Origin: Biblical Hebrew
(ANN; AHN). (ANN-uh; AHN-nah). (HANN-uh; HAHN-nah)
Anne is possibly one of the quintessential classic English and French female names. Prior to the 18th-century, it seems that every other girl born in England was either named Anne, Jane or Mary. There were several British and French queens who bore this simplistic moniker, including the ill fated Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. The history of Anne is rather long and complicated.
It was foremost popularized through the cult of St. Anne, a legendary figure who was said to be the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Christ.
In Brittany, the name became especially popular because it happened to coincide with the name of an ancient Celtic goddess, her cult being replaced by St. Anne’s. In fact, it was borne by one Breton Princess, Anne of Brittany.
The name was introduced into Britain by the French-Normans after the invasion in 1066. Previously, there had been a minor Saxon king named Anna, but in this case the name is related to the Saxon arn (eagle). Anna and Anne are still occasionally used as male given names in Friesland.
Other than the apocryphal saint, the name Anne can be traced directly back to the Bible. In the New Testament, it is the name of a prophetess who predicts the Crucifixion of Christ.
Anna (Αννα), is the Greek translation of the early Hebrew Channah חַנָּה, usually transliterated as Hannah, meaning “grace.”
Hannah is borne in the Old Testament by the faithful mother of the prophet, Samuel.
Hannah has always been popular among Jewish families, but was virtually unheard of among non-Jews before the Reformation, except in some cases where it may have been used as a diminutive form of Johanna, spelled Hanna.
It was the Byzantines who had introduced the Anna form to the world, making it popular throughout Eastern and Southern Europe. It was a very popular name among the Byzantine royal family and it was borne by the majestic Anna of Byzantium.
Anna may be the more melodic form of the bunch, but Anne’s minimalistic qualities are charming. Short, to the point, no frills. It’s not a bad name, though it does lack some spice, which is why parents are probably more attracted to its more exotic alternatives. In fact, Anne only comes in at # 608 in the top 1000 female names of the United States. It is safe to say, however, that she is very much loved in the middle name spot.
Anna is currently one of the most popular female names in Europe and abroad. Her rankings are as follows:
- # 1 (Austria, 2010)
- # 1 (Estonia, 2011)
- # 2 (Hungary, 2010)
- # 3 (Ana, Georgia, 2010)
- # 3 (Iceland, 2010)
- # 4 (Ana, Croatia, 2010)
- # 4 (Czech Republic, 2010)
- # 4 (Germany, 2011)
- # 4 (Ukraine, 2010)
- # 5 (Faroe Islands, 2010)
- # 5 (Ana, Portugal, 2010)
- # 6 (Armenia, 2010)
- # 6 (Ane, Greenland, 2002-2003)
- # 6 (Ana, Romania, 2009)
- # 6 (Ana, Serbia, 2010)
- # 7 (Latvia, 2011)
- # 7 (Russia, 2011)
- # 8 (German-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
- # 9 (Denmark, 2011)
- # 10 (Netherlands, 2010)
- # 10 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
- # 10 (Norway, 2010)
- # 11 (Italy, 2010)
- # 12 (Ireland, 2010)
- # 14 (Poland, 2010)
- # 16 (Catalonia, 2010)
- # 26 (Canada, B.C., 2010)
- # 28 (Italian-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
- # 28 (United States, 2010)
- # 29 (Scotland, 2010)
- # 40 (France, 2009)
- # 46 (French-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
- # 53 (Belgium, 2009)
- # 63 (England/Wales, 2010)
- # 71 (Australia, 2010)
- # 81 (Sweden, 2010)
- # 83 (Spain, 2010)
Other forms of the name include:
As for the Hannah forms
Hanna without an H is the prefered form on Continental Europe, usually pronounced (HAHN-nah) and in French like Anna. Hanna and Hanne (HAHN-neh) are also used as diminutive forms of Johanna/Johanne in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany. There is the Hungarian Hajna pronounced (HOY-no). The Czech/Slovak form of Hana nickname Hanka. There are the Yiddish forms of Heyna, Hayna, Hejna (all pronounced like HAY-nah) including the diminutive forms of Hena, Hende, Hendel and Henye. The Polish diminutive form of Hania, which might make an interesting alternative to Anya or Hannah. Hannah, Hanna and Henna are all used in the Middle East.
Of course, how could we ever forget the popular diminutive forms of Annie and Nan.