Sabrina (given name)

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Language(s)English, German, Arabic
MeaningFrom the river Severn[1] or "boundary"[2] or ‘White Rose’.

Sabrina is a feminine given name found primarily in Western European cultures and to a lesser extent in the Arabic world.

In European culture[edit]

In the European heritage, it is taken from the Roman name for a river in mid-Wales which flows into England, there known as the Severn.[3]

According to a legend recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century, Habren or Sabrina, the Latinized form of the river's Common Brittonic or proto-Welsh name, was the daughter of a king named Locrinus (also known as Locrin or Locrine in English) by his mistress, the Germanic princess Estrildis. Locrinus ruled England after the death of his father, Brutus of Troy, the legendary second founder of Britain. Locrinus cast aside his wife, Guendolen, and their son Maddan and acknowledged Sabrina and her mother, but the enraged Guendolen raised an army against him and defeated Locrinus in battle. Guendolen then ordered that Sabrina and her mother be drowned in the river. The river was named after Sabrina so Locrine's betrayal of Guendolen would never be forgotten.[4] According to legend, Sabrina lives in the river, which reflects her mood. She rides in a chariot and dolphins and salmon swim alongside her.[5] The later story suggests that the legend of Sabrina could have become intermingled with old stories of a river goddess or nymph.[6]

On the name Sabrina, The Facts on File Dictionary of First Names (1983) has this to say:

Roman name for the River Severn, in England. Ekwall, in his English River Names, thinks that Severn is a Celtic name but is unable to explain it. The legendary explanation for Sabrina is that she was the daughter of King Locrine by his mistress Estrildis. Queen Guendolen’s fury led to her assembling an army to make war on her husband, who was slain. Guendolen then had Sabrina and Estrildis thrown into the river which from that time was called Sabrina. The poet Milton, in Comus, and the playwright Fletcher, in The Faithful Shepherdess, refer to the legend. In modern times there has been a play Sabrina Fair by Samuel Taylor, and a film called Sabrina. In Britain the name was used throughout the 19th century but has been very rarely used in the 20th century. In the U.S. it was being steadily used in the 1970s and early 1980s.[7]

It also notes that "[i]n the U.S. Sabrina has tended to displace Sabina since [the 1940s]."[7]

In Arabic culture[edit]

Sabrina, alternatively spelled Sabreena or in other slight variations, is taken from the Arabic word sabr, meaning patience or patient one.


The name gained popularity in English-speaking populations following the release of the film Sabrina (1954); it was the 789th most popular name for girls born in the United States in 1954, and rose to the 245th most popular name in 1955.[8] Its use has continued, boosted by the popularity of the comic book character Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who debuted in 1962. A television series featured the character in the 1990s. As well as the 2018 Netflix series adaption ” Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. The name was ranked as the 197th most popular name for U.S.-born girls in 2007.[8]


Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hanks, Patrick (2003). "Severn". Dictionary of American Family Names. Retrieved 10 December 2012. [T]opographic name from the river Severn, which flows from Wales through much of western England to the Bristol Channel. The river name is recorded as early as the 2nd century ad in the form Sabrina. This is one of Britain’s most ancient river names; the original meaning is uncertain, but it may have been ‘slow-moving’.
  2. ^ "Sabrina." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 7 January 2013. <>.
  3. ^ Behind the Name
  4. ^ The Legend of Sabrina
  5. ^ Tidal Bore Research Society
  6. ^ Liam Rogers (1999), Sabrina and the River Severn
  7. ^ a b Dunkling, Leslie; Gosling, William (1983), The Facts on File Dictionary of First Names, New York: Facts on File Publications, p. 247, ISBN 0-87196-274-8
  8. ^ a b United States Social Security Administration