Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “wood; forest.”

The name is a feminine form of Silvius, which is derived from the Latin silva meaning, “wood; forest.”

In Roman legend it was borne by the mother of Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome), Rhea Silvia. It has been suggested that at one time she have been worshipped as a minor forest diety.

It was also borne by a 6th-century Italian saint credited as being the mother of St. Gregory the Great.

Before the 16th-century, Silvia’s usage was relegated to continental Europe, it gained notoriety in England after being used by Shakespeare in his 1594 play, The Two Gentleman of Verona. 

The spelling of Sylvia has been the standard in the English-speaking world since the 19th-century.

Currently, it is the 554th most popular female name in the United States, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

# 61 (Spain, 2010)
# 282 (the Netherlands, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

Sylviya Сыльвія (Belarusian)
Silviya Силвия (Bulgarian)
Sílvia (Catalan/Portuguese)
Silvija (Croatian/Lithuanian/Slovene)
Lesana (literally meaning “woods; forest” it is sometimes used as a Czech and Slovakian equivalent of Sylvia)
Silvie (Czech)
Silvia (Estonian/Italian/Romanian/Slovak/Spanish)
Sylvia (Finnish/English/German/Scandinavian)
Sylphide (French)
Sylvaine (French)
Sylviane (French)
Sylvie (French)
Szilvia (Hungarian)
Sylvía (Icelandic)
Silva (Italian/Slovene)
Silvestra (Italian)
Silvana (Italian/Hungarian/Slovene)
Silvania (Italian)
Silviana (Italian)
Silvina (Italian)
Silvietta (Italian)
Sylvi (Norwegian)
Sylwia (Polish)
Sil’vija Сильвия(Russian)
Silvena (Slovene)
Silvenka (Slovene)
Silverija (Slovene)
Silvica (Slovene)
Zülfiye (Turkish)
Síl”viya Сі́львія(Ukrainian)

Common diminutives include:

Silva/Silvinka (Czech)
Sylvette (French)
Silviuccia (Italian)
Lyya or Lyka (Russian)
Syl”va or Sylya (Russian)
Ylya (Russian) 

It is the name of a classical French ballet, Sylvia, ou La nymphe de Diane, (1876).

Sylvia is also the name of a species of warbler.

In recent years the name has been borne by American poet, Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Queen Silvia of Sweden (b.1943)

Masculine forms include:

Silvije (Croatian)
Silvijo (Croatian/Slovene)
Silvio (Croatian/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
Sylvain (French)
Silvius (Latin)
Sylwiusz (Polish)
Silviu (Romanian)



Silver, Silvère

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “woods”
Fre (seel-VARE)

The name is derived from the Latin, Silverius, which may possibly be from the Latin word, silva, meaning “forest; woods.”

Its occasional modern usage in English speaking countries is more likely due to its association with the English for the precious metal of the same name.

The name was borne by a few early saints, the most notable be Pope Saint Silver (536-537).

Other forms of the name include:

Siveri (Catalan)
Silverije (Croatian)
Silver (English/Estonian)
Silverio (Galician/Italian/Spanish)
Sylweriusz (Polish)
Silvério (Portuguese)
Silveriu (Romanian)

The designated name-days are June 20 (France) and December 31 (Estonia).

A feminine form is the Spanish/Italian Silveria.




Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “wooded, wild.”

Sylvester is an English corruption of the Latin name Silvester, which is derived from the Latin word silvestis meaning “wooded” or “wild.”

The name is borne by several saints and popes, “Silvester” became synonymous with the name for New Years Eve in some countries, since December 31st is the feast of St. Silvester.

Silvester is used in Danish, German, English, Slovene and Slovak.

Before the Reformation, Sylvester was a fairly common male name in England, but went out of usage due to its strong papal associations at the time.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Silvestre (Catalan/Spanish)
  • Silivestru (Corsican)
  • Silvestar (Croatian)
  • Silvestr/Sylvestr (Czech)
  • Sylvester (English/Finnish/Swedish/Ukrainian)
  • Silvar/Silver (Estonian)
  • Sylvestre (French)
  • Fester (Frisian/Limburgish)
  • Szilveszter (Hungarian)
  • Silvestro (Italian)
  • Silvester (Latin/Estonian)
  • Silvestrs (Latvian)
  • Vester (Limburgish)
  • Silvestras (Lithuanian)
  • Sylfest/Sølfest (Norwegian)
  • Sylwester (Polish: diminutive forms are: Syc, Syczek, Syczko, Sych, Sychno, Sychta, Sysz, Syszek, Syszka and Syszko)

An Italian and Slovene feminine form is Silvestra.

The name is currently borne by American actor, Sylvester Stallone (b.1946).

In American popular culture, it was borne by the animated cat named for the the felis silvestris catus, a subspecies of wildcat that was believed to be related to the domesticated cat, at the time. Later scientific evidence established them as two separate species..

A common English nickname is Sly.