Jennifer Name Meaning

baby girl

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If you are you looking for a name that was once wildly popular, but has become more rare in recent years, then Jennifer may be a great choice. The name Jennifer is actually a distant cousin of Guinevere, the name of King Arthur’s queen in British legends. The Welsh form Gwenhwyfar may have meant “fair one,” “blessed spirit,” or “white enchantress.”

  • Origin: Guinevere’s name was spelled in a variety of ways (Guenevere, Guenever, Gwenivar). The Cornish form Gwennever was eventually adopted into English as Jennifer.
  • Gender: Jennifer is traditionally a feminine name. While boys have been named Jennifer, it is relatively rare.
  • Pronunciation: JEN-i-fer

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

How Popular Is the Name Jennifer?

Jennifer was the No. 1 baby name for girls in America from 1970 to 1984. In addition, Jennifer was consistently in the top 10 from 1966 to 1991, an astonishing 25-year span in which Jennifer was exceptionally popular.

Jennifer’s rise to the top was relatively sudden. In the early 1900s, the name was so unusual that in the play “The Doctor’s Dilemma” by George Bernard Shaw, a character introduced herself as Jennifer and the doctor replied, “That’s a strange name.”

After Shaw's play came to Broadway in 1915, the name Jennifer quickly started to become popular in the U.S. By 1938, it was in the top 1000 girl names in the U.S.; in 1956, it was in the top 100.

The name Jennifer remained a top-100 girl name in the U.S. until 2009. The name’s popularity has waned in recent years, with the latest statistics ranking it as No. 434.

Although the name Jennifer is typically used as a girl name, it can be used any way you see fit, as sex does not have to be a part of your name selection process.

Name Variations

Sometimes alternate spellings are used, such as Jenifer or Jennefer. The name is frequently shortened to Jen, Jenna, Jenni, Jennie, or Jenny. In addition, the name Jennifer takes quite different forms in other languages:

  • Dzsenifer (Hungarian)
  • Ginebra (Spanish)
  • Ginevra (Italian)
  • Ginewra (Polish)
  • Guenièvre (French)
  • Xenevra (Galician)

Similar Names

The first syllable in Jennifer has been mashed up or combined with various other names, leading to such creations as Jenibeth (Jen + Elizabeth), Jenilee (Jen + Lee), and Jenilyn (Jen + Lynn). Other J names, such as Jeanine and Jeannette, have also been spelled as Jenine or Jennette, reflecting the influence of Jennifer.

Other Totally ‘80s Girl Names:

  • Amanda
  • Ashley
  • Heather
  • Kimberly
  • Megan
  • Melissa
  • Nicole
  • Stephanie

More Girl Names Starting with J:

  • Jade
  • Jane
  • Janet
  • Jasmine
  • Jessica
  • Josie
  • Joy
  • Juliana
  • Juliette

Suggested Sibling Names

Some names that might go well with Jennifer are:

  • Amber
  • Brandon
  • Brittany
  • Daniel
  • John
  • Joseph
  • Laura
  • Matthew
  • Samantha

Famous People Named Jennifer

There are many famous Jennifers, including:

  • Jennifer Aniston, Emmy Award-winning actress known for her role on the TV show “Friends”
  • Jennifer Beals, American actress known for her roles in the film “Flashdance” and the Showtime TV series “The L Word”
  • Jennifer Connelly, Academy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the films “Labyrinth” and “A Beautiful Mind”
  • Jennifer Coolidge, American actress and comedian known for her roles in the "American Pie" and "Legally Blonde" films
  • Jennifer Doudna, American biochemist and Nobel prize winner known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene editing
  • Jennifer Garner, American actress known for her roles in the film “13 Going on 30” and the TV show “Alias”
  • Jennifer Granholm, American politician, former governor of Michigan and sixteenth U.S. Secretary of Energy
  • Jennifer Grey, American actress known for her roles in the films “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Dirty Dancing”
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt, American actress known for her roles in the TV show “Party of Five” and the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” film series
  • Jennifer Hudson, American singer and Academy Award-winning actress known for her Grammy Award-winning self-titled R&B album and her role in the film “Dreamgirls”
  • Jennifer Lawrence, American actress known for her role as Katniss in the “Hunger Games” film series and her Academy Award-winning performance in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, American actress known for her roles in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Backdraft,” and “Single White Female”
  • Jennifer Lopez, American singer, dancer, actress, and Latina cultural icon, known for her highly successful songs and films as well as her appearances as a judge on “American Idol”
  • Jennifer Lynch, American director and screenwriter, known for her films “Boxing Helena” and “Surveillance”
  • Jennifer Psaki, American political advisor and press secretary for President Joe Biden
  • Jennifer Rubin, American political commentator and columnist for “The Washington Post”

More Baby Names

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

2 Sources
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. Popularity of a name.

  2. Shaw, Bernard. The Doctor's Dilemma. United Kingdom, Brentano's, 1911.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.