Hermine and Haakon


Hermine (Her-MEEN-ah) is the German feminine form of Hermann, which means “army man.” It’s the name of one of the characters in Hermann Hesse’s fantastic novel Steppenwolf. Hermine helps protagonist Harry Haller to realise that he’s a lifeless bore who doesn’t even know how to laugh or dance, and gets him started on the unforgettable journey to break out of his shell and discover his inner self.

Hermine is also an Armenian name, in use since the 19th century and taken from literature. Other variants are Hermineh, Yermoneh, Yermonya, and Yermon. The Y spellings are derived from Hermes, the Greek god of speed. It may mean “pile of stones” in Greek.

Haakon is a Norwegian name, an alternate form of Håkon, ultimately derived from the Old Norse Hákon. It means “high son,” from the elements há (high) and konr (son). The name has been borne by seven Norwegian kings. The Swedish form is Håkan; the Danish form is Hagen; and the Icelandic form is the original Hákan. I have a secondary character named Haakon, since I thought the name was really groovy when I first saw it.

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