Toumaï

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Copyright Didier DescouensCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Toumaï means “hope of life” in the Nilo–Saharan Daza language of Chad. Traditionally, it’s given to children born just before the dry season. It’s also the nickname of a Sahelanthropus tchadensis skull, five pieces of jaw, and a few teeth.

Toumaï, discovered by Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye in July 2001 in Chad’s Djurab Desert, is roughly seven million years old, and our currently oldest known hominin ancestor. (Hominins are humans and our ancestors in the Homo genus; hominids are non-human primates and the Homo genus.)

I really, really love the name Toumaï. Not only does it have an attractive sound, but it’s got such a powerful symbolism. It really gives me goosebumps.

Model of the head and shoulders of an adult male Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Hall of Human Origins, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Copyright Tim Evanson; source http://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/7283201268/

Paleoanthropology has been one of my passions since second grade (almost thirty years), as well as being my dream career. It’s such a beautiful, perfect blend of science and history. While my personal favourite prehistoric ancestors have always been the Neanderthals (whose name does not deserve to be used so pejoratively!), I also have great love for our much more ancient ancestors.

This would be a great name (in either the front or middle position) for a child born very sickly, or after many years of infertility. It would also work very well if you follow the custom of adding a name after surviving a serious illness or accident, for good luck.

Our ancestor Toumaï, 230,000 generations before us, truly represents our hope of life, and the genesis of our long journey to Homo sapiens.

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Fatherly names

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In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “father.”

Female:

Abigail is the English and German form of the Hebrew Avigayil, which means “my father is joy.” The variation Abigaíl is Spanish, and the variation Abigaïl is Dutch and French. Other forms include Abigél (Hungarian), Apikalia (Hawaiian), Abigaëlle (French), Abigaël (Dutch and French), Abigailė (Lithuanian), Apikaira (Maori), and Avigeya (Russian).

Adanna means “father’s daughter” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Adannaya means “her father’s daughter” in Igbo.

Akunna means “father’s wealth” in Igbo.

Aviela, or Aviella, means “God is my father” in Hebrew.

Avishag means “my father strays” in Hebrew.

Avital means “my father is dew” in Hebrew.

Cleopatra means “glory of the father” in Greek. This spelling is used in English, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish, Other forms include Kleopatra (Greek, Polish, Macedonian, Serbian, Czech, Croatian, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Bosnian, Bulgarian), Kleópatra (Icelandic), Cléopâtre (French), Cliupatra (Sicilian), Cleòpatra (Catalan), Cleópatra (Portuguese), and Kleopátra (Hungarian).

Male:

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

Aitor may mean “good fathers” in Basque.

Attila is a popular Hungarian name which may mean “little father” in Gothic. Attila József (or József Attila in the Hungarian style) is one of Hungary’s greatest national poets.

Avi means “my father” in Hebrew.

Avidan means “my father is judge” in Hebrew.

Aviel means “God is my father” in Hebrew.

Aviezer means “my father is help” in Hebrew.

Avihu means “he is my father” in Hebrew.

Avimael means “my father is God” in Hebrew.

Avimelech means “my father is king” in Hebrew.

Avinoam means “my father is pleasant” in Hebrew.

Aviram means “my father is exalted” in Hebrew.

Avishai means “my father is a gift” in Hebrew.

Avner, or Abner, means “my father is light” in Hebrew.

Avraham, or Abraham, means “father of many” in Hebrew.

Avram, or Abram, means “high father” in Hebrew.

Avshalom, or Absalom, means “my father is peace” in Hebrew.

Babajide means “father has returned” in Yoruba.

Babak means “little father” in Persian.

Enyinnaya means “his father’s friend” in Igbo.

Ikenna means “father’s power” in Igbo.

Liav means “I have a father” in Hebrew.

Mamuka means “little father” in Georgian.

Nnamdi means “my father is alive” in Igbo. This was traditionally bestowed upon a boy believed to be the reincarnation of his grandfather.

Obinna means “father’s heart” in Igbo.

Okenna means “great father” in Igbo.

Otaslav means “father’s glory” in Russian.

PatroklosPatroclos, or Patroclus means “glory of the father” in Greek.

Tatomir is a Polish, Serbian, and Croatian name meaning “father of peace.”

Toishybek means “father will be celebrating” in Kazakh.

Udonna means “father’s peace” in Igbo.

Ugonna means “father’s glory” or “eagle of the father” in Igbo.

Memorable names

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To mark the upcoming Memorial Day, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “memory” and “remember.” Many of the names I found are Greek and Lithuanian.

Unisex:

Chikumbutso means “memory” in Chewa, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Kumbukani means “remember” in Chewa.

Oluranti, or Oluwaranti, means “God remembers” in Yoruba.

Remember was a Virtue name in the Pilgrim/Puritan era.

Male:

Algminas comes from the Lithuanian alga (reward; salary) and minėti (to remember, to commemorate; to celebrate).

Alminas comes from the Lithuanian al (everything) and minėti.

Almintas comes from the Lithuanian al and mintis (thought). The latter element is related to minti (to remember, to recall).

Arminas, as an independent Lithuanian name instead of the Lithuanian form of the German Armin, comes from ar (also) and minėti.

Darmintas comes from the Lithuanian daryti (to act, to d0, to work) and mintis.

Daugmintas comes from the Lithuanian daug (much) and mintis.

Domintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian dovis or dotas (present, gift) and mintis.

Ekiye means “remember me” in Ijaw, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Funganayi means “remember each other” in Shona, a Bantu language spoken in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Gailiminas comes from the Old Lithuanian gailas (potent, strong; remorseful, sorrowful, miserable; jagged, sharp; violent, fierce, angry), and the modern Lithuanian galia (force, might, power). The second element is minėtiMingailas is a flipped form.

Gaudminas comes from the Lithuanian gaudyti (to take, to hunt, to catch) or gaudus (sonorous, echoing, loud, ringing, resonant), and minėtiMingaudas is a flipped form.

Gedmintas comes from the Old Lithuanian gedauti (to ask) or modern Lithuanian gedėti (to grieve, to mourn, to miss, to long, to yearn, to pine), and mintisMingedas is a flipped form.

Gosminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian gosti or gostis (to crave, to desire; to seek, to strive, to pursue) and minėti.

Ituaton means “remember me” in Ijaw.

Kęsminas is derived from the Lithuanian kęsti (to cope; to suffer, to endure, to undergo) and minėti.

Kujtim means “remembrance” in Albanian.

Liaudminas comes from the Lithuanian liaudis (people, folk) and minėti.

Mantminas comes from the Lithuanian mantus (intelligent), or manta (property, estate, riches, fortune, wealth), and minėti. A flipped form is Minmantas.

Mímir means ” memory” in Old Norse, and was the name of a god with omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mimulf is an Ancient Germanic name also derived from the element mímir, coupled with the Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Minalgas comes from minėti or mintis, and alga.

Mingintas comes from mintis or minėti, and ginti (to defend, to protect).

Mingirdas comes from mintis or minėti, and girdas (rumour).

Minjotas comes from mintis or minėti, and joti (to ride horseback).

Mintautus comes from the Baltic tauta (nation, people) and minėti. The flipped form is Tautminas.

Minvaidas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaidyti (to appear, to visit). The flipped form is Vaidminas.

Minvainas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaina (fault; cause, reason).

Minvilas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vil (hope).

Minvydas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vyd (to see). The flipped form is Vydminas.

Mnemon means “mindful” in Greek, derived from mneme (memory, remembrance), and ultimately from mnaomai (to remember, to be mindful of).

Mnesarchos is derived from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which itself is derived from mnemoneuo (to remember, to call to mind, to think of). In turn, mnemoneuo is derived from mnaomai. The second element may be either archos (leader, master) or arche (source, origin, beginning).

Mnesikles is derived from mnesios (of memory) and kleos (glory).

Mnesitheos is derived from mnesios and theos (God).

Mnesos is also derived from mnesios.

Muninn comes from the Old Norse munr (mind), and is the name of one of Odin’s two ravens. Muninn symbolizes Memory. Every day, he and the other raven, Huginn, fly all over the world to get information and news for Odin.

Normintas comes from the Lithuanian noras (desire, wish) and mintis.

Oroitz means “memory” in Basque.

Tonderai means “remember” in Shona.

Vaimintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian vajoti (to pursue, to chase), or vajys (courier, messenger), and mintis.

Virminas comes from the Lithuanian vyrauti (to prevail, to dominate) and minėti.

Visminas comes from the Baltic vis (all) and minėti.

Yozachar means “God remembered” in Hebrew.

Žadminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from žadėti (to promise) and minėti.

Zechariah, or Zachariah, is the Anglicized form of the Hebrew Zecharyah, which means “God remembers.” Other forms include Zacharias (Greek), Zakariás (Hungarian), Zacharie (French), Zachariasz (Polish), Zakaria (Georgian and Arabic), Zaccharias (Latin), Zakariya and Zakariyya (Arabic), Zakhar (Russian), Zahari (Bulgarian), Zacarías (Spanish), ZacharyZachery, and Zackary (English), Sachairi (Scottish), Sakari (Finnish), Zaharija and Zakarije (Serbian and Croatian), Zakar (Armenian and Mordvin), Zakarija (Croatian), Zaccaria (Italian), Zakaría (Icelandic), and Zekeriya (Turkish).

Zichri means “remembrance” in Hebrew.

Female:

Coventina was a British Celtic goddess of springs and water. Her name derives from Proto–Celtic kom-men (memory) and ti-ni (to melt, to disappear).

Jadyrah, or Zhadyrah, is a Kazakh name possibly derived from jad/zhad (memory).

Khatereh means “memory” in Persian.

Mimigard is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the Old Norse mímir (memory) and gardan (to fence in, to hedge in, to enclose). Mímir was also the name of a god who had omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mneme means “memory” in Greek.

Mnemosyne means “remembrance” in Greek. She was the Muse of memory.

Mnesarete roughly means “commemorating virtue.” It comes from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which is in turn derived from mnemoneuo and mnaomai; and arete (goodness, skill, excellence, virtue).

Remembrance was a Virtue name in the Puritan/Pilgrim world.

Smriti means “memory” in Sanskrit.

Tizita means “memory” in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia.

Yeukai means “remember” in Shona.

Zacharine is a rare feminine form of Zachary, found in English, Norwegian, and German.

Joy names

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Joy is one of the relative few Virtue names still in widespread use, long after other Virtue names like Happiness, Honesty, Courage, Fear, Thanksgiving, Increase, Reliance, and Amnesty have fallen out of fashion. Besides the English name, there are also a lot of other names meaning “joy” or “joyful.”

Unisex:

Adedayo means “the crown becomes joy” in Yoruba, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Ayo is Yoruba.

Ayodele means “my joy has arrived” in Yoruba.

Ayotunde means “joy has returned” in Yoruba.

Boitumelo is Tswana, a Bantu language spoken in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia.

Chimwemwe is Chewa, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Dayo means “joy arrives” in Yoruba.

Desta is Amharic, a language spoken in Ethiopia.

Ekundayo means “sorrow becomes joy” in Yoruba.

Farah is Arabic.

Gili means “my joy” in Hebrew.

Itumeleng is Tswana.

Jingyi is a Chinese name composed of the characters jing (quiet, gentle, still) and yi (harmony, joy).

Liron means “joy for me” or “song for me” in Hebrew.

Olufunmilayo means “God gave me joy” in Yoruba.

Ron (pronounced like the English word “roan,” not the nickname for Ronald) means “song” and “joy” in Hebrew.

Simcha is Hebrew.

Xinyi is Chinese, composed of the characters xin (happy, delighted, joyous) and yi (harmony, joy). Xin may also mean “soul, heart, mind.”

Yijun is Chinese, from the elements yi and jun (ruler, king).

Female:

Alaia means “happy, joyful” in Basque.

Alizah means “joyful” in Hebrew.

Avigayil is the Hebrew form of Abigail, which means “my father is joy.”

Añuli is Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Chara is Greek.

Etsuko is Japanese, from the characters etsu (pleased, joy) and ko (child).

Fraida (with a number of alternative spellings, depending upon the transliteration style) is Yiddish. I’ve never really been keen on either the Yiddish language or Yiddish names, but this is one of the ones I like.

Furaha is Swahili.

Gioia is Italian.

Ibithaj is Arabic.

Kalea is Hawaiian.

Letitia is an English name derived from the Latin Laetitia, meaning “happiness, joy.” Other variants are Letizia (Italian), Leticia (Spanish), and Letícia (Portuguese).

Priti means “joy, pleasure, love” in Sanskrit.

Rani, or Roni, means “my joy” or “my song” in Hebrew.

Rina is Hebrew.

Rowena is believed to be a Latinized form of a Germanic name derived from the elements hrod (fame) and wunn (bliss, joy).

Sevinc is Azeri. The Turkish form is Sevinç.

Sharmila means “joy, comfort, protection” in Sanskrit.

Ssanyu is Luganda, a language spoken in Uganda.

Male:

Adebayo means “the crown meets joy” in Yoruba.

Ayokunle means “joy has filled the home” in Yoruba.

Batbayar means “strong joy” in Mongolian.

Gil is Hebrew.

Kayode means “he brought joy” in Yoruba.

Kivanç means “pride, joy” in Turkish.

Nanda is Sanskrit.

Otgonbayar means “youngest joy” in Mongolian.

Pramoda is Sanskrit.

Ronen means “song” and “joy” in Hebrew.

Sharma means “joy, comfort, protection” in Sanskrit.

Thabo is Tswana.

Winston is an English name, derived from the Old English Wynnstan, “joy stone.”

Wojciech is Polish, from the elements voji (soldier) and tekha (joy, solace, comfort). Obviously, there might be a lot of problems with pronunciation in the Anglophone world. The common nickname form is Wojtek.

Love names

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Love is another name many people think sounds strange in English, but which they don’t mind so much in other languages. Here are some names with the word “love” in the meaning.

Unisex:

Caron, a Welsh name derived from caru, “to love.”

Chikondi is Chewa, a Bantu language spoken in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Fumnanya means “love me” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and parts of Equatorial Guinea.

Kealoha means “the loved one” in Hawaiian.

Rudo is Shona, a Bantu language spoken in Zimbabwe.

Female:

Amandine, the French form of Amanda, which means “lovable” or “worthy of love.” When names get really popular, similar-sounding names tend to replace them, but that hasn’t been the case with Amandine after Amanda got super-popular.

Ahavah is Hebrew.

Angharad means “more love” in Welsh.

Aroha is Maori.

Carita means “dearness/love/esteem” in Spanish.

Cinta is Indonesian.

Dilan is Turkish.

Ife is Yoruba, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Jorunn means “horse-lover” in Norwegian, derived from the Old Norse name Jórunnr.

Kasih is Indonesian.

Kerensa is Cornish.

Lempi is Finnish.

Lerato is Sotho, a Southern Bantu language spoken in South Africa and Lesotho.

Libena and Libuše are Czech.

Lyubov is Russian, and apparently considered an old lady name nowadays. The basic nickname forms are Lyuba and Busya.

Ljuba is the Czech, Slovenian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian version, with the basic nickname form Ljubica.

Nayeli means “I love you” in Zapotec, an indigenous Mexican language.

Priti means “love, joy, pleasure” in Sanskrit.

Sevda is Azeri and Turkish.

Sevgi is Turkish.

Sirvard means “love rose” in Armenian.

Widad is Arabic.

Yua is a Japanese name composed of the elements yu (bind, tie) and a (affection, love). As with just about all Japanese and Chinese names, there can be many other meanings depending upon which characters are used. I’d love to feature more Japanese names, but it’s kind of hard when there are so many meanings and elements for each name!

Male:

Amadeo means “love of God” in Italian. Amédée is the French form, Amadej is Slovenian, and Amadeus is Latin.

Carwyn is Welsh for “blessèd love.” And yes, I know it may seem super-pretentious how I usually use an accent grave in the words blessèd, belovèd, and learnèd.

Kama means “desire” and “love” in Sanskrit.

Lubomír means, roughly, “world-lover” or “peace-lover” in Czech. Luboš is the basic nickname form.

Lyuben is Bulgarian.

Medad is Hebrew.

Prem means “affection” and “love” in Sanskrit.