Ophelia Name Meaning

baby girl

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What Does Ophelia Mean?

Are you looking for a rare and lovely name, or perhaps a name that is associated with great English literature? The name Ophelia is an awesome choice.

The name was most likely derived from the ancient Greek “ōphéleia” (ὠφέλεια) meaning “aid” or “benefit,” but it is best known as the name of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine in his play “Hamlet.”

  • Origin: Borrowed from an ancient Greek word, the name was first seen (spelled as “Ofelia”) in the 1504 poem “Arcadia” by Jacopo Sannazaro. It appeared in Shakespeare’s play almost a century later, spelled in the way that is now most common.
  • Gender: Ophelia is traditionally a feminine name. Ophelius may be used as a masculine alternative.
  • Pronunciation: oh-FEEL-ee-ah or oh-FEEL-ya

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 Ophelia?

The name Ophelia was not uncommon in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. (It may have received a boost in 1852, when a character named Ophelia appeared in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”) In the year 1900, it was ranked as the No. 268 name for girls in America. However, its popularity decreased over the next few decades, dropping to No. 524 in 1938, and then dropping out of the top 1000 after 1958.

The name reappeared in the top 1000 girl names in America in 2015, and quickly started to rise in popularity. Ophelia rejoined the top 500 just two years later, and by 2019 it was ranked as No. 386, its highest ranking since 1926. The latest statistics rank Ophelia as the No. 391 name for girls in the U.S.

Although the name Ophelia 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.

Similar Names

The name Ophelia is sometimes spelled as Ofelia. Another name with a similar sound is Odelia, a Hebrew-derived name meaning “I will thank God.”

More girl names starting with O:

  • Ocean
  • Octavia
  • Odalis
  • Odessa
  • Ola
  • Olanna
  • Olive
  • Olivia
  • Olympia
  • Oona
  • Orchid
  • Orli

Other popular girl names found in Shakespeare:

  • Ariel (“The Tempest”)
  • Beatrice (“Much Ado About Nothing”)
  • Bianca (“Taming of the Shrew”)
  • Cassandra (“Troilus and Cressida”)
  • Emilia (“Othello”)
  • Hermione (“A Winter’s Tale”)
  • Isabella (“Measure for Measure”)
  • Jessica (“The Merchant of Venice”)
  • Juliet (“Romeo and Juliet”)
  • Mariana (“All’s Well That Ends Well”)
  • Miranda (“The Tempest”)
  • Portia (“The Merchant of Venice”)

Suggested Sibling Names

  • Alexander
  • Isaac
  • Julian
  • Marian
  • Naomi
  • Nicholas
  • Nina
  • Patrick
  • Rebecca
  • Rose
  • Victoria
  • Warren

Famous People Named Ophelia

The name Ophelia continues to be closely associated with the character in “Hamlet.” However, there have been a number of other notable Ophelias:

  • Ophelia Gordon Bell, English sculptor
  • Ophelia Benson, American author, editor, blogger, and feminist
  • Ophelia Dahl, British social justice and health care advocate, daughter of author Roald Dahl
  • Ophelia DeVore, American model and businesswoman who made history as an African American woman in the fashion industry
  • Ophelia Dimalanta, Filipino poet and teacher
  • Ophelia Ford, American politician who served in the Tennessee Senate
  • Ophélia Kolb, French actress known for her roles in the French TV series “Call My Agent!” and the 2018 film “Amanda”
  • Ophelia Hoff Saytumah, Liberian politician who served as mayor of Monrovia
  • Ophelia Lovibond, English actress known for her role in the film “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • Ophelia S. Lewis, Liberian author and humanitarian
  • Ophelia Olivaccé-Marie, Dominican singer known as “Dominica’s Lady of Song”

Spelled as “Ofelia”:

  • Ofelia Fernández, Argentine politician and activist who currently serves in the Buenos Aires city legislature
  • Ofelia Guilmáin, Mexican actress known for appearing in telenovelas, and for her roles on stage and screen
  • Ofelia Medina, Mexican actress known for her roles in telenovelas and for playing Frida Kahlo in the 1983 film “Frida, Naturaleza Viva”

Fictional Ophelias:

  • Ophelia, the sometime love interest of Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”
  • Ophelia Frump, the sister of Morticia Addams in “The Addams Family”
  • Ophelia Nigmos, a resident of Strangetown in “The Sims 2”
  • Ophelia Ramírez, the friend of Juniper in the Cartoon Network series “The Life and Times of Juniper Lee”
  • Ophelia St. Clare, a character who overcomes her own racial prejudice in the novel “Uncle Tom's Cabin”
  • Ophelia Sarkissian, the alter ego of the villainess Viper in Marvel Comics

Fictional Ofelias:

  • Ofelia, the ten-year-old protagonist in the 2006 film “Pan’s Labyrinth,” portrayed by Ivana Baquero
  • Ofelia Salazar, a character portrayed by Mercedes Mason in the TV series “Fear the Walking Dead”
  • Ofelia Santoro, the mother of the main character in the novel “Third and Indiana” by Steve Lopez

More Baby Names

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

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Article Sources
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  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of the Name Ophelia. Updated as of 2020.

Additional Reading