in the "Children of the Red King" books by Jenny Nimmo
Olivia Walter - character in the "Main Street" books by Ann M. Martin
Olivia Kidney - character in the "Olivia Kidney" books by Ellen Potter
Olivia Burke - character in the TV series "Gossip Girl"
Olivia Benson - character in the TV series "Law & Order:Special Victims Unit"
Olivia Harper - character in the TV series "Grey's Anatomy"
Olivia Dunham - character in the TV series "Fringe"
Olivia Benford - character in the TV series "FlashForward"
Olivia - a novel by Judith Rossner
Olivia - a novel by Dorothy Strachey
Olivia - a novel by Rosie Rushton
Olivia - a Finnish magazine for women
Olivia Falconeri - character in the soap opera "General Hospital"
Olivia Blake - character in the soap opera "Sunset Beach"
Olivia Spencer - character in the soap opera "Guiding Light"
Olivia Barber Winters - character in the soap opera "The Young and the Restless"

Olivia in Music

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