The As of Medieval Tuscan and Italian names

This year, in honour of Dante’s 700th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) in September, my A to Z theme is Medieval Tuscan and Italian names. Since I already did Medieval names in general a few years ago, I’ll try my best to avoid repeating anything.

Because I could find no Medieval Tuscan or Italian names starting with the letters K, Q, W, X, or Y, those days will be wildcards featuring other kinds of Medieval names.

Female names:

Albiza (T)

Altaluna (I) means “sublime, noble, grand moon” or “big moon.”

Altapasqua (I) means “elevated Easter” or “sublime, grand, noble Easter.”

Amatasana (I) means “loved and healthy.”

Angiola (T) is a form of Angela (i.e., Angel). This is also a Piedmontese name.

Angnolina (T) is a form of Angelina, a diminutive form of Angela.

Anthonia (T) is a form of Antonia, the feminine form of Antonius. The name is of unknown Etruscan origin. This is also a Medieval Occitan name.

Ardita (T)

Austina (T) is a short form of Augustina in Tuscan and the Sicilian form of Agustina. The ultimate root of all these names is the Latin name Augustus (exalted, venerable), from the word augere (to increase).

Male names:

Adelchi (I) comes from the Ancient Germanic name Adelgis, derived from roots adal (noble) and gisil (arrow). This was the name of a Lombard prince.

Agnolo (I, T) is a form of Angelo (angel) or Agnello (lamb). This was the name of a 14th century chronicler.

Aiulf (I) has Ancient Germanic origins, with roots agin (edge of a sword) and wulf (wolf).

Alfano (I) is a form of Alfunus, which may be related to Alphonse. If so, the origin is a Visigothic name meaning “noble and ready,” from roots adal (noble) and funs (ready).

Amadore (I) comes from Latin name Amator (lover of God). This was the name of a fifth century bishop. The modern Italian form is Amatore.

Atenolfo (I) is a form of Ancient Germanic name Atenulf. There were a number of Medieval princes, dukes, counts, and clergymen with this name.

Mirror names

Since mirrors are often used in horror movies, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “mirror.”

Aaina (F) is Urdu and Hindi.

Aina (F) is Kazakh, from Persian ayneh.

Ainash (F) is Kazakh.

Amira (F) can mean “love mirror” in Japanese. This is a completely different name from the Arabic Amira, which means “princess.”

Aýna (F) is Turkmeni.

Aynagözel (F) means “beautiful mirror” in Turkmeni.

Gulyona (F) means “rose mirror, flower mirror” in Uzbek.

Gyuzgyush (F) is Lezgian, a Northeast Caucasian language primarily spoken in Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan.

Kyouhei (M) can mean “peace mirror,” “36 square foot mirror,” “mirror army,” “mirror soldier,” “mirror design,” and “mirror pattern” in Japanese.

Oyna (F) is Uzbek.

Oynaband (F) means “decorated with mirrors” in Uzbek.

Oynagul (F) means “flower mirror, rose mirror” in Uzbek.

Oynajamol (F) means “mirror beauty” in Uzbek.

Oynaxol (F) means “mirror beauty mark” in Uzbek. X is pronounced like the guttural CH in loch and Chanukah.

Tezcatlipoca (M) means “smoking mirror” in Nahuatl. This was the name of a major Aztec god, who ruled winds, the night sky, the north, and war. He was also one of the creator gods.

Ugluspegill (M) means “owl mirror” in Icelandic. This is a rare, modern name.

Yayauhqui (U) means “black smoking mirror” in Nahuatl.

All about Alexis

His Imperial Highness Sovereign Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Prince Aleksey Nikolayevich of Russia, now Holy Royal Martyr Saint Aleksey,
30 July/12 August 1904–17 July 1918

Alexis is a Greek name, also used in English, French, and German, derived from the verb alexo (to help, to defend). An Ancient Greek comic poet bore this name, as well as a few saints. The name Alexios (Alexius in Latin) is derived from Alexis.

Though most people today think of this as a female name, it’s always felt solidly male to me because it’s the traditional “translation” of the Russian name Aleksey, my fave male Russian name. I also think of French diplomat, historian, and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville, and Alexis St. Martin, a medical curiosity with a permanent hole in his stomach.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59), painted 1850 by Théodore Chassériau

In the U.S., this name entered the female Top 1000 in 1943, at #828. From 1960 through the present, it’s also been in the male Top 1000. Despite its greater popularity for girls, it hasn’t been anywhere near the bottom of the chart in all those years. In 2018, it was #445 for boys, #179 for girls.

Alexis was in the female Top 100 from 1982–84, and again from 1988–2015. It was Top 10 from 1996–2003, with the top rank of #3 in 1999.

In France, Alexis has been in the male Top 100 since 1974, and in the Top 20 from 1992–2006, with a top rank of #10 in 1997. In 2018, it was #79. Alexis is also very popular in Belgium, in the Top 100 since at least 2000 (with the sole exception of 2007), and #88 in 2018.

The S is silent in the French pronunciation, making it sound a bit like the Russian name Aleksey.

Byzantine statesman and military officer Alexios Apokaukos,
late 13th century–1345

Other forms of this name include:

1. Alessio is Italian.

2. Alejo is Spanish. This can also be a nickname for Alejandro.

3. Aleixo is Portuguese and Galician.

4. Alexej is Czech and Slovak. A common nickname is Aleš.

5. Aleix is Catalan.

6. Aleksi is Finnish and Georgian. One Finnish nickname is Ale.

7. Alyaksey is Belarusian.

8. Aleksy is Polish.

9. Oleksiy is Ukrainian. Nicknames include Oles and Olek.

10. Aleksej is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

1912 self-portrait of Russian–German painter Alexej von Jawlensky, né Aleksey Yavlenskiy (1864–1941)

11. Aleksey is Russian. I adore this name in large part because of Tsesarevich Aleksey, whom I’ve felt a suprarational soul connection to since learning about him at fifteen. I was compelled to write an alternative history where he’s rescued from the firing squad and becomes the greatest Tsar in history. His greatest act comes in Part IV, when he and his wife Arkadiya rescue nine million people from the Nazis during WWII, including the entire Jewish community of Hungary.

12. Elek is Hungarian.

13. Oleksa is Ukrainian.

14. Aleksije is Serbian.

15. Aleksejs is Latvian.

16. Aleksis is Lithuanian and Finnish.

17. Aleki is Samoan.

18. Aleksio is Albanian.

19. Aleksiy is Bulgarian.

20. Alesiu is Corsican.

Hungarian politician and activist Elek Köblös (1887–1938), a victim of the USSR’s Great Terror

21. Alexie is Romanian.

22. Aleksejus is Lithuanian.

Female forms:

1. Alessia is Italian.

2. Alèxia is Catalan. Other forms are Alexía (Icelandic) and Alexia (French and English). I’ve never been fond of this name, since alexia is an acquired form of dyslexia. It’s the same reason I’m not wild about the name Addison, with its association with Addison’s disease.

3. Alesia is Albanian.

4. Aleksiya is Russian and Bulgarian. This seems like a rather rare name.

5. Aleksia is Albanian and Scandinavian.

6. Aleksija is Serbian and Croatian.

The As of Estonian names

This year, my A to Z theme is Estonian names, with a focus on names unique to the language instead of Estonian forms of well-known names like Katherine, John, Mary, and Thomas. Because Estonian is a Finno–Ugric language, its uniqueness really shows in its native names. They’re far different from the Indo–European names they adopted into their own language.

Those familiar with Finnish will notice a fair amount of onomastic overlap, since the two languages are very similar. However, Estonian also has a lot of cognates with German and Russian, owing to the centuries of occupation under their hands. While Estonian is in the same language family as Hungarian, there’s little to no similarity between the Finnic and Ugric linguistic branches.

Female:

Aasa means “meadow.”

Aave means “ghost.” This is also sometimes used as a male name.

Ainu, or Aine, means “the only one.” The Finnish forms are Aino and Aini. A very similar Estonian name, Aina, means “always.”

Aita means “to help.”

Alati means “always.”

Asta is a short form of Astrid (beautiful goddess). It’s the most popular name among women over age 85, and the average age of an Asta is 77.

Male:

Aare means “treasure.”

Aigar is of unknown origin, first appearing in the early 20th century.

Aimur means “generous amount.” The Finnish form is Aimo.

Alev means “burrow.”

Alvar means “elf warrior.” This name was adopted from Swedish and Old Norse.

Armas means “cute; lovely.” This is also a Finnish name.

Bright names

Though the vast majority of such names have sharply plummeted in popularity, there’s a large quantity of Germanic-origin names formed from the root beraht (bright). Robert is far and away the best-known, with other well-known (albeit not nearly as popular) names including Albert, Gilbert, Herbert, and Hubert. Let’s take a look at this category of names.

Albert (English, French, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Catalan, Romanian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Slavic), Albèrt (Jèrriais), Alberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Alberte (Galician), Adalbert (German, Hungarian), Adalberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Albaer (Limburgish), Alpertti (Finnish), Aubert (French), Adelbert (German, Dutch), Albertas (Lithuanian), Albrecht (German), Ailbeart (Scottish), Alberts (Latvian), Albertu (Corsican), Alberzh (Breton), Alberta (English, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Hungarian, Polish, Galician, Kashubian, Portuguese), Albertyna (Polish), Albertina (Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Kashubian, Galician), Alberte (French), Albertine (French): Noble and bright.

Bertha (English, German), Berta (Slavic, Hungarian, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian), Berthe (French): Bright. This was my paternal grandma’s name, and she knew it was too unfashionable to merit a namesake. However, I’d love to use her middle name Violet as a middle name for a potential daughter.

Berthold, Bertold (German), Bertoldo (Italian), Bertil (Scandinavian): Bright ruler.

Bertram (English, German), Bertrand (English, French), Bertrando (Italian): Bright raven. I love this name!

Egbert (English, Dutch), Eckbert (German): Bright edge. Not a fan of this name!

Fulbert (French, German): Bright people.

Gaubert (French), Gualberto (Portuguese, Italian): Bright rule.

Gilbert (English, French, Dutch, German), Gilberto (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), Gisbert (German), Gijsbert (Dutch): Bright pledge.

Herbert (English, French, Dutch, German, Swedish), Herberto (Spanish, Portuguese), Heribert (German): Bright army.

Hilbert, Hildebert (German): Bright battle.

Hubert (English, Dutch, German, French, Polish), Uberto (Italian), Hoebaer (Limburgish): Bright mind; bright heart.

Humbert (English, German, French), Umberto (Italian), Humberto (Portuguese, Spanish): Bright warrior.

Kunibert (German): Bright family.

Lambert (English, German, Dutch, French), Lammert (Dutch), Lambaer (Limburgish), Lamberto (Italian): Bright land.

Norbert (English, German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak), Norberto (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Norbaer (Limburgish): Bright north.

Osbert (English): Bright and good.

Philibert, Philbert (French), Filibert (German), Filiberto (Italian), Filbert (East African): Much brightness.

Rambert (German): Bright raven.

Siegbert (German): Bright victory.

Wilbert (Dutch): Bright will.

Wybert (Middle English): Bright battle.