The many forms of Irene

Irene was #102 when name popularity data began being tracked in 1880, and entered the Top 100 in 1883, at #99. It entered the Top 50 in 1894, at #43, and rose to #30 in 1900. In 1906, it was #20, and rose and fell slightly until 1915, when it entered the Top 20, at #17. Until 1925, it remained in the lower reaches of the Top 20, and it stayed in the Top 100, steadily sliding lower each year, until 1945. Ever since, the name has continued sinking in popularity. In 2016, it was #656.

Though many people think of Irene as an old lady name, I’ve never seen it as musty and geriatric. Unlike, e.g., Mildred, it was never a Top 10 name, followed by an extremely sharp decline and eventually falling off the charts. Irene has remained in regular enough use over the decades, even if its greatest popularity is long in the past.

The spelling Irene is used in English, German, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Finnish. The variation Irène is French; Irēna is Latvian; and Ireñe is Basque. Other forms include:

1. Irina is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Georgian, Romanian, and Finnish. Russian nicknames include Irisha, Irinushka, Ira, Irusya, Ina, Rina, Irunya, and Irya.

2. Arina is an alternate Russian form.

3. Irena is Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Romanian, Italian, German, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and Croatian. Many people are familiar with the heroic story of Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

4. Eirene is Ancient Greek.

5. Irén is Hungarian, with the nickname Iri.

6. Eireen is Irish.

7. Iryna is Ukrainian.

8. Irine is Georgian.

9. Iria is Galician and Portuguese.

10. Bakene is a modern, rare Basque form.

11. Erea is Galician.

12. Erina is Swiss–Italian.

13. Irea is Galician.

14. Ireene is Estonian.

15. Irenea is Italian and Spanish.

16. Irenia is an elaborated English and Latin American–Spanish form.

17. Irinæ is Ossetian.

18. Eirini is modern Greek.

19. Ereni is also Greek.

20. Iriana is an elaborated English form.

21. Irini is Romanian.

22. Jerina is a rare Serbian form.

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The many forms of Steven

Steven has been quite popular in the U.S. in decades past. From 1941–2007, it was in the Top 100, and was in the Top 20 from 1949–76. Its highest rank was #10, from 1955–61. By 2016, it had dropped down to #167.

The variant Stephen has followed a similar trajectory, though it’s been much more popular historically. However, it’s never been more popular than #19, from 1949–51. In 2016, it was #265.

I completely understand why Steven became more popular than Stephen, since it matches the pronunciation. For years, I believed Stephen was pronounced Stef-in, since we don’t pronounce Stephanie with a V sound. Since the first E is long, PH turns into a V sound instead of its usual F.

Outside of the Anglophone world, other forms of the name include:

1. Stepan is Russian and Armenian. Russian nicknames include Styopa, Stepa, Stenik, Stenchik, Stenka, Stepik, Steshok, Steshka, Stefka, Stepka, Stesha, Stenya, Styopka, Stepok, Stepunka, and Stepanik.

2. Stefano is Italian.

3. Stefan is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Polish, and Serbian. The variation Štefan is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian; Štěpán is Czech; Stefán is Icelandic; and Ștefan is Romanian. The Dutch nickname is Stef; Serbian and Croatian diminutives include Stevo, Stipe, and Stipo; the Polish base nickname is Stefek; and the Romanian nickname is Fane.

4. Stevan is Serbian and Croatian.

5. Stipan is Croatian.

6. Stjepan is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Steffen is Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Low German.

8. Stephan is German and Dutch.

9. Staffan is Swedish.

10. Steffan is Welsh.

11. Steafan is Scottish.

12. Steaphan is also Scottish. The nickname for both is Steenie.

13. Stefanus is the official Dutch form, used on legal documents and birth certificates.

14. Szczepan is Polish.

15. Stiofán is Irish.

16. István is Hungarian. Nicknames include Istók, Pista, Pisti, Isi, Istó, Pityu, Isti, Pistu, Pityus, Petya, and Pesta.

17. Stepane is Georgian.

18. Stefanos is Greek.

19. Stephanos is also Greek.

20. Estevão is Portuguese.

21. Étienne is French.

22. Stéphane is a French variation, most popular in the 1970s.

23. Estève is Occitan, and Esteve is Catalan.

24. Esteban is Spanish.

25. Estavan is a Spanish variation.

26. Estevo is Galician.

27. Stefans is Latvian.

28. Steponas is Lithuanian.

29. Tipene is Maori.

30. Tapani is Finnish.

31. Tahvo is also Finnish. The nickname for both is Teppo.

32. Eappen is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

33. Istebe is Aragonese.

34. Kepano is Hawaiian.

35. Sćěpan is Sorbian.

36. Stiven is an alternate Georgian form.

37. Styve is Québécois.

38. Tēpene is an alternate Maori form.

39. Estepan is Basque.

40. Ixtebe is also Basque.

The many forms of Hercules

Though many people would consider Hercules to be too pompous, pretentious, and over the top for real-life usage, there are quite a few different forms of the name. Perhaps they might work well on a fictional character or pet, or one of the foreign versions might sound a bit less strange in the Anglophone world. It’s also just neat to see how names morph into other forms in different languages.

1. Hercules, the most familiar form in the Anglophone world, is actually the Latinized form of the Greek original. Though I normally prefer the authentic Greek spellings, this is one I’m too used to seeing in its historically Latinized form. The variation Hércules is Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Herakles is the Greek original, and means “glory of Hera.” The meaning is kind of ironic, given how much Hera hated him!

3. Herakleios is an elaborated Greek form.

4. Heraclius is the Latinized form of Herakleios. Two early saints and a 7th century Byzantine emperor bore this name.

5. Erekle is the historic Georgian form. Two kings from the Bagrationi Dynasty had this name.

6. Irakli is the modern Georgian form.

7. Irakliy is Russian.

8. Heraclio is Spanish. The variation Heráclio is Brazilian–Portuguese.

9. Iraklis is the modern Greek form.

10. Ercole is Italian.

11. Ercwlff is Welsh.

12. Hercule is French, and well-known as the name of detective Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery series.

13. Erco is Romansh, a Romance language spoken in southeastern Switzerland.

14. Gerakl is an alternate Russian form.

15. Herakliu is Albanian.

16. Herkules is Polish.

17. Iorcall is Scottish, in use since the Renaissance.

18. Heraklo is Croatian.

19. Herkül is Turkish.

20. Herculina is a feminine Latin form.

21. Eraclio is an alternate Italian form.

22. Heraklije is an alternate Croatian form.

Eurotas and Eos

Copyright vaggelis vlahos

Eurotas is a river god, King of Laconia, son of King Myles, and paternal grandson of King Lelex and Queen Cleocharia (who was also a Naiad). Unusually for a deity, he had a mortal lineage.

Though he didn’t have any male heirs, he and his wife, Queen Clete, had a daughter named Sparta. The famous city of Sparta was named for her, though it was alternately called Lacedaemon, after her husband and uncle.

In order to channel away the stagnant marsh water from the plain of Lacedaemon, Eurotas cut through the sea to create a canal, and named the resulting river after himself. This is the real-life Eurotas (a.k.a. Vrodamas) Canyon, a ravine wherein the river cuts through the foothills of the Taygetos Mountains, after shifting direction in the west of the valley.

The name Eurotas may be related to the word eurys (wide).

Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn, whose name fittingly means “dawn.” Her name in Roman mythology is Aurora, and Ushas in Vedic Hinduism. She appears in one of my all-time favouritest opening lines, in Volume II of The GULAG Archipelago:

“Rosy-fingered Eos, mentioned so often in Homer and called Aurora by the Romans, caressed, too, with those fingers the first early morning of the Archipelago.”

Every morning, Eos arose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, a Divine personification of the sea. Her siblings are Helios, god of the Sun, and Selene, goddess of the Moon. Her parents are Hyperion and Theia, both Titans. Since her parents are siblings, she only has one set of grandparents, Uranus and Gaia.

Eos is always described as having the abovementioned rosy fingers, with which she opened the gates of the heavens for the Sun to rise.  Homer describes her with a saffron robe embroidered or woven with flowers. On Attic (Ancient Greek) vases, she’s depicted as a beautiful woman with large wings and a tiara or diadem.

Eos was believed to be the creator of all the planets and stars, with her tears creating the morning dew. She had at least five children by two different men; among her children are Eosphoros (the Morning Star) and Zephyrus, Boreas, and Notus (the Winds). According to some traditions, Aphrodite cursed Eos to perpetually be in love after Eos slept with Aphrodite’s sweetheart Ares.

The many forms of Esther

Since Purim begins on Saturday night, 11 March, it’s only right to do a post about the name Esther. Queen Esther is the shero of the Purim story, and risked her life to save her people. I chose Esther as one of my Hebrew names in her honor.

Though Esther is a very common, popular Hebrew name, it’s actually of Persian origin, possibly meaning “star.” It may also be derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian mother goddess. The Hebrew form of the name is Hadassah, which means “myrtle.”

Esther is used in English, French, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, and Hebrew. Other forms are:

1. Ester is Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Icelandic, Czech, Catalan, Persian, and Finnish. The alternate form Estèr is Jèrriais, a form of Norman (a Romance language) spoken on the islands of Jersey and Sark, part of the Channel Islands between France and England.

2. Eszter is Hungarian. The base nickname form is Eszti.

3. Yesfir is Russian. Though I’ve been a passionate Russophile for over 24 years now, this is one of those names I’m not exactly wild about!

4. Esteri is Finnish. The nickname form is Essi.

5. Estera is Polish, Slovak, Romanian, and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Estusia (Eh-STUH-shah). This name is particularly precious to me because it was the name of one of the sheroes who enabled the Sonderkommando revolt in Auschwitz on 7 October 1944. For over a year, these brave women smuggled gunpowder to the men. Sadly, four of them (Estera Wajcblum, Róża Robota, Regina Safirsztajn, and Ala Gertner) were eventually implicated, but they bravely refused to name names under torture. They were publicly hanged on 5 January 1945.

6. Hester is Latin and English.

7. Aster is Ladino (Judeo–Spanish), Judeo–Catalan, and Judeo–Latin.

8. Eistir is Medieval Irish. It was traditionally given to girls born around Easter.

9. Esiteri is Fijian.

10. Êrsta is Greenlandic.

11. Estè is Haitian Creole. This is a rare name.

12. Estere is Latvian.

13. Esthir is Greek.

14. Estir is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and a rare Greek form.

15. Etke is Yiddish.

16. Ezter is Ladino.

17. Esthera is a rare, elaborated form of Esther.

18. Esterina is an Italian and Portuguese elaboration of Ester.

19. Esfir is an alternate Russian form. I’m not wild about this one either.

20. Îsta is another Greenlandic form.

21. Eseza is Lugandan, a Bantu language spoken in Uganda.

22. Jestira is Serbian.