Julia originates in Latin language and means "soft-haired". It is a feminine form of Julius. Julia was the name of a character in the Bible, as well as the name of several martyrs and saints, including Julia of Corsica and Julia of Merida. It is also the character in Shakespeare's play The Gentlemen of Verona. In the English-speaking countries it has been regularly used since the 18th century and has always been one of the most popular feminine given names in the United States. It was popularized by the American actress Julia Roberts. It functions as a surname as well.