Ava:Living and breathing

Name Space

Ava's origin is uncertain, but it 's widely suspected to be the diminutive of several medieval German names beginning with the element av, which may have meant "desire." That said, this short and elegant name, pronounced "AY-vah," could well have roots in Persian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Latin as well.

In both Persian and Urdu, Ava means "voice." In Hebrew, the name Chavah means "life." In Latin, avis means "bird," and, unexpectedly, avo (pronounced ay-vaw) means "grandmother." Ava is also a place name – the name of both an ancient capital of Myanmar and a city in Missouri.

The name Ava seems to have been popular (or at least esteemed) in medieval times. A ninth-century saint named Ava and an 11th-century feminist icon nicknamed "Frau Ava" – the first female poet on record in Germany – are proof of the longevity of this name.

After centuries in obscurity, Ava surfaced as a popular girl's name in the mid-20th century thanks to luminous actress Ava Gardner. Gardner, who died in 1990, was a leading lady in the 1950s known for her stunning beauty and tempestuous personal life.

Ava fell off the Social Security Administration 's list of popular baby names in the mid-1970s but began to blossom again in the late '90s. A few celebrity-related trends may have brought Ava back into the spotlight. Actress Heather Locklear and Bon Jovi band guitarist Richie Sambora welcomed daughter Ava in 1997, the band Smashing Pumpkins released their single "Ava Adore" in 1998, and actors Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe had their baby Ava in 1999.

These days, celebrity babies named Ava abound, including the daughters of Coldplay drummer Will Champion and actor Hugh Jackman.

Ava 's popularity also makes sense because the name hits on several hot baby-naming trends: It's a classic name that sounds modern, it 's short, and it has soft vowel sounds.

Ava is almost always used as a girl's name. Variations of this graceful name include, Aiva, Avah, Avalon, Eabha, Eva, Eve, Avis, Aveline, Avalinka, Avelyn, Avalynn, Avis, Eveline, Avisa, Avina, and Avelina.

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Famous Ava:

Saint Ava : 10-century saint; member of the Frankish royal family

Ava von Melk : Medieval poet also known as Frau Ava; first woman poet on record in Germany

Ava Helen Pauling : American human rights activist, advocated for human rights and nuclear disarmament

Ava Marie DuVernay : American filmmaker, first black woman to direct an Oscar-nominated film: Selma

Ava Gardner : American actress for more than three decades

Ava Leigh : English reggae singer born Hayley Carline in 1995

Ava Lowle Willing : Philadelphia-born American socialite

Ava Gardner : actress