fem. proper name, 1160, from O.Fr., from Gk. Hagne "pure, chaste," from fem. of hagnos "holy." St. Agnes, martyred 303 C.E., is patron saint of young girls, hence the folk connection of St. Agnes' Eve (Jan. 20-21) with love divinations. In M.E., frequently as Annis, Annys. In U.S., among the top 50 names for girls born between 1887 and 1919.