The name Jennifer is most closely linked to the Italian name Ginevra, although the exact origin of the name is not fully known. It is commonly thought that the name is a derivative of the name Guinevere that was popularized as the name of a queen in Arthurian legend.
Origin of the name Jennifer
There are four main theories on the origin of the name Jennifer, and it is even possible that all four may have had some hand in popularizing the name itself, or a phonetically similar variant.
Cornish- The first suggestion is that the name Jennifer derived as a Cornish variant of the name Guinevere. In this context, it is suggested the name means 'the white ghost', the 'white spirit' or the 'white fairy'.
Welsh- Similarly, another theory is that the name was a variation on the name Gwenhwyfar which is of Welsh origin and is, itself, a variant on Guinevere.
Juniper- Another possibility is that the name Jennifer is linked to the handful of Old English words used to describe the Juniper plant. Although words like jenefer, genefer and jinifer are unquestionably similar in the morphological sense, it is unclear where or when they evolved into the name Jennifer.
Arabic- The languages of the Arabian peninsula and Turkey, also contain similar names like Khanifah and Hanife, which are in use to this day, and so it is possible that the name Jennifer originated in this area.
The main link to the Italian Ginevra would be through the welsh Gwenhwyfar. It is also the Italian name for the Swiss city of Geneva, but this is thought to derive from a different root, the Latin Genava which is thought to mean 'estuary'.