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    Name advice from our founder, Jennifer Moss.

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Olivia’s True Meaning

Hello Babynames!

My name is Olivia Marie and I love your website. I do not have children but I have a very lengthy baby name list saved for when the time comes. I think there is so much in a name; I was that girl picking names out when I was 8 years old! That list has changed since then but one name I have always loved is my own name, Olivia. As much as I love your website, I am a bit troubled by the meaning you have for the name Olivia. I must tell you that you are the only website out of many that has it listed as ‘Elf Army’. I am curious where that came from? Every book that I have looked in and every other website has the correct meaning which is ‘Olive’ or ‘Olive tree’. Before I sent this email I did some digging to find out it’s origin and to refresh myself on what the Olive tree symbolizes. The Olive tree symbolizes dignity, peace, purity, and strength among other things.

I am aware that your meaning is not deterring people from naming their child Olivia since it is among the most popular. However, I do think that you should have the correct meaning since you are such a popular site. When I type in ‘baby names’ in Google yours comes up first. There are pretty names that have unattractive meanings but Olivia is not one of them. A name is more than just what we sign on paperwork or how others identify us. It is a identity in itself. It is what we are wrapped in, what we grow into. It is multiple parts of someone; their culture, personality, respectability, and so much more.

For this reason would you please consider correcting the meaning of the name Olivia on your website? Thanks so much! Now back to my list… ;)

Hi Olivia,elves

We get at least one message about Oliver/Olivia each month. :) We’ve done extensive research on this name and found that most sources credit this name incorrectly because it has the same sound and letters as “olive.” But the truth is that Olivia is the feminine form of OLIVER/OLIVIER, which most likely originated from the German name “Alfher” rather than the word “olive.” The name Alfher is  composed of the Germanic elements ALF (elf) and HARI (army/warrior).

Yes, now these names are widely associated with “Olive Tree” but that was not its original meaning. Unfortunately many of the baby name books and sites just propagate bad information instead of doing their research! We have two international name experts that research all our names and meanings.


Gender Bender Names


Me and my husband are expecting our third baby and are having trouble agreeing on a name. We already have two girls Lydia Rose & Clara Lorraine. I really like the names Leo, Theo, and Greyson for boy names and if its a girl I would like to name her Myka or Hazel. My husband thinks Hazel is too old of a name and that she would get teased. I on the other hand think its a beautiful name. We were also wondering what you thought of using Leo or Greyson as girl names?


Dear Layla,86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Well first of all, Hazel has become a very popular girls’ name due to the novel and move The Fault in Our Stars. It was my grandmother’s name, so I’m partial to it. I do not believe your daughter would be teased at all.

Personally, I would not use Leo or Greyson as girls’ names. Greyson is currently at the top of the charts for boys and Leo is just such a masculine name, especially being identified with Leonardo DiCaprio. What about some Leo alternatives like Leah, Liana, Leona. There are so many!


The Honest Company The Honest Company
All about Nene


Just wondering if you would know where the name Nene comes from. Pronounced like “knee knee.”

Jess N.

Hi Jess,TV Guide Magazine's 2012 Hot List Party - Arrivals

The name Nene can be traced back to many cultures: Aztec (Nahuatl), African and even Japanese. Most likely it is a variation of the male name John, meaning “God is Gracious.” It could also be a nickname for someone whose name begins or ends in ne or nee, like Renee.  In the case of celeb Nene Leakes, her real name is Linnethia.


Pronouncing Maille

Hi Jennifer!

First off, let me just say I love looking at your website. I’ve been coming to your website since I was young just to look at names for fun and I love all the advice you give!

I’ve always wondered how to pronounce the name ‘Maille.’ I’ve looked up how to pronounce it and some sites it says it’s pronounced like ‘Molly’ or ‘Mehl-leh’ or ‘May-lee’ or ‘My-lee.’ Is there any certain way you would pronounce this name?

Thank you!

mailleDear Georgie,

As you may know there are many ways to pronounce names, depending on your heritage and region. According to our International Names Expert (who has a specialty in Celtic names) traditionally Maille is pronounced MY-lyeh in Ireland. In the U.S. it’s probably more like MY-lee.

Hope that helps!


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