Often abbreviated as Pam, Pamela is a common given name for girls. By studying its English origins, I’ve found the meaning of the name Pamela and what it represents.
Meaning of the name Pamela: Derived from the Old Greek words παν and μέλι meli, the meaning of the name Pamela is “all honey” or “sweet.” While Pamela is also a surname, it’s most commonly used as a feminine given name.
Origins of the Name Pamela
The name Pamela originated in 16th century England where it first appeared in a poem written by Sir Philip Sidney. Known as “Arcadia,” Sydney’s poem introduced a heroine named Pamela. The poem included an excerpt titled “Pamela’s Prayer,” which consisted of a prayer Pamela spoke as she rode her horse.
Unfortunately, Sidney didn’t reveal why or how he chose the name Pamela for the heroine in “Arcadia.” However, some etymologists believe that Sidney joined the Old Greek words παν and μέλι meli to form the name Pamela. When joined together, these two words literally mean “all honey.” But it’s likely that Sidney’s intention behind joining the words was to create a name meaning “sweet.”
Regardless, Sidney’s poem brought the given name Pamela to light, paving the way for what would eventually become one of the most popular given names for girls. The name gradually spread throughout Europe before making its way to America.
The popularity of the Name Pamela
Although it’s been around since the 16th century, Pamela didn’t become popular until the mid-1900s. In 1940, it ranked as just the 1,579th most popular girls’ name in the United States, with birth records showing that roughly two dozen newborn girls were given the name. In 1950, Pamela climbed to the 958th most popular girls’ name in the United States.
The name Pamela picked up steam throughout the 1960s and the years to follow. In 1965, Pamela was the 299th most popular girls’ name in the United States. In 1970, Pamela ranked as the 30th most popular girls’ name in the country. Pamela peaked in 1982 when it ranked as the 6th most popular girls’ name in the United States.
Famous women named Pamela to include English model and actress Pamela Green, American Olympic athlete Pamela Healy, British author Pamela Brooks, Indian film director Pamela Rooks, American actress Pamela Tifton and American artist Pamela Levy.
Popular variants of the name Pamela include Pam, Pammela, and Pamelia.
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