[ 3 syll. bar-ba-ra, ba-rb-ara ] The baby girl name Barbara is pronounced in English as BAAR-BahR-ah or BAAR-BRah or in Polish as BaaR-BAA-Raa †. Barbara is of Latin origin, and it is used mainly in the English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Slavic, and Spanish languages. The name is of the meaning 'foreign woman'. It is derived from barbari meaning 'foreign, stammering people' ; barbaros 'foreign, barbaric' ; barbar 'unintelligible speech'. The root element refers to the unintelligible stammering of foreigners, which to the Greeks sounded like 'bar-bar'. The name could have been first borne by Saint Barbara, who was a foreign slave. She was a 3rd-century martyr executed by her father for her Christian faith; immediately after her death the latter was struck dead by a bolt of lightning. Thus, she is a protectress against fire and lightning in Catholic custom, and by association, the patron saint of gunners, firework makers, and stonemasons. There is no evidence that she actually existed, but her cult was very strong from the 9th century onwards, leading to a widespread adoption of the name. The name is however not found in the Bible, and therefore saw a decline in use after the Reformation. It saw a recent revival in the 20th century. The Irish form Baibín is also used as an Anglicized form of Gobnait.
Barbara is a widely used name; it has 89 variant transcriptions that are used in English and foreign languages. Variation transcriptions used in English include Baba, Babara (also used in Hawaiian), Babb, Babba, Babbie, Babby, Babica, Babina, Babita, Baibin, Baibre, Bar, Barabara, Barabell, Barba, Barbara-Ann, Barbarella, Barbarina, Barbarit, Barbarita, Barbary, Barbee, Barbeeleen, Barbel (also used in German), Barbette, Barbey, Barbi, Barbica, Barbot, and Barbra (also used in German, Scandinavian, and Spanish). Other English forms include the contractions Barb and Barbar, the pet forms Bab, Babe, Babette (also used in French, and German), Babs, Barbie (also used in Latin), Bebe (also used in Spanish), Bibi (also used in Iranian, and Urdu), Bobbi, Bobbie, and Bobby, and the variant spelling Barbera.
Foreign variant transcriptions of Barbara include Bairbre (Irish), Bara (Czech), Barabal (Gaelic and Scottish), Barbarka (Polish), Barbo (Scandinavian), Barbora (Czech and Slavic), Barborka (Czech), Barbro (Scandinavian), Báirbre (Irish), Bárbara (Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish), Borbála (Hungarian), Palapala (Hawaiian), Varenka (Russian), Varina (Slavic), Varka (Russian), Varvara (Russian and Slavic), Varya (Russian), Vava (Russian), Vavka (Russian), Voska (Greek), and Wava (Slavic). Specific foreign variants include the contraction Barbe (French), and the pet forms Babsi (German), Baibín (Irish), Barka (Czech), Baruna (Czech), Barunka (Czech), Baruska (Czech), Basia (Polish and Slavic), Bára (Czech), Bärbel (German), and Bora (Czech).
See also the related categories, strong (strength), martyr (death), english, latin, element, slavic, speech (voice), cult, lightning, spanish, irish, fire, italian, faith (church), french, polish, saint, anglicized, german, and hungarian.
Barbara is an all-time favorite. Currently it is still somewhat popular as a baby name for girls, though it was in more widespread use in the past. Its usage peaked in 1938 with 3.440% of baby girls being given the name Barbara. Its ranking then was #2. The baby name has since experienced a marked decline in popularity, and is of only occasional use in recent years. In 2018, it ranked at #930 with a usage of 0.015%, but it was nonetheless the most popular among all girl names in its group. Barbara has predominantly been a girl name, although in the past century it has also been used for boys. Barbara as a girl name outnumbered its use as boy name by 297 times in 1963.
Baby names that sound like Barbara include Barbarka, Barbary, Barbera, Barbora, Barborka, Bairbre, Barbar, Barbra, Barbro, Báirbre, and Bárbara.
† Pronunciation for Barbara: B as in "be (B.IY)" ; AA as in "odd (AA.D)" ; R as in "race (R.EY.S)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)"
Details of famous persons named Barbara:
Actress Barbara Stanwyck, born Ruby Stevens, 16 July 1907 - 20 January 1990, Brooklyn, New York.
Author Barbara Cartland, born 9 July 1901 - 21 May 2000, Edgbaston, West Midlands, England.
Author Barbara Kingsolver, born 8 April 1955, Annapolis, Maryland.
Clergywoman Barbara C. Harris, born 12 June 1930, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Country Musician Barbara Mandrell, born 25 December 1948, Houston, Texas.
Historian Barbara Tuchman, born Barbara Wertheim, 30 January 1912 - 1989, New York, New York.
Political Relative Barbara Bush, born 25 November 1981, Dallas, Texas.
Tennis Player Barbara Schett, born 10 March 1976, Innsbruck, Austria.
TV Personality Barbara Walters, born 25 September 1929, Boston, Massachusetts.
US First Lady Barbara Bush, born Barbara Pierce, 8 June 1925, Rye, New York.