Willow:Willow tree

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Willow is a name that means "willow tree" and comes from the Old English word welig, which means willow. It likely dates back to ancient Britain, before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The name may have started as a surname referring to someone who lived in an area rich with willow trees. Willow most likely emerged as a first name in England in the late 19th century, when botany-inspired names like Rose, Flora, and Hazel became incredibly popular.

The willow tree is associated with elegance and grace, inspiring the word willowy – which means tall, slim, and lithe. Willow trees are known for their slender, flexible branches that bend rather than break. They're also strong, and they grow easily in cold and temperate regions.

The willow tree has a rich history of symbolism, although it hasn't always been positive. It's a symbol of false love and despair in Shakespeare's Othello, and the tree became associated with forsaken lovers in the 17th century – they wore crowns of willow branches. But the willow is also very useful, and ancient people used willow branches to build shelter and chewed willow twigs to relieve pain.

In the U.S., Willow first made its debut on the Social Security Administration's list of the top 1,000 girls' names in 1998. (Interestingly, that's a year after the character Willow Rosenberg was introduced on the popular television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Willow has climbed the charts since then, and reached spot 48 in 2020. Several celebrities have chosen it as a baby name, including actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and pop star Pink.

Willow is usually a girls' name, but there are a few boys named Willow born in the United States each year. The name is pronounced "wil-low." There are no common alternative spellings, though Wyllow and Wylow are possibilities. And since it's short and sweet, Willow doesn't lend itself to many nicknames – though Will, Wills, or Low are cute.

Like the tree it's inspired by, Willow has gracefully grown as a popular girls' name. We think we'll be seeing a lot more of this name in the years to come.

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Famous Willow:

Willow Smith : Singer and actress who made her acting debut in I am Legend alongside her dad, Will Smith

Willow Bay : Journalist and educator known for her time on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and CNN

Willow Shields : Actress known for her role as Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games

Willow Palin : Reality television star, daughter of politician Sarah Palin

Willow Geer : Actor and voice actor in TV shows and movies

Willow Smith : child actress