The name is an anglicization of the Roman gens name Aemilius which was derived from the Latin aemulus meaning, “rival.”
Contrary to popular belief, Emily is not related to the Germanic, Amalia/Amelia, which is most likely derived from the Germanic element, amal, meaning “to work.”
Emily is just the English feminine form of the Germanic, Emil.
It is believed that Emily was introduced into the English speaking world in the 18th-century, after the German Hanover line had inherited the British throne, but evidence shows that Emily had been in usage in England since at least Norman times and that it may have been introduced through the Normans in 1066.
The name was borne by famous American poet, Emily Dickenson (1830-1886) and by English novelist and poet, Emily Brontë (1818-1848).
In modern history, Emily has been extremely popular in the English speaking world for at least a decade. She is currently the 3rd most popular female name in the United States-2008, and was # 1 in 2007, but was overthrown by the similar sounding Emma.
The lowest that Emily has ranked in U.S. history was in 1962, coming in as the 274th most popular female name.
In other countries, her rankings are as follows:
- # 5 (Australia, 2008)
- # 3 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
- # 72 (Chile, 2006)
- # 3 (England/Wales, 2008)
- # 7 (Germany, 2009)
- # 4 (Ireland, 2008)
- # 3 (Isle of Man, 2008)
- # 8 (Luxembourg, 2008)
- # 137 (the Netherlands, 2008)
- # 6 (New Zealand, 2009)
- # 6 (Northern Ireland, 2009)
- # 4 (Scotland, 2009)
Its more Latinate counterpart of Emilia is as follows:
- # 6 (Faroe Islands, 2008)
- # 9 (Finland, among Finnish-speakers, 2007)
- # 2 (Finland, among Swedish-speakers, 2007)
- # 3 (Iceland, 2004-2007)
- # 5 (Liechtenstein, 2008)
- # 401 (United States, 2008)
Its masculine counterpart has never been widely used in the English speaking world, but has been a long time favorite in Northern Europe.
The last time Emil was seen in the U.S. top 1000 was in 1984, coming in at # 967.
The highest that Emil ever ranked in U.S. naming history was at # 90, back in 1881, the same year that the United States saw a huge influx of Scandinavian immigrants.
Currently, Emil is the 5th most popular male name in Norway (2007) and the 9th most popular in Sweden (2007).
Other forms of Emily are:
- Emiliya Емилия (Bulgarian)
- Emílie (Czech: eh-MEEL-yeh)
- Emilý (Faroese)
- Émilie (French: ay-mee-LEE. 24th most popular female name in Belgium-2006; 41st most popular in France-2006; 292nd most popular in the Netherlands-2008.)
- Émilienne (French)
- Eimíle (Gaelic-Irish)
- Emelie (German/Swedish: 48th most popular female name in Sweden; EM-eh-LEE)
- Emilie (German/Danish/Dutch/Norwegian/Swedish: EM-ih-LEE)
- Emele (Hawaiian)
- Emilía (Icelandic)
- Emilia (Italian/Dutch/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/Polish/Romanian/Scandinavian/Spanish: 16th most popular in Chile-2006; 97th most popular in England/Wales-2008; 18th most popular in Sweden-2007).
- Emiliana (Italian/Portuguese/Romanian/Spanish)
- Emilietta/Milietta (Italian: obscure diminutive form that were used as independent given names)
- Aemilia (Latin: ay-MEE-lyah)
- Aemiliana (Latin)
- Emīlija (Latvian)
- Emilija (Lithuanian/Serbian/Croatian/Slovene)
- Emília (Portuguese/Hungarian/Slovak: 83rd most popular female name in Hungary-2008)
- Emilja (Slovene)
- Emilijana (Slovene)
- Emila (Spanish: obscure, Emilia is more common)
Masculine forms include:
- Emilli (Basque)
- Emilion (Breton)
- Milig (Breton)
- Emil Емил (Bulgarian/Serbian)
- Emili (Catalan)
- Emiel (Dutch)
- Eemil (Estoanian/Finnish)
- Eemeli (Finnish)
- Émile (French)
- Émilien (French)
- Amil (German)
- Emil (German/Croatian/Czech/Faroese/Hungarian/Icelandic/Norwegian/Polish/Slovene/Swedish)
- Emilián (Hungarian)
- Emiliano (Italian/Spanish)
- Emilietto (Italian: obscure diminutive form that was used as an independent given name)
- Emilio (Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
- Miliano (Italian: obscure contracted form)
- Aemilianus (Latin)
- Aemilius (Latin/Dutch)
- Aimil (Manx/Scottish)
- Emilian (Romanian)
- Emilij (Russian)
- Jemilijan (Russian)
- Emilijan (Serbo-Croatian/Slovene)
- Ymil/Yjmil (Silisian: a dialect of Polish)
- Emilijano (Slovene)
- Emilij (Slovene)
- Emilijo (Slovene)
The name-days for Emily/Emilia are: May 19 (Finland); May 23 (Poland); June 24/30 (Poland); July 19 (Hungary); August 19 (Poland); November 14 (Sweden); November 24 (Poland/Slovakia).
The name-days for Emil are: January 31st (Slovakia); May 22 (Czech Republic/Poland); May 28 (Hungary); July 18 (Bulgaria); August 5/8 (Poland); August 8 (Bulgaria); October 6/11 (Poland).
The masculine and feminine forms are borne by several saints and Emilia is the name of at least three Shakespearean characters.
Common English diminutives are Em, Emmie and Millie. A Spanish diminutive is Emilita. A Slavic diminutive is Emilka; in Polish it is sometimes Milcia.