Originally a Spanish pet form of Ana, the Spanish version of Anne. It is now widely used in English-speaking countries with little awareness of its Spanish origin. In the 1950s it came to prominence as the name of the Swedish film actress Anita Ekberg (b. 1931); more recently it has been associated with the British business woman and campaigner Anita Roddick (1943–2007).
German (Bavaria, Tyrol) and Dutch: from Middle High German pap ‘baby food’ and Dutch pap ‘porridge’, ‘pap’, hence perhaps a nickname denoting someone who had lost his teeth or subsisted on a meagre diet.