Emma Name Meaning

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Emma is an English name with roots in an old Germanic word meaning “whole” or “universal.” A perfect fit for the baby who will be your whole world!

Its initial popularity in England can be attributed to Emma of Normandy, who married the English kings Aethelred II and later Cnut the Great. The name was also used by well-known English author Jane Austen, who created the character of Emma Woodhouse in her 1816 novel, “Emma.”

  • Origin: Emma is derived from the Germanic word ermen, meaning "whole" or "universal."
  • Gender: The name Emma is frequently used as a girl name.
  • Pronunciation: Em-mah

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Emma?

From 1880 to 1941, Emma remained in the top 100 U.S. names. Its rank steadily declined through the 1970s, then it started to creep back up. In 1993 it broke back into the top 200.

Classic names made a comeback in the early 2000s, and after Emma was used in the wildly popular TV show “Friends” as the name for Rachel and Ross's baby, it propelled to the #2 spot in 2003. It reached #1 in 2008 before slipping back into the top 3 names.

Emma's hot streak as the most popular girl's name in the U.S. began in 2014, and it stayed in the #1 spot for 5 straight years. Olivia took the crown in 2019, pushing Emma back to the #2 spot.

Name Variations

The most common variations of Emma include:

  • Emmalyn (English)
  • Ema (Spanish)
  • Ima (Dutch)
  • Ima (German)
  • Irma (German)

Similar Names

Other short girl names similar to Emma:

  • Ava
  • Anna
  • Mila
  • Lily
  • Mia
  • Ella
  • Emme
  • Ida
  • Gemma
  • Maya
  • Chloe

Other girl names starting with E:

  • Emily
  • Enid
  • Eva
  • Everly
  • Emerson
  • Ember
  • Elizabeth
  • Evelyn
  • Erica
  • Eliza
  • Elsie
  • Elaina

Common Nicknames

Emma may already be a short name, but that doesn't mean nicknames are off the table. Here are the most common nicknames:

  • Emmy: Suggests someone easy-going, empathetic, and easy to talk to. Much like the nickname, Emmy is sweet and fun. She's sensitive and understanding, making her the ideal best friend.
  • Em or Ems: Two of the most playful variations that exude friendliness! Your little Em or Ems will be quick-witted, energetic, and full of personality.

Suggested Sibling Names

Looking for names that pair well with Emma? Here are a few to consider for a sister or brother:

  • Abigail
  • Molly
  • Ethan
  • Andrew
  • Olivia
  • Sophie
  • Luke
  • Noah
  • Lucy
  • William

Famous People Named Emma

Given the popularity of Emma, you certainly don't have to search far for celebrities who bear the name. Here are a few.

Famous Emmas

  • Emma Thompson, British actress, and Academy Award winner, known for her roles in numerous American films including the "Harry Potter" franchise, "Sense and Sensibility," "Howards End," and "Love Actually"
  • Emma Stone, American film actress known for her roles in "The Help," "Crazy, Stupid, Love," and "LA LA LAND," for which she won an Academy Award
  • Emma Watson, English actress known for starring in the "Harry Potter" franchise and the live-action "Beauty and the Beast"
  • Emma Roberts, American actress and niece of legendary actress Julia Roberts, who gained recognition for the Nickelodeon TV show, "Unfabulous"

Fictional Emmas

  • Emma Frost, from Marvel's "X-Men"
  • Emma Swan, the protagonist in the TV show, "Once Upon a Time"
  • Emma Pillsbury, from the TV musical comedy-drama "Glee"
  • Emma Nelson, from the popular Canadian teen-drama TV series, "Degrassi"

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Get ready for baby: Popularity of a name.

By Alex Vance
Alex Vance is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from pregnancy and parenting to health and wellness. She is a former news and features writer for Moms.com and Blog Writer for The HOTH. Her motherhood-related pieces have been published on Scary Mommy, Motherhood Understood, and Thought Catalog.