The Fascinating History and Meaning Behind the Name Elissa

Have you ever wondered about the history and meaning behind the name Elissa? This beautiful name has a rich and fascinating past that dates back thousands of years. In this article, we will explore the origin of the name Elissa, its variations, famous namesakes, and more.

Origin and Meaning of the Name Elissa

The name Elissa is of Phoenician origin and means “queen” or “ruler.” In Phoenician mythology, Elissa was the sister of King Pygmalion of Tyre and the founder of the city of Carthage. According to legend, Elissa fled Tyre after her brother murdered her husband and became pregnant by the god Baal. She traveled west across the Mediterranean Sea until she reached the coast of present-day Tunisia, where she founded Carthage.

Variations of the Name Elissa

Over time, the name Elissa has been adapted into various forms in different cultures and languages. Here are some of the most common variations:

  • Alisa
  • Alice
  • Alicia
  • Elisa
  • Elyssa
  • Elisheva (Hebrew)
  • Alzbeta (Czech)
  • Isabella (Italian)

Famous Namesakes of Elissa

Throughout history, many notable individuals have borne the name Elissa or one of its variations. Here are just a few examples:

  • Elissa Landi: an Italian-American actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Elyssa Davalos: an American actress best known for her roles in the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “MacGyver.”
  • Eliza Dushku: an American actress who played prominent roles in TV shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse.”
  • Alicia Keys: an American singer-songwriter and pianist known for hits like “Fallin'” and “No One.”
  • Isabella Rossellini: an Italian-American actress, model, and filmmaker who has appeared in films such as “Blue Velvet” and “Death Becomes Her.”

Famous Works of Literature Featuring Elissa

The name Elissa has also made appearances in several works of literature, both ancient and modern. Here are a few examples:

  • The Aeneid by Virgil: In this epic poem, the hero Aeneas falls in love with the Carthaginian queen Dido, who is also known as Elissa.
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot: This modernist poem refers to the myth of Elissa and her founding of Carthage in its depiction of a post-World War I wasteland.
  • The Queen of Sheba by Roberta Kells Dorr: This historical novel tells the story of the legendary queen’s journey to meet King Solomon of Israel.

Why the Name Elissa is Popular Today

Despite its ancient roots, the name Elissa remains popular today. Many parents are drawn to its elegant sound and unique history. Additionally, the name has been used in pop culture recently, with characters in TV shows and movies bearing the moniker. Overall, the name Elissa is a timeless choice for any parent looking for a meaningful and beautiful name for their child.


In conclusion, the name Elissa has a long and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. From its origins in Phoenician mythology to its modern-day popularity, the name has captured people’s imaginations throughout the ages. Whether you are considering naming your child Elissa or simply interested in the history of names, this article has provided a comprehensive look at the meaning and significance of this timeless name.

FAQs about the Name Elissa

  1. What does the name Elissa mean?
    The name Elissa is of Phoenician origin and means “queen” or “ruler.”
  1. What are some variations of the name Elissa?
    Common variations of the name Elissa include Alisa, Alice, Alicia, Elisa, Elyssa, Elisheva, and Isabella.
  1. Who are some famous people with the name Elissa?
    Famous namesakes of Elissa include actresses Elissa Landi, Elyssa Davalos, Eliza Dushku, and Isabella Rossellini, as well as singer-songwriter Alicia Keys.
  1. Why is the name Elissa popular today?
    Many parents are drawn to the elegant sound and unique history of the name Elissa, which has also been featured in pop culture recently.
  1. What works of literature feature the name Elissa?
    The name Elissa appears in several works of literature, including Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid and T.S. Eliot’s modernist poem The Waste Land.

I am Patricia Mann, an experienced professional in the art of naming children. With a wealth of knowledge in the field of baby names, I aim to assist parents in choosing a meaningful and beautiful name for their little ones. My expertise lies in the Name Meaning section, where I delve deep into the origins and significance of names, providing valuable insights that I hope will be beneficial for parents.

Understanding the profound impact a name can have on a child's life, I strive to offer comprehensive guidance. The Name Meaning section is not just a repository of information but a resource where parents can discover the rich tapestry of meanings associated with different names. It is my belief that a child's name is more than just a label; it encapsulates the desires, hopes, and love of the parents.

In this journey of baby naming, my goal is to make the process enjoyable and meaningful for parents, ensuring that the chosen name resonates with the family's values and cultural background. I invite you to explore the Name Meaning of Impeccable Nest section as we embark on the delightful and important task of naming the newest members of your family.

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