Samantha is a bit tricky...because no one can say for sure exactly where the name comes from. Perhaps the best theory is that it was coined as a feminine version of Samuel or Samson, incorporating the Greek word for flower, anthos.
One thing's for certain, though: it wasn't very popular in the U.S. until the TV show "Bewitched" began airing in the 1960s. The show's lead character was was nose-twitching witch by the name of Samantha Stephens. (A television witch is also behind the growing popularity of the name Piper, believe it or not.)
Bewitched was no longer produced after 1972, but the name's popularity didn't wane with the ending of the show. In the 1970s, Samantha name began to rank consistently among the top 100 baby names in the nation. It broke into the top 10 for the first time in 1988, and remained there every year until 2007 (when it finally fell to 12th place).
Because the name has become popular only within the last few decades--and, indeed, has only existed for a few centuries--it's hard to track down famous historical people named Samantha. But there are plenty of modern namesakes, including:
- actress Samantha Eggar (b. 1939)
- model/singer Samantha Fox (b. 1966)
- comedian Samantha Jamie Bee (b. 1969)
- TV host Samantha Brown (b. 1969)
- actress Samantha Mathis (b. 1970)
- tennis player Samantha Smith (b. 1971)
- triathlete Samantha Warriner (b. 1971)
- schoolgirl/ambassador Samantha Reed Smith (b. 1972)
- actress Samantha Morton (b. 1977)
- drummer Samantha Maloney (b. 1975)
- DJ Samantha Ronson (b. 1977)
- pro-surfer Samantha Cornish (b. 1980)
- singer Samantha Mumba (b. 1983)
- tennis player Samantha Stosur (b. March 1984)
- mountain climber Samantha Larson (b. 1988)
Short forms of the name Samantha include Sam, Sami, Samie, Samy, Sammi, Sammie, Sammy, Mantha and Antha.
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