The name Jessica first appears in its modern form in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which Jessica is the rebellious daughter of the money lender Shylock.
Shakespeare probably based it on the Biblical name Iskah, which was rendered as Jeska in the English-language bibles of the time. The original Hebrew comes from the verb 'to see' and implies foresight, or the ability to see into the future.
Although Shakespeare coined the name in 16th century, Jessica only became a common name for girls in the second half of the 20th century, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. It remains one of the most enduringly popular names for baby girls in the UK.
Famous people called Jessica:
Jessica Alba, American model and actress
Jessica Ennis-Hill, British athlete and Olympic medallist
Jessica Simpson, American singer and actress
Jessica Hynes, British comedy actress (born Tallulah Jessica Elina Stevenson)
Jessie J, British pop star (born Jessica Ellen Cornish)
Jessica Fletcher, plucky Murder, She Wrote heroine
Can be shortened to:
Jess, Jessie, Jesse, Jessa
Surnames to avoid Jessica with:
Surnames beginning with a 'c' or 'k' sound (like Carter or King) might prove to be a bit of a tongue-twister.
Foreign variants include Gessica (Italian), Yésica (Spanish) and Seasaídh (Irish).
Similar English names include Jasmine, Jenny, Erica and Jemma.
The masculine variation of Jessica is Jesse, which (somewhat confusingly!) can be used for either boys or girls.
Celebrities who named their baby Jessica:
Harry Potter author J.K Rowling
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