The name is derived from the Greek, αγαθος (agathos), meaning, “good.”
The name was borne by an early Christian martyr, St. Agatha of Sicily, who, according to legend, refused the advances of a suitor and was renounced as a Christian. Before being beheaded, she was tortured by having her breasts tinctured off. Due to this she has been considered the patron saint against breast cancer and other breast diseases. Her feast day and the designated name-day is February 5.
The name was popular in Medieval England but fell out of usage after the Protestant Reformation. It was revived in the 19th century, one famous modern bearer being English mystery writer, Agatha Christie (1890-1976).
Currently, the name does not appear in the U.S. top 1000, the last time she was seen was in 1945, coming in as the 917th most popular female name.
She remains a staple in other countries, particularly in Poland and France.
Other forms of the name include:
- Agate (Basque)
- Àgueda/Àgata (Catalan)
- Agata Агата (Croatian/Icelandic/Italian/Latin/Norwegian/Polish/Romanian/Russian/Serbian/Slovene/Swedish)
- Agáta (Czech/Hungarian/Slovak)
- Agate/Agathe (Danish/German/Latvian/Norwegian: ah-GAH-te)
- Agatha (Dutch/English/German)
- Aet (Estonian)
- Agaate (Estonian)
- Ita/Iti (Estonian)
- Akaata (Finnish)
- Agathe (French: ah-GAHT)
- Ádega (Galician)
- Agathê/Agathi ἀγαθή (Greek: Modern)
- Ágota (Hungarian)
- Agra (Latvian: this one has a completely different etymology, but has also been traditionally used as a form of Agatha).
- Agota (Lithuanian)
- Ågot (Norwegian)
- Aita (Romansch/Estonian)
- Agafia Агафья (Russian)
- Gaèa (Serbian)
- Àita (Sicilian)
- Agatija (Slovene)
- Gadea (Spanish: archaic)
- Águeda (Spanish/Portuguese)
- Agda (Swedish)
- Ahafiya (Ukrainian)
An English short form is Aggie.
Croatian diminutives are: Agica, Jaga and Jagica.
A Czech pet form is Hota.
Polish short forms are: Aga, Agatka and Agusia.
Russian diminutives are: Agasha, Gafiya, Ganya, Gasha and Gashka.
A Hungarian short form is Ági.
A male Greek form is Agathon Αγαθων.
Agate is also the name of a precious stone.