The As of Slavic names

This year, my A to Z theme is Slavic names—Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Belarusian, Slovak, Bosnian, and Croatian. My focus is on lesser-known names, not ones most people are familiar with, like Boris, Irina, Vera, and Pavel.

My posts will also try to avoid names with the roots Mil(a), Mir(a), and Slav/Sław(a), since I’ll be featuring those classes of names in future posts.

Female:

Agnieszka is the Polish form of Agnes. I’ve loved this name since I discovered it, and have a character with this name (who’s about an eighth Polish). It’s just so cute!

Ajda means “buckwheat” in Slovenian.

Akilina, Akulina is the Russian and Belarusian form of Aquilina, a diminutive of Latin name Aquila (eagle).

Almira is the Bosnian feminine form of Al-Amir, which means “the commander, the prince” in Arabic. Many Bosnian names are of Arabic and Turkic origin.

Amina is the Bosnian form of Aminah, which means “truthful” in Arabic.

Anfisa is the Russian form of the Greek Anthousa, which derives from anthos (flower).

Male:

Alizar is Russian and Belarusian. It looks like it may be of Arabic origin.

Aniket is the Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian form of Aniketos, which means “unconquerable” in Greek.

Antim is the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Croatian form of Anthimos, derived from anthos.

Ardaryk is the Polish form of Ardaric, a form of Ancient Germanic Hardaric. This was a 5th century king of the Gepids.

Aristip is the Croatian, Romanian, and Catalan form of Aristippos, which means “the best horse” in Greek.

Avakum is the Serbian form of Habakkuk, which means “embrace” in Hebrew, from root chavak.

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Leonine names

Pope Leo XIII (1810–1903), painted by Philip de László (né Fülöp Elek László)

Leo, which means “lion” in Latin, is English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Finnish, and Croatian, and currently enjoying great popularity. In 2017, it was #61 in the U.S. (and has been jumping up the charts since 2000), after having been a Top 100 staple from 1880–1937. Its highest rank was #37 in 1903.

It’s #1 in Australia, Canada, and Finland; #7 in England and Wales (and in France as Léo); #11 in Spain, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and Catalonia; #19 in Switzerland (and #96 as Léo); #9 in Scotland; #8 in Galicia; #33 in Ireland; #22 in Austria; #58 in Norway; #91 in Belgium; and #71 in Slovenia.

As abovementioned, Léo is French. Another alternate form, Leó, is Icelandic and Hungarian.

French artist Léon Augustin Lhermitte, 1844–1925

Leon, which means “lion” in Greek, is English, German, Dutch, Polish, Slovenian, and Croatian. It was Top 100 in the U.S. in 1883, 1885, from 1887–90, and from 1892–1942. Its highest rank was #73 in 1926. In 2006, it began jumping up the charts, and had risen to #244 by 2017.

It’s also #4 in Switzerland; #11 in Austria; #15 in Belgium (and #36 as Léon); #22 in Sweden and Poland; #23 in Slovenia; #77 in Scotland; #68 in Bosnia; #98 in England and Wales; #28 in Norway; #85 in New Zealand; #53 in Ireland; #96 in Australia; and #40 in France (as Léon).

The alternative form León is Spanish, and Léon is French. Other forms of this name include:

1. Levon (LEHV-ohn) is Armenian. I can’t stand the Anglo LEE-von mangling!

2. Leoš is Czech.

3. Léonce is French.

4. Leone is Italian.

5. Leoncio is Spanish.

6. Lionel is a French diminutive.

7. Leontiy is Russian, with the nickname Lyonya.

8. Lev is also Russian, with the nickname Lyova.

9. Levan is Georgian.

10. Leonzio is Italian.

Armenian physiologist Levon Orbeli, 1882–1958

11. Leonas is Lithuanian.

12. Lew (LEF) is Polish.

13. Leão is a rare Portuguese form.

14. Lejo is Sami and a rare Finnish form.

15. Ledjo is Sami.

16. Lîu is Greenlandic.

17. Lleó is Catalan.

18. Luan is Albanian.

19. Liuni is Sicilian.

20. Liūtas is Lithuanian.

21. Leons is Latvian.

Lithuanian nobleman and politician Leonas Sapiega, 1557–1633

Feminine forms:

1. Leona is English and German.

2. Leone is English. The alternate form Léone is French, and Leonė is Lithuanian.

3. Leontina is Italian.

4. Leola is English.

5. Léontine is French.

6. Leontyne is a rare English form.

7. Leonie is Dutch and German. The alternate form Léonie is French.

8. Leonia is Latin.

9. Léonine is French and Dutch.

Leona Vicario (1789–1842), one of the most important people in Mexico’s War of Independence

Other leonine names:

Unisex:

1. Arioch means “lion-like” and “venerable,” or “a fierce lion,” in Hebrew.

2. Aset is Kazakh and Chechen. In the former language, it’s male-only; in the latter, it’s unisex.

3. Sangay is Tibetan.

5. Singye is also Tibetan.

Female:

1. Ariella means “lion of God” in Hebrew.

2. Asida means “lioness” in Abkhaz.

3. Azida means “lioness” in Circassian.

4. Kefira means “lion cub” in Hebrew.

5. Leaneira means “lion man” in Greek.

6. Lý is Vietnamese.

7. Seyha means “lion” or “August” in Khmer.

Ariel Serena Hedges Bowen, African–American temperance activist, music professor, and writer (1863–1904)

Male:

1. Ariel is the male form of Ariella.

2. Kefir is the male form of Kefira.

3. Aleeki means “brave lion” in Somali.

4. Ambesa is Ethiopian.

5. Anibesa is Amharic.

6. Aristoleon means “best lion” in Greek.

7. Arsalan is Persian, Punjabi, and Urdu.

8. Arslon is Uzbek.

9. Arstanbek means “lion master” in Kyrgyz.

10. Aryşlan is Bashkir.

Azeri politician Aslan bey Safikurdski, 1881–1937

11. Arystan is Kazakh.

12. Arystanbek means “lion master” in Kazakh.

13. Azam is Arabic.

14. Beslan means “master of lions” in Circassian, Chechen, Ingush, Abkhaz, and Abazin.

15. Demoleon means “lion of the people” in Greek.

16. Guryon means “lion cub” in Hebrew.

17. Lavoslav means “glorious lion” in Croatian. The Slovak form is Levoslav.

18. Leofred means “lion of peace/love” in Norwegian.

19. Ari is Hebrew.

20. Areli means “lion of God” in Hebrew.

Argentinean politician Leandro Alem (né Alen), 1841–96

21. Aryeh is Hebrew.

22. Asad is Arabic and Urdu.

23. Aslan is Chechen, Kazakh, Circassian, Ossetian, Azeri, and Turkish.

24. Aslanbek means “lion master” in Circassian, Ossetian, and Chechen.

25. Leandros means “lion man” in Greek. Other forms are Leandro (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese); Leander (English, Latin); and Léandre (French).

26. Haidar is Arabic.

27. Leonard means “brave lion” in German. Other forms include Leendart and Leendert (Dutch); Lennart (Scandinavian); Lenart (Slovenian); Leonardo (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese); Leonhard (German); and Léonard (French).

28. Pantaleon means “all lion” in Greek.

Doubling up on vowels

I’ve always loved names with two of the same vowel in a row (often found in Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, and Greenlandic). I’ll feature more of these names in a future post, but for now, I’m focusing on names starting with two of the same vowel in a row.

Unisex:

Aajunnguaq means “dear older sibling” in Greenlandic.

Iimaan is the Somali form of Iman.

Ooquna is Greenlandic.

Uukkarnit means “calved ice” in Inuktitut.

Male:

Aabraham is Finnish. An alternate form is Aapo.

Aadam is Estonian.

Aadolf is Finnish, with alternate forms Aatu and Aatto. The lattermost also means “evening before, eve.”

Aage is the modern Norwegian and Danish form of Áki, an Old Norse nickname for names with the element Anu (father, ancestor).

Aali means “sublime, lofty, high” in Arabic.

Aamir is a variant of Amir (prince, commander). When rendered ‘Aamir, it means “substantial, prosperous.”

Aapeli is the Finnish form of Abel, which derives from the Hebrew Hevel (breath).

Aarne is the Finnish form of Arne, which originally was an Old Norse nickname for names starting in Arn (eagle).

Aaron is the English form of the Hebrew Aharon, which possibly means “exalted” or “high mountain.” Other sources suggest it’s more likely of unknown Egyptian origins.

Aarti is a Hindi and Marathi name taken from a ritual where candle and lamp offerings are made to deities, from Sanskrit aratrika. The Tamil form is Aarthi.

Aatami is the Finnish form of Adam.

Aatos means “thought” in Finnish.

Eeli is the Finnish form of Eli.

Eelis is the Finnish form of Elijah.

Eemeli is the Finnish form of Emil.

Eenokki is the Finnish form of Enoch.

Eerik is the Finnish form of Eric. Alternate forms are Eerikki and Eero.

Eetu is the Finnish form of Edward.

Iiggiti, or Iigiti, means “oak,” from Ancient Scandinavian eik. The name is Greenlandic.

Iikkila means “how sweet you are” in Greenlandic.

Iiku is the Finnish form of Igor.

Iisaja is the Greenlandic form of Isaiah.

Iisakki is the Finnish form of Isaac (he will laugh). Nicknames include Iikka and Iiro.

Iissát is the Sami form of Isaac.

Iivanni is the Greenlandic form of John.

Iivari is the Finnish form of Ivar.

Oochalata is Cherokee.

Ooqi is Greenlandic.

Uugi is the Greenlandic form of Áki. Another form is Ûge.

Uula is the Finnish form of Ola, a Swedish and Norwegian nickname for Olaf (ancestor’s descendant), and a nickname for Uljas (proud, gallant, noble, valiant). Another form is Oola.

Uularik is the Greenlandic form of Ulrich (prosperity and power). Another form is Uulorik.

Uuli is a Greenlandic form of Olaf. Another form is Uuluffi.

Uuloffi is a rare Finnish form of Olaf.

Uumaaq is a modern Greenlandic form of Ûmâk (green, fresh).

Uuno possibly means “one” in Finnish, from Latin unus, or is a male form of Una. It’s very rare today, owing to becoming an insult meaning “dumb, stupid.”

Uuttuaq is Greenlandic.

Female:

Aalis is the Medieval French form of Alice.

Aaliyah is the feminine form of Aali. As anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows, it got really popular and trendy thanks to the late singer Aaliyah Haughton.

Aamina, or Aaminah, is an alternative form of the Arabic Amina (feel safe).

Aamu means “morning” in Finnish.

Aava means “open, wide” in Finnish.

Eedit is the Estonian and Finnish form of Edith.

Eelisi is a Greenlandic form of Elizabeth.

Eerika is the Finnish form of Erica.

Eeva is the Finnish form of Eva. An alternate form is Eevi.

IidaIitu, and Iita are Finnish forms of Ida (labour, work). Sami forms are Iidá and Iiddá.

Iidaliisa is a rare Finnish name.

Iines is the Finnish form of Agnes (chaste; lamb).

Iingili is the Greenlandic form of Ingrid.

Iingka is the Greenlandic form of Inga.

Iintariina is the Greenlandic form of Henrietta.

Iiris is the Estonian and Finnish form of Iris (rainbow). A Finnish varation is Iiri.

Iisimaleq is Greenlandic.

Iista is the Greenlandic form of Esther. Another form is Eersta.

Oona, or Oonagh, is an alternate form of the Irish Úna (possibly meaning “lamb”). The first spelling is also Finnish. Its most famous bearer was Charles Chaplin’s fourth wife, Oona O’Neill, daughter of famous playwright Eugene. Their marriage was far and away Charles’s happiest and most successful, in spite of the 36-year age difference.

Uularikka is the Greenlandic form of Ulrika.

Uulina is a Greenlandic feminine form of Olaf.

Uullat is the Greenlandic form of Olga.

Uuriintuya means “light of dawn” in Mongolian.

The As of Medieval names

Due to a number of unwanted, extenuating circumstances, the great theme I’d planned for this year’s A to Z has to be pushed off till next year. If I’d gone ahead with it, without ample prep time, the resulting posts wouldn’t have been my best work. Instead, this year’s theme is Medieval names, from a variety of languages.

I’m featuring names with interesting etymologies, names which look intriguing, and names I like. I’ll also focus on names which were mostly exclusive to the Middle Ages, instead of Medieval names which are still regularly used today.

Let’s get started!

Female:

Abluna (Swedish): Form of Apollonia, which of course comes from Apollo. It may derive from the Indo–European *apelo (strength), the Greek verb apollymi (to destroy), or the Anatolian god Appaliunas (father light or father lion). The alternate form Ablunia was Finnish.

Adalsinda (German): “Noble path,” from Old High German adal (noble) and Gothic sinths (way, path).

Adélaïse (French): A shortened form of the Ancient Germanic Adalheidis, with roots adal and heid (sort, kind, type). Other forms included Adelasia (Italian, Sardinian); Adelissa (Dutch); and Adeliza (English, Swedish). This name eventually morphed into more familiar forms such as Alice, Alicia, Adelaide, Adeline, Adele, and Adela.

Alamanda (Occitan, Gascon): From Alemannia, the Latin word for Germany.

Alara (Turkic): A beautiful water fairy in Turkic mythology, who lives in rivers and lakes of the Caspian basin. She grants wishes she deems worthy, and heals broken hearts and makes them able to love again. Al ara also means “red ornament” in the Turkic languages.

Amice (English): From Latin amicus (friend). The male form was Amis. These were very popular names in Medieval England.

Male:

Aberycusgentylis (English): This was used as a namesake for Oxford professor Albericus Gentilis (né Alberico Gentili). The first part of the name derives from the Ancient Germanic Alberich (elf power), with roots alf (elf) and ric (power). The second part of the name comes from a Latin adjective meaning “of the same family.”

Adalrik (Swedish): From the Ancient Germanic Athalric, with roots adal (noble) and rīhhi (rich, noble, distinguished).

Aleksandru (Slavic): From the Greek Alexandros, “helper of man,” with roots alexo (to help, defend) and aner (genitive andros) (man). This name soared to popularity all around the Indo–European world because of Alexander the Great.

Andriü (Occitan): Form of Andrew, which comes from the Greek Andreas, with root andreios (masculine, manly).

Arlotto (Italian): Possibly from Old French herlot (tramp, vagabond).

Astralabius (French): The name of the son of the infamous Héloïse and Abélard. It means “one who reaches the stars,” after the word “astrolabe.”

Birth-related names

Seeing as today is my English birthday (my Hebrew birthday was the fifth night of Chanukah, 16–17 December),  here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “birth” and “born.” Many of them are of African origin, particularly from the Akan language.

Unisex:

Abimbola means “born wealthy” in Yoruba.

Abiodun means “born on a festival” in Yoruba.

Abiola means “born in honour” in Yoruba.

Abiona means “born during a journey” in Yoruba.

Anan means “fourth-born child” in Akan, a Central Tano language spoken in Ghana, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Awotwi means “eighth-born child” in Akan.

Baako means “firstborn child” in Akan.

Dubaku means “eleventh-born child” in Akan.

Enu means “fifth-born child” in Akan.

Idowu means “born after twins” in Yoruba.

Nkruma means “ninth-born child” in Akan.

Nsia means “sixth-born child” in Akan.

Nsonowa means “seventh-born child” in Akan.

Female:

Abena means “born on Tuesday” in Akan.

Abra means “born on Tuesday” in Ewe, a Niger–Congo language spoken in Ghana.

Adwoa means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Afua means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Akinyi means “born in the morning” in Luo, a language spoken in Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

Akosua means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Akua means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Ama means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Antigone is composed of the Greek elements anti (against, compared to, like) and gone (birth). Most people are familiar with this as the name of Oedipus’s firstborn daughter by his mother Jocasta.

Bosede means “born on Sunday” in Yoruba.

Chausiku means “born at night” in Swahili.

Esi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Portuguese and Brazilian stage actor Eugénia Câmara, 9 April 1837–28 May 1874

Eugenia is the female form of Eugene, the English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Polish form of the Latin Eugenius, which in turn comes from the Greek Eugenios (well-born).

Other forms of the name include Yevgeniya (Russian), with nicknames including Zhenya, GenyaZhenyushka, and GenyushkaEugènie (French); Eugènia (Catalan); Eugénia (Hungarian and Slovak); Eugênia (Portuguese); Uxía (Galician); Evgenia (Greek); Eukene (Basque); Evgenija (Macedonian); Yevheniya (Ukrainian); Jevgeņija, Jevgēņija, Eiženija (Latvian); Evgeniya (Bulgarian); Eugenija (Lithuanian and Croatian); Evženie (Czech); and Yaŭheniya (Belarusian).

Iphigeneia means “strong-born” in Greek. Most people are familiar with this as the name of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra’s oldest daughter, who in some versions of the story was sacrificed to appease Artemis before the Trojan War, and in others became a priestess who rescued her brother Orestes and their cousin Pylades from being sacrificed to Artemis.

Other forms of the name include Iphigenia (Latin), Efigénia (Portuguese), Efigênia (Brazilian–Portuguese), Iphigénie (French), Ifigeniya (Russian), Ifigénia (Portuguese), Ifigenia (modern Greek), and Efigenia (Italian).

Lindita means “the day is born” in Albanian.

Lumusi means “born face-down” in Ewe.

Muirgen means “born of the sea” in Irish.

Mwanajuma means “born on Friday” in Swahili.

Naliaka means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya.

Oni may mean “born in sacred abode” in Yoruba.

Renata is the feminine Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian form of the Latin Renatus (born again). Other forms include Renáta (Slovak, Czech, Hungarian), Renée (French), Renate (German, Dutch, Norwegian), and Rena (English).

Yaa means “born on Thursday” in Akan.

Silent actor Renée Adorée, 30 September 1898–5 October 1933

Male:

Abidemi means “born during father’s absence” in Yoruba.

Abioye means “born into royalty” in Yoruba.

Afolabi means “born into wealth” in Yoruba.

Akpan means “firstborn son” in Ibibio, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Amadi means “seemed destined to die at birth” in Yoruba.

Anuj means “born later, younger” in Sanskrit. This name is traditionally given to a younger brother.

Cináed (KIN-ahj) is a Scottish and Irish name meaning “born of fire.” It’s typically Anglicized as Kenneth, which is also the Anglicization of Coinneach (handsome).

Comhghán (COV-an) means “born together” in Irish.

Diogenes means “born of Zeus” in Greek.

Eoghan may mean “born from the yew tree” in Irish.

Eugene is the male form of Eugenia. Other forms include Eugène (French), Eugen (German, Romanian, Slovak, Czech, Croatian), Eugenio (Spanish) and Italian, Eugeniusz (Polish), Eugenijus (Lithuanian), Ugène (Norman), Yevgeniy (Russian), Evžen (Czech), Eižens, Jevgeņijs, Jevgēņijs (Latvian), Uxío (Galician), Yevhen, Yevheniy (Ukrainian), Owain, Owen (Welsh), Evgeni (Bulgarian), Eugeni (Catalan), and Üschén (Alsatian).

South African writer Eugène Marais, 3 January 1871–29 March 1936

Gwydion means “born of trees” in Welsh.

Jumaane means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kevin is the Anglicized form of the Irish Caoimhín, which in turn is derived from the Old Irish Cóemgein, “kind/gentle/handsome birth.”

Khamisi means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kofi means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Kwabena means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwadwo means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Kwaku means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Kwame means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwasi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Manoja means “born of the mind” in Sanskrit.

Niraj means “water-born” in Sanskrit.

Nyongesa means “born on Saturday” in Luhya.

Ochieng means “born when the Sun shines” in Luo.

Odhiambo means “born on Afor [a day of the week]” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Okeke means “born on Eke [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okonkwo means “born on Nkwo [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okorie means ” born on Orie [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Omondi means “born early in the morning” in Luo.

Otieno means “born at night” in Luo.

Pankaja means “born of mud” in Sanskrit.

French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes, 31 March 1596–11 February 1650

Renato is the male Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Croatian form of Renata. Other forms include Renat (Russian), Renátó (Hungarian), Rinat (Tatar and Bashkir), and René (French, German, Spanish, Czech, Slovak).

Simiyu means “born during the dry season” in Luhya.

Sosigenes means “born safely” in Greek.

Suchart means “born into a good life” in Thai.

Taner means “born at dawn” in Turkish.

Urien means “privileged birth” in Welsh. Unfortunately, this is one of those names which I wouldn’t recommend in the Anglophone world, due to its similarity to the word “urine.”

Wafula means “born during the rainy season” in Luhya.

Wamalwa means “born during the brewing season” in Luhya.

Wanjala means “born during famine” in Luhya.

Wanyonyi means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya.

Wekesa means “born during harvest” in Luhya.

Yao means “born on Thursday” in Ewe.

Yaw means “born on Thursday” in Akan.