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Vivian Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Vivian Overview

  • Meaning: Vivian comes from the Latin root word vivus, which means life. Vivian can mean life, lively, bright, or genuine.
  • Gender: Historically, the name was at first masculine and then considered gender-neutral. At this time, Vivian is considered primarily feminine.
  • Origin: Latin in origin and comes from the Ancient Roman Viviana (feminine) and Vivianus (masculine).
  • Pronunciation: “viv-ee-EN.” The name rhymes with Bolivian or oblivion.
  • Popularity: Vivian was very popular from 1915 to 1934 and has recently become popular again.
  • Nicknames: Vi, Vienna, Vin, Vinny, Viv, Viva, Vivo.
  • Variations: Bevin, Bibiana, Ninian, Vivi, Viviane, Viviano, Vivien, Vivienne, Vivyan.
  • Namesakes: Vivian Dandridge,Vivian Fuchs,Vivian Wilson Henderson.

What Does Vivian Mean?

Vivian comes from the Ancient Roman Viviana (feminine version) and Vivianus (masculine). Viviana and Vivianus come from the same Latin root word, “vivus,” which means “life.”

Vivian and the root word “vivus” can mean more than simply the definition of “life.” It is also translated as in a natural state, meaning that the person who bears the name is genuine.

Other interpretations include the person being lively or fun, a bright or kindled soul, or someone with a lasting or persistent soul (1).

What Is the Origin of the Name Vivian?

Vivian is a modern version of the Ancient Roman girl name Viviana (and its male counterpart Vivianus).

The name survived in the modern era after the Roman empire’s collapse, most likely because of Saint Viviana, a martyr from the 4th century in the Christian faith. To pay homage to both the religion and the saint, parents began to name their children Vivian (both male and female children).

The name Vivian is also present in the legends of King Arthur. In Arthurian legend, Vivian is the name of a “fairy-like enchantress,” a Lady of the Lake (2).

How Popular Is the Name Vivian?

Vivian has been a steadily popular name throughout the years, rarely falling out of the top 500 most popular names for girls in the United States since 1880.

For Vivian as a masculine name, it has largely fallen out of popularity in the United States, though it remains fairly popular in European countries, especially France. For the list of popular boy’s names in the United States, the name Vivian fell out of the top 1000 in the 1930s and has not come back in.

Vivian became very popular as a name for girls in the United States from 1915 to 1934. During this time, Vivian was in the top 100 most popular names. Notably, Vivian became the 64th most popular name in 1920, the highest rank it has ever reached.

Recently, Vivian has come back up in the ranks and has gained popularity. For example, it reached rank #95 in 2015 and #101 in 2021 (3).

How Do I Pronounce Vivian?

Vivian is pronounced, “viv-ee-EN.” The name rhymes with the word “Bolivian” or “oblivion.”

Is Vivian a Boy or Girl Name?

Vivian was initially a masculine name throughout history. In the 19th century, Vivian became gender-neutral or unisex. At this time, Vivian is typically feminine in the United States, though there remains some gender-neutral use in European countries.

Variations of Vivian

Since the name Vivian originated in Ancient Rome, there have been many language variations throughout history.

  • Bevin (Irish)
  • Bibiana (Spanish)
  • Ninian (Scottish)
  • Vivi (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish)
  • Viviane (Portuguese)
  • Viviano (Italian)
  • Vivien (French, Hungarian)
  • Vivienne (French)
  • Vivyan (English)

Nicknames for Vivian

Vivian has a few fun and catchy nicknames you can use.

  • Vi
  • Vienna
  • Vin
  • Vinny
  • Viv
  • Viva
  • Vivo

Similar Names to Vivian

Here are some similar names to Vivian, some of which share its Latin roots.

Middle Names for Vivian

If you love Vivian, here are some of the best middle names to pair with it.

Sibling Names for Vivian

If you need a good pairing for a sibling named Vivian, here are some of the best options.

Famous People Named Vivian

Since Vivian was a masculine and then gender-neutral name throughout history, the list of famous Vivians includes men and women.

  • Vivian Bang: American actress.
  • Vivian Dandridge: American actress.
  • Vivian Dsena: Indian tv actor.
  • Vivian Fuchs: English explorer who first crossed overland Antarctica.
  • Vivian Green: American R&B musician.
  • Vivian Kubrick: English filmmaker and composer.
  • Vivian Wilson Henderson: American human rights activist and educator.
  • Vivian Vance: American actress.

Vivian in Popular Culture

Vivian makes for an excellent fictional character name in everything from historical fantasies to modern television.

  • Vivian/Vivien: a “Lady of the Lake” in Arthurian legend
  • Vivian Ward: the main character in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman”
  • Vivian Banks (aka Aunt Viv): a character in the tv series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
  • Vivian Kudo: a character in the manga “Case Closed”
  • Vivien de Monbranc: the hero from a 12th-century French epic poem
  • Vivien Harmon: a character in the tv series “American Horror Story”

Vivian FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to the name Vivian.

Is Vivian an Old Name?

Vivian became very popular as a given name for girls in the United States from 1915 to 1934. Many people have associated the name with older women. This is because many of the Vivians that people met came from this period when the name was so popular. However, in the last decade, Vivian has come back in trends and is becoming less associated with an “old” name.

What Is the Personality of a Person Named Vivian?

Vivian as a name comes from the Latin word vivus, which means life. Because of this, the name Vivian is considered a bright and lively name. Someone named Vivian can be anyone they want to be, though the name is associated with freedom and life.

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