Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin

The name may be a contracted form of the Latin female name, Viviana.

It seems to have first appeared in both Scandinavia and the United States around the 19th-century. Its earliest records in the Nordic countries can be traced to 1842 in Finland. In the United States, it appears in American folklore as the name of a scorned woman who disguised herself as a soldier in order to seek revenge on her lover.

According to legend, Vivia Thomas was a Bostonian socialite who had been jilted by her fiance, an army officer who decided to go out West to the Indian Territories. Her lover eventually ended up stationed at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. In order to seek revenge, Vivia decided to disguise herself as a man and set out to enlist herself in the Army at Fort Gibson. She passed herself off as a soldier at the fort for several months, while spying on her former fiance, whom she soon found out was courting a local Indian woman. One evening, while her ex-fiance went out on his horse to meet his new girlfriend, Vivia took her rifle, hid behind a rock as he rode by and shot him dead in the chest. Vivia soon came to regret her actions and was so distraught over what she did that she spent her nights, in the cold, weeping over his grave. Before she died, the chaplain found the “soldier” distraught upon the dead Army Officer’s grave. Vivia confessed her entire story to the Chaplain, revealing herself as a woman. Her gravestone can be found at Fort Gibson National Cemetary, simply marked as, “Vivia Thomas, January 7, 1870.”

The earliest the name appears in the U.S. top 1000 is in 1880, when she came in as the 679th most popular female name in the United States. She remained within the top 1000 until 1930.

As of 2010, Vivia was the 7th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.

Viviana, Vivienne, Bibiana

Origin: Latin
Meaning: “alive.”

For many, the name Vivian probably brings to mind the silverscreen and beautiful leading ladies like Vivien Leigh, however, both Vivian and Vivien are masculine forms, though they have not ranked in the U.S. top 1000 for males, for the policy of defining a legitimate name, I have decided to list both Vivian and Vivien as male forms, while Viviane and Vivienne are legitimate feminine forms. In fact, Vivien is still considered a male form in France. Currently, Vivian ranks in the U.S. top 1000 female names as the 207th most popular female name for 2008, with the rising popularity of such vintage names like Ava and Sophie, this one might rise, plus add to the mix that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently named a child Vivienne.

The name is derived from Vivianus, which is derived from the Latin word vivus meaning “alive.” The name was borne by two saints, one an early Christian martyr, known as St. Viviana or St. Bibiana, the other a French Bishop who was known for providing protection against the Visigothic invasion.

In addition, in some Arthurian legends, the Lady of the Lake is sometimes given the name Viviane.

The name-days are June 2nd (Estonia) and December 2nd.

Other forms of the name include: (divided alphabetically by linguistic origin):

  • Bibijana (Croatian)
  • Viivi (Finnish)
  • Bibiane/Bibienne (French)
  • Viviane/Vivienne (French: common diminutive form is Vienne)
  • Viviette (French: originally a diminutive form; used as an independent given name)
  • Bibiana (German/Italian/Spanish)
  • Bibbiana (Italian)
  • Viviana (Italian/Spanish)
  • Bibianna/Wiwianna (Polish: the latter form is more common and is currently rising in popularity)
  • Bibiána/Viviána (Slovakian/Hungarian: diminutive forms in Slovak are: Vivi, Vivianka, Via and Vianka)
  • Viviann/Vivianne/Vivan/Wivan (Swedish)

Masculine forms

  • Vivian (English)
  • Vivien (French/Hungarian)
  • Bibbiano/Bibiano (Italian)
  • Vivianus (Latin)
  • Bibian (Polish)
  • Vivián (Spanish)