Norman French form of the Germanic name Alfher. May also come from the Old Norse name Áleifr, meaning “ancestor’s descendant”.
Popular etymology associated the name with the Latin name Oliverius and also with the olive.
Another etymology proposal includes the adoption of the Old Norse Óleifr from the Old High German.
Other sources note the association with a West Germanic name, from the words “ala”, meaning “all” and “wēra”, meaning true.
Olivier is one of Charlemagne’s retainers in the “La Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland). This is an epic poem, based on the Battle of Roncevaux, which is the oldest surviving major work of the French literature.
Oliver was a common medieval name in England. After the 17th century it became rare, because of Oliver Cromwell’s ruling that led to a civil war.
The popular novel “Oliver Twist”, written in 1838 by Charles Dickens, revived the use of the name in the 19th century.
Other forms of the name are: Oli, Ollie, Olivier, Oliviero, Noll, Oliwier.
Famous bearers are: Oliver Stone, Oliver Hardy, Oliver Reed, Oliver Kahn, Oliver Platt, Oliver Bierhoff.
Oliver was the most popular name in England and Wales in 2014.
It is also a popular name in New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the United States.