The name is derived from a Scandinavian short form of Margaret and has been used as an independent given name since at least the 19th-century.
It is also the name of a river in England and in the English-speaking world, especially within Britain, the name may have been bestowed in reference to the river.
It is also the name of a genus of butterfly.
It was introduced to the English-speaking world, (specifically the United States) via Scandinavian immigrants of the 19th-century. It was further popularized in the 1930s by Swedish actress, Greta Garbo. In fact, the highest Greta ever ranked in the U.S. was in 1932 coming in as the 318th most popular female name. As of 2010, it was the 666th most popular female name in the United States, (2010)
It is the 12th most popular female name in Italian-speaking Switzerland, (2010) and her rankings in other countries are as follows:
- # 22 (Hungary, 2010)
- # 24 (Italy, 2010)
- # 39 (Germany, 2011)
- # 88 (Sweden, 2010)
Other forms of the name include:
- Grete (Danish/German/Norwegian)
- Grethe (Danish)
- Greet (Dutch/Luxembourgish)
- Greetje (Dutch)
- Griet (Dutch)
- Greta (English/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/German/Icelandic/Italian/Polish/Romansch/Scandinavian)
- Gretta (English/Romansch)
- Gretchen (German)
- Gretel (German)
- Gréta (Hungarian)
- Gryte (Lithuanian)
- Greata (Romansch)
- Grettina (Romansch)
The name is also borne by famed lawyer and TV host, Greta van Susteran (b.1954)