A diva (/ˈdvə/; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.



The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity. The plural of the word in English is "divas"; in Italian, dive [ˈdiːve]. The basic sense of the term is goddess,[1][2] the feminine of the Latin word divus (Italian divo), someone deified after death, or Latin deus, a god.[3]

The male form divo exists in Italian and is usually reserved for the most prominent leading tenors, like Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli. The Italian term divismo describes the star-making system in the film industry. In contemporary Italian, diva and divo simply denote much-admired celebrities, especially film actresses and actors, and can be translated as "(film) star". The Italian actress Lyda Borelli is considered the first cinematic diva, following her breakthrough role in Love Everlasting (1913).[4]

An extravagant admiration for divas is a common element of camp culture.[5]

Modern usageEdit

In 1992, singer Annie Lennox released her first post-Eurythmics album Diva. The same year, En Vogue released their album Funky Divas. In 1998, VH1 debuted its first annual VH1 Divas concert. In may 10th 1998 Dana International from Israel won the Eurocisionsongcontest (european music competition) with a song titled "diva" On January 20, 2009, singer Beyoncé Knowles released a single from her third studio album titled "Diva".

Sarah Brightman's 2006 compilation is called "Diva: The singles collection"

Diva can also refer to a woman, especially one in show business, with a reputation for being temperamental, demanding, or difficult to work with.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ TIME magazine observed in its October 21, 2002, issue: "By definition, a diva was originally used for great female opera singers, almost always sopranos."
  3. ^ Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera
  4. ^ Doane p.125
  5. ^ "Vamps, camps and archetypes: gay men, the diva phenomenon and the inner feminine" Archived September 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine by Andrew Milnes (2002)


  • Doane, Mary Anne (1991). Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, New York. ISBN 978-0-415-90320-2.

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