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Daphne Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Daphne Overview

  • Meaning: Daphne means “laurel.”
  • Gender: Daphne is typically a girls’ name.
  • Origin: Greek.
  • Pronunciation: “DAFF-knee”
  • Popularity: At present, Daphne is a popular girls’ name.
  • Nicknames: Daff, Daffy, Daphy, Fee, Fifi.
  • Variations: Dafina, Dafna, Dafne, Dafné, Depine.
  • Namesakes: Daphne Gautschi, Daphne Hampson, Daphne du Maurier, Daphne Park, Daphne Patai.

What Does Daphne Mean?

The name Daphne is Greek for ‘laurel.’ The two have been inextricably linked since the myth of Daphne and Apollo first appeared in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ (1).

What Is the Origin of the Name Daphne?

Daphne comes from the Greek word ‘Δάφνη’ (2). It means ‘laurel’ in English and derives from the myth of Daphne and Apollo.

In the myth, Daphne swore a vow of chastity to Artemis. This does nothing to stop Apollo from falling in love with and pursuing her. To escape the unwanted attention, naiad Daphne petitions her father for help. He transforms her into a laurel tree, solidifying the link between Daphne and laurels.

Despite its Greek origins, many North Americans see Daphne as a predominantly British name. Lately, this owes to shows like ‘Bridgerton.’ But the association is older than that and dates back to the Victorian preoccupation with the encoded symbolism of flowers (3).

Because of this fascination with floral symbolism, Victorian England was rife with floral girls’ names, including Daphne.

How Popular Is the Name Daphne?

Historically, Daphne was a popular name, especially in Britain in the late 1800s.

However, it never enjoyed the same degree of popularity in North America. In 2000, it was a fairly popular name, ranking 633 out of 1000 of the most popular girls’ names (4).

Since then, Daphne’s popularity has been inconsistent. It rose dramatically in 2001, becoming a popular name when it ranked 466 of the top 500 girls’ names.

This was short-lived, and by 2006, Daphne had again fallen out of the top 500 names. It continues to shift back and forth with varying degrees of popularity.

But around 2013, Daphne began consistently rising in popularity. At present, Daphne is a popular name. It is 288 of 500 names for girls. This uptick, especially in recent years, has been helped by mainstream media characters called Daphne on shows like Bridgerton and Scooby-Doo.

How Do I Pronounce Daphne?

Daphne is pronounced “DAFF-knee.” The stress falls on the first syllable.

This is true in both the Anglicized and the Ancient Greek pronunciation (5).

Is Daphne a Boy or Girl Name?

Daphne is a girl’s name.

This is likely because of the name’s long association with the naiad Daphne, whose gender ensures the Greek rendering of Daphne follows declension rules for nouns with feminine gender.

It is compounded by the name Daphne’s association with laurels and the Victorian association with the language of flowers and the feminine.

Variations of Daphne

Daphne is a name with several variations in other languages. Some of the most popular are:

  • Dafina (Albanian)
  • Dafna (Croatian)
  • Dafne (Basque, Catalan, Italian, Lithuanian)
  • Dafné (Czech, French)
  • Dafni (Greek, Turkish)
  • Dapine (Georgian)
  • Defne (Turkish)

Nicknames for Daphne

The name Daphne also lends itself to a variety of nicknames. Some play on the name’s floral meaning, while others revolve around a particular syllable. Some of the most common nicknames for Daphne include:

  • Affie
  • Afne
  • Daff
  • Daffy
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy
  • Daphy
  • Fee
  • Fifi
  • Nina

Similar Names to Daphne

Daphne isn’t the only Greek or even floral name available to parents. Popular names with similar origins or meanings to Daphne include:

Middle Names for Daphne

The name Daphne also lends itself to a variety of middle names. Parents who liked Daphne as a first name often paired it with the following middle names:

Sibling Names for Daphne

There is also a wide range of names that work well as sibling names for girls called Daphne.

For a Brother

Of these, the most popular boys names for the brothers of Daphne include:

For a Sister

While parental favorites for sisters to Daphne are:

Famous People Named Daphne

For many years Daphne enjoyed popularity the most in Britain. Consequently, many famous Daphnes hail from the United Kingdom. However, they don’t have a monopoly on notable Daphnes, and some of the best-known women called Daphne are:

  • Daphne Gautschi: Swiss handball player
  • Daphne Hampson: British theologian
  • Daphne du Maurier: British novelist, author of ‘Rebecca’
  • Daphne Park: British diplomat and spy
  • Daphne Patai: American educator
  • Daphne Zuniga: American Actress

Daphne in Popular Culture

Fiction is also full of notable if fictitious Daphnes. Some of the best-known include:

  • Daphne Blake: Character from ‘Scooby-Doo’
  • Daphne Bridgerton: Character on Netflix series ‘Bridgerton’
  • Daphne Millbrook: Character on the TV series ‘Heroes’
  • Daphne Moon: Character in the TV show ‘Fraiser’
  • Daphne Millicent Turner: Character in Enid Blyton’s ‘Mallory Towers’ series

Daphne FAQs

Daphne is a name with a rich and long history, dating back to Ancient Greece. As such, there are many frequently asked questions about the name Daphne intertwined with mythology.

What Is Daphne the Goddess of in Greek Mythology?

In Greek mythology, Daphne is a minor god or naiad. She is the daughter of a river god and influences specific rivers and bodies of water (6).

Are Daphne and Laurel the Same?

According to the myth, Daphne was chased after by the Greek god Apollo who fell in love with her. As he was about to finally catch her, she pleaded with her father Peneus to save her, so he turned her into a laurel tree.From that point on, Apollo revered laurel, so it started being given as a prize in his honor at the Pythian games held every four years (7).

Does the Myth of Daphne and Apollo Have a Moral?

Many Greek myths have a fable-esque aspect, offering life lessons to the reader. In the myth of Daphne, it’s about the importance of honor and learning when to let go of the thing you love.

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