Ava (given name)

Ava is a feminine given name in English and in other languages. Its recent popularity may be linked to a number of celebrity babies of the 1990s, some of whom were ultimately named after American actress Ava Gardner (1922–1990).

Pronunciation/ˈvə/ AY-və
/ˈɑːvə/ AH-və


The medieval name Ava is an abbreviation of a Germanic name containing the first element aw-, of uncertain meaning. Old High German (8th to 9th centuries) dithematic feminine names with this element include Avagisa, Avuldis, Awanpurc, Auwanildis.[1]

Saint Ava was a 9th-century princess, daughter of Pepin II of Aquitaine. Ava was also the name of a medieval German woman poet. This name is the origin of the Norman French name of Aveline, which in turn gave rise to the English given name of Evelyn.[citation needed]

As evidence for the name is lacking between the later medieval and the modern period, the Oxford Dictionary of First Names supposes that it was coined anew as a modern innovation, presumably as a variant of Eva,[2] or (like Eva) used as an anglicization of the Irish name Aoife.[3]

Āvā is also a feminine given name in the Persian language, meaning "voice, sound".

In the Russian language, Ava (А́ва) may be a diminutive form of either the female names Avelina,[4] Avenira,[5] Aventina,[5] Avgusta/Avgustina,[6] Aviafa,[5] Aviya (a form of Abijah),[7] Avreliya,[8] Avreya,[8] and Avrora (a form of Aurora),[8] or the male names Avdey,[9] Avel,[4] Avenir,[4] Aventin,[5] Avgust,[6] Avim,[5] Avram (a form of Abram),[7] Avrelian,[8] and Avrely.[8]

Modern useEdit

Ava Astor (portrait of Giovanni Boldini 1910s)
Ava Alice Astor (photograph circa 1920)

The name was popularized in the United States by socialite Ava Lowle Willing (1868–1958), who married John Jacob Astor IV, and their daughter, socialite and heiress Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902–1956).

Ava Gardner in the trailer to "My Forbidden Past" (1951)

Ava Gardner (1922–1990) signed a contract with MGM Studios in 1941 and gained Hollywood stardom with her performance in The Killers (1946). She became one of Hollywood's leading actresses from the 1950s to the 1970s and is the ultimate reason for the given name's continued popularity.[2]

Recent popularityEdit

The name is popular in the United States, where it has ranked among the top 10 most popular names given to baby girls since 2005 and among the top 200 names given to girls since 2000.[10] [11]

The name has been rising in popularity in the United States since the mid-1990s, but had its most dramatic jump in popularity in 1998, when it was the 350th most popular name for baby girls, jumping 268 places up the chart from 618th place in 1997.[10][12] One factor in its increase in popularity in English-speaking countries may have been the naming of the daughters of actress Heather Locklear and musician Richie Sambora,[13] [14] in 1997, and of actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in 1999.[15]

Phillippe said in a magazine interview that he and Witherspoon named their child after actress Ava Gardner.[16] It was the ninth most popular name for girls in Australia[17] and eighth in New Zealand[18] in 2013.

Notable peopleEdit



  1. ^ Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1847), 190 adduces OHG awa "flowing water" and Gothic awō "grandmother"
  2. ^ a b Hanks, Patrick; Hardcastle, Kate; Hodges, Flavia (2006), A Dictionary of First Names, Oxford Paperback Reference (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, pp. 24–25, ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1.
  3. ^ Meaning, origin and history of the name Ava – Behind the Name
  4. ^ a b c Petrovsky, p. 33
  5. ^ a b c d e Petrovsky, p. 34
  6. ^ a b Petrovsky, p. 32
  7. ^ a b Petrovsky, p. 35
  8. ^ a b c d e Petrovsky, p. 36
  9. ^ Superanskaya, p. 21
  10. ^ a b Behind the Name
  11. ^ "Popular Baby Names".
  12. ^ Popular Baby Names
  13. ^ Satran, Pamela Redmond and Rosenkrantz, Linda. (2008) Cool Names for Babies, p. 71. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-37786-1
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2011-09-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Satran, Pamela Redmond and Rosenkrantz, Linda (2007). The Baby Name Bible: The Ultimate Guide by America's Baby Naming Experts, pp. 27. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-35220-4
  16. ^ "In Step with Ryan Philippe". Parade Magazine. 3-23-2008 Archived April 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Australia's 100 most popular baby names". Kidspot. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  18. ^ Most Popular Male and Female First Names – dia.govt.nz