Samantha is a feminine given name. It was first recorded in the 18th century in New England, but its etymology is unknown. Speculation (without evidence) has suggested an origin from the masculine given name Samuel and anthos, the Greek word for "flower". A variant of this speculation is that it may have been a feminine form of Samuel with the addition of the already existing feminine name Anthea.
It remained a rare name until the publication, beginning in 1873, of a series of ten books by Marietta Holley featuring the adventures of a lady called Samantha, wife of Josiah Allen. This led to the rise in its popularity and its increasing ranking among the top 1,000 names for girls in the United States from 1880, the earliest year for which records are available, to 1902.
It was out of fashion in the United States for majority of the first half of the 20th century, but reappeared among the top 1,000 names for girls in 1958, when it ranked in 998th position, and in 1959, when it ranked in 993rd place. It fell off the top 1,000 list once again until 1964, when it reappeared in 472nd place, and leapt another 293 places to 179th place in the ratings in 1965. The name's popularity coincided with the debut in 1964 of the television show Bewitched, which featured as the lead character a young witch named Samantha Stephens. The name has remained consistently popular in the United States since the 1960s. It ranked among the top 200 names for girls since 1965 and among the top 100 names for girls since 1976. It was among the 10 most popular names for girls born in the United States between 1988 and 2006. It ranked as the 15th most popular name for American girls born in 2009.