Hello Babynames!

My name is Olivia Marie and I love your website. I do not have children but I have a very lengthy baby name list saved for when the time comes. I think there is so much in a name; I was that girl picking names out when I was 8 years old! That list has changed since then but one name I have always loved is my own name, Olivia. As much as I love your website, I am a bit troubled by the meaning you have for the name Olivia. I must tell you that you are the only website out of many that has it listed as ‘Elf Army’. I am curious where that came from? Every book that I have looked in and every other website has the correct meaning which is ‘Olive’ or ‘Olive tree’. Before I sent this email I did some digging to find out it’s origin and to refresh myself on what the Olive tree symbolizes. The Olive tree symbolizes dignity, peace, purity, and strength among other things.

I am aware that your meaning is not deterring people from naming their child Olivia since it is among the most popular. However, I do think that you should have the correct meaning since you are such a popular site. When I type in ‘baby names’ in Google yours comes up first. There are pretty names that have unattractive meanings but Olivia is not one of them. A name is more than just what we sign on paperwork or how others identify us. It is a identity in itself. It is what we are wrapped in, what we grow into. It is multiple parts of someone; their culture, personality, respectability, and so much more.

For this reason would you please consider correcting the meaning of the name Olivia on your website? Thanks so much! Now back to my list… 😉

Hi Olivia,elves

We get at least one message about Oliver/Olivia each month. 🙂 We’ve done extensive research on this name and found that most sources credit this name incorrectly because it has the same sound and letters as “olive.” But the truth is that Olivia is the feminine form of OLIVER/OLIVIER, which most likely originated from the German name “Alfher” rather than the word “olive.” The name Alfher is  composed of the Germanic elements ALF (elf) and HARI (army/warrior).

Yes, now these names are widely associated with “Olive Tree” but that was not its original meaning. Unfortunately many of the baby name books and sites just propagate bad information instead of doing their research! We have two international name experts that research all our names and meanings.


Jennifer Moss (she/her) is the founder of BabyNames.com, author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.

Jennifer entered the tech arena in the 80s as a software developer and database architect, and became a pioneer in the Internet industry. In addition to operating BabyNames.com, Jennifer owns a web development agency in central California.