Larissa

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek Λαρισα
Meaning: “citadel.”
Eng (lah-RIS-suh)

The name is borne in Greek mythology by a nymph of Thessaly and daughter of Pelasgus. It is also the name of the capitol city of Thessaly, Greece, which is believed to have gotten its name from the nymph, who was considered a sort of patron of the city in pre-Christian times.

The name has always been popular throughout Eastern Europe due to the veneration of an Eastern Orthodox saint of the same name.

It was introduced into the English-speaking world via Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel, Doctor Zhivago, in which the heroine is named Larissa nicknamed Lara.

Currently, Larissa is the 33rd most popular female name in Brazil, (2011). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 41 (Switzerland, German-Speaking, 2010)
  • # 44 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 48 (Slovenia, Larisa, 2010)
  • # 55 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Larisa, 2010)
  • # 95 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 259 (the Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 760 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Larisa Лариса (Bosnian/Bulgarian/Croatian/Greek/Latvian/Lithuanian/Romanian/Russian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Làrissa (Catalan)
  • Larissa (Dutch/English/German/Italian/Portuguese)
  • Larysa Лариса (Polish/Ukrainian)
A common Russian short form is Lara.
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Lara

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Russian
Лара
(LAH-rah)

The name is a Russian diminutive form of Larisa and is now exclusively used as an independent given name outside of Russia.

It was first introduced into the English-speaking world via Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel, Dr. Zhivago, which was later adapted into a movie, (1965) and its theme song “Lara’s Theme” became a popular romantic ballad. This no doubt set off the popularity of the name in the 20th-century.

The name is also used as an independent given name in German-Speaking countries, Spanish-speaking countries and in Slovenia.

Currently, Lara is the 27th most popular female name in Australia. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 22 (Belgium, 2006)
  • # 12 (Germany, 2009)
  • # 45 (Hungary, 2008)
  • # 54 (the Netherlands, 2009)
  • # 4 (Slovenia, 2005)
  • # 71 (Spain, 2008)

Sources

  1. http://www.askoxford.com/firstnames/lara?view=uk
  2. http://www.beliebte-vornamen.de/2009/top500-2009
  3. http://www.behindthename.com/php/find.php?name=lara