Ava

Gender: Feminine
Origin: German/Persian
Eng (AY-vah); Germ/Per (AH-vah)

This vintagy, two syllable name has risen way up to the US top 10, coming in at # 5 most popular female name in the United States, (2010).

The name was relatively rare before 2000, and came out of nowhere, thanks, no doubt, to such Hollywood trendsetters as Heather Locklear and Reese Witherspoon, both of whom used the name for their daughters in the late 1990s. Both actresses named their daughters in honour of actress, Ava Gardner (1922-1990), whose full name was Ava Lavinia Gardner.

The name has several different origins and meanings, the beloved English counterpart is probably derived from a medieval Frankish name, which was borne in the 9th-century by a saint and the daughter of King Pepin II. In this case, it might be derived from the Germanic element avi meaning “desired.” Other sources have related it to the Frisian awa (water) or from the old Saxon, aval (power).

Another notable bearer is Ava of Melk (1060-1127), a Medieval poetess credited as being the first German language writer. Its recent popularity in German-speaking countries may in part be in tribute to her millennial anniversary and in part to Hollywood.

The name is also a popular Persian female name and is commonly used in Iran and throughout Central Asia. It can either be related to the Persian meaning, “sound, voice” or it may be connected with the Avestan word meaning “first.”

In Ireland and Scotland, it is sometimes used as an anglicized form of Aoife.

Its rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 6 (Canada, B.C., 2010)
  • # 6 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 11 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 14 (Australia, 2010)
  • # 20 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 188 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 246 (France, 2009)
  • # 444 (the Netherlands, 2010)