The name is possibly of Etruscan origins but its meaning has been lost to history. It is borne in the in Roman legend by the wife of Aeneas and the ancestor of the Roman people. Her story has been retoled throughout the centuries and was lately the subject of the 2008 eponymous novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. According to legend, the city of Lavinium was named by Aeneas in honour of his wife.
The name has been borne by a few other famous literary characters such as Shakespeares tragic heroine in Titus Andronicus (1588) and a character in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 novel, A Little Princess.
It is also the name of a genus of fish and butterfly and it is the name of a suburb of São Paolo Brazil.
Lavinia seems to have been a very popular name in the 18th and 19th-century in both England and the United States. It was often shortened to Vinny or Lovie. Both of which appear as occasional independent given names around the same time.
Its Portuguese form of Lavínia is currently the 45th most popular female name in Brazil, (2011).
Other forms of the name include:
- Lavynyya Лавиния (Bulgarian)
- Lavínia (Catalan/Hungarian/Portuguese)
- Lavinia (Dutch/English/French/German/Italian/Latin/Romanian/Spanish)
- Lavina (English/Italian)
- Lauinia (Latin)
- Lawinia (Polish)
- Lavinija Лавиния (Russian)
- Lavíniya Лаві́нія (Ukrainian)