Emma

Gender: Feminine
Origin: German
Meaning: “universal; whole.”
(EM-mah)

Currently one of the most popular female names in the English speaking world and on continental Europe, it is derived from an old Germanic element ermen/irmen meaning “whole; universal; encompassing.”

It was first introduced into England via Emma of Normandy who was the wife of King Ethelred II and then the wife of King Canute. Through Ethelred II she was the mother of Edward the Confessor.

The name was also borne by an 11th-century Austrian saint, also known as Hemma.

Emma was quite popular at the turn of the last century and then fell out of fashion, being revived in the mid 196os in England and then the late 1990s in the United States and Continental Europe.

She is currently the most popular female name in the United States (2008). The lowest she ranked in United States naming history was in 1976 at # 463. Emma was the 3rd most popular name in 1880.

In English, Em or Emmie or usually the preferred nicknames.

Her popularity elsewhere is as follows:

  • # 20 (Australia)
  • # 1 (Belgium, 2008)
  • # 2 (Canada, Alberta, 2008)
  • # 3 (Canada, B.C. 2008)
  • # 3 (Canada, Manitoba, 2008)
  • # 1 (Canada, Nova Scotia, 2008)
  • # 4 (Canada, Quebec, 2008)
  • # 2 (Canada, Saskatchewan, 2008)
  • # 1 (Denmark, 2008)
  • # 31 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 8 (Faroe Islands, 2008)
  • # 2 (Finland, among Finnish-speakers, 2007)
  • # 1 (Finland, among Swedish-speakers, 2007)
  • # 3 (Flemish Region, Belgium, 2008)
  • # 1 (France, 2008)
  • # 5 (Germany, 2009)
  • # 23 (Hungary, 2006)
  • # 4 (Ireland, 2008)
  • # 4 (Liechenstein, 2008)
  • # 4 (Malta, 2008)
  • # 4 (the Netherlands, 2009)
  • # 8 (New Zealand, 2009)
  • # 7 (Northern Ireland, 2008)
  • # 2 (Norway, 2008)
  • # 8 (Scotland, 2009)
  • # 54 (Spain, 2006)
  • # 3 (Sweden, 2008)
  • # 1 (Switzerland, among French-speakers, 2008)
  • # 3 (Switzerland, among Italian-speakers, 2008)
  • # 3 (Wallonia, Belgium, 2008)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Ema (Croatian/Czech/Portuguese/Slovak/Slovene/Spanish: Slovene diminutive form is Emi)
  • Emmy (Danish/Dutch/Norwegian/Swedish: originally a diminutive form, now almost exclusively used as an independent given name, especially in Sweden where it ranked in as the 62nd most popular female name of 2007. In the United States, she comes in at # 955-2008)
  • Ima (Dutch/English: EE-mah-Dutch; I-muh- English )
  • Emmie (English: used as an independent given name since the early 1800s)
  • Imma (Frisian)
  • Imke (Frisian: IM-ke: 118th most popular female name in the Netherlands-2008)
  • Emmi (Hungarian)
  • Hemma (Old German: medieval form)
  • Emma Эмма (Russian)
  • Emica/Emika (Slovene: originally diminutive forms, used as independent given names, eh-MEET-sah; eh-MEE-kah)
  • Hema (Slovene: diminutive form is Hemi)

The designated name-days are January 31st, April 19, June 27, September 9 and December 10.

The name is used in virtually every European country and language.

An Italian masculine form is Emmo, and the English male name Emmett is related, (different entry for Emmett will come in the future).

The name is borne by actresses Emma Thompson and Emma Watson. It is the name of the main character of the Jane Austen novel of the same name. It was used on the SitCom Friends as the name of the daughter of Ross and Rachel.

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