Diva is the Latin and Italian word for "goddess", the feminine form of the Latin word divus (= "god").

Time Magazine observed in its October 21, 2002 issue: "By definition, a diva is a rampaging female ego redeemed only in part by a lovely voice." The word was originally used of great female opera singers, almost always sopranos (like Maria Callas), but can be used to describe many female celebrities, such as singers, or movie actresses.

As with the earlier "prima donna," which was also derived from opera (lit. "first lady"), the term has slipped from its trade origins and come to be used in any theatrical or performance setting. In particular, because of marketing efforts, the word "diva" has come to be applied most often to popular female performers. In order to qualify as a diva there must be one, or both, of two dominant traits present: a broad and expansive voice (such as Mariah Carey) and/or a thoroughly captivating and commanding stage presence (like Madonna).

There are many women who are or have been world famous divas. They include:

A - F: Julie Andrews, Joan Baez, Anita Baker, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Laura Branigan, Toni Braxton, Sarah Brightman, Mariah Carey, Karen Carpenter, Cher, Patsy Cline, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Doris Day, CÚline Dion, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Connie Francis, Aretha Franklin,
G - L: Judy Garland, Emmylou Harris, Deborah Harry, Lauryn Hill, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Whitney Houston, Chrissie Hynde, Janet Jackson, Etta James, Norah Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, Janis Joplin, Alicia Keys, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Brenda Lee, Peggy Lee, Annie Lennox, Patti LuPone, Loretta Lynn,
M - R: Madonna, Sarah Maclachlan, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Kylie Minogue, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Pink, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross,
S - Z: Sade, Carly Simon, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Britney Spears, Dusty Springfield, Gwen Stefani, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Shania Twain, Sarah Vaughan, Regine Velasquez, Dionne Warwick, Dinah Washington, Tammy Wynette,

"Diva" may also have a negative connotation, as the word can be imply that the star believes the only thing that matters is his/her person, and that everyone involved in a project must cater to his/her every whim.

Other meanings


  • In current useage among the younger generation, the term Diva is used to describe a talented and confident woman. "Divas Wanted" is a membership drive campaign initiated by Sweet Adelines International to appeal to that demographic. (See Sweet Adelines International)

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