The Origin and Meaning of the Name Olivia

The origin of the name Olivia comes from the Latin Olivus, which means 'olive'. Keep reading to discover more about this beautiful name.
The Origin and Meaning of the Name Olivia

Last update: 16 September, 2022

If you are looking for an elegant name for your baby, but at the same time, one that’s strong, nice sounding, and with a very special enunciation, then you’ll love discovering the origin and meaning of the name Olivia.

This girl’s name meets all the above-mentioned characteristics and has become a trend for decades in several countries, especially in the United States, where it rank s first. Likewise, it has earned a preeminent place in the preferences of parents in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

The masculine alternative of Olivia is Oliver, which has become another of the most popular names for boys. So, with no further ado, let’s take a closer look at the name Olivia!

Discover the origin and meaning of the name Olivia

Olivia is a name with a very special meaning, and any parent would be proud to name their little girl this way. According to etymology, it comes from the Latin olivus, which means “olive”, and refers to the fruit or branch of this tree.

Its interpretation is defined as “the peaceful one”, “the one who protects peace”, or “the one who brings God’s peace”. And precisely, since ancient times, the olive branch is the representation of peace. The biblical reading of Genesis points out that at the end of the flood, a dove brought Noah an olive branch in its beak, a sign that the waters had receded from the earth. For Greeks, on the other hand, this branch is considered to be a symbol of wisdom and fertility.

Olivia in plays, cartoons, series, and movies

The first records of the name Olivia date back to 13th century England, when William Shakespeare popularized it by bringing the literary character Countess Olivia to life in his comedy Twelfth Night.

Then, its massive spread came in the 1970s, influenced by the release of Grease, the hit movie starring Olivia Newton-John. A few years earlier, Hollywood star Olivia de Havilland, who portrayed the character of Melanie in the classic film Gone with the Wind, drew attention to this name in the United States.

In more recent history, Olivia has enchanted parents due to different fictional characters, such as detective Olivia Benson, in the series Law & Order; and Olivia Pope, in the TV drama Scandal. The name Olive, a popular alternative to the name Olivia, also became well-known thanks to Popeye, the cartoon created by American cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, in 1929.

Popeye and Olive.
Olive, an alternative to the name Olivia, gained great popularity thanks to cartoon and TV series characters. Popeye’s wife is one of the most well-known examples.

Saint Olivia of Palermo

This name is also known thanks to Saint Olivia of Palermo, a 5th-century martyr who was born in this town on the island of Sicily. She is honored every June 10th and, in her honor, this date is celebrated as Olivia Day.

Saint Olivia dedicated herself to preaching Christianity and achieved the conversion of many people, among them the Arab community. However, her actions were questioned by the authorities, who ordered her capture and execution. She was scourged, fleshed out with a rake, and immersed in boiling oil. Her remains rest in the Cathedral of Palermo.

Variants of the name Olivia

We’ll show you the most well-known variants of the name Olivia:

  • Olyvia (English)
  • Alyvia (English)
  • Lyvia (English)
  • Livia (English / Latin)
  • Livie (Latin)
  • Olive (Irish)
  • Olivie (Latin)

Apart from variations on the name, we also come across nicknames or diminutives of Olivia such as Liv, Ollie, and Livie. The first is a Scandinavian word meaning ‘life’, and has been popularized by the actress Liv Tyler, who acted in the saga The Lord of the Rings.

Famous women with the name Olivia

Olivia Mary de Havilland.
The American actress Olivia Mary de Havilland, deceased in 2020, became one of the most famous women in the history of cinema for her role in the movie Gone with the Wind.

Many talented women dedicated to the arts have proudly carried the name Olivia. Discover some of them:

  • Olivia Newton-John: British-Australian singer and actress born in Cambridge, United Kingdom, on September 26, 1948. She passed away on August 8, 2022, at the age of 73. She’s known for starring in the movie Grease, alongside actor John Travolta.
  • Olivia Culpo: An American model and winner of the Miss Universe 2012 and Miss USA 2012 pageants.
  • Olivia Wilde: American actress and model, known for her role in the television series House.
  • Olivia Mary de Havilland: Was a British-American actress and winner of two Oscars. She became one of the most celebrated Hollywood stars in film history. She passed away on July 26, 2020, at the age of 104.
  • Olivia Goldsmith: American writer, best known for her novel The First Wives Club, which was adapted into a famous film in 1996.
  • Olivia Smart: Three-time British national champion figure skater. She currently competes for Spain, having been naturalized in 2017.

The personality of girls named Olivia

It’s said that girls named Olivia tend to have a shy and withdrawn nature. However, at the same time, they’re kind, affectionate, and have a great sense of humor. Likewise, they possess great inner strength, decisiveness, and self-confidence. They usually excel in the world of art.

Olivia, protector of peace

A beautiful and elegant name will be the best gift for your little girl, as she’ll carry it all her life. Your daughter will surely be fascinated when she grows up to know the origin and meaning of Olivia and will thank you for choosing it for her.

Choosing Olivia means marking her birth as a blessing that will come to bring peace to your home. If your little one is due soon, you’ll be giving her a beautiful name.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Bahr C, Hernández H. ¿Tienen significado los nombres propios?: Una aproximación al debate inconcluso en torno a la semántica y (difusa) categorización de nombres propios y comunes. Rev. Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie. 2018; 134 (2): 329-348. Disponible en:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.