Today's name: Basil (male) and Basilia (female)
Potential nicknames: Bay, Bas/Baz, Basie, Zilla
Origin: (1) Basil is Greek, from the name Basileios, meaning "royal, kingly." Basil first appeared during the Hellenistic period. The words basilica and basilisk derive from the same word. Basilia is the female form of Basil, meaning the same thing. Basilia was common in the Middle Ages. Basil was common in the eastern Mediterranean before it was brought to England by the Crusaders. (2) In Arabic, Basil means "brave."
The male name Basil has several variant forms, some more common than others: Breasal, Basek, Bazel, Basle, Basul, Basile, Basilic, Basilides, Basileios, Basilie, Basilio, Basilius, Bazeel, Bazeelius, Bazil, Bazyli, Vasil, Vazul, Vasile, Vasileos, Vasili, Vasilije, Vasilios, Vasilis, Vasilius, Vasilus, Vasily, Vassilij, Vassily, and Wassily.
The girl's name Basilia also has a handful of variant forms: Baseele, Baseelia, Baseelle, Bazeele, Bazeelia, Bazeelle, Basile, Basilie, Basille, Bazile, Bazille, and Bazilla.
Popularity: In 2010 there were only 46 baby boys named Basil and 11 baby girls named Basil, while there were no baby girls named Basilia. Basil was very popular between 1880 and 1910. In 2011 there were 7 baby girls named Basil even though nature names continued to rise in popularity. Again, there were no babies named Basilia in 2011, but there were 44 boys named Basil.
Fun fact: (1) Saint Basil from the fourth century was from Caesarea, also known as Basil the Great, shares his name with several early saints that were martyred in the east. There were also a handful of Byzantine rulers with the name Basil, as well as some Italian generals. There were also a few Saint Basilla's, female, from varied times. (2) Basil is the name of an herb, which when dried becomes a spice. (3) Early Sherlock Holmes star Basil Rathbone. (4) There is a book titled "Basil" by Wilke Collins. (5) Basil is the name of "The Great Mouse Detective," an animated movie.
A wonderful tale of Saint Basil, from http://www.20000-names.com
"One day, in 620, when Attila, count of Champagne, was out hunting, he came to Verzy, where stood the monastery of St. Basil.. A wild boar, chased by the dogs, ran for refuge to the saint, who was sitting in the sun outside his cell; and Basil covered the terrified beast with his cloak. The dogs came up, but were at a standstill, not knowing what to do. Presently the count came to the spot, and recognizing in this incident the finger of God, gave St. Basil a large part of the forest, a part of Bouzy, and the town of Sept-Saulx."—Mgr. Guérin, Vies des Saints, vol. xiii. p. 603. (E.C. Brewer)