The name Olivia first appears in the English language in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which made its stage debut in 1602, in which the countess Olivia is a wealthy Greek noblewoman. It is possible that Shakespeare himself created the name.
'Olivia' appears to be based on the Late Latin name Oliva, meaning 'olive', but Shakespeare might have intended it as an adaptation of the male name Oliver.
It was in use as a girls' name since the 18th century, although not a popular one - but since the 1990s, Olivia has become one of the top girls' names in the UK, the US and Australia. It was the second most popular baby name for girls born in the UK in 2012.
Famous people called Olivia:
Olivia de Havilland, British-American actress
Olivia Newton-John, peppy Australian singer and actress
Olivia Colman, BAFTA-winning English actress (born Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman)
Olivia Wilde, American actress (born Olivia Jane Cockburn)
Olivia Pope, lead character of hit drama Scandal
Can be shortened to:
Liv, Livia, Livvy, Ollie
Surnames to avoid Olivia with:
Surnames beginning with an 'I' sound, like Inman or Ingman, might cause problems as when said aloud this combination of sounds may result in elision – when two words slurred together end up sounding like one.
Foreign variants include Olivie (French), Olivette (French, literary) and Olivera (Croatian).
Similar English names include Alexa, Emilia and Amelia.
The masculine variation of Olivia is Oliver.
Celebrities who named their baby Olivia:
Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, Roald Dahl
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