Clarissa

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “clear; bright; brilliant.”
Eng (kluh-RIS-sah); Germ (klah-HRIS-sah)

The name is possibly a modern English form of Clarice, which is an Anglo-French form of the Latin Claritia, a derivative of Clara.

Clarice was introduced into the English-speaking world through the Normans and was a fairly popular female name in Medieval England. It fell out of usage during the Reformation, and was revived in the 18th-century in the form of Clarissa. This may have been due to the eponymous novel by Samuel Richardson (1748), a tragic novel which recounts the unfortunate circumstances of a nouveau-riche girl by the name of Clarissa Harlowe.

It was borne by Clara Barton, née Clarissa Harlowe Barton, (1821-1912), foundress of the American Red Cross.

It is also borne by Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon (b.1920) and American poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estés (b.1945).

In the early 90s, the name was brought to the spotlight via the Nickelodean sit-com, Clarissa Explains It All.

In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925), it is the first name of the heroine.

Currently, Clarissa is the 396th most popular female name in Germany, (2011).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Clarice (English/French/Italian)
  • Clarissa (English/German/Italian/Portuguese)
  • Clarisse (French)
  • Clarisa (Spanish)
  • Klarysa (Polish)