Florence (given name)

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Florence Nightingale - Project Gutenberg 13103.jpg
Florence Nightingale inspired use of the name, especially in English-speaking countries.
Gender Female
Word/name English < French < Latin
Meaning blossoming in faith, in belief (mystic name)
Other names
Related names Fiorenza, Flo, Florencia, Florencita, Florentia, Florrie, Floss, Flossie, Flossy, Flora, Florella, Florentina, Florentine, Florian, Florina, Florinda
Florence Wrey (d.1718), daughter of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 4th Baronet (c. 1653-1696) by his wife Florence Rolle. She was the wife of John Cole of Enniskillen, builder of Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Her grandmother was one of the earliest English women to bear the name, Florence Rolle (1630-1705), the daughter and heiress of Denys Rolle (1614–1638), of Stevenstone and Bicton in Devon. Collection of National Trust, Florence Court

Florence is an English given name for girls. It is the French version after Saint Florentia, Roman martyr under Diocletian.[1] It comes from Latin florens, florentius "blossoming", verb floreo, meaning "to flower", in the sense of a blossom. Florence was in olden times also used as a translation of the Latin version Florentius, and may be used in this context as a male given name.

A notable Florence was Florence Nightingale, who was a nurse in British hospitals during the Crimean War and is usually considered the founder of modern nursing. She was given the name because she was born in Florence, Italy.

Contrary to popular belief, Florence Nightingale was not the first person to be given this name. A much earlier example was Florence Wrey (d.1718), wife of John Cole of the Irish County of Fermanagh (married in 1707), who was herself named after her mother, Florence Rolle, the wife of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 4th Baronet (c. 1653-1696) of Tawstock, Devon, and the daughter of Sir John Rolle (d.1706) of Stevenstone,[2] by his wife and distant cousin Florence Rolle (1630-1705), an even earlier Florence, the daughter and heiress of Denys Rolle (1614–1638), of Stevenstone and Bicton in Devon. This name is also of note because John Cole built a large mansion in Northern Ireland which he named Florence Court after his wife. One of John Cole's descendants, who had become "Lord Enniskillen", planted a peculiarly upright yew tree in the grounds of Florence Court, which was to become the mother tree of all Irish Yews or "Florence Court Yews".[3]

Florencia, a Spanish version, is among the most popular names for baby girls in Argentina and Uruguay. Florence was most popular in the United States between 1900 and 1940, when it was in the top 100 names given to baby girls. The name last ranked in the top 1,000 names given to baby girls in the 1970s. Florence was the fourth most popular name given to baby girls in Quebec, Canada in 2007 and the name has also risen in popularity in the England and Wales, where Florence was the 109th most popular name given to baby girls in 2007.

Name variants[edit]

Alternate forms include:

  • Flo, Flora, Florance, Florella, Florentina, Florentine, Florentyna, Florice, Florina, Florinda, Florine, Floris, Florrance, Florynce (English)
  • Florentia (German)
  • Fiorentina, Fiorenza (Italian)
  • Florencia, Florencita, Floriana, Florinia (Spanish)

English nicknames for Florence include:

  • Flo, Flor, Florie, Flory, Florrie, Florry, Floss, Flossey, Flossie, Flossy

Florent is a masculine equivalent. Florence (diminutive "Flurry") itself has also been used for boys (Latin Florentius), particularly in Ireland where it was used as an anglicisation of Irish Finnian.[citation needed]

People with this given name[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Albert Dauzat, Noms et prénoms de France, Librairie Larousse 1980, édition revue et commentée par Marie-Thérèse Morlet. p. 259b - 260a
  2. ^ John Lodge & Mervyn Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland
  3. ^ Thomas Pakenham, Meetings with Remarkable Trees, George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Press 1996