Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Velma

Velma is a female given name invented sometime in the 19th century. It was either inspired by the German pronunciation of Wilma ("VIL-mah") or coined from other similar sounding names (Selma, Thelma). Assuming Velma was created from Wilma, the name would mean "valiant protector". Basically, Wilma is a German diminutive of Wilhelmina (female form of Wilhelm, the German equivalent of William). Wilhelm is derived from the Germanic words "wil” (meaning "will, desire”) and "helm" (meaning "helmet, protection"). Put them together, you’ve got a desire for protection; thus, the name William (or Wilma) means "valiant protector". It was 19th century German settlers who first introduced the name Wilma to America. Velma also appeared on the U.S. charts around this time.

All About the Baby Name – Velma



The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.



At one point in time Velma was actually quite popular in the United States. In fact, around the turn of the 20th century into the 19-teens, Velma was on the Top 100 list of most commonly used female names in the country. By the 1940s it became apparent that Velma was falling dramatically from style; and 1973 marks the year that she disappeared from the American female naming charts altogether. So far it seems her hiatus might be permanent (Wilma is also no longer on the charts). Anyone 40ish and younger associate this name with the character Velma Dinkley from the popular Scooby-Doo cartoon. She was the severly nearsighted brainiac of the teenaged detective gang who often lost her glasses during the episodes. The name Velma also appears in two hit Broadway musicals. In "Chicago" Velma Kelly is the murderess cabaret singer and in "Hairspray" Velma Von Tussle is the ultimate stage "momster". Because Velma's heyday came in the early 1900s, she is often considered an "old-lady" name and one which hasn't been resurrected like other turn-of-the-century charmers (Emma, Chloe and Ruby for instance). Using a name like Velma would be considered very retro today, but it's now so rare it doesn't even make the Top 1000 list. Only the bravest of parents might consider naming their daughter Velma today.

Quick Facts













Valiant Protector










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Velma

Literary Characters


Velma Kelly is one of the main characters in the hugely successful 1975 musical, Chicago, itself based on a 1926 play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins, and also made into an award winning 2002 movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma. Velma is a deliciously corrupt and manipulative singing and dancing murderess, constantly seeking the spotlight, and finding it more often than not. She is in prison for killing her husband and sister, who were having an affair. Longing to be back in vaudeville and hoping to escape the gallows, Velma is kept in the limelight by the corrupt matron, “Mama” Morton, but incoming murderess/prisoner Roxie Hart steals the show momentarily. Velma is intent on doing harm to this upstart, but in the end they triumphantly both end up free and back on the entertainment circuit in a fetching duet, the “Hot Honey Rag”.

Velma Dinkley is a character in the television animation program, Scooby Doo, about the gang of four teen-aged ghost-mystery solvers and their Great Dane sidekick, which debuted in 1969 and has enjoyed a long life in re-runs, films and video games. Velma is “the brainy one”, dressed in pleated skirts and baggy sweaters and sporting her ever-troublesome glasses, which she is constantly losing. Smart as she is, Velma usually gets to the core of the mystery first, and she is as brave as she is intelligent, often encouraging the somewhat cowardly Scooby Doo when he is afraid. Sometimes our Velma is involved in an innocent and sweet romance with Shaggy, but it never goes very far. As Velma herself would say: “Jinkies!” She’s too busy for such goings-on.

Velma Valento is a character in Raymond Chandler’s 1940 Philip Marlowe detective novel, Farewell, My Lovely, memorably played by Charlotte Rampling in the 1975 movie version of the same name. Velma, a one-time nightclub singer and gangster’s moll, is the alter-ego of the properly married Helen (Mrs. Lewin Lockridge) Grayle, who is trying to hide her less than illustrious past. Suffice it to say, this being a Chandler novel, there are enough plot twists and turns to stymie a cheese seeking laboratory rat; what is important is that the gorgeous Velma, whom Chandler describes as “a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window”, is one of the all time best femme fatales in literary history. Yes, she comes to a bad end, after causing a string of murders herself, but she takes us on a memorable journey getting there.

Velma Von Tussle is a character in the 1988 John Waters film, Hairspray, which was adapted to a successful Broadway musical by the same name in 2002 and yet again to a movie in 2007. The teen-aged heroine, Tracy Turnblad, lands a spot on the local 1960’s television dance party show, and promptly proceeds to racially integrate the cast. In this she is thwarted by the snobby and prejudiced producer of the show, Velma Von Tussle. Velma takes her place with the best of baddies (and our favorite portrayal is that of Michelle Pfeiffer). Velma unashamedly campaigns for her own daughter, Amber, as “Miss Hairspray”, including rigging the votes; she does everything in her power to keep African Americans off the show; she openly derides the “pleasantly plump” Tracy, she tries to break up Tracy’s parents’ marriage and she finally contrives to have Tracy framed for assaulting a police officer. Well, of course, such wrongs have to be righted, and, of course, they are, but the wicked Velma was fun to watch while it lasted.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Velma

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Velma

Famous People


We cannot find any famous people with the first name Velma.

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


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