Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Bianca

Bianca is an Italian name from the word “bianco” meaning ‘white, pure’. It is a cognate of the French name Blanche (also meaning ‘white’) which itself came from the Late Latin word “blancus”. William Shakespeare helped to popularize the name Bianca by introducing it to the English in two of his plays “The Taming of the Shrew” (c. 1590) and “Othello” (c. 1603) – both of which are set in Italy. Bianca is the lovely, sweet-tempered and obedient sister of Kate, the shrew. Their father, Baptista Minola, refuses to allow Bianca to wed until her older sister marries first. This basic premise sets the hilarious play in motion. In “Othello”, Bianca is a courtesan and lover of Cassio. Her jealousy inadvertently helps Iago in his evil scheme to trick Othello into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with Cassio. Another tragic misunderstanding exposing human follies for which Shakespeare was so well known. Some historians suggest that the name was essentially invented around the 12th century when the King of Navarre (Pamplona) and his French wife named their first daughter “Blanca” – the name quickly spread among royals throughout Western Europe. The name’s instant attraction is owed to the idea of “milky white skin” being the mark of beauty in medieval times. The names Blanche (French), Blanca (Spanish), and Bianca (Italian) were often used in works of art to idealize this notion of purity and beauty. In 1826 the Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini wrote an opera called “Bianca e Fernando” about a brother and sister who avenge their father’s false death and imprisonment from the evil Filippo. In the English-speaking world, the French Blanche was more commonly used until the early 1970s when a Nicaraguan-born beauty by the name of Bianca married The Rolling Stones front man and superstar, Mick Jagger.

All About the Baby Name – Bianca



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The usage of Bianca in the United States was clearly influenced by Bianca Jagger, the jet-setting, party-going, social activist wife of Mick Jagger. Bianca Jagger was practically synonymous with New York’s Studio 54 and Andy Warhol of the 1970s. Not surprisingly, the female name Bianca made her debut on the U.S. popularity charts in 1973. The name quickly climbed the charts and landed a spot on the Top 100 list in 1989. However, since that time, Bianca has been retreating back into the shadows. This is good news since the name is returning to its more exotic and underused roots. Bianca is a name with European flair and Italian elegance. Like Portia, Juliet, Viola, Olivia, Miranda and Rosalind – Bianca is also a name heavily related to Shakespeare, amply supplying it with heaps of literary clout. This is also a name that has been strongly associated with fairness and beauty since the Middle Ages. Bianca can be sounded out in either two or three syllables, and while nicknames and pet forms are relatively lacking there’s always Binkie or B(ee).

Quick Facts











bee-AHN-ka or BYAHN-kah


White, fair, pure










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Bianca

Literary Characters


Bianca is a minor character in William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice”, believed to have been written between 1601 and 1604, but her activities spur major actions in the play’s plot. Bianca is a prostitute and the lover (and a jealous one) of Cassio, who toys with her affections unmercifully. Iago is trying to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is being unfaithful to him with Cassio. To that end, Iago has planted a handkerchief of Desdemona’s in Cassio’s rooms, which Cassio finds to be a beautiful piece of artistry. He asks Bianca to copy it for him. Bianca is jealous (as usual) and thinks that it probably has been left there by another woman, but she does agree to copy it. Later, Othello eavesdrops on a conversation between Cassio and Iago as they discuss Cassio’s sexual exploits with a woman. Without hearing any name (it is Bianca), Othello comes to the conclusion that they are speaking of Desdemona. When Bianca enters the room, she is still brooding on the possibility of “the other woman”, and she scornfully throws the handkerchief at Cassio’s feet. Upon seeing it, Othello is utterly convinced of the veracity of his suspicions, and begins to plan the deaths of Desdemona and Cassio. It is thus Bianca who unwittingly seals the fate of Othello’s innocent wife – quite a major burden for a minor character! Cassio escapes death, and the play doesn’t specify, but we’re willing to bet he doesn’t spend any more time with poor Bianca.

Bianca is the younger sister of Katherine (the titular shrew) in William Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, probably written sometime between 1590 and 1594. Young Bianca is at first seen as the favored child of her father, whose acceptance of a marriage offer from any one of her many avid suitors is put off by her father’s wish to have her disagreeable sister marry first. Sweet little Bianca goes along for the ride, appearing to be demure, obedient and quiet, interested only in her studies. Many a teen-aged girl has pulled the same wool over her father’s eyes! On closer examination, Bianca comes across as quite the manipulator, albeit not in as strident a fashion as her sister, the shrew. She is quite catty toward her sister, taunting her over her state of spinsterhood, and she is as fully capable of flirting as is the best of any coquettes – studies, indeed! Naturally, when Lucentio falls in love with her at first sight, he must exchange identities with his servant, and pose as her Latin tutor. Bianca then elopes with Lucentio, and deceptions follow upon deceptions. When all is resolved, wife-tamings have occurred and wedding banquets have been arranged, it is Bianca, after all, who shows her true colors. After trading a little risqué banter with the boys, she then disobeys her new husband’s orders (upon which he has foolishly set a bet), and when he objects, retorts: “The more fool you for laying on my duty”. This is the woman of whom Lucentio said upon first meeting: “O yes, I saw such beauty in her face…” He just didn’t look much farther than that; it appears that the taming process is unfinished. (And let’s not even begin to address the misogyny issue in the play – for now, let’s just say: “Bianca! You go, girl!”).

The Taming of the Shrew; Othello

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Bianca

Popular Songs


Bianca e Fernando
an opera by Vincenzo Bellini

La Stanza Bianca
a song by These Arms Are Snakes

Bianca's & Beatrice's
a song by Tech N9ne

a song by Kent

Famous People


Bianca Jagger (wife of Mick Jagger/activist)
Bianca Balti (Italian model)
Bianca Bianchi (opera soprano)
Bianca Butler (figure skater)
Bianca Collins (actress)
Bianca Gascoigne (model/TV personality)
Bianca Kajlich (actress)
Bianca Lancia (medieval Italian noblewoman)
Bianca Lawson (actress)
Bia de' Medici (illegitimate daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany)
Bianca Ryan (singer)
Bianca Maria Sforza (medieval Italian noble)
Bianca Maria Visconti (former Duchess of Milan)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Bianca

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Bianca