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Oliver Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Oliver Overview

Though very common, the name Oliver is a great name for any baby boy.

  • Meaning: Oliver means “olive tree” or “ancestor’s descendants.”
  • Gender: Oliver is a masculine name.
  • Origin: Oliver has English and French roots, possibly deriving from the Latin word “olivarius,” the German name “Alfihar,” and the Old Norse name “Olaf.&rdquo
  • Pronunciation: Oliver is pronounced “AA-lih-ver.”
  • Popularity: Oliver is a very popular name. It’s among the Top 10 most used boys’ names in several countries.
  • Nicknames: Noll, Olaf, Olive, Olive Oil, Ollie, Olly
  • Variations: Oilibhéar, Oilvreis, Olivér, Olíver, Óliver, Olivier, Oliviero, Olívio, Oliwer, Oliwier
  • Namesakes: Oliver Goldsmith, Oliver Hardy, Oliver McCall, Oliver Platt, Oliver Queen, Oliver Stone, Oliver Twist

Oliver is an Old French and Medieval English name with a rich history. Today, the name Oliver is one of the most popular baby boy names around, but why?

What Does Oliver Mean?

Stemming from multiple different languages, Oliver has a few different meanings. The most accepted meaning of Oliver is “olive tree” or “olive.” Under this meaning, Oliver derives from the Latin word “olivarius,” which translates to “olive branch bearer” and “olive tree planter.”

Oliver has also been interpreted to mean “ancestor’s descendants.” This definition derives from the Old Norse name Óleifr (later spelled Olaf), which means “ancestor,” descendant,” and “heirloom.” The name may also stem from the Old German name Alfihar, meaning “host of elves” (1).

What is the Origin of the Name Oliver?

The name Oliver originated in Old France and Medieval Britain. The name is most often proposed to come from Latin, but other theories suggest Oliver also has German, Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and even Greek origins.

The first prominent usage of the name Oliver came in 11th century England. Historians believe Oliver was first a Norman-French name that was introduced to the UK region following the Norman Conquest. The first popular usage of the name Oliver was in Charlemagne’s Song of Roland in 1040 CE.

Following the 11th century, Oliver was a decently common name in England for several hundred years. Oliver’s usage quickly dropped following the unpopularity of Engish General Oliver Cromwell during the Stuart Restoration of the 17th century.

The name Oliver remained very uncommon until the 19th century. Many historians believe that Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is what inspired the resurgence of the name. Whatever the reason, the name Oliver has only gained steam since the 1800s and is more popular today than it has ever been.

How Popular is the Name Oliver?

Oliver is a very popular name, one of the most used baby boy names around the world! From 2019 through 2020, Oliver was the third most used boy name in the United States. Oliver was also the #1 name given to boys in Australia in 2015 and England from 2013 through 2017.

In 1995, Oliver was fairy popular, ranking the 393rd most used boy’s name in the US. However, it saw a staggering increase in popularity in the 21st century. Oliver rose to 209th spot by 2005, 88th by 2010, 19th by 2015, and 3rd by 2020 (2).

Oliver is not just a popular name among newborns. According to a survey taken by Amino, Oliver also ranks as one of the most popular names among transgender men (3).

How Do I Pronounce Oliver?

The name Oliver is pronounced, “AA-lih-ver.” Simply put, it sounds like the word “olive” with an “er” sound added at the end.

Is Oliver a Boy or Girl Name?

Oliver is most often used as a masculine name.

Though Oliver can be used as a feminine name, it is incredibly rare. Parents attached to the name Oliver often use female variations like Olivia instead.

Variations of Oliver

These variations of Oliver from around the world are also worth considering for your newborn.

  • Oilibhéar (Irish)
  • Oilibhėir (Irish)
  • Oilvreis (Scottish)
  • Olivér (Hungarian)
  • Olíver (Portuguese)
  • Óliver (Spanish)
  • Olivia (English)
  • Olivier (French)
  • Oliviero (Italian)
  • Olívio (Portuguese)
  • Oliwer (Polish)
  • Oliwier (Polish)

Nicknames for Oliver

Nicknames are a great way to show your newborn you love them. Here are a few of the most popular Oliver nicknames:

  • Noll
  • Olaf
  • Olive
  • Olive Oil
  • Ollie
  • Olly

Similar Names to Oliver

If Oliver isn’t quite the name you’re looking for, there are many beautiful names like it. In pronunciation, origin, and meaning, here are some of the most similar names to Oliver:

Middle Names for Oliver

You may already have a middle name in mind, but in case you don’t, here are a few that we think go great with Oliver:

Sibling Names for Oliver

We can’t promise Oliver will always be the best brother, but we can promise you that the name “Oliver” goes well next to any other sibling’s name.

Famous People Named Oliver

Over the years, many people have been born with the name Oliver, and many of those people went on to have great accomplishments. Here are some of the most notable Oliver’s in history.

  • Oliver Goldsmith: 18th-century Anglo-Irish author and poet, best known for The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
  • Oliver Hardy: American comedian and actor, best know for his double act “Laurel and Hardy” alongside Stan Laurel.
  • Oliver McCall: American boxer who won the 1994 WBC heavyweight title.
  • Oliver Platt: Canadian American actor, best known for Bicentennial Man.
  • Oliver Stone: American director, producer, and screenwriter, best known for JFK, Platoon, and Natural Born Killers.

Oliver in Popular Culture

Oliver is not only a great name for newborns but a great name for fictional characters too. Below are some of the most famous Oliver’s in pop culture:

  • Oliver: Orange cat and the titular character in Disney’s Oliver & Company.
  • Oliver Hampton: Hacker in ABC TV series How to Get Away with Murder.
  • Oliver Oken: Best friend/romantic interest in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana.
  • Oliver Queen / “Green Arrow”: DC comics superhero who wields a bow and arrow; titular character in CW TV series Arrow.
  • Oliver the West Engine: Engine No. 11 in Thomas the Tank Engine series.
  • Oliver Twist: Titular hero in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist.
  • Oliver Wendell Douglass: Main character in CBS series Green Acres.

Oliver FAQs

Like with any good newborn name, it’s entirely reasonable to have questions about the name Oliver.

Is Oliver a Royal Name?

No, Oliver is not a particularly royal name. Oliver has no distinctly royal meaning, nor are there many members of historical nobility who have used this name.

Is the Name Oliver in the Bible?

No, the name Oliver does not appear in the Bible. However, “olivarus,” a Latin word meaning “olive tree” that Oliver derived from, does appear in the book of Genesis.

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