The Gs of Estonian names

Female:

Gaidi means “wait.” The similar name Gaida means “waiting.”

Gerda is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and means “enclosure.” Gerd was a fertility goddess.

Gertrud is borrowed from German, and means “spear of strength.”

Gertu may be a nickname for Margit (pearl), now used as an independent name.

Gisela is borrowed from German, and means “pledge, hostage.”

Gita is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and originated as a nickname for Birgitta, which is either a form of Bridget (exalted one) or female form of Birger (help, rescue, save).

Male:

Gennadi is borrowed from the Russian name Gennadiy, and ultimately derives from Greek name Gennadios (generous, noble). It was #98 in Estonia as of 2018.

German (pronounced with a hard G) is borrowed from Russian, and derives from Latin name Germanus (brother).

Gleb is borrowed from Russian and in turn derives from Old Norse Guðleifr (God’s heir).

Grigori is borrowed from the Russian name Grigoriy and ultimately derives from the Greek name Gregorios (alert, watchful).

Gunnar is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and means “war warrior.” This is a cognate of Günther.

Gustav is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages and German. It either comes from Old Norse name Gautstafr (staff of the Goths) or Slavic name Gostislav (glorious guest).

Cornwall’s most popular export

William Morris painting of legendary Queen Guinevere, 1858

Being the age I am, every other woman within ten years of my age either way is named Jennifer in the Anglophone world. Though my personal tastes strongly tend towards classical eccentric and classical unusual, I’ve always had fond feelings for Jennifer. I can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known, and I’ve encountered quite a few over forty years!

Jennifer is the Cornish form of the Welsh Gwenhwyfar (white phantom), which derives from Old Celtic roots •windos (white, fair, blessed) and *sebros (magical being, phantom). Almost everyone is familiar with Norman–French form Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Though they sound nothing alike, the Old Irish form is Findabair (Fionnabhair in modern Irish).

It’s just a coincidence that Jennifer sounds very similar to Juniper. The names have completely different etymologies.

U.S. actor Jennifer Jones (1919–2009) in 1953

Jennifer was extremely rare outside of Cornwall before the 18th century, and only began gaining in recognition and popularity in 1906, when Sir George Bernard Shaw used it as the name of the female protagonist in the play The Doctor’s Dilemma. In 1934, it entered the Top 100 in England and Wales. It attained its highest rank of #11 there in 1984, and stayed in their Top 100 till 2005.

Jennifer entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 1938, at #992. It jumped to #891 the next year, then #686, #604, #527, #397, #263, #199, #156. Its big leaps in popularity during the 1940s were likely strongly influenced by the above-pictured Jennifer Jones. The name continued gaining in popularity, and entered the Top 100 in 1956 at #97.

By 1965, Jennifer was #20, and it was #10 the next two years. It then rose to #4 and #3 before landing at #1 in 1970, a position it occupied till 1984. Jennifer stayed in the Top 10 till 1991, the Top 20 till 1998, and the Top 100 till 2008. In 2018, it was #344.

It’s common knowledge that Jennifer got its biggest boost of popularity thanks to the 1970 novel and film Love Story (with the hideous catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”).

A suggested reason it remained on the chart so long past that film is that it was the first love story with a tragic ending many young women saw, and it remained with them all those years. When they had daughters, Jennifer was the natural choice. For similar reasons, the oversaturated Madison is still hanging around the Top 100 years after 1984’s Splash!

Jennifer remained #1 in Delaware, Massachusetts, and Illinois till 1985. Tellingly, its immediate replacement on the overall chart was Jessica. Parents tired of Jennifer turned to a name with a fairly similar sound, just as Emily was replaced by Emma, Madeline overtook Madison, and Amelia replaced Emma. The original names never stopped being widely-used, but many people desired a close-enough substitute.

Italian aristocrat Ginevra de’ Benci (1457–1521), painted ca. 1474–78 by Leonardo da Vinci

Other forms of this hugely popular name include:

1. Guenièvre is French.

2. Ginevra is Italian and Portuguese.

3. Yenifer is Latin American–Spanish.

4. Jenifer is Spanish, Cornish, and English.

5. Jenefer is another Cornish variation.

6. Gwenivar is Breton.

7. Ginebra is Catalan.

8. Ginewra is Polish.

9. Gvinevra is Russian. Not a name that translates well into this language!

10. Xenebra, or Xenevra, is Galician.

U.S. socialite Ginevra King, 1898–1980

11. Gaenor, or Gaynor, is Welsh.

12. Dzsenifer is Hungarian. Also not a language that’s naturally suited to translating this name as-is.

13. Gkouinevir is Greek. What I said about Hungarian and Russian.

14. Dženifera is Latvian. Not exactly fond of this form either.

15. Gennifer is English.

16. Ginnifer, or Ginifer, is English.

17. Jeniffer is a rare Scandinavian form.

18. Jennifera is a rare English form.

19. Llénifer is a rare Spanish form.

Jasmine names

The English flower name Jasmine derives from Persian yasamin, and entered the language via Old French. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1973, at #856, and shot up the charts with alacrity. Jasmine entered the Top 100 in 1986 and rose to its highest rank of #23 in 1993 and 1994. It stayed in the Top 30 from 1989–2006, then slowly began descending. In 2018, it was #136.

The name also enjoys popularity in New Zealand (#82), England and Wales (#75), and Italy (#105).

Variants include:

1. Gelsomina is Italian.

2. Jasmina is Serbian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Jasmína is Czech; Jaśmina is Polish; and Jasmīna is Latvian.

3. Jázmin is Hungarian.

4. Jasmin is German and Finnish. Jasmîn is Norman.

5. Jessamine is a rare English form.

6. Yasmin is Arabic and Urdu.

7. Yasmina is Arabic.

8. Yasmine is Arabic and French.

9. Yasmeen is Arabic and Urdu.

10. Yasamin is Persian.

11. Yasaman is also Persian.

12. Jasmijn is Dutch.

13. Iasmina is Romanian.

14. Iasmine is Greek.

15. Jaminka is Vlach.

16. Jasmiin is Estonian.

17. Jessamy is an older English form.

18. Jessima is an archaic English form.

19. Gessamí is Catalan.

20. Yesmine is Armenian.

21. Xasmina is Galician.

22. Giasemi, or Yiasemi, is Greek.

23. Zhasmin is Kazakh.

Other names whose meanings relate to the word “jasmine” include:

Unisex:

Amane can mean “imperial jasmine hope,” “my jasmine summit,” and “affection jasmine sound” in Japanese, among many other kanji permutations. As much as I love Japanese names, sorting through all these possible meanings gives me a headache!

Hijiri can mean “holy jasmine” in Japanese.

Jumi means “jasmine” in Bengali.

Katori can mean “beautiful/good person of white jasmine” in Japanese.

Mafuyu can mean “jasmine linen friend,” “jasmine air tenderness,” and “jasmine winter” in Japanese.

Matsuki can mean “jasmine moon tree,” “jasmine moon tortoise,” “jasmine haven measure,” and “jasmine moon atmosphere” in Japanese.

Parijat derives from Sanskrit parijata, which refers to several plants including night jasmine.

Rinon can mean “jasmine warmth,” “jasmine dream,” and “jasmine hope” in Japanese.

Shima can mean “determination, ambition, aspiration, will, purpose” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Yuriya can mean “healing white jasmine night” in Japanese.

Male:

Ikuma can mean “lively jasmine” and “genuine jasmine” in Japanese.

Maya can mean “jasmine colour,” “jasmine valley,” “jasmine sunshine,” and “jasmine design” in Japanese. I obviously wouldn’t recommend this in a country where Maya/Maja is a female name.

Rihito can mean “jasmine fire person,” “jasmine light metropolis,” “jasmine history,” and “jasmine beauty” in Japanese.

Female:

Aguri can mean “Asia, come after, rank next” with “long time” and “jasmine” in Japanese. As a male or unisex name, other kanji may be used.

Airi can mean “love, affection” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Akari can mean “bright white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amari can mean “sky, heaven” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amiri can mean “second, Asia” combined with “beautiful” and “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Bibisuman means “mother, authoritative woman, learnèd woman” combined with “jasmine” in Uzbek.

Chameli is the Hindu name for various jasmine flowers.

Gulsuman means “jasmine flower” in Uzbek.

Hasmik means “jasmine” in Armenian. Another form is Asmik.

Hima can mean “the Sun” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Himari can mean “day, sun” combined with “jasmine plant” in Japanese.

Hirari can mean “sky orchid white jasmine” in Japanese.

Hirori can mean “expand white jasmine” in Japanese.

Irodori can mean “white jasmine colour” in Japanese.

Kannika means “night jasmine” in Thai.

Kharasvara means “wild jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Kiria can mean “tree, plant” combined with “white jasmine” and “love, affection” in Japanese.

Kokori can mean “mind, soul, heart” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Luli means “dewy jasmine” in Chinese.

Maeko can mean “white jasmine glory child” in Japanese.

Mahana can mean “jasmine flower” in Japanese.

Maladee means “jasmine” in Thai.

Malati means “jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Melati means “jasmine flower” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Melur also means “jasmine” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Ratree means “night jasmine” in Thai. Unfortunately, it might not be a good idea in an Anglophone country.

Riko can mean “white jasmine child” in Japanese.

Rina can mean “white jasmine” combined with “vegetables, greens” or a phonetic character in Japanese. This is a completely separate name from other languages’ Rinas.

Rio can mean “white jasmine thread,” “white jasmine cherry blossom,” and “white jasmine centre” in Japanese.

Sabai means “jasmine” in Burmese.

Sampaguita means “jasmine” in Filipino. Jasmine is the national flower of The Philippines.

Vasantamallika means “spring jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Xewali means “jasmine” in Assamese, the easternmost Indo–European language, spoken in India.

Masked names

Continuing the Halloween theme for October, here are some names related to the word “mask.” Almost all of them are Ancient Germanic or Old Norse in origin, and thus not so realistic for a modern, real person. Unless otherwise specified, all these names are male.

Adalgrim means “noble mask,” from Old High German adal (noble) and Old Norse grîma (mask).

Aldgrim means “old mask,” from Gothic alds and Old High German alt (old) and Old Norse grîma. This name may also be an alternate form of Adalgrim.

Alfgrim is a Middle English and German name meaning “elf mask,” from roots alf and grim.

Arngrímr comes from Old Norse ǫrn (eagle) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Ásgrímr comes from Old Norse áss (god) and grímr.

Aurgrímnir comes from Old Norse aur (clay, sand) and grímr or grimmr (grim). This is the name of a jötunn, a type of otherworldly creature in Norse mythology.

Auðgrímr comes from Old Norse auðr (riches, fortune, prosperity) and grímr.

Biligrim comes from Ancient Germanic bili (gentleness) and Old Norse grímr.

Ebergrim comes from Old High German ebur (wild boar) and Old Norse gríma (mask).

Edlgrímr comes from Old Norse eldr (fire) and gríma.

Frotgrim comes from Old High German frôd (cautious, prudent) and Old Norse gríma.

Grímr is the Anglo–Saxon, Old Swedish, Old Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish form of Grímr (mask, helmet), which was popular till the 12th century. This is also another name for the god Odin.

Grimbald comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German bald (brave, bold).

Grimbert comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German beraht (bright).

Grimburg comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German burg (fortress), or Gothic bairgan and Old High German bergan (to preserve, save, keep).

Grimfrid comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German fridu (peace).

Grimhard comes from Old Norse grîma, and Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (hardy, brave).

Grímheiður is Icelandic, derived from roots grímr (person wearing a mask) and heiðr (bright, cloudless, clear).

Grimland comes from Old Norse grîma and land (land).

Grímr means “masked person” or “shape-changer” in Old Norse, from gríma (mask, helmet). Since this was also a name for Odin, it may have been given to human boys in the hopes they’d walk through life with Odin’s protection.

Grimulf comes from Old Norse grîma and Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Grímúlfur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse grim (mask, helmet) and ulfr (wolf).

Grimward comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German wart (guard).

Grimwald derives from Ancient Germanic grim (mask) and walk (power, ruler, leader).

Hadegrim comes from Old High German hadu (battle) and Old Norse grîma.

Hafgrímr comes from Old Norse haf (ocean, sea) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hallgrímr comes from Old Norse elements hallr (rock) and grîma.

Hardgrim comes from Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (brave, hardy), and Old Norse grîma.

Hildegrim comes from Old Norse hildr (battle) and grîma.

Hildigrímr comes from Old Norse hildr and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hólmgrímr is an Icelandic name formed from holmr (small island) and grímr.

Hrafngrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse hrafn (raven) and grim (mask, helmet).

Isangrim comes from Ancient Germanic isan (iron) and Old Norse grîma.

Isgrim comes from Ancient Germanic îs (ice) and Old Norse grîma.

Járngrímur is an Icelandic name formed from jarn (iron) and grímr.

Jógrímr comes from Old Norse iór (horse) and grímr.

Kolgrímur is Icelandic and Faroese, derived from Old Norse kolr (black, coal, dark) and grim (mask, helmet).

Kriemhild (F) derives from Ancient Germanic grim and hild (battle). This name is famous as a character in the Nibelungenleid saga.

Landgrim comes from Ancient Germanic land and Old Norse grîma.

Liutgrim comes from Old High German liut (people) and Old Norse grîma.

Madalgrim comes from Gothic mathi (meeting place) and Old Norse grîma.

Margrímur is an Icelandic name derived from marr (ocean, sea, lake) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Menkao (F) can be derived from Japanese elements men (mask) and kao (face).

Moye derives from Chinese elements mo (mask) and ye (deed, job, occupation, karma).

Radgrim comes from Old High German rât (counsel) and Old Norse grîma.

Rotgrim comes from Ancient Germanic hróthi (fame) and Old Norse grîma.

Sigurgrímur is an Icelandic name formed from sigr (victory) and grímr.

Skallagrímr comes from Old Norse skalli (bald head) and grímr.

Stafngrímr derives from Ancient Germanic stafn (stern/prow of a ship) and grímr.

Steingrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse steinn (stone) and grímr.

Tegrimo may be a nickname for Teudegrimo, the Italian form of an Ancient Germanic name derived from þeud (people) and grim.

Thancgrim comes from Ancient Germanic thanc and Old High German dankjan (to think) or dank (thanks), and Old Norse grîma.

Theudegrim comes from Ancient Germanic þeud and Old Norse grîma.

Þórgrímr comes from Thor/Þórr (thunder) and grímr. The modern Norwegian form is Torgrim.

Víggrímur is a Faroese name derived from víg (battle, fight) and grímr.

Walagrim comes from Old High German walah (traveller, wanderer, foreigner) and Old Norse grîma.

Waldgrim derives from Gothic valdan (to reign) and Old Norse grîma.

Wilgrim comes from Gothic vilja (desire, will) and Old Norse grîma.

Male names of literary origin, G-M

FYI: If you’re wondering why I’ve barely mentioned any Arthurian names in this series, it’s because I’m saving them for a future post on that subject only.

Sorry I couldn’t find a bigger pool of names! The relative dearth of literary male vs. female names is evidence of how, until fairly recently, people generally have been more creative with female names.

U.S. comedic actor Buster Keaton as Hamlet, 1922

Gareth first appeared in Thomas Malory’s 15th century collection of Arthurian legends, Le Morte d’Arthur. It’s based on Gahariet, the name of a similar Knight of the Round Table in French legends. This name, like many others in those stories, may also have a Welsh origin. If so, it may be derived from gwaredd (gentleness).

Gavroche was created by Victor Hugo for a character in Les Misérables (1862). Because of the fictional Gavroche, this has become slang for “street urchin” and “mischievous child.”

Goldmund is one of two title characters of Swiss-German writer Hermann Hesse’s amazing 1930 novel Narcissus and Goldmund. It’s meant to mean “gold mouth,” from German gold and mund, but it can also mean “golden protection.” Mund means “mouth” in modern German, but “protection” in Old High German.

Hamlet is an Anglicised form of Danish name Amleth, famously created for Shakespeare’s 1600 play of the same name. For whatever reason, this name is also used in Armenian.

Hareton may have been created by Emily Brontë for a character in her 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. It may also derive from an English place name meaning “hare town.”

Heathcliff was invented for the male protagonist of Wuthering Heights, and has the self-explanatory meaning “from the heath cliff” or “from the cliff with heath.” A heath is a shrubland with low-growing, open, woody plant life, mostly in acidic soils.

Sir Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights (1939)

Indulis started as a diminutive of Latvian name Indriķis (home ruler; i.e., Henry), but is now given as a full name in its own right. Playwright and poet Rainis (a pseudonym of Jānis Pliekšāns) used it on one of the title characters of his 1911 play Indulis un Ārija.

Keimo was invented by legendary Finnish writer Aleksis Kivi in the 19th century, inspired by the village of Keimola.

Kordian is the protagonist of Polish writer Juliusz Słowacki’s famous 1833 play. I’m going to give this name to a till-now minor background character who’s soon to become an important secondary character, and also gave it as a middle name to another character. It’s derived from the Latin cordis (heart). This name is so romantic and beautiful!

Lesław was created by Polish writer Roman Zmorski for his 1847 poetic novel of the same name, derived from Lech (the legendary founder of the Polish nation) and the root sław (glory).

Lestat was created by Anne Rice for a character in her Vampire Chronicles series, which débuted in 1976. She may have intended it to look derived from Occitan or Old French l’estat (the status, state), though Lestat’s name was originally Lestan, in honour of her husband Stan. While writing the first book, she accidentally wrote the name wrong, and only noticed later.

U.S. President Andrew Johnson (left) as Mercutio, 1868 political cartoon by Alfred Waud

Malvolio means “ill will” in Italian. It was created by Shakespeare for a character in his 1602 play Twelfth Night.

Marganore was invented by Italian writer Ludovico Ariosto for his 1516 poem Orlando Furioso (published in its complete form in 1532). Fittingly, since it belongs to a tyrant, the name derives from Greek words margaino (to rage, to be mad) and anor (man). Thus, it means “madman.”

Mercutio is a diminutive of Mercury, probably ultimately from Latin mercari (to trade) or merces (wages). Shakespeare used it for a character in Romeo and Juliet (1596).