The many forms of Ferdinand

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan, ca. 1480–1521

I’ve long been fond of the name Ferdinand, in all its many forms. It’s such a timeless classic, one of those names that used to be somewhat more popular but was never Top 100. Its highest rank in the U.S. to date was #242 in 1882. The name’s popularity moved up and down over the years, and dropped from the Top 400 in 1919. In 1931, it dropped from the Top 500.

Over time, the name continued to drop further and further, with a few short periods out of the Top 1000 entirely. To date, its last hurrah on the U.S. Top 1000 was 1971, at #984.

In France, Ferdinand enjoyed more past popularity, and stood at #59 in 1900. It left the Top 100 in 1929, crept back in the next year, and then fell out again. Its last year with a ranking was 1964, at #407.

In Switzerland, Ferdinand was #90 in 1925, and in the former Czechoslovakia, it was Top 100 from at least 1935–49. Its highest rank was #60 in 1941. In 1952, it left the Top 100.

Ferdinand is used in English, German, Dutch, French, Czech, and Slovenian. The alternate form Ferdinánd is Hungarian, and Ferdínand is Icelandic. It comes from an Ancient Germanic name derived from the roots farð (journey), frið (peace), or frith (protection), and nanth (daring, brave) or nand (prepared, ready). The original form may have been Frithunanths or Ferdinanths.

Fernando Pessoa, prolific Portuguese writer, 1888–1935

Other forms of the name include:

1. Fernand is French and modern Russian.

2. Ferdinando is Italian.

3. Fernando is Spanish and Portuguese. The Spanish nickname is Nando.

4. Fernão is Portuguese.

5. Ferdynand is Polish.

6. Ferran is Catalan. The alternate form Ferrán is Aragonese.

7. Hernando is Spanish. The nickname is Hernán.

8. Nándor is Hungarian.

9. Ferdinandas is Lithuanian.

10. Ferdinands is Latvian.

French composer Fernand Halphen, 1872–1917

11. Ferdinant is Breton.

12. Ferrand is Occitan and Provençal.

13. Fredenando is Basque.

14. Herran is Gascon.

15. Vêrtinât is Greenlandic.

Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria, 1825–1864

Feminine forms:

1. Fernanda is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

2. Ferdinanda is Italian and German.

3. Fernande is French.

4. Ferdinande is German and French.


The Fs of Medieval names


Freewill (English)


Fadrique (Spanish): Form of Frederick (peaceful ruler), from Ancient Germanic elements frid (peace) and ric (power, ruler).

Farraj (Moorish Arabic): “Jubilant, happy, joyous.”

Farulf (Scandinavian): Derived from the Ancient Germanic root fara (journey), Gothic root faran (to travel), or Langobardic fara (family, kind, line), and the Ancient Germanic root wulf (wolf). This is also the Old Swedish form of the Old Norse Farulfr, in which case it would be derived from Old West Norse root fara (to travel, go), and related to Old Icelandic far (passage, ship).

Fasti (Danish): Derived from Old Norse root fast (firmly, fast).

Fatherling (English)

Fellow (English)

Ferrand (French, Occitan, Provençal): Form of Ferdinand, which derives from an Ancient Germanic name with roots fardi (journey) and nand (brave, daring). The Medieval Italian, Spanish, and Aragonese form was Ferrando.

Filimor (Anglo–Norman): “Very famous,” from Ancient Germanic elements filu (very, much) and meri (famous).

Freidank (German): “Free thought,” from roots frei and dank.

Frienday (English)

Frosti (Danish): Derived from Old Norse root frost (which means the same as it does in English). This is the name of a dwarf in Norse mythology. The name is still used in modern Icelandic.


Falcona (Spanish): “Falcon,” from Old High German falco.

Faoiltighearna (Irish): “Wolf lady,” from roots faol and tighearna.

Fatyan (Moorish Arabic): “Seduction.”

Favia (Occitan)

Fazila (Arabic): “Generosity, grace

Fina (Occitan): Derived from Old French root fin (tender, delicate).

Fiva (Russian, Slavic): Form of Greek name Thebe.

Floria (English): Feminine form of Latin name Florius, which in turn derives from Florus (flower). The Medieval French form was Florie.

Frederuna (German): Older form of Friderun, derived from Old High German root fridu (peace) and Gothic root rûna (secret).

Fressenda (English): Older form of Frideswide, which descends from the Old English Friðuswiþ. Its roots are friþ (peace) and swiþ (strong).

Faunus and Frigg

Faunus is the horned Roman god of the forest, fields, and plains. He was called Inuus when he committed bestiality with cows. Though many people over the ages have considered him the Roman equivalent of Pan, many others have viewed them separately. The great poet Virgil, for instance, independently mentioned both Pan and Faunus in The Aeneid.

Faunus is the son of Picus, first King of Latium, and Canens, a nymph and the Divine personification of song. His paternal grandpap is Saturn (Kronos), and his maternal grandparents are Venilia (a goddess of the winds and sea) and Janus. Just like Pan was accompanied by many Paniskoi (little Pans), so too was Faunus accompanied by many Fauni. Hellenized Romans viewed these fauns as equivalent to the Greek satyrs, though the satyrs were followers of Dionysus, not Pan.

According to Virgil, Faunus came to Latium from Arcadia, bringing his people, and became a great king. His shade was called Fatuus, and consulted as a god of prophecy, complete with oracles, in the sacred grove of Tibur, on Aventine Hill in Rome, and around the well Albunea.

Scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro depicted these oracles in Saturnian verse when they were given orally. Other times, Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices transmitted to those who came to sleep within his precincts, on the fleeces of sacrificial lambs.

Faunus comes from the Proto–Indo–European word dhau-no, “the strangler,” which refers to the wolf, and the Daunians, an Iapygian  tribe who lived in pre-Rome Italy. Daunos in turn traces its linguistic origins to dhau, “to strangle.” This was an epithet for the wolf.

Frigg is the Norse goddess of wisdom and foreknowledge, and the wife of Odin. One of her children is Baldr, frequently viewed as a god of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, light, and purity. Frigg’s dwelling-place is Fensalir, a wetland. Even after Scandinavia was Christianised, Frigg continued to show up in folklore.

Frigg’s name is alternately recorded as Frea, Frige, and Frija. Some scholars believe she’s either one and the same as, or an aspect of, Fulla, a goddess traditionally considered to be Frigg’s sister. Additionally, a number of scholars also feel Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess.

Frigg is mentioned or featured in a number of Old Norse and Germanic poems, myths, folktales, and incantations. Among them are Lokasenna, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda cycle, in which Frigg gets into quite a fight with Loki after he accuses almost every woman by the feast of slutting it up; and Gylfaginning, another of the Poetic Edda. In the latter, Frigg plays perhaps her most important role.

Odin and Frigga, by Harry George Theaker

Baldr began having terrible dreams about his life being in danger, and told the other Æsir (the Old Norse pantheon of deities). They held a meeting and decided to “request immunity for Baldr from all kinds of danger.” Frigg got the elements (diseases, animals, the environment, stones, et al) to leave Baldr alone, but the Æsir began making fun of Baldr on account of his newborn invincibility.

Loki was particularly pissed, and, being a master trickster, went to Frigg in the form of a woman. Upon learning the other Æsir were shooting at Baldr, and that Baldr’s one weakness was mistletoe, Loki set off to kill him. He tricked Baldr’s blind brother Höðr into shooting Baldr. Everyone is overcome with grief, and Frigg’s son Hermóðr accepts her plea to go to Hel and bring Baldr back to Asgard. Sadly, Loki sabotages this rescue mission.

Frigg means “belovèd” in Old Norse, derived from the Proto–Indo–European pri, “to love.” The name of Friday comes from her name, since it means “Frigg’s day.” Today, the name Frigg is extremely rare in Scandinavia. Though it appears on the approved names list for Iceland, it’s not currently very popular there either.

Peace names

“Peace” is such a beautiful meaning for a name, and there are numerous names meaning “peace” in all sorts of languages. While the English name Peace might strike some as too hippyish or Pilgrimy, those same people might like other names with the same meaning. A lot of what appeals or doesn’t appeal to us in a name often comes down to what we’re used to. One era or culture’s outlandish name is another culture or era’s normal or beautiful.

For the sake of brevity, I won’t be including all the Slavic names with the -mir(a) element, since there are so many of them. Those merit their own post. Since mir also means “world,” their meanings can be read multiple ways.


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

Aştî is Kurdish.

Udo is Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and parts of Equatorial Guinea.

Mtendere is Chewa, another Bantu language. It’s spoken in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Emem is Ibibio, a language spoken in southern Nigeria.

Ning and Ping are Chinese.

Ufuoma is Urhobo, an Edoid language spoken in southern Nigeria.

Yasu is Japanese.

An is Vietnamese and Chinese.

Akpofure means “life is peaceful” in Urhobo.


Shalom is Hebrew.

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

Barış is Turkish.

Dietfried means “peace of the people” in German.

Fredenand means “brave peace” or “daring peace” in Ancient Germanic.

Frederick (one of my favoritest names!) is the English form of Friduric, a name meaning “peaceful ruler” in Germanic. Other forms of the name include Friedrich (German), Fryderyk (Polish), Frigyes (Hungarian), Frederik (Danish and Dutch), Frédéric (French), Fredrik (Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish), Friderik (Slovenian), Federigo (Italian), Federico (Spanish), Frederico (Portuguese), Fricis (Latvian), and Friðrik (Icelandic). The German name Friedhold has the same meaning.

Fridenot is Ancient Germanic for “need peace.”

Fridumar is Ancient Germanic for “famous peace.”

Manfred is a German, Dutch, and Polish name composed of the elements “strength” and “peace.”

Wilfred is an English name meaning “desiring peace,” from Old English origins.

Xolani is Zulu.


Enkhtuya means “ray of peace” in Mongolian.

Enkhjargal means “peace blessing” in Mongolian.

Irene is an English name which comes from the original Greek Eirene, the goddess of peace. Other forms are Irène (French), Irén (Hungarian), Irena (Polish, Croatian, Lithuanian, Czech, Dutch, Serbian, Slovenian), Irina (Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Macedonian, Romanian, Finnish), and Iryna (Ukrainian). While I know this name was most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I’ve never considered it dated like some people do. It’s consistently been in the Top 1000, and has never gone lower than #695 in 2010.

Mirembe is Luganda, a language spoken in Uganda.

Pacífica means “peacemaker” in Spanish.

Pax is Latin, after the goddess of peace.

Paz is Spanish.

Rauha is Finnish.

Sakina means both “calmness” and “peace” in Arabic.

Salome is an English name derived from the Hebrew word shalom. Other forms are Salomé (French, Portuguese, Spanish) and Salomea (Polish). Though many people associate this name with the daughter of King Herod who asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, no name is actually given in the Bible itself. It was the historian Josephus who named her as Salome, and many modern-day scholars believe much of Josephus’s writings were politically motivated instead of entirely factually accurate.

Shanti is Sanskrit.

Shlomit and Shulamit mean “peaceful” in Hebrew.

Yên means “calm” and “peaceful” in Vietnamese.

Francesca and Frederick


Francesca da Rimini, by William Dyce

Francesca da Rimini (1255–85) appears in Canto V of The Divine Comedy, as she tells Dante her tragic story. She and her lover Paolo Malatesta are condemned to the Second Circle of Hell, for carnal sinners.

Francesca was the daughter of Guido I da Polenta of Ravenna, who forced her to marry Giovanni Malatesta for political reasons. Their families had been at war, and Guido felt this marriage would solidify the peace which had recently been negotiated. After Francesca moved to Rimini upon marriage, she fell in love with Giovanni’s younger brother Paolo, who was also married.

Francesca and Paolo carried on a love affair for ten years, until Giovanni discovered what was going on somewhere between 1283–86, though probably about 1285. Giovanni surprised the couple in Francesca’s bedroom and murdered them both. Over the years, many legends about them sprung up. In Dante’s imagining of Hell, they’re trapped in an eternal whirlwind, symbolic of the passion they were swept away by. Dante is so moved by their story, he faints.

Francesca is the Italian and Catalan feminine form of the Late Latin name Franciscus (Francis), which means “Frenchman.”

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (26 December 1194–13 December 1250)

Three Emperor Fredericks feature in The Divine Comedy—Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick Barbarossa) (1122–10 June 1190); Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor; and King Frederick III of Sicily (13 December 1272–25 June 1337).

Frederick is the English version of a Germanic name meaning “peaceful ruler,” from the elements frid (peace) and ric (ruler; power). I’ve always absolutely loved this name, and all the foreign versions—Friedrich, Frederik, Frédéric, Fredrik, Federigo, Frigyes, Fredrikh, Fryderyk, Friderik. I’m particularly fond of the nicknames Fritz and Freddie, though the nickname Fred feels kind of dated.

There have been so many awesome Fredericks through history (with the name’s various forms), from all sort of fields—politics, philosophy, music, kings, emperors, science. As a classic rock lover, there’s also the association with Freddie Mercury, who still sang like a god as he was dying. (And yes, I know his real name was Farrokh, not Frederick!)