Ava (given name)
|Pronunciation||// AY-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.
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.
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, or (like Eva) used as an anglicization of the Irish name Aoife.
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, Avenira, Aventina, Avgusta/Avgustina, Aviafa, Aviya (a form of Abijah), Avreliya, Avreya, and Avrora (a form of Aurora), or the male names Avdey, Avel, Avenir, Aventin, Avgust, Avim, Avram (a form of Abram), Avrelian, and Avrely.
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.
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.
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. In the year 2010 it was the fifth most popular baby girl name in the United States. 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,  in 1997, and of actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in 1999.
Phillippe said in a recent magazine interview that he and Witherspoon named their child after actress Ava Gardner. It was the ninth most popular name for girls in Australia and eighth in New Zealand in 2013.
- Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1847), 190 adduces OHG awa "flowing water" and Gothic awō "grandmother"
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