The Es of Medieval names

Female:

Edelinne (French)

Ederra (Basque): Feminine form of Eder (beautiful, handsome). The modern form is Ederne.

Ediva (English): Form of Old English Eadgifu, from roots ead (wealth, fortune) and giefu (gift).

Eilika (German): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Agil (sword’s edge).

Elaria, Ellaria (English): Form of Eulalia, from Greek root eulalos (sweetly-speaking). which in turn derives from eu (good) and laleo (to talk). This form originated due to the second L being confused with R in the West Country’s local dialect.

Elduara (Basque)

Elisanna (French): Possibly an elaborated form of or nickname for Élisabeth.

Elisenda (Catalan): Form of Visigothic Alahsind, from Germanic elements alah (temple) and sinþs (path). The Flemish form was Elisende.

Emazteona (Basque): “Good wife,” from roots emazte (wife) and on (good).

Emissa (French)

Emmelina (Dutch)

Endera (Basque)

Enika (Swedish): This is also a rare modern Icelandic name. Icelandic and Faroese have a rather high concentration of names and words of older origin than the three major Scandinavian languages, due to their geographic isolation.

Ermellina (Italian): Possibly derived from ermellino (ermine), a symbol of generosity, innocence, purity, and kindheartedness in Medieval Italy. It also may be an older form of Ermelinda, derived from Ancient Germanic elements ermen (universal, whole) and linde (tender, soft).

Ermesenda (Basque): Possibly a form of Ancient Germanic Ermesind, which means “path of universal power” or “path of honour.” It comes from Ancient Germanic roots erm or êra, and Gothic sinths (path).

Male:

Edwold (English)

Edwulf (English)

Egbald (Dutch)

Einbold (English)

Einfridi (Dutch)

Eingar (English)

Eisburn (Dutch)

Eisolf (Dutch)

Elegast (Dutch): “Elf spirit,” from roots albi and gastiz. This is the hero of Karel ende Elegast, an epic Dutch poem.

Enolf (German): From Ancient Germanic elements agin (sword’s edge) and wolf.

Erdwulf (English)

Ernwulf (English): “Eagle wolf,” from roots ern and wulf.

Eymundr (Scandinavian): “Island protection,” from Old Norse roots ey and mund.

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All about the names Edward, Edmund, and Edgar

King Edward VI of England (as Prince of Wales), 12 October 1537–6 July 1553

Edward, used in English and Polish (albeit with differing pronunciations), comes from the Old English elements ead (fortune, wealth) and weard (guard). It loosely translates as “rich guard.” Several Anglo–Saxon kings bore this name, the last of whom was Edward the Confessor.

Thanks to Edward the Confessor’s popularity, the English people kept using his name even under Norman occupation. It’s remained popular not only in England, but throughout Europe as well (under various forms).

Edward ranged from #11–#8 from 1880–1933. It remained in the Top 20 till 1948, was in the Top 50 till 1979, and in the Top 100 till 1997. As of 2016, it was #163. The name is more popular in England and Wales (#23), Australia (#52), New Zealand (#74), and Ireland (#95).

Edward the Confessor (ca. 1003–5 January 1066), centre, left panel of the Wilton Diptych

Other forms of Edward include:

1. Eduard is Romanian, German, Dutch, Russian, Armenian, Georgian, Czech, Slovak, Estonian, Bosnian, Ossetian, Ukrainian, Catalan, and Croatian. The Russian nickname is Edik, the Czech nicknames are Edík and Eda, and the Croatian nickname is Edi. The variant form Eduárd is Hungarian.

2. Eduardo is Spanish and Portuguese.

3. Edvard is Czech, Scandinavian, Slovenian, Finnish, Armenian, and modern Russian. The variant form Edvárd is Hungarian. Edi is a nickname form in several of these languages.

4. Édouard is French.

5. Eduards is Latvian.

6. Edoardo is Italian.

7. Eideard is Scottish.

8. Eadbhárd is Irish.

9. Edorta is Basque.

10. Ekewaka is Hawaiian.

French composer Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo, 1823–1892

11. Eetu is Finnish.

12. Duarte is Portuguese.

13. Ebardo is Aragonese.

14. Edouardos is Greek.

15. Edvardas is Lithuanian.

16. Eetvart is Finnish.

17. Yetvart is Armenian.

18. Eduarda is a Portuguese feminine form.

English poet Edmund Spenser, 1552/53–13 January 1599

Edmund, an English, German, and Polish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and mund (protection). Like Edward, it too remained in use under the Norman occupation, due to the popularity of King Edmund I (922–946).

After the 15th century, it became less common in England. Its highest rank to date in the U.S. was #130, in 1914. The name hasn’t charted since 1997, when it was #921.

Other forms of Edmund include:

1. Edmond is French. The nickname is Edmé.

2. Edmundo is Spanish.

3. Edmondo is Italian.

4. Edmao is Limburgish. The nickname is Mao.

5. Ödön is Hungarian. The nickname is Ödi.

6. Éamonn is Irish. Variant forms are Éamon and Eamon.

7. Edmundas is Lithuanian.

8. Edmunds is Latvian.

9. Edmwnt is Welsh.

10. Edmonde is a French feminine form. The nickname is Edmée.

11. Edmonda is an Italian feminine form.

12. Edmunda is a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and German feminine form.

U.S. writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Edgar, an English, French, Estonian, Portuguese, and Spanish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and gar (spear). It was borne by King Edgar the Peaceful of England (ca. 943–8 July 975), but fell into disuse after the Norman occupation.

The name came back into widespread usage in the 18th century, and enjoyed an additional boost thanks to a character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel The Bride of Lammermoor. It was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1880–1925, and gradually went up and down over the ensuing decades. As of 2016, it was #342.

In Portugal, the name is #79, and is #263 in France. The variant Édgar is Spanish.

Other forms of Edgar include:

1. Edgardo is Italian and Spanish.

2. Edgaras is Lithuanian.

3. Edgard is French.

4. Edgars is Latvian.

5. Edgeir is a rare Norwegian form.

6. Edgarda is a rare Latin American–Spanish, Italian, and English feminine form.

The two names I’ve loved longest, Part II

As mentioned in my last post, the two names I’ve loved longest are Easter and Echo. I’ve no idea why I fell so deeply in love with them, but I’ve remained firmly captivated by them all these years. While I’d like to use Echo as a middle name for a future daughter (paired with Cecilia), Easter is off-limits for the obvious reason that I’m not Christian.

However, I’m of the camp that feels one need not be a member of a certain religion to find great beauty in some of its names, music, stories, etc. Liking a name, song, ikon, teaching, etc., doesn’t automatically mean you’re having a crisis of faith and converting!

The English name Easter comes from Eostre (alternately called Ostara), the Ancient Germanic dawn goddess. As such, her name is etymologically linked to Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn (whose name fittingly means “dawn”). Every morning, her rosy fingers open the gates of heaven for the Sun to rise.

The Ancient Germanic name, like the Greek name, derives from the Proto–Germanic *Austrǭ. In turn, that name ultimately derives from the Proto–Indo–European *h2ews- (to shine). The modern English word “east” also descends from this ancient root.

Many other dawn goddesses from Indo–European language-speaking cultures share this cognate, leading to the theory of a Proto–Indo–European dawn goddess from whence they all came.

Over time, Eostre became associated with fertility and the dawning of spring, hence why the Christian spring holiday took on an updated form of her name.

Though it’s no longer very common for girls born around Easter to be given this name, the Latin word for Easter, Pascha, forms the basis for a number of names which are a fair bit more common. These include:

Female:

Pascale is French. The nickname is Pascaline.

Pascuala is Spanish.

Pascualina is Italian.

Pascalina is Gascon and Sardinian.

Paškvalina is Croatian.

Male:

Pascal is French, Dutch, and German.

Pasquale is Italian.

Pascual is Spanish.

Paskal is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Pascoe, or Pasco, is Cornish.

Paschalis is Greek.

Paškal is Croatian. The nickname is Paško.

Pascau is Gascon.

Paskalis is Lithuanian.

Paszkál is Hungarian.

Paxkal is Basque.

Päscu is Swiss–German.

Pasqual is Catalan.

Pascoal is Portuguese.

The reason I see Easter as a workable (if rather uncommon) name is because I’m used to seeing and hearing it as a human’s name. It’s become rather unusual, but it’s not completely unheard-of. Christmas was a fairly common given name in the Middle Ages, but it doesn’t sound like a name, and is even rarer to encounter on a real person.

As with many names, it’s all about perception and associations.

The two names I’ve loved longest, Part I

I can’t remember what caused me to fall so in love with the names Easter and Echo when I was about six years old, but fall in love I did. Those are the two names I’ve loved longest. I made a number of picture books about twins named Easter and Echo, eventually expanding them to quads who were separated into two sets of twins (à la The Parent Trap), and at one point giving them sextuplet little sisters. Hey, I was very young!

In 2004 or 2005, I resurrected Easter and Echo for a new picture book for a final project in an early childhood education class. Perhaps someday I’ll go back to them again.

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903

Echo has the same meaning in Greek as in English. She was an Oreiad (mountain nymph) who lived on Mount Kithairon. Zeus, being Zeus, yet again couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up, and frequently sported with the Oreiads.

Hera, being Hera, got suspicious, and descended from Mt. Olympus to catch him in the act. Echo tried to protect Zeus, but instead became the latest target of Hera’s wrath. She was cursed with only being able to repeat the last few words spoken to her.

When hunter Narcisssus (Narkissos) was separated from his companions, he called, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated it, and the last few words of everything else he said, including “Enjoy my body.” She fell in instalove, but Narcissus didn’t reciprocate at all.

Narcissus wasted away before his own reflection in a pool, and after his death, Echo too wasted away. The only thing left of her was the sound of her voice.

Illustration of Echo from ballet Narcisse

Other names which mean “echo” include:

Unisex:

Heid, Heyd, or Hed (rhymes with “maid”) is Hebrew.

Heidi, Heydi, or Hedi (rhymes with “lady”) means “my echo” in Hebrew.

Hibiki is Japanese.

Kaiku is Finnish.

Naruki can mean “echo self,” “echo birth,” “echo life,” “echo princess,” “echo rejoice,” “echo hope,” “echo fundamentals,” “echo radiance,” and “echo tree” in Japanese (among many other things).

Rinon can mean “dignified echo,” “jasmine echo,” “village echo,” “refreshing echo,” and “Moon echo” in Japanese.

Ukyo can mean “right echo,” “house echo,” and “feathers echo” in Japanese.

 Female:

Dhwani is Sanskrit.

Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree echo” in Japanese.

Hikoro can mean “soul echo,” “heart echo,” and “mind echo” in Japanese.

Jehona is Albanian.

Kaja is Estonian. This isn’t to be confused with the Scandinavian nickname for Katarina, nor with the Polish and Slovenian form of Gaia or the Czech nickname for Karolína. The lattermost name is written as Kája.

Kikyo can mean “rare echo” and “echo chronicle” in Japanese.

Kyouko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Meisa can mean “echo sand,” “echo blossom,” “skillful echo,” “cherry blossom echo,” “colour echo,” “happiness echo,” “morning echo,” “echo shore,” “echo village,” and “echo assistant” in Japanese.

Noizu is Japanese.

Otoko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Otomi can mean “beautiful echo” in Japanese.

Seda is Turkish. This isn’t to be confused with the Armenian name Seda, which has an uncertain etymology.

Suna can mean “pleasing echo,” “child echo,” “water echo,” “island echo,” “sandbar echo,” “pure echo,” “green echo,” “lucidity echo,” and “whole echo” in Japanese.

Male:

Aidas is Lithuanian.

Aldonas may be derived from the Old Lithuanian aldėti (to echo, resound) and the patronymical suffix -onis.

Kyotaro can mean “eldest son’s echo,” “thick echo son,” and “thick, cheerful echo” in Japanese.

Kyouhei, or Kyohei, can mean “flat echo,” “echo warfare,” “echo soldier,” “echo design,” “echo pattern,” and “thirty-six square feet of echo” in Japanese.

Kyouki can mean “rare echo” and “echo hope” in Japanese.

Olan is Kurdish.

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.