The name is a feminine form of the Latin, Priscus, a Roman family name, meaning “ancient.”
It was borne by the wife of Emperor Diocletian, who was rumored to be a Christian.
It was also the name of a woman mentioned in one of the epistles of Paul.
Legend has it that this was the name of one of the very few Christian martyrs actually to be killed within the renowned coliseum of Rome(pictured left).
In recent culture, it is borne by the former wife of Elvis Presley and mother of Lisa Marie Presley.
The name caught on in the English speaking world around the 17th-century, when it became popular among Puritans. It appears in English literature in Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queen (1596)
Its designated name-day is January 18.
The more common form of this name, Priscilla, is actually an old Latin diminutive form of Prisca. Due to the Epistles of Paul, the diminutive form became more popular.
Prisca is used in Dutch, Italian, German and Spanish.
Other forms of both names include:
- Prisque (French)
- Priska (German)
- Piroska (Hungarian: Piri is the diminutive)
- Pryska (Polish)
Other forms of Priscilla include:
- Priscille (French)
- Priszilla (German)
- Priscila (Spanish)
Masculine forms are Priscus and Priscillus.
Traditionally, common English nicknames were Prill, Priss, Prissy and Scilla.