Penelope Name Meaning

Baby in woven yellow hat sleeping on a fuzzy blanket.

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What Does Penelope Mean?

Penelope is an elegant Greek name that means "weaver." Its origin is traced back to Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey," a staple of Greek mythology that reached immense fame across the world. The story follows the journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, who wandered for 10 years while trying to return home from the Trojan War.

His wife, Penelope, wards off countless suitors as she awaits his homecoming. In a clever attempt to delay their persistence, she vows not to choose a new husband until she finishes weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus' dying father—a task she never actually intends on completing.

Thanks to Penelope's unyielding commitment to her husband for decades, her name is the embodiment of loyalty, making it a perfect choice for your loving, resilient little girl.

Origin: Penelope is a Greek name meaning "weaver."

Gender: The name Penelope is most commonly used as a girl name.

Pronunciation: pen-NELL-o-pee

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 Penelope?

The name Penelope wasn't on the radar until the early 1920s when it broke into the top 1,000 names in the United States. It bounced around for decades until making its way into the top 200 names in 2011, eventually making a giant leap to the No. 56 spot in 2013.

Its sudden boost in popularity was likely linked to the birth of Penelope Disick, daughter of reality star Kourtney Kardashian, in 2012. Other notable celebrities who have chosen the name for their daughters include actresses Tina Fey and Anna Chlumsky, and musician Taylor Hanson of the band Hanson.

Since 2013, the name has slowly climbed the chart, with its most popular year being 2019 when it reached No. 22. The latest 2020 data from the Social Security Administration has Penelope ranked as the No. 25 most popular name for girls.

Name Variations

Variants of the name Penelope include:

  • Lopa (Polish)
  • Pelcia (Polish)
  • Peneli
  • Penella
  • Penelopa (Polish)
  • Penelopea
  • Penélope (Spanish)
  • Penelopi
  • Penelopy
  • Pennelope
  • Pinelopi (Greek)
  • Pipitsa (Greek)
  • Popi (Greek)

Similar Names

Other popular names for those who like Penelope:

  • Amelia
  • Charlotte
  • Harper
  • Hazel
  • Isabella
  • Luna
  • Mila
  • Piper
  • Scarlett
  • Sophia
  • Violet

Other popular Greek names for baby girls:

  • Alexandra
  • Arianna
  • Chloe
  • Cora
  • Evangeline
  • Iris
  • Lydia
  • Maya
  • Ophelia
  • Thea
  • Zoe

Other baby girl names starting with P:

  • Paige
  • Paisley
  • Paris
  • Parker
  • Penny
  • Phoebe
  • Phoenix
  • Piper
  • Presley

Common Nicknames

Here are the most common nicknames for Penelope:

  • Penny: Suggests someone outgoing, friendly, and energetic. Penny is easy to talk to and radiates positive energy. The wildly popular TV sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" featured the fun-loving, kind-hearted (and at times, flighty) character of Penny, the popular girl next door.
  • Nelly: Free-spirited, welcomes change, and embraces her artistic side. Canadian singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado broke onto the scene with her hit song, "I'm Like A Bird," in 2001.
  • Poppy: The name Poppy implies someone cheerful, energetic, and loyal. The 2016 animated film "Trolls" featured the caring Princess Poppy, who vowed to save her friends no matter how hard the journey.

Suggested Sibling Names

Need a sibling name for Penelope? Here are some popular options:

  • Alexander
  • Benjamin
  • Chloe
  • Elijah
  • Genevieve
  • Isabella
  • Natalie
  • Olivia
  • Parker
  • Peyton
  • Priscilla

Famous People Named Penelope

The most notable Penelopes include:

  • Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress who rose to fame after her roles in the films "Vanilla Sky" and "Blow"
  • Penelope Ann Miller, American film and broadway actress who got her start in the 1987 film "Adventures in Babysitting"
  • Penelope Spheeris, American director, screenwriter, and producer, known for directing the ever-popular film "Wayne's World"
  • Penelope Wilton, long-time English actress known for her role in the TV series "Downton Abbey"

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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  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of Name. Updated 2020.