Ava (given name)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Pronunciation/ˈvə/ AY-və
/ˈɑːvə/ AH-və

Ava is a feminine given name in the English and in other languages. Its recent popularity may be linked to a number of celebrity babies of the 1990s, who were ultimately named after American actress Ava Gardner (who had died in 1990).


The medieval name Ava is an abbreviation of a Germanic name containing the first element aw-, of uncertain meaning. Old High German (8th to 9th centuries) dithematic feminine names with this element include Avagisa, Avuldis, Awanpurc, Auwanildis.[1]

Saint Ava was a 9th-century princess, daughter of Pepin II of Aquitaine. Ava was also the name of a medieval German woman poet. This name is the origin of the Norman French name of Aveline, which in turn gave rise to the English given name of Evelyn.[citation needed]

As evidence for the name is lacking between the later medieval and the modern period, the Oxford Dictionary of First Names supposes that it was coined anew as a modern innovation, presumably as a variant of Eva,[2] or (like Eva) used as an anglicization of the Irish name Aoife.[3]

Āvā is also a feminine given name in the Persian language, meaning "voice, sound".

In the Russian language, Ava (А́ва) may be a diminutive form of either the female names Avelina,[4] Avenira,[5] Aventina,[5] Avgusta/Avgustina,[6] Aviafa,[5] Aviya (a form of Abijah),[7] Avreliya,[8] Avreya,[8] and Avrora (a form of Aurora),[8] or the male names Avdey,[9] Avel,[4] Avenir,[4] Aventin,[5] Avgust,[6] Avim,[5] Avram (a form of Abram),[7] Avrelian,[8] and Avrely.[8]

Modern use[edit]

Ava Astor (1910s photograph)
Ava Gardner in the trailer to My Forbidden Past (1951)

The name was popularized in the United States by socialite Ava Lowle Willing (1868–1958), who married John Jacob Astor IV, and their daughter, socialite and heiress Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902–1956).

Ava Gardner (1922–1990) signed to a contract by MGM Studios in 1941 and gained Hollywood stardom with her performance in The Killers (1946). She became one of Hollywood's leading actresses during the 1950s to 1970s and is the ultimate reason for the given name's continued popularity.[2]

Recent popularity[edit]

The name is increasingly popular in the United States, where it was the most popular name given to baby girls in several states in 2006 and the fourth most popular name nationwide in 2007, and in Canada, where it is among the 10 most popular given names for baby girls in several provinces.[10]

The name has been rising in popularity in the United States since the mid-1990s, but had its most dramatic jump in popularity in 1998, when it was the 350th most popular name for baby girls, jumping 268 places up the chart from 618th place in 1997.[10] In the year 2010 it was the fifth most popular baby girl name in the United States.[11] One factor in its increase in popularity in English-speaking countries may have been the naming of the daughters of actress Heather Locklear and musician Richie Sambora,[12] [13] in 1997, and of actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in 1999.[14]

Phillippe said in a recent magazine interview that he and Witherspoon named their child after actress Ava Gardner.[15] It was the ninth most popular name for girls in Australia[16] and eighth in New Zealand[17] in 2013.



  1. ^ Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1847), 190 adduces OHG awa "flowing water" and Gothic awō "grandmother"
  2. ^ a b Hanks, Patrick; Hardcastle, Kate; Hodges, Flavia (2006), A Dictionary of First Names, Oxford Paperback Reference (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, pp. 24–25, ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1.
  3. ^ http://www.behindthename.com/php/search.php?nmd=n&terms=Ava
  4. ^ a b c Petrovsky, p. 33
  5. ^ a b c d e Petrovsky, p. 34
  6. ^ a b Petrovsky, p. 32
  7. ^ a b Petrovsky, p. 35
  8. ^ a b c d e Petrovsky, p. 36
  9. ^ Superanskaya, p. 21
  10. ^ a b Behind the Name
  11. ^ http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/popularnames.cgi
  12. ^ Satran, Pamela Redmond and Rosenkrantz, Linda. (2008) Cool Names for Babies, p. 71. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-37786-1
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2011-09-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Satran, Pamela Redmond and Rosenkrantz, Linda (2007). The Baby Name Bible: The Ultimate Guide by America's Baby Naming Experts, pp. 27. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-35220-4
  15. ^ "In Step with Ryan Philippe". Parade Magazine. 3-23-2008 Archived April 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Australia's 100 most popular baby names". Kidspot. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  17. ^ http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Births-Deaths-and-Marriages-Most-Popular-Male-and-Female-First-Names?OpenDocument


  • А. В. Суперанская (A. V. Superanskaya). "Современный словарь личных имён: Сравнение. Происхождение. Написание" (Modern Dictionary of First Names: Comparison. Origins. Spelling). Айрис-пресс. Москва, 2005. ISBN 5-8112-1399-9
  • Н. А. Петровский (N. A. Petrovsky). "Словарь русских личных имён" (Dictionary of Russian First Names). ООО Издательство "АСТ". Москва, 2005. ISBN 5-17-002940-3