The Meaning of the Name Bess

Bess is a name with English origins. It is derived from the name Elizabeth, which means “God is my oath” or “God is abundance”. The name Bess is a diminutive form of Elizabeth and has been used as an independent given name since the 19th century.

History and Origin

The name Elizabeth has Hebrew origins and was first recorded in the Bible. It was popularized by Queen Elizabeth I of England, who reigned from 1558 to 1603. The name Bess is believed to have originated as a pet form of Elizabeth in Scotland during the 16th century. It was later adopted by English speakers in the 19th century.


Bess was most popular in the United States during the early 20th century, when it ranked among the top 500 names for girls. However, its popularity has declined significantly since then and it is now rarely used as a given name. In 2019, it did not rank among the top 1,000 names for girls in the United States.

Famous People Named Bess

There are several famous people who have been given the name Bess, including:

  • Bess Truman (1885-1982), wife of U.S. President Harry S. Truman
  • Bess Myerson (1924-2014), American beauty queen and television personality
  • Bess Armstrong (born 1953), American actress
  • Bess Houdini (1876-1943), wife of magician Harry Houdini

Variations of the Name Bess

Variations of the name Bess include: Besse, Bessa, Bessey, Bessie, Betsey, Betsy and Betty.

By Ava Isabella Hartley

Ava Isabella Hartley is a renowned expert in the field of onomastics, the study of names and their meanings, with a particular focus on baby names. She holds a Master's degree in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge and has over 15 years of experience in the study of etymology, name trends, and cultural naming practices.

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