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Penelope Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Penelope Overview

  • Meaning: “Weaver”
  • Gender: Female.
  • Origin: Greek.
  • Pronunciation: Pen-NEL-oh-pee
  • Popularity: Very popular in the United States and the U.K.
  • Nicknames: Nel, Penny, Pep.
  • Variations: Lopa, Pelcia, Penny, Popi.
  • Namesakes: Penélope Cruz (Spanish Actress), Penelope Fitzgerald (English Author), Penelope Miller (American Actress).

What Does Penelope Mean?

Penelope is a Greek girl’s name that means “weaver,” coming from the Greek word for unthreading a weave. However, some think that the name Penelope could come from the Greek word for “duck” instead (1).

Penelope is a traditionally female name from Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey.

Some versions of the story called her “Penelopeia,” suggesting that it was an alternative older version of the name.

What is the Origin of the Name Penelope?

Penelope is the modern derivation of a popular name in classical Greece. It is possible that the name predated the ancient Greeks and came from the words pēnelops or pēnelōps meaning “the face of a story” or “a spool in the eye”.

The name became quite popular after the creation of The Odyssey in 700 B.C. and has remained in some variation ever since.

How Popular is the Name Penelope?

Penelope is a name used in many European countries. It is a very popular name in the U.K. and the United States. Penelope is ranked the 25th most popular in the United States at present.

While the name has been a somewhat popular name in the United States since the mid-1990s, the name shot to the top 25 in 2017 and has held its position ever since.

The resurgence of Greek stories in literature in the early 2000s led to a popularization of Greek names in the present.

How Do I Pronounce Penelope?

You should pronounce Penelope as “Pen-NEL-uh-pee” or “Pen-NEL-o-pee.” In both cases, emphasize the second syllable.

The “e” at the end of Penelope isn’t silent. Instead, you should pronounce it as a hard e. It is never “Pen-NEL-ohp.”

Is Penelope a Boy or Girl Name?

Penelope is generally a girl’s name, with only five boys receiving the name in 2020 across the entire United States.

There isn’t a masculine version of the name Penelope. However, a boy can have the nickname “Nelly” with names like Nelson or Cornelious.

Variations of Penelope

The name Penelope has been around since humans began writing oral stories down on paper. Because of its history and prevalence, there are many variations of the name Penelope, including:

  • Lopa (Indian, Polish)
  • Pelcia (Polish)
  • Penelopa (Polish, Russian)
  • Penélope (Spanish)
  • Pénélope (Portuguese)
  • Penelopeia (Greek)
  • Penny (English)
  • Pinelopi (Greek)
  • Pipitsa (Greek)
  • Popi (Greek)

Nicknames for Penelope

When choosing a name, you must think about any nicknames or shortened versions that your child might receive.

Penelope can form several cute nicknames, including:

  • Ellie
  • Nel
  • Nelly
  • Pen
  • Penny
  • Pep
  • Pepper
  • Pippa
  • Poppy

These are some of the most popular nicknames for Penelope, but there are several more that you can use!

Another popular way to choose a nickname for someone named Penelope is to combine parts of Penelope with the middle name. For example, Penelope Jane might go by P.J., or Penelope Lynn might get called Penny Lane.

Similar Names to Penelope

If you are interested in the name Penelope and want to know what other names are similar, there are plenty of options!

Here are some names with similar meanings to Penelope:

  • Arachne means “weaving one.”
  • Fia means “weaver.”
  • Huri means “linen weaver.”
  • Rush means “basket weaver.”
  • Maya means “good mother” or “Goddess of Weaving.”

Here are some names with a similar origin to Penelope:

Here are some names that sound similar to Penelope:

Middle Names for Penelope

If you’re planning on naming your child Penelope, you’ll need a good middle name to pair with the first name. Consider the following:

Sibling Names for Penelope

If you have a child named Penelope and are looking to name another child, you’ve come to the right place! Please consider the following for sibling names.

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Penelope

There are many famous women named Penelope. Some of the most notable include:

  • Penelope Aubin: English Author and Poet who wrote about moral and political issues.
  • Penelope Boston: American Speleologist that contributed extensive research on the geobiology of mines and caves.
  • Penelope Carwardine: English Miniature Painter.
  • Penélope Cruz: Spanish Actress best known in English-speaking countries for her role in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
  • Penelope Fitzgerald: English Author who wrote novels, poems, and biographies.
  • Penelope Lively: British Fictional Writer best known for her work in fantasy children’s literature.
  • Penelope Miller: American Actress who played in “Carlito’s Way”, “The Freshman”, and Kindergarten Cop.
  • Penelope Tree: English Fashion Model who rose to fame in the mid-1960s.
  • Penelope Wilton: English Actress.

Penelope in Popular Culture

Penelope is an equally popular name in popular culture. Some of the most well-known uses of the name Penelope include:

  • Penelope: Odysseus’s wife in the epic poem, “The Odyssey.”
  • Penelope: Character in the popular “Sly Cooper” video game series.
  • Penelope Clearwater: Character from the “Harry Potter” series.
  • Penelope Featherington: Character in the “Bridgerton” book series.
  • Penelope Garcia: Character in the tv show, “Criminal Minds.”
  • Penelope Lang: Character from the cartoon, “Atomic Betty.”
  • Penelope Park: Character from the tv show, “Legacies.”
  • Penelope Pussycat: Character in the animated cartoon, “Looney Tunes.”

Penelope FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the name Penelope.

What Does Penelope Mean in the Bible?

In the Bible, the name Penelope means “one who is wise”.

Is Penelope a Pretty Name?

Whether a name is pretty or not is subjective, however, the name is generally liked and is clearly popular for a reason. It is also a name that has lasted millennia, suggesting that it has won over generation after generation.

Is Penelope a Southern Name?

The name Penelope is of Greek origin first and foremost. However, over the decades it has become more or less popular within certain demographics, like the south.

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