Anita is a diminutive of Anna. Anna is most likely a variant of a Hebrew name Hannah, meaning "gracious" or "favored", because in the Bible she was a sincere and merciful woman. Ultimately the name lost its initial 'h'. Anna was the name of many women belonging to Russian royalty, it is also the main character in 'Anna Karenina', a novel by Leo Tolstoy. Together with its many variations, Anna has been a popular female name for many centuries and is constantly topping the name charts.