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Gender: Female Meaning of Sybil: "prophetess" Origin of Sybil: Greek

The name Sybil is a girl's name of Greek origin meaning "prophetess". Sybil and is often added to lists like Unique Vintage Names for Girls and discussed in our forums with posts like "Quick Question Thread?!".

From the experts:

The image of the lovely Lady Sybil, tragic youngest daughter of the Crawley family on Downton Abbey is likely to go a long way towards reviving this almost forgotten name, off the list since 1966 and most popular in the 1920s and '30s. Sybil is currently Number 253 on Nameberry;

Sybil is the most common spelling of a name which the ancient Greeks used as the generic word for a prophetess--a woman who claimed to be able to interpret the wishes of the gods through their oracles.

Benjamin Disraeli wrote an influential political novel titled Sybil, which increased the popularity of the name in Victorian times. Later, the name was severely undermined by the eponymous book and 1976 movie based on the character of Sybil-- played by Sally Field-- whose multiple personalities have now been confessed as fake. This is not to mention the harridan wife on the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers. There is also a Sybil in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Sybill Trelawney is a witch and (fittingly) seer in the Harry Potter books, a Professor of Divination played on screen by Emma Thompson.

Cybill Shepherd, on the other hand, bears an invented name combining those of her Uncle Cy and Dad Bill.

Find other names based on Sybil using our baby name generator.

Famous People Named Sybil

Sybil Dorset, pseudonym of Shirley Ardell Mason, American woman with multiple personality disorder -- now confessed as fake -- portrayed in the book and film "Sybil"
Sybil Ludington, American Revolutionary war heroine
(Agnes) Sybil Thorndike, English actress
Sybil Danning (born Sybille Johanna Danninger), Austrian actress
Sybil (Lynch), American pop singer
Sybil Leek, English witch, astrologer, occult author and self-proclaimed psychic
Sybil Lorina Bauer, American Olympic swimmer
Sybil Grey, British singer and actress
Sybil Connolly, Irish fashion designer
Sybil Rachel Betty Cecile Sassoon, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, British WWII military officer
Sybil Seely, American silent film actress
Sybil, wife of English courtier Pain fitzJohn
Sybil Ann Melvin (b. 2016), daughter of American journalist and new anchor Craig Melvin and American sports anchor and reporter Lindsay Czarniak

Pop Culture References for the name Sybil

Sybil Vane, character in Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray", a beautiful actress who dies a tragic death
Sybil Crawley Branson, character on TV's "Downton Abbey"
Sybil Fawlty, character on TV's "Fawlty Towers"
Sybil Gerard, character in "Sybil" (1845) by Benjamin Disraeli
Sybil Hallow, character on TV's "The Worst Witch"
Sybil Vimes, wife of Sam Vimes in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Sybil, villain/siren in The Vampire Diaries
The Sybilline Books were rhyming greek prophecies taken to Rome and consulted in times of danger

Sibilla, Sibbel, Sybella, Sibbill, Sybelle, Sibell, Cybill, Sib, Sibbie, Sibel, Sibyl, Sibylline, Sybel, Sybill, Syble, Sibby

Sybil's International Variations

Sybilla, Sibylla (Swedish) Sibéal (Irish Gaelic) Cybele, Sibylle, Sybille (French) Sibilia (Slavic)


babymagic Says:


Never thought of that before - that's a great idea! While I don't love Sybil, Billie is amazing.

Bertha Bernard Says:


Would anyone use Billie as a nickname?

snowsbeloved Says:


Like Bertha and Mildred, this name still evokes the image of an decrepit old woman in my mind. I think it needs a decade or two more before it's rediscovered and deemed "fresh" again.

Mhill46 Says:


I don't know what it is, but Something about this name just seems a little awkward to me. I'm sure it would be beautiful on a little girl but I can't see myself using it.

RoddyThlayli Says:


A friend of mine recently used this for a character of her's in a screenplay we're writing-- I'm not a huge fan. The b in the middle sounds awkward to me.

Miri Says:


For some reason I don't like Sybil.

attery squash Says:


My immediate association is Sybil from Fawlty Towers...

lissrose30 Says:


I totally agree with you and I love Downton Abbey too! I think the nickname Billie would be so sweet.

headintheclouds Says:


I know a lot of people who associate Sybil with the image of a dotty crazy old aunt locked in the attic, I think due to the prominent nine-personalities woman with the memoir (or maybe from Professor Sybil Trelawney in Harry Potter). But my main association with Sybil is of the youngest Crawley sister in Downton Abbey, Lady Sybil. I think Sybil is a lovely Victorian gem, gentle and dainty-sounding with a backbone of strength and steel to it, that I would love to see rising in popularity today.

cmariac Says:


This is also the name of Professor Trewlaney (sp?) from Harry Potter, she is the one making the prophecies, so the name was well chosen by Rowling ;) The only dfference is she spells it "Sybill" according to the Harry Potter Wiki.

ElsaAnne Says:


I hope to see this become more popular in the future!

vintageisfave Says:


This name is freaking lovely! It's so classy! First heard it on my FAVORITE SHOW, Downton Abbey, and although it took me a while to warm up to it, I really like it now! I always think of cute little Miss Sybbie and the amazing Lady Sybil. Nicknames could be Sybbie, Syb, Sybs, Belle, Billie, Bee/Bea, and Lily:)

NicoletteEMCC Says:


I really like this name and, although I certainly confess to watching Downton Abbey, I first heard this name as the middle name of my first cousin once removed, Catherine Mary Sybil.

Daiseymae Says:


I have never liked this name, because I only identify it with a mental illness.

Orchid_Lover Says:


Woah just noticed that we went from 16 on the 2012 SSA list to 65 in 2013...probably a combination of Downton Abbey and those who remember the movie "Sybil" aging out of their childbearing years? Will be intersting to see if it continues on an upward trend.