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).
English (chiefly Nottinghamshire): metonymic occupational name for a grower or seller of wheat, from Old English hwǣte ‘wheat’ (a derivative of hwīt ‘white’, because of its use in making white flour).