The name Oliver arrived in Britain with the Norman conquest, from the French name Olivier, meaning olive tree, which itself comes from the Latin 'olivarius'. But the name may go back even further - it has been suggested it may be a variant on the Germanic/Scandinavian name Olaf.
Oliver was very popular as a given name in medieval times thanks to the heroic character of Olivier in the massively influential epic poem 'The Song of Roland'. But after the fall of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy in the 17th century, it fell out of favour.
The name began to regain popularity in the 19th century, and was used by Charles Dickens for the title character of Oliver Twist. It is now one of the most popular boys' baby names in the UK.
Famous people called Oliver:
Oliver Cromwell, military leader and Lord Protector
Oliver Hardy, early film comedy star (born Norvell Hardy)
Oliver Stone, Oscar-winning director and writer (born William Oliver Stone)
Oliver Reed, hell-raising British actor (born Robert Oliver Reed)
Oliver Twist, famous literary orphan
Can be shortened to: Ollie/Olly, Noll
Surnames to avoid Oliver with:
Surnames beginning with an 'R' might cause problems as when said aloud this combination of sounds may result in elision – when two words are slurred together end up sounding like one. Families named Hardy might want to think twice, lest they be accused of getting their offspring into a 'fine mess'.
Foreign variants include Olivier (French), Álvaro (Spanish), Amhlaoibh (Irish), and Olaf (Scandinavian).
Similar English names include Alfie, Albert, Alex, Oscar.
nglish variations include: Olivia, Olive
Celebrities who named their baby Oliver: