When people ask what is the meaning of a word, they are really asking for the etymology or the origin of the name. This etymology, as with most words, is a kind of history of the language(s) where the name was first used, the ways it has changed over the years and the meaning of the words or roots that are contained within the name.
Parents-to-be often become interested in searching for names for babies. And one of the most popular posts on this site is about "sexy" first names. (Are parents-to-be looking there?)
It would be very difficult to list all the first names on this site, but we present a small sampler below of some popular English/American names. There are many sites, like behindthename.com, devoted to just this type of etymology.
I also discovered an interesting crossover of first names used as street names.
NAME - LANGUAGE OF ORIGIN - MEANING - HISTORY
Albert Old German noble, bright First popular in England after the marriage of Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840.
Amanda Latin beloved It shares its roots with Amy
Andrew Greek- manly, Andre in French and Anders in Danish.
Ashley Old English a woods of ash trees Originally a last name, Ashley can refer to a boy or girl.
Barbara Greek & Latin foreign,strange Has lost its popularity since the 1960's.
Beatrice Latin bringing happiness Shakespeare's heroine in Much Ado About Nothing.
Bradley Old English broad meadow A last name that has become a popular first name.
Brandon English fiery hill Originally a last name - from "brand" Old English for a torch
Calvin Latin bald Calvin became a given name in honor of the Protestant reformer John Calvin
Caroline Latin giving It is not from Carl, it is the feminine form of Charles
Chelsea Old English,river landing Also a place name. Popularized by President Bill Clinton's daughter.
Clio Greek praise Clio was the Greek muse of history.
Cooper British barrel maker Originally a last name. The original Latin form meant a "cask."
Daphne Greek from the plant "laurel" Daphne was the Greek nymph changed into a laurel tree to escape from her Apollo who loved her.
Diana Latin divine Roman moon goddess. Popularized by the life (and death) of Princess Diana.
Douglas Gaelic dark blue Originally the name of a river, later a last name.
Dylan Welsh sea god In Welsh legend the ocean wept when he died.
Edward Old English rich guardian A popular name with British Kings.
Emily Latin eager The name of a noble Roman family
Eric & Erik Danish ruler of all
Erica Latin scientific name for the plant heather A feminine form of Eric.
Felix Latin happy Popularly connected with the cartoon cat by that name and because it resembles the scientific word for cats
Fiona Gaelic fair , white Has a large popularity in Great Britain.
Flora Latin flower Variants of it include Florence and Floris.
Frederick Old German peaceful ruler Used for many European rulers.
George Greek farmer The name became popular because of the first American President George Washington.
Glenda Welsh fair and good
Graham Old English Originally a last name.
Grant Old French great Originally a last name.
Harold Old English army power Harold was the last Saxon King.
Helen Greek the bright one Some classic variants include Elaine,Ellen,Helene and Helena.
Hilary Latin cheerful Also a masculine name.
Howard Old German heart is brave Originally a last name. Also meaning high warden and ewe-herder.
Imogene Latin innocent
Ingrid Old Norse the name of a god A word of uncertain meaning.
Irene Greek peace
Isaac Hebrew laughter In the Bible the son and father of Abraham.
Ivy Teutonic clinging From the plant.
Jane Hebrew God is gracious Feminine form of John.
Jason Greek healer A name that has become extraordinarily popular.
John Hebrew God is gracious Of all names perhaps the most popular.
Joseph Hebrew he shall hold It has many other forms including Josephine, Jose, Joshua, Seosaidh, Osip, and Pepe.
Justin Latin just
Justine is the feminine form of Justin.
Katherine Greek pure A beautiful and classic name with literary.
Kenneth Celtic handsome Ken is Scottish meaning "to know" which goes back to the Norse "kenna", also meaning "to know"
Kevin Gaelic handsome
Kimberly South African? place of diamonds Originally, a place name, then a surname.
Kirby Old English church
Lee Old English dweller by the wood or clearing Also a common last name.
Lewis Germanic famous fighter A royal name.
Lucy Latin light Lucie is the French form.
Lynette, Lynnette Old English water fall Possibly a variant of linnet, which is a small song bird.
Mark Latin Biblical Possibly connected with Mars.
Mary Hebrew lady or seeress
Matthew Hebrew gift of YAH Often shortened to Matt.
Melissa Greek a bee
Michael Hebrew who is like the lord Many times shortened to Mike.
Mildred Old English mild strength
Natalie Latin Christmas Day
Nathan Hebrew gift
Nicholas Greek victory of the people Commonly shortened to Nick.
Norman Old English northman
Olga Russian holy A saint name
Oliver Old French olive tree There are numerous other possibilities for its meaning.
Olivia Latin olive A saint name.
Oscar Old English God-spear
Pamela Greek all sweetness
Patrick Latin a nobleman
Philip Greek lover of horses A noble name.
Phyllis Greek leafy plant corruption of the Old French name
Felice, from Latin Felix "happy"
Quentin Latin fifth Also Latin meaning in the queens land.
Rachel Hebrew ewe A biblical name.
Rosemary Latin remembrance A flower name.
Ross Gaelic dweller at the promontory Originally a last name.
Ryan Irish red Originally a last name.
Samantha Aramaic listener
Sara(h) Hebrew princess A biblical name.
Stanley Old English stone field Originally a last name and place name.
Stewart, Stuart Old English steward Originally a last name.
Susan Hebrew lily Full name is Suzanne.
Thelma Greek will power
Thomas Hebrew, Aramaic twin Many times shortened to Tom.
Tiffany Greek manifestation of God
Timothy Greek to honor God Commonly shortened to Tim.
Una Latin the one
Ursula Latin little bear
Valeria Latin to be strong Valerie is the French form.
Vera Latin & Slavic, true & faithful
Verla Germanic, defender; guardian of friends
Victor Latin conqueror It is a popular name with Italian Kings because of its meaning
Victoria Latin victorious Feminine form of Victor.
Vincent Latin victor
Walter Germanic rule folk A historical name.
Wayne Old English wagon-maker Originally a last name.
Whitney English white island Also a last name.
William Old German helmet
Xavier Spanish Basque A place name meaning new house. Also Arabic for splendid.
Yvonne French yew tree Feminine form of Yves.
Zacharia Hebrew, God has remembered. First popularized in the 1950's in America, it has entered the top 50 list since then.
Zara Hebrew Dawn Meaning princess in Arabic. It is the Princess Anne's daughters' name (England)
Zoë Greek life A saint name. Alternately Zooey, perhaps popularized by the J.D. salinger story Franny & Zooey