Bianca, Blanca, Blanche, Branca

Gender: Feminine
Meaning: “white”
Italian (BYAHN-kah) Eng (bee-AHN-kuh); Sp (BLAHN-kah); Fre (BLOWnSH) Eng (BLANCH).

The etymology of the four above names are virtually the same. The original source is the Spanish, Blanca, which was first recorded in the 12th century, as the name of a Spanish princess, the daughter of King Garcia Ramirez of Navarre.

The name comes directly from the Spanish word for “white.”

It is uncertain how it caught on as a name, however, its meaning might have been synonymous with beauty at the time.

Others believe that it may be a direct translation of the Arabic name Elvira, brought to Spain via the Moors and later latinized as Blanca.

It has also been conjectured that it may have started off as a name given to blonde girls.

The name rapidly spread among Western European royalty due to intermarriages and ancestry. It was introduced to the English speaking world after the Norman Conquest of England.

The name was translated as Blanche in French, Bianca in Italian and Branca in Portuguese.

It was borne by Blanche of Champagne (1226-1283); Blanche of Artois (1248-1302); Blanche I of Navarre 1385-1444) and Blanca of Navarre (1420-1464).

Bianca became an exceedingly popular name among the Italian nobility, where it is still very popular till this day.

Blanca and Bianca have spread to Germany and particularly the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, where they are often rendered phonetically, as Blanka and Bianka.

Currently, Bianca ranked in as the 204th most popular female name in the United States, in Australia, she was the 76th most popular female (2007), and the 9th most popular female name in Romania, (2008). In 2009, Bianka was the 78th most popular female name in Warsaw Poland.

Blanche has not ranked in the U.S. top 1000 since 1964, when it ranked in as the 911th most popular female names, the highest it has ranked in U.S. naming history was at # 51 in 1886. Perhaps its time for a revival?

As for Blanca, she recently fell out of the U.S. top 1000, she was last seen in 2007, where she came in as the 960th most popular female name. In Spain, in 2006, she was the 45th most popular female name. In 2009, Blanka was the 31st most popular female name in Warsaw, Poland.

Other forms of the names include:

  • Zuria (Basque: a direct translation)
  • Blanca (Catalan)
  • Bijanka (Croatian/Serbian: phonetic spellings)
  • Branca (Galician)
  • Bianchina (Italian: originally a diminutive form, occasionally used as an independent given name)

Common Italian compound forms include: Biancaurora, (literally meaning “white dawn”), Biancaluisa, Biancamaria and Biancarosa, (literally meaning “white rose.”).

Italian masculine forms include: Biancardo, Bianchino and Bianco.

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