Barbara Name Meaning: Origin and Significance

Etymology and Origin of Barbara

If you’re looking for a classic name with a rich history, Barbara may be the perfect choice. Here’s a closer look at the etymology and origin of Barbara.

Greek Roots

The name Barbara has its roots in the Greek language, derived from the word “barbaros,” which means “foreign.” This name was often given to women who were not of Greek origin, and it was a popular name among early Christians.

Latin Influence

Barbara gained popularity in the Western world thanks to the Latin language. The name was often used in the Middle Ages and was associated with the legend of Saint Barbara, a young woman who was killed by her own father for her Christian faith. The name became popular in Italy during the Renaissance, and it spread throughout Europe from there.

Medieval Usage

During the Middle Ages, Barbara was a popular name for girls in Europe. It was often given to girls who were born on Saint Barbara’s Day, which is celebrated on December 4th. The name was also associated with the art of fortification, and it was often given to daughters of stonemasons and architects.

Overall, the name Barbara has a long and fascinating history. Whether you’re drawn to its Greek roots or its medieval associations, this classic name is sure to stand the test of time.

Meaning and Symbolism

Meaning in Different Languages

The name Barbara has a deep spiritual meaning behind it. It is derived from the Greek word “barbaros,” which means “stranger” or “foreign.” In different languages, the name has different meanings. In English, it means “foreign woman,” while in French, it means “strange.” In Polish, it means “barbarian,” and in Hungarian, it means “foreigner.”

Symbolism in Christianity

In Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox tradition, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of architects, stonemasons, and anyone who works with explosives. She is also the protector against fire and lightning. The legend of Saint Barbara tells the story of a young woman who was imprisoned in a tower by her father. While in the tower, she converted to Christianity and was eventually martyred for her faith.

Today, Saint Barbara is celebrated on her name day, which falls on December 4th. Many churches hold special services in her honor, and it is traditional to light candles and pray for protection against fire and lightning.

In conclusion, the name Barbara has a rich history and deep spiritual meaning. Whether you are named Barbara or simply interested in the symbolism behind the name, it is worth exploring the different meanings and legends associated with this timeless name.

Popularity and Usage

When it comes to baby names, popularity is always a factor that parents consider. The name Barbara has been around for centuries and has had its fair share of popularity and usage across different countries and cultures. In this section, we will explore the popularity and usage of the name Barbara.

Usage in Different Countries

The name Barbara has been used in many countries around the world, including Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Norway, Sweden, Poland, and the Netherlands. In each of these countries, the name has its own unique history and meaning.

For example, in Italy, the name Barbara is associated with Saint Barbara, who is the patron saint of artillerymen. In France, the name is associated with the Greek word “barbaros,” which means “foreigner.” In Portugal, the name is associated with the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva.

Popularity in the U.S.

In the United States, the name Barbara was most popular in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, where it was consistently in the top 10 most popular girl names. However, its popularity has declined over the years, and it is now ranked #1427 in 2023, according to BabyCenter user data.

Here are some quick facts about the popularity of the name Barbara in the U.S.:

  • It was the 2nd most popular name in the 1930s
  • It was the 3rd most popular name in the 1940s
  • It was the 8th most popular name in the 1950s
  • It was the 39th most popular name in the 1960s
  • It was the 94th most popular name in the 1970s
  • It was the 303rd most popular name in the 1980s
  • It was the 584th most popular name in the 1990s
  • It was the 1045th most popular name in the 2000s
  • It was the 1427th most popular name in 2023

Overall, the name Barbara has a rich history and has been used in many countries around the world. While its popularity has declined in recent years, it still remains a classic and timeless name that many parents continue to choose for their baby girls.

Famous People Named Barbara

If you’re looking for inspiration for your baby’s name, Barbara is a classic name that has been popular for many years. But did you know that there are many famous people named Barbara? In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most well-known actresses and public figures who share this name.


Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress who appeared in many films and television shows during her career. She was known for her strong and independent female characters, and she won several awards for her performances. Some of her most famous films include “Double Indemnity” and “The Lady Eve.”

Barbara Bach is another famous actress who shares this name. She is best known for her role as a Bond girl in the film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” She has also appeared in many other films and television shows throughout her career.

Public Figures

Barbara Walters is a well-known journalist and television personality who has been in the industry for many years. She has interviewed many famous people, including Michael Jackson and Vladimir Putin. She has also won several awards for her work in journalism.

Barbara Bush was the wife of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and the mother of former President George W. Bush. She was known for her work in promoting literacy and education, and she was a respected public figure in her own right.

Barbra Streisand is a famous singer and actress who has won many awards for her work in the entertainment industry. She is known for her powerful voice and her ability to convey emotion through her music. She has also appeared in many films throughout her career.

Barbara Gordon is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. She is also known as Batgirl and Oracle, and she has appeared in many comic books and television shows. She is a strong and independent female character who is a role model for many young girls.

As you can see, there are many famous people named Barbara who have made their mark in various industries. If you’re considering naming your baby girl Barbara, she will be in good company with these accomplished women.

Variants and Diminutives

If you’re looking for a name that has many variations and diminutives, then Barbara is the name for you. Here are some of the most common variations and diminutives of Barbara:

English Variations

  • Barb
  • Barbie
  • Barbi
  • Barbra
  • Bobbie
  • Babs
  • Barbarian
  • Babb
  • Barbera
  • Bobbi

International Variations

  • Varvara (Russian)
  • Basia (Polish)
  • Barby (French)
  • Bobby (German)
  • Barri (Welsh)
  • Baba (Czech)
  • Babara (Hawaiian)
  • Babbie (English)
  • Barabal (Scottish Gaelic)
  • Baiba (Latvian)
  • Baibín (Irish Gaelic)
  • Bairbre (Irish Gaelic)
  • Bára (Czech)
  • Bàrbara (Catalan)
  • Bárbara (Galician, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Barbara (Croatian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Slovene)

As you can see, Barbara has many variations and diminutives in different languages and cultures. Some of these variations are more common in certain regions than others. For example, Barbra is a popular spelling variant in the United States, while Bàrbara is more common in Spain and Latin America.

If you’re considering naming your child Barbara, you can choose from a wide range of variations and diminutives to suit your preferences. Whether you prefer a shorter, more informal name like Babs or a more exotic variant like Varvara, there’s a Barbara variation that’s perfect for you.

Overall, Barbara is a versatile name with a rich history and many variations. No matter which variation or diminutive you choose, you can be sure that your child’s name will be unique and meaningful.

Cultural References

The name Barbara has been referenced in various cultural works throughout history, including literature and art. One of the most notable examples is in Charles Dickens’ novel “Bleak House,” where the character Lady Dedlock’s real name is revealed to be Esther Summerson, but she had previously used the name Barbara. The name is also referenced in the classic play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, where the character Lady Bracknell has a daughter named Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax, whose middle name is Barbara.

In terms of fortifications, the name Barbara is associated with the legendary Saint Barbara, who is the patron saint of artillerymen and fortifications. She is often depicted holding a tower, which represents the fortifications she is associated with. This association with fortifications is also reflected in the name’s meaning, as it is derived from the Greek word “barbaros,” which means “foreigner” or “stranger,” and was used to refer to non-Greek speakers who were seen as outsiders or enemies.

The name Barbara is also associated with geology, as it is the patron saint of geologists and miners. This association is likely due to the fact that Saint Barbara is also the patron saint of lightning, which is often associated with geological phenomena such as thunderstorms and earthquakes.

In formal settings, the name Barbara is often seen as a strong and classic name. It has been a popular name for girls throughout history, and has been used by many notable figures, including former First Lady Barbara Bush and actress Barbara Stanwyck.

Overall, the name Barbara has a rich cultural history and is associated with a variety of different entities, from literature and art to fortifications and geology. Its strong and classic nature makes it a popular choice for parents looking for a traditional name for their child.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.