Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Olive

Olive is the English vocabulary word for a type of tree from the Latin “oliva”. The olive tree is an emblem of peace, such as when one "extends an olive branch". The root of this can be found in the Bible (Genesis 8:11) when a dove came to Noah after the great floods subsided with a freshly plucked olive leaf. The olive leaf thus became a symbol of impending peace. The olive tree was also sacred to the Greek goddess Athena; it was her gift to the people of Athens in a contest among gods to decide who would become the city’s namesake. The olive tree serves many uses (fine wood, olive oil, medicinal benefits, the olive leaf and olive fruit) and so it was chosen as the most useful gift. As a female name, Oliva dates back to at least the days of the early Roman Empire. It was in use in Italy as evidenced by a second century St. Oliva of Brescia who was martyred during the rule of Emperor Hadrian. There was also a 9th century legend about a thirteen year old girl named Oliva from Palermo, Sicily who was abducted by Muslims and taken to Tunis (Northern Africa) and confined to a cave. According to the tale (which many took to be true), Oliva captivated her kidnappers with her beauty and piety and thus converted many Muslims to Christianity before she herself was martyred. Olivia – the similar sounding name – was a female name creation by William Shakespeare (for more information on this history, see the name Olivia). Olivia is a hugely popular name among English speakers today, while the shorter two-syllable Olive is less so. The name Olive is most popular in Australia today.

All About the Baby Name – Olive

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME OLIVE

The number Nine personality represents the completion or ending of the cycle, and a need for perfection. This is the personality that moves from "self" to a greater understanding and compassion for the human condition and the world order. They want to make the world a better place. Nines are capable of great spiritual and humanitarian achievements. They are courageous and fearless, able to fight great battles on behalf of worthy causes. These personalities will not tolerate injustice. They are compassionate people with a strong sensitivity to others. They are able to both educate and inspire. Friendships and relationships are the lifeblood to the Nine, and they place a high value on love and affection. Nines are often exceptionally gifted artistically, and they have a keen imagination and enterprising mind.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME OLIVE

Interestingly, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s Olive was actually quite a bit more popular than Olivia. The reverse is true today. It was in 1934 when Olivia first surpassed Olive in usage. Olivia is one of the most popular names for American baby girls today while Olive has had a difficult time hanging onto the charts. As you can see by the graph below, Olive was a Top 100 favorite in the early part of the 20th century but quickly went out of fashion as the decades progressed. In 1951, the name Olive completely disappeared from the female naming charts. Her hiatus from usage would last over 50 years. It was not until this century, in the year 2007, that Olive returned to the American consciousness. Not surprisingly, a year before in 2006 a Sundance indie film called “Little Miss Sunshine” was released to delighted audiences across America. The central character in the movie is a quirky seven year old cutie-pie named Olive who is a refreshingly untrained contestant in a beauty pageant called “Little Miss Sunshine”. Filmgoers couldn’t help but to fall in love with Olive and the following year the name reentered the female charts. Olive got another boost of interest when actress Isla Fisher and her avant-garde comic husband Sacha Baron Cohen named their first daughter Olive in 2007. While most Americans prefer the ever-popular and arguably overused Olivia for their daughters, Olive is a cute and sweet alternative (perhaps less pretentious and a little more vintage). It cuts a lengthy four syllable name down to two while still retaining the name’s inherent “old lady” charm. Liv and Ollie are possible nicknames. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the antiquated association with Olive Oyl, the skinny, big-footed, sometimes fickle girlfriend of Popeye (but this is fast becoming a dated reference people no longer seem to consider). In any case, when we think of the name Olive, we just think: Olive You!

Quick Facts

ON OLIVE

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

291

PRONUNCIATION:

AHL-iv

SIMPLE MEANING:

Olive tree, emblem of peace

Characteristics

OF OLIVE

Multi-talented

Intuitive

Oneness

Idealistic

Philanthropy

Independent

Perfection

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Olive

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME OLIVE

Olive Oyl is the cartoon girlfriend of Popeye the Sailor Man, created by Elzie Crisler Segar in 1919 for his comic strip series, Thimble Theatre. The strip was later renamed Popeye, the Sailor Man, after that character became the most popular. Let it be said, however, that Olive was a major character before Popeye himself even appeared, in 1929. She is some gal, all right. Tall, rangy, sporting that retro bun, she is an independent woman when it comes to men – the chaser as often as the chasee, she seems to settle on Popeye when it suits her fancy (e.g., when he rescues her from the abusive Bluto, with whom she often flirts). The strip was adapted to the cartoon screen by Fleischer Studios in 1933, and she was voiced eventually by Mae Questel, who also voiced Betty Boop, which is when we got used to that high-pitched voice of hers, alternately cooing sweet nothings to Popeye or bawling him out in high fashion. When Popeye came to the big screen in 1980 in the person of Robin Williams, Shelley Duval proved to be the absolute incarnation of our girl Olive. We just have one little question: Who exactly are Swee’Pea’s parents??

Popular Songs

ON OLIVE

The Olive Branch
a song by Sullivan

An Olive Tree
a song by Basia

An Olive Grove Facing the Sea
a song by Snow Patrol

Famous People

NAMED OLIVE

Olive, Lady Baillie (Anglo-American heiress)
Olive Thomas (silent film actress)
Olive Beech (pioneering aviator and businesswoman)

Children of Famous People

NAMED OLIVE

Drew Barrymore;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME OLIVE

Olive Thomas was a beautiful young movie actress during the silent era of filmmaking and well-known for her early death. Born in Pennsylvania to an Irish family of modest means, Olive moved to New York City when she was 18. It was shortly thereafter that the young girl won a contest called “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” which landed her a cover on the Saturday Evening Post and a position with the Ziegfeld Follies. She performed a risqué act in the “Midnight Frolic” show which made her uber-popular with the wealthy males in the audience. She was known for her remarkable beauty, porcelain skin and bright violet eyes framed in long dark eyelashes. The men went crazy for her and lavished her with gifts. Eventually Olive made her way into films and met and married actor Jack Pickford (brother of Mary Pickford). The two young lovers eloped and led a volatile and wild life in the fast lane of partying. In 1920, at the age of 25, Olive Thomas, mistaking the bottle for something else, accidentally swallowed poison in a French hotel room while on a second honeymoon with her husband. She tragically died a few days later and her body was brought back to New York for a jam packed funeral ceremony. She became a poster child of her day for the fast-living consequences of successful youth. It is said her ghost still roams the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.