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Brianna Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Brianna including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Brianna Overview

  • Meaning: Brianna is derived from the masculine name Brian. That traced its root to “bre,” which meant “hill” or “mountain.” Reflecting that, Brianna means “noble,” “high.” or “exalted.”
  • Gender: Brianna is a traditionally female name.
  • Origin: The name Brianna is of Irish origin, but it is not ancient. Instead, Brianna with two “n’s” only emerged as a girl’s name in the 1970s. However, Briana was used as early as the 16th Century.
  • Pronunciation: In the United States, Brianna can be pronounced as either “Bre-ann-ah” or “Bree-ah-na.”
  • Popularity: Brianna was a very popular name in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s. It has tapered off since then and ranked 184th in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Anna, Bree, Bri, Nana, Ree, Ri.
  • Variations: Breanna, Briana, Brianne, Bryana, Bryanna, Bryanne.
  • Namesakes: Brianna Brown and Brianna Hildebrand.

What Does Brianna Mean?

The name Brianna means “noble,” “high,” or “exalted” and derives from the masculine name Brian. That name was derived from the Gaelic root word “bre,” referring to a “hill” or “mountain” (1).

What Is the Origin of Brianna?

While Brianna is derived from the ancient Gaelic boy’s name Brian, it is not an old Irish name and never became popular in Ireland, even in modern times. Gaelic does not add an “a” to a male name to create a female variant. This convention is more typical among Mediterranean language groups.

The name Briana (with one “n”) first appeared in “The Faerie Queene,” an epic poem by the 16th Century English author Edmund Spenser (2). While it didn’t catapult the name to popularity, it put it on the radar of people who enjoyed literature, and that was a start.

The real renaissance of Brianna and its variations arrived in the United States during the 1970s. At this time, many families wanted a novel, creative names for their little ones rooted in “heritage” names. The second “n” was added to give it a more romantic spelling.

How Popular Is the Name Brianna?

Brianna was a trendy name in the United States from the late 1980s through the mid-2010s. It entered the top 100 in 1988 and reached a peak of number 14 in 1999.

By the mid-2000s, it had begun to taper off and has been on a decline since then. Still, it ranked 184th for newborn girls in 2021 (3).

How Do I Pronounce Brianna?

The most common pronunciation is “Bre-ann-ah,” with the first “a” having a sound like the “a” in the word “and.” However, some people prefer to pronounce it as “Bree-ah-na,” with the first “a” pronounced like a short “o” sound.

Is Brianna a Boy or Girl Name?

Brianna and its variations are feminine names and are rarely, if ever, used as unisex names.

Variations of Brianna

There are many variations of the name Brianna. Most of them are pronounced the same, although you will sometimes find a long “I” sound instead of the “ee” sound in the middle. That is most common when a “Y” is used in place of the “I.” Variants of Brianna include:

  • Breanna (American English)
  • Briana (Irish)
  • Brianne (American English)
  • Bryana (American English)
  • Bryanna (American English)
  • Bryanne (American English)

Nicknames for Brianna

Brianna has a wide selection of nicknames associated with it. These are usually short, and all are cute options:

  • Anna
  • Bree
  • Bri
  • Nana
  • Ree
  • Ri

Similar Names to Brianna

Perhaps you like the name Brianna but feel like it’s not the perfect name choice. There are plenty of names with a similar vibe or sound as Brianna, including:

Middle Names for Brianna

Picking middle names can be tricky. You might want to honor a family member or a meaningful tradition, or you may want something fun and carefree. Here are some suggestions:

Sibling Names for Brianna

When choosing sibling names for Brianna, you can go with Irish roots, something upbeat, or similarly modern. Among the many choices are:

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Brianna

Brianna has become increasingly prominent, with many bearing the name now in the public eye. Among the many Briannas are actresses, journalists, and athletes:

  • Brianna Brown: American actress.
  • Brianna Hildebrand: American actress.
  • Brianna Keilar: Australian-American journalist.
  • Brianna Rollins-McNeal: American track and field athlete.
  • Brianna Taylor: American singer and reality television star.

Brianna in Popular Culture

As a relatively modern name, Brianna has not featured heavily in literature, film, and television. However, you might be familiar with the following:

  • Brianna: Character from the young adult “Inkworld” trilogy.
  • Brianna Buttowski: Character in the animated show “Kick Buttowski.”
  • Brianna Randall-Fraser: Character from the series “Outlander.”
  • Brianna “Bree” Timmins: Character in the Australian soap opera “Neighbours.”
  • Brianna Warren: Character in the television show “Charmed.”

Brianna FAQs

Would you like to learn even more about the name Brianna? We have answered some commonly asked questions to satisfy your curiosity.

Is Brianna a Viking Name?

Brianna is a name that emerged in 16th Century England, based on Celtic etymology, and made popular during the last part of the 20th Century. It has a long and exciting history, but none that’s attached to the Vikings.

Is the Name Brianna Out of Style?

Brianna reached its peak popularity in the late 1990s but has remained a popular name in the years since. Names have trends that come and go, but if one is meaningful to you and sounds pleasant to your ears, that’s all that matters.

Is Brianna a Biblical Name?

While the name Brianna is most commonly found in Christian-majority countries, it is not a name found in the Bible. If you’re looking for a Hebrew girl name with a similar meaning to Brianna, try Aaliyah as it also means “high or exalted.”

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