Barbara Name Meaning & Origin


Pronunciation: BAHR-brə, BAHR-ber-ə (key)

Origin of the name Barbara:

Latin name derived from barbarus (foreign, strange), a term applied to non-Romans or those deemed to be uncivilized. Var: Barbra. Short: Barb. Pet: Babs, Barbi, Barbie.

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

Related Names:

Babs, Barb, Barbie, Barbra, Bobbie

Looking for the perfect name? Try the Name MatchMaker to find the perfect baby name for you!


US Popularity of Barbara Over Time

Sister & Brother Names

Know a Barbara? What are her siblings named?

Contribute your knowledge to the name Barbara

Comments and insights on the name Barbara

My name is Barbara and I am absolutely and totally in love with my name. Its really sad to read all these negative comments about a name that I share and think that's the most beautiful and uncommon name (now that is). I have never met anyone younger than myself with the name and i always taught that was a blessing and I was special. Lol. You see, I like unique things. I was born in the 80's, named after my fathers mother whom I only met once. Her name was 'Ruby Barbara' a name I would have shared only if my mother liked the name Ruby. Growing up I have been given many nick names, everyone I met gave me a different name. None of which have ever offend me. I was a happy child and I laughed and answered to all the nicknames they called me. Pretty much everything in the nickname section someone has called me and I could add a few more. The only thing I didn't like was when people didnt pronounce or spelt it correctly. I never paid attention to anyone who didnt like my name, I didn't care what they taught, I LOVED IT. I danced to the Barbie songs, even singing it myself. Im pregnant and expecting a little girl and I'm considering giving my daughter this beautiful and unique name. She'll be the only baby in 2017 with the name 'Barbara', I think she will love it just as much as I do, Ill make sure of it if its last thing I do.

My name was Barbara and I hated it for years. I am 52 years old and it is a very old fashioned name and my friends call me Bea as these are my initials and have been since I was born. I detested it so much I changed my name by deed poll when I was 50. However, some people still call me Barbara but I tell them it's not my name but they don't want to call me anything else and I had introduced myself to them as Bea, I blame my ex for that. I decided if you don't like your name then change it. It's really nice seeing my post come through with my new name and not my old one. Think carefully before naming your child Barbara as here in the UK you really do get people taking the mick out of your name constantly and the song 'Barbie girl' didn't help whatsoever.

I am just a few weeks away from becoming 80. There were numerous Barbara's around my age, and I though, when a teenager, that my name was dull. But By the time I was grown, I liked, and now a love it. I think that it has a soft, rather elegant sound, and it is not at all a common name nowadays. The spate of Barbara's in my day was a result, I believe, of the emerging popular movie star, Barbara Stanwyck, who for a number of years averaged one movie per year of more, and most were very popular at the time. I didn't care for her when I was young, but by the time I was grown, I admired her beauty and even more, her acting. She was marvelous actress, whether portraying tragic, comedic, sympathetic or vengeful, sophisticated or common ~ she did them all, and did them all well.
I have gone so far as to offer $500 college fund to my children and grandchildren if they would name a daughter Barbara, but the closest I have come is my only daughter choosing my middle name as her daughter's middle name.!!!
I still like my name!'
p.s. My high school boyfriend called me Barb,and now many people, even when they first meet me, call me Barb. I never wanted to be called Bobbie or Barbie, but one elderly gentleman called me Barbie, because his elderly wife was Barbie, and I felt very much honored by that. I'm fine with Barb, but prefer Barbara.

I would prefer being called Bobbi, spelled with an i

My name is Barbara and I'm a great-grandmother; however, I don't think of it as an old ladies' name because when I was a child I was such a bad kid that adults (mother, teachers, etc) were always yelling "Barbara!" at me. Whenever I hear the name I think of a rotten little kid!

My younger sister's name is Barbara she is 16 and named after our Grandmother. I like her name mainly because it's cute to call her Barbie, and funny to called her Barbara the Barbarian, but she hates the name with a burning passion. She says it's stuffy, old-fashioned and makes her sound like an old lady. She said it sounds to harsh and not as pretty as my name and that I got the better name, (I am named after our other Grandmother Nila.) She also hates the nickname Barb and gets extremely annoyed when people call her that. She doesn't mind the nickname Barbie but she hates it when people sing The Barbie Girl song or Barbara-Ann song. We've never called her Bobbi but our Aunts sister is also named Barbara too but everyone calls her Bobbi. Also the name is more common then you think. We've met about six people named Barbara. Also a lot of people spell in incorrectly, 'Barbra.'

My grandmother is named Barbara. She is 82, and named after her mother. She goes by Barbie to this day! My grandmother would make anyone want to name their girl Barbara - she owns a travel agency and has been to 80 countries in her lifetime, and all 50 states. She is 4'10" and everyone who knows her thinks she's adorable. She has an infectious laugh and a mischievous way about her! If I ever have a little girl, I want to name her Barbara so she can as adventurous and fantastic as their great grandmother.

My name is Barbara and I get so fed up with a guy at my church who, whenever he sees me, he says "Whenever I see you I think of Barbara Bush!" That sucks.

This is a beautiful classic name, which unfortunately has been downgraded for a long time because of the Barbie doll connection. It could make a comeback in the next few years, as names popular in the 1930s and 1940s begin coming back.

I named my daughter Barbara, she is now 7. Although it is considered "old fashioned", it has an elegant, classic, charm. She was named after the most wonderful person in the world - my grandmother, and that makes it even more special. Barbara gets comments all the time on her name. She will most likely be the only Barbara in her classes (a plus!), and her nickname Barbie has all the little girls jealous. If she chooses, she can go by Belle (her middle name) as an adult, but I suspect she will love it's classic beauty as much as my family does.

My daughter, born in '01, is named Barbara after her grandmother who passed away while I was pregnant. She has a unique name for her age. Her nickname is Barby. We wanted it spelled different from a Barbie doll. She likes her name but doesn't like when kids sing the Aqua song "Barbie Girl" that's the most she's been picked on for her name.

My grandmother is 81 her name is Barbara but she goes by her middle name, Helen. I also have a 6 year old cousin named Barbara and they call her Barbie or Barbie Shell (her middle name is Michelle)

Barbara is an old name. It is flat and not creative at all. A little girl named Barbara will hate her name because it sounds like an old lady. I sometimes think of Barbie or Barbara Stanwyk, but if you like the actress Barbara Stanwyk, her real name is Ruby Katherine Stephens. Name your baby Ruby, or Katherine, but please, please don't name your baby girl Barbara! It is not young or sexy, it's just, well, plain. Creative is the way you wanna go!!!

My name is Barbara and I have always loved the name Ruby. If I'd known Ruby was Barbara Stanwyck's real name when I was younger, I might have changed it, but now it's a little too late.

I love the combination Ruby Ann, but my last name starts with W, so if I changed my name to Ruby Ann my initials would be R.A.W.

Personal experiences with the name Barbara

I was named Barbara in 1972 after my grandmother. I have never liked my name. It's stuffy and old-fashioned. It's not pretty to say/hear or to write. It doesn't even have a nice meaning; it means "stranger." I grew up being called "Barbie Doll" and being asked "Hey Barbie, where's Ken?" and people even singing "Barbara Ann" to me (after the Beach Boys song). Some people even CALL me Barbara Ann, even though that is not my middle name. They think it's funny. I detest being called Barbara so I go by Barb because it's the least miserable form of it for me. The worst part is, I married a man whose mother is also named Barbara (she was born in the '30s) and she goes by that, so when we visit his family, I always get called Barbara (to my everlasting anguish), and now my first and last name are the same as my mother-in-law, which really sucks. People, I don't care if you know someone named Barbara who's awesome. Don't name your kid that. Let her be awesome with a name that she won't get teased for, end up hating, and resent you for until the end of time. I'm not even kidding.

My sister's name is Barbara, and I can say she has a so-so experience with her name.
For me, as her sister, it's a very solid name and I like to call her name. In my opinion this name has very positive vibrations.

I am a Barbara who is now 63 years old but my friends call me Barb because that is what I prefer. I have always loved my name, I was Barbie as a child and actually hate being called Babs. I was named Barbara because it was the second most popular name of the day, after Linda. My mother's best friend named her newborn Linda, so I was naturally named Barbara.

Funny how back then, people named their daughters the most popular name around. Now today people don't want their daughters' names to be popular and have their daughters be one of 6 in the class. Having a popular name today is a no-no.

I'm a Barbara who is 21 and I really, really hate this name -- I really feel like the name had a lot to do with my negative self-image growing up and I changed it the first chance I got. I've been told by many friends that they'd expect this name for an older woman, not a young girl. I hate all of the variations like "Barb" and "Barbie" and "Babs", they don't sound pretty at all. And people in the U.S. misspell it "Barbra" all the time which is also very frustrating.

I am Barbara who is 42 in the year 2010. I have always HATED my name. It's an old fat ladies name. But what I hate more than Barbara is Babs and Barbie. I have been called Bobbie, and Barb which I can handle. I was named after a dead relative which I respect so I never changed my name. I did the same thing to my daughter but I feel I gave her a more beautiful name, Virginia Gray.

I am a Barbara who is 16 years old. I went through a lot of teasing through elementary school. especially when my third grade teacher spelled it Barbra and I wne through "Barbara the bra" type things. The minute I entered middle school i went by Evalyn my middle name which is easier to spell and very beautiful. I go by Eva for short. The first chance i get I'm changing my name. My other sisters unfortunately were blessed with normal names: Antonia and Madyssen.

I had a roommate in college who pronounced the word bra "BRAW". I always pronounced it "BRAH". Whenever she would say something about a braw I would tease her and say "BRAWWWW!" and she would retaliate by saying "BRAAAAAH!" Then we'd both burst into a fit of giggles!

I am 25 years old and I hate my name. When I was in school I was relentlessly teased cause it sounds so old. I often get told by older people that they have never met a Barbara so young, which is so embarrassing. Do not name your kid Barbara!

The only Barbaras I know are grandmothers.

The eldest of five children. Loving mother of 9, yes nine, including two sets of fraternal twins, had this name. Often mistaken to be my sexy older sister. She was small statured; 5'2" and averaged 105 lbs when not pregnant. "I may be small but, I'm wiry" She liked her name "Barbara" or "Barbara Kay" she didn't like it shortened to a nickname. She was beautiful, caring, creative, great cook, intelligent, talented seamstress and interior designer. There was nothing she couldn't do when she set her mind to it. Enjoyed; art; sketching and drawing, music, reading, travel, indoor and outdoor tropical plants and flowers. b.6.25.1941 d.5.13.2005. She treasured her family. -jawave

My great grandmother was named Barbara, Bobbie for short. My grandmother was Corinne Barbara, my mother Barbara Corinne (Bobbie, Barb or Barbie for short), my sister Corinne Barbara. It's not very popular now but I have met multiple younger people named Barbara.

How about doing what some people do going by the last part of the name - i.e. Liam (last part of William) Topher (last part of Christopher), go by Ara (pronounce it Ah-ruh).

Or go by Bari. I think Bari is cool!

Nicknames for Barbara

B, Bee, Barb, Barbs, Babsy, Babsie boo, Barbie, Barbie doll, Barbie baby, Babs, Babette, Bobbie, Bobbi, Bar, Barbra, Arb, Arba, Arbara, Abby/Abbie, Ara, Bara, Barbara-Ann, Barbel, Betty, Betsy, Buffy, Barbarella, BeBe (Pronounced BayBay or BeeBee), “Ma poupee" is French for "my puppet" to endear a particular Barbie as a doll.

Meanings and history of the name Barbara

Barbara, Varvara, or Barbra in any spelling is a classical name - reaching back through the Middle Ages, previously and notably through the Byzantine & Roman Civilizations and beginning at the Ancient Grecian civilization. Intolerant Greeks originally used the name to imitate the sounds of those who did not speak their language who sounded like "bar bar bar"; eventually it began to describe those who did not follow customs of Greece and eventually those of Rome - or the conventions of any given land. As Grecians traded with other civilizations - including the Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Phoenicians, and the Scythians, the name began to signify "beautiful, mysterious stranger", as popularity increased, spreading through neighboring, though still distant cultures.

The name Barbara comes from the same root as the word "barbarian"; in Latin, it meant a stranger, someone who spoke a foreign language, which to the Roman ear sounded like "ba ba".

Famous real-life people named Barbara

St. Barbara, virgin and martyr, patron of artillery and fireworks--also revered by miners & sailors - those who travel for long or sometimes dangerous periods and risk unexpected death. Her statue or engraving frequently adorns US Navy ships Navy and for those of other countries.
Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine; mistress of Charles II of England
Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the United States of America; mother of former president George W. Bush and former Florida govenor Jeb Bush;
Barbara Everard, botanical illustrator (1910 - 1990)
Barbra Streisand, singer, producer, director and actress
Barbara Palvin, supermodel
Barbara Billingsley, actress
Barbara Eden, actress
Barbara Bach, actress and wife of Ringo Starr
Barbara Stanwyck, actress
Barbara Carrera, actress
Barbara Hendricks, Opera singer
Barbara Hershey, actress
Barbara Bel Geddes, actress
Barbara Tuchman, American historian, author and journalist. First woman to win the Pulitzer prize twice.
Barbara Bain, actress
Barbara Bush, U.S. first lady
Barbara Mandrell, singer
Barbara Howar, writer
Barbara Jordan, former US Representative from Texas. She was the first black woman elected to The House from a southern state.
Barbara Dunkelman, an employee at Rooster Teeth
Barbara La Marr- 1920s actress dubbed "the "Girl Who is too Beautiful"
Barbara Sharma- Actress and dancer

Barbara in song, story & screen

Barbara, poem by Jacques Prevert
"Barbara Allen" (alternatively, "Barbara Ellen") is a folk ballad sung in every English-speaking country. It dates to at least the 18th century
"Barbara Ann" is a 1960s pop song whose best-known version is by the Beach Boys
Also sung by the Regents, I like that version better than the Beach Boys version.

"Major Barbara", play by George Bernard Shaw
The Barbie doll, one of the most popular toys of all time, was invented by Ruth Handler and named for her daughter.
Barbara Gordon, Gotham City librarian, secret identity of Batgirl and later Oracle in DC comics
Barbara Cooper, character on '70s sitcom "One Day at a Time" played by Valerie Bertinelli
Barbara 'Bobbi' Morse, secret identity of Mockingbird in Marvel comics
Barbara Thunderman from the Nickelodeon TV show "The Thundermans"

No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way