Nina began in Russia and Italy as a short form of names ending in -nina such as Antonina and Giannina. From there it spread to the rest of Europe, some of its popularity possibly being due to the fact that it is similar to the Spanish niņa meaning "little girl." It is now often used by itself.

On an unrelated note, Nina was also one of the names of the Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar.
See Also: Nineveh, Ishtar

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