The name comes directly from the Latin word for glory and its usage as a given name is relatively recent in naming history. Its first appearance seems to be the name of the protagonist of E.D.E.N. Southworth’s 1891 novel, Gloria: A Novel.
Born Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte, Southworth was a popular novelist of her time, and seems to have had a habit of bestowing interesting names on her female characters, particularly names which come directly from Latin words. Her most famous example being her tomboyish character, Capitola Black in her most famous work, The Hidden Hand (1889).
Gloria was used again by George Bernard Shaw for a character in his 1898 play You Never Can Tell.
Due to its seemingly religious connotations, the name skyrocketed among Catholic families during the Depression Era. In this case, the name may have been used in reference to the Great Doxolgy or hymn sung during Catholic masses Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
Currently, Gloria is the 503rd most popular female name in the United States, (2010).
Other forms of the name include:
- Glorietta (Italian)
- Glorinda (Italian)
An obscure Italian diminutive is Gloriuccia.
There is also a very obscure masculine Italian form: Glorio.
Famous bearers include:
- Gloria Swanson (actress, 1899-1983)
- Gloria Steinem (feminist, b.1934)
- Gloria Gaynor (singer, b.1948)
- Gloria (Bulgarian pop-singer, b.1973)
- Gloria Princess of Thurn & Taxis (b.1960)
- Gloria Estefan (singer, b.1957)