What made the name so popular? It's a combination of several factors, but the main two are probably these:
1. The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), a play by George Bernard Shaw featuring a character named Jennifer Dubedat. (The full text of The Doctor's Dilemma is available at Project Gutenberg, if you'd like to take a look.)
2. Jennifer Jones, the actress who won an Oscar for her performance in The Song of Bernadette (1943)
Another (later) factor may have been Love Story (1970), a film featuring a character named Jennifer Cavalleri-Barrett.
Only in 2009 did the name fall out of the top 100. Before 2009, the name hadn't been outside the top 100 since 1955.
Where does Jennifer come from? It can be traced back to the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar, which is comprised of two elements, the first meaning "fair" or "white," the second meaning "smooth." The name Guinevere can be traced back to the same root word, making Jennifer and Guinevere equivalent in terms of meaning.
Other spellings of Jennifer include Jenifer, Jenniffer and Gennifer. Diminutive forms include Jen/Jenn, Jenny/Jennie/Jenni, and Jenna.
Famous people named Jennifer are many (especially recently!). Here's a short list of a few notable namesakes (mostly actresses and singers).
- Jennifer Tilly (b. 1958), actress
- Jennifer Grey (b. 1960),actress
- Jennifer Jason Leigh (b. 1962), actress
- Jennifer Beals (b. 1963), actress
- Jennifer Lopez (b. 1969), singer
- Jennifer Aniston (b. 1969), actress
- Jennifer Connelly (b. 1970), actress
- Jennifer Garner (b. 1972), actress
- Jennifer Capriati (b. 1976), tennis player
- Ginnifer Goodwin (b. 1978), actress - she was born Jennifer
- Jennifer Love Hewitt (b. 1979), actress
- Jennifer Hudson (b. 1981), singer
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