The many forms of Mary, and its plethora of nicknames

The Umileniye (Tenderness) ikon, believed to show Mary at the moment of the Annunciation, before which the popular St. Serafim of Sarov, Russia was fond of praying

Mary, the #1 female name in the U.S. from 1880–1946, #2 from 1947–52, #1 again from 1953–61, #2 again from 1962–65, in the Top 10 until 1971, and in the Top 20 until 1975, now positively feels like a breath of fresh air and an original choice after falling to #127.

This historically most common of all female names, across many languages, likewise was #1 for many years in Canada and other parts of the Anglophone world, but has now either fallen off the charts or diminished greatly in popularity.

Mary is to older generations what Jennifer is to my generation—you’ve known too many to count, since the name was so ubiquitous. (On a side note, I honestly can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known or known of. I have universally good associations with the name.)

This name has such a sweet simplicity, works well on all ages, and isn’t associated with just one type of girl or woman. It’s a truly timeless classic, borne by so many incredible women throughout history. Though I’m not Christian, I also find the image of Mary as a loving, universal mother figure very touching.

Mary Pickford, one of my favourite female actors of the silent era, and one of the most powerful women in Hollywood in her day

Other forms of this venerable name include:

1. Maria is German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Catalan, Occitan, Dutch, Faroese, Basque, Sardinian, Corsican, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, Greek, Frisian, and English. Nicknames include Mitzi, Mia, Ria, Marita, Maja, Mariele, Meike, Mareike (German); Mariella, Marietta, Mimi (Italian); Mariona, Ona (Catalan); Mariazinha (Portuguese); Marzena, Maja, Marylka, Marika, Mania, Marysia, Marynia (Polish); Majken, Mia, My, Maja, Maiken (Scandinavian); Maike, Mareike (Frisian); Miep, Mies, Mieke, Ria, Mia, Meike, Marita, Mariska, Marike, Maaike, Marieke, Marijke, Mariëlle, Mariëtte (Dutch); Marietta, Marika (Greek); Marjatta, Maritta, Marika, Marita, Maarika, Marjukka, Marjut (Finnish); and Maia (Basque).

The alternate form María is Icelandic (nickname Mæja), Spanish (nicknames Marita, Maritza), and Galician (nickname Maruxa). Mária is Hungarian (nicknames Mariska, Marika, Marietta, Mari, Marica) and Slovak (nicknames Maja, Marika).

2. Marie is French and Czech. The Czech name pronounces the last two letters separately instead of as one. Nicknames include Marise, Manon, Marielle, Mariette, Marion (French) and Maja, Marika, Madlenka, Maruška, Mařenka, Majka, Máňa, Mánička, Márinka (Czech).

The awesome Queen Marie of Romania

3. Mariya is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian. Nicknames include Manya, Masha, Marusya, Manyechka, Manyenka, Marusha, and Mashenka.

4. Mari is Breton, Welsh, Finnish, Estonian, and Scandinavian. Estonian nicknames include Maarika, Marika, and Mare.

5. Miriam is the original Hebrew form.

6. Mirjam is Hungarian, Dutch, German, Slovenian, Estonian, and Finnish. Nicknames include Miri (Hungarian) and Jaana, Mirja (Finnish).

7. Mariam is Armenian and Georgian.

8. Maryam is Arabic and Persian.

9. Mariami is Georgian.

10. Maryya is Belarusian.

Empress Maria Theresa

11, Meryem is Uyghur and Turkish.

12. Maryamu is Hausa, a Chadic language spoken in much of Western Africa.

13. Marja is Sorbian, Finnish, and Dutch. The alternate form Márjá is Sami.

14. Marija is Latvian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Mojca, Marica, Maja, Maša, and Mare.

15. Mele is Hawaiian and Samoan.

16. Mere is Maori.

17. Moirrey is Manx.

18. Màiri is Scottish.

19. Mair is Welsh.

20. Máire is Irish. Nicknames include Máirin and Mairenn.

Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna of Russia, third daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Aleksandra

21. Miren is Basque.

22. Maarja is Estonian.

23. Malia is Hawaiian.

24. Mirjami is Finnish.

25. Marij is West Frisian and Dutch.

26. Miriama is Fijian and Maori.

27. Mareia is Romansh.

28. Mariamu is Swahili.

29. Maryat is Chechen.

30. Maryja is Vilamovian.

The many Emil- names

Armenian–Austrian mathematician Emil Artin

The Roman family name Aemilius, derived from the Latin word aemulus (rival), has given rise to a number of both feminine and masculine names commonly used in the Indo–European and Finno–Ugric languages. While researching this post, I discovered far more forms of these names than I’d expected to.

Female:

1. Emily is English. It only came into widespread use after Germany’s House of Hanover rose to the British throne in the 18th century. Princess Amelia Sophia was usually called Emily in English, though Amelia is etymologically unrelated. The name was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1880–99, ducked back in from 1901–02 and 1913–16, and then began sinking in popularity.

During the Sixties, it began jumping up the charts, and landed at #1 in 1996. It was dethroned by Emma in 2008, though it’s still in the Top 10. It’s #1 in Ireland and Northern Ireland; #2 in Scotland; #3 in Canada and England and Wales; and #7 in Australia and New Zealand. The name has also become popular in countries where it’s not a traditional name in the national language, such as Chile, The Netherlands, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

U.S. poet Emily Dickinson

2. Emilia is Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, and English. It’s #102 in the U.S., and rising fast as the next replacement for Emily and Emma. The alternate form Emília is Hungarian, Slovak, and Portuguese. Emilía is Icelandic.

3. Emilie is German and Scandinavian. This was the name of Oskar Schindler’s wife. The alternate form Émilie is French, and Emílie is Czech.

4. Emilija is Slovenian, Macedonian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Emīlija is Latvian.

5. Emiliya is Russian and Bulgarian.

6. Emiliana is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. The alternate form Emilíana is Icelandic.

7. Émilienne is French.

8. Eimíle is Irish.

9. Aimel is Manx.

10. Emere is Maori.

11. Emilinia is Filipino.

12. Emilene is Basque.

13. Emilijana is Serbian and Croatian.

14. Emille is a rare Basque form.

15. Imîlia is Greenlandic.

16. Aimilia is Greek.

Polish soldier and national shero Emilia Gierczak, 25 February 1925–17 March 1945

Male:

1. Emil is German, Scandinavian, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Romanian, Czech, Bulgarian, Slovak, Hungarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Icelandic, English, Arabic, Azeri,  and Croatian. The name is #5 in Norway, and #4 in Denmark.

2. Émile is French.

3. Emīls is Latvian.

4. Emilis is Lithuanian.

5. Emilio is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

6. Emiel is Dutch.

7. Emilios is Greek.

8. Aimilios is also Greek.

9. Eemil is Finnish.

10. Eemili is also Finnish.

11. Emilli is Basque.

12. Emili is Catalan.

13. Émilien is French.

14. Emiliano is Italian and Spanish.

15. Emilian is Romanian.

French writer Émile Zola

16. Yemelyan is Russian.

17. Omelyan is Ukrainian.

18. Emilijus is Lithuanian.

19. Emilius is the official Dutch form.

20. Emiliy is Russian.

21. Emeliane is Georgian.

22. Emilianus is another official Dutch form.

23. Emilijan is Serbian and Croatian.

24. Emiliyan is Bulgarian.

25. Emiljano is Albanian.

All about the name John

In honour of John Lennon’s 37th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I felt it would be fitting to do a post about this most historically common of all male names, in just about every single language.

John comes from the Hebrew Yochanan, which means “God is gracious.” Its massive popularity over the ages originated thanks to John the Baptist and John the Apostle (traditionally-attributed author of the fourth Gospel and Book of Revelations).

Initially, the name was more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it took off like wildfire in the West after the First Crusade. It was particularly popular in England, where roughly a fifth of all boys received this name during the Late Middle Ages.

U.S. President John Quincy Adams, 11 July 1767–23 February 1848

Over the centuries, the name John, in all its linguistic variations, has been borne by countless writers, musicians, artists, scientists, philosophers, emperors, kings, popes, military leaders, politicians, and countless other types of people.

John was #1 in the U.S. from 1880–1923, and remained in the Top 5 until 1972. It was in the Top 10 until 1986, and the Top 20 until 2008. As of 2016, it was #28, a rank it previously held in 2012. The name has never charted any lower than this, though it feels like a breath of fresh air and original choice these days.

English poet John Keats, as painted by William Hilton, Halloween 1795–23 February 1821

Though it’s been a good many years since John was as common and popular as it once was, its continued presence in the Top 30 is a credit to its enduring appeal. It also still enjoys respectable popularity in Ireland (#28), Northern Ireland (#44), Scotland (#56), Canada (also #56), New Zealand (#85), Sweden (#87), Australia (#97), and England and Wales (#120).

John also used to be very popular in Norway, with a high rank of #10 in 1947. It fluctuated in popularity over the years, fell off the Top 100 in 2003, came back the next year, and then fell off again.

King John of England, 24 December 1166–19 October 1216, painted by Matthew Paris

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ivan is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, Belarusian, Bosnian, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. The variation Iván is Spanish and Hungarian. The proper pronunciation, Ee-VAHN, is so beautiful, but the Anglo EYE-vinn just throws this gorgeous name away.

Nicknames include Vanya, Vanyechka, Vanyushka, Vanyusha, Vanyushechka, and Ivanko (Russian); Ivo, Vancho, Yanko (Bulgarian); Ivica, Ivo (Serbian and Croatian); and Vančo, Ivo (Macedonian).

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, my fourth-favourite writer, 28 October/9 November 1818–3 September 1883

2. Ioann is the older Russian form.

3. Iwan is Polish and Welsh. The Polish one pronounces the W like a V.

4. Ivane is Georgian. The nickname is Vano.

5. Ioane is the older Georgian form.

6. Giannis is modern Greek.

7. Giovanni is Italian. Nicknames include Gianni, Gian, Vanni, and Giannino.

8. Gjon is Albanian.

9. Ion is Romanian and Basque. Romanian nicknames include Iancu, Ionuţ, Ionel, and Nelu.

10. Jon is Basque and Scandinavian. The variation Jón is Icelandic and Faroese. This is #4 in Iceland.

11. Ioan is Welsh and Romanian.

12. Joan is Catalan and Occitan.

13. Ganix is Basque.

14. João is Portuguese. This name is #2 in Portugal.

15. Yoan is Bulgarian.

Giovanni Boccaccio, author of The Decameron, 16 June 1313–21 December 1375, engraved 1822 by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen in the style of Vincenzo Gozzini

16. Jowan is Cornish.

17. Yahya is Persian, Arabic, and Turkish.

18. Janusz is Polish. One of the nicknames is Janek.

19. Johan is Dutch and Scandinavian. Nicknames include Hans, Hannes, Janne (Swedish); Hanke, Hanne, Hannes, Hans, Joop, Jo (Dutch); Jannik, Jannick, Hans (Danish); and Hans (Norwegian).

20. Jens is Scandinavian.

21. Jan is Scandinavian, Dutch, Catalan, Czech, Slovenian, German, and Polish. The variation Ján is Slovak, with the nickname Janko.

22. Yann is Breton, with the nickname Yannig.

23. Johann is German, with the familiar nickname Hans. The variation Jóhann is Icelandic.

24. Johannes is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Estonian, and Finnish. The variant Jóhannes is Icelandic and Faroese.

25. Juhan is Estonian. The alternate form Juhán is Northern Sami.

German scientist and mathematician Johannes Kepler, 27 December 1571–15 November 1630

26. Juanne is Sardinian.

27. Giuanne is also Sardinian.

28. Yohanes is Indonesian.

29. Hovhannes is Armenian. Nicknames include Hovik and Hovo.

30. Ohannes is also Armenian.

31. Ghjuvan is Corsican.

32. Ean is Manx.

33. Juan is Spanish and Manx, with different pronunciations.

34. Xuan is Asturian.

35. Jaan is Estonian.

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, 21/31 March 1685–28 July 1750, painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

36. Jean is French.

37. János is Hungarian, with nicknames including Jani and Jancsi.

38. Juhana is Finnish, with nicknames including Juho, Juha, Jussi, Jukka, Hannes, and Hannu.

39. Janne is also Finnish.

40. Joni is Finnish and Fijian.

41. Jani is also Finnish.

42. Juhani is another Finnish form.

43. Jouni is also Finnish.

44. Johano is Esperanto, with the nickname Joĉjo.

45. Yan is Belarusian.

French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 28 June 1712–2 July 1778, painted by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

46. Yann is Breton and French.

47. Jovan is Macedonian and Serbian.

48. Xoán is Galician.

49. Jóannes is Faroese.

50. Keoni is Hawaiian.

51. Jānis is Latvian.

52. Jonas is Lithuanian.

53. Sjang is Limburgish.

54. Sjeng is also Limburgish.

55. Chuan is Aragonese.

Spanish artist Joan Miró, 20 April 1893–25 December 1983

56. Gensch is Sorbian.

57. Ghjuvanni is Corsican.

58. Gian is Romansh and Swiss–German.

59. Gioann is Piedmontese.

60. Ġwann is Maltese.

61. Hoani is Maori.

62. Hone is also Maori.

63. Jardani is Caló Romany.

64. Jeian is Filipino.

65. Sione is Tongan.

Romanian writer Ion Creangă, 1837/39–31 December 1889

66. Tihoti is Tahitian.

67. Xán is Galician.

68. Yehya is Uyghur.

69. Yohana is Swahili.

70. Yohannes is Amharic.

71. Jaqiya is Kazakh.

72. Iefan is Welsh. The more familiar Anglicization is Evan.

73. Ifan is also Welsh, with the nickname Ianto.

74. Ioannis is modern Greek.

75. Eoin is Scottish and Irish.

Polish sci-fi writer Janusz Andrzej Zajgel, 15 August 1938–19 July 1985

76. Seán is Irish.

77. Iain is Scottish.

78. Ian is also Scottish.

79. Siôn is Welsh.

80. Yoann is Breton and French.

81. Giuàn is Lombard.

82. Giuvanni is Sicilian.

83. Yovaan is Tamil.

84. Hankin is a Medieval English nickname.

85. Jankin is another Medieval English nickname.

86. Jackin is a variation of Jankin, and the origin of the nickname Jack.

The many forms of Patrick and Patricia

Though I don’t have a pleasant association with St. Patrick’s Day, owing to that being my uncle’s Jahrzeit (death anniversary), it’s only appropriate to mark the holiday with a post about the names Patrick and Patricia.

Patrick is an English, Anglicized Irish, German, and French name. It comes from the Latin name Patricius, which means “nobleman.” In the 5th century, a Romanized Briton named Sucat adopted the name Patrick. In his youth, he was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders, and escaped after six years. He later became a bishop, and is traditionally considered to be the one who Christianized Ireland. He’s also Ireland’s patron saint.

Though the name Patrick was used in England and continental Europe during the Middle Ages, it wasn’t typically used in Ireland itself until the 17th century. The Irish had considered it too sacred for everyday usage. In the centuries since, Patrick has become very common in Ireland. It was #16 there in 2015.

Other forms of the name:

1. Patrik is Swedish and Hungarian, as well as used in the various Slavic languages.

2. Pádraig is the original Irish form. The alternate form Pàdraig is Scottish.

3. Pádraic is an alternate Irish form.

4. Padrig is Breton and Welsh.

5. Patrice is French.

6. Patrizio is Italian.

7. Pherick is Manx.

8. Patrício is Portuguese. The alternate form Patricio is Spanish.

9. Patryk is Polish.

10. Patariki is Maori.

11. Patrek is Icelandic.

12. Patrici is Occitan and Catalan.

13. Patrekr is Old Norse.

14. Patriciu is Romanian.

15. Patrikas is Lithuanian.

16. Patriko is Esperanto.

17. Pátrikur is Faroese.

18. Patrizju is Maltese.

19. Patrycjiusz is Polish.

20. Patrikki is Finnish. This name is very rare.

21. Patriks is Latvian.

22. Poric is Welsh.

23. Patrekur is Icelandic.

24. Pàtric is Catalan.

25. Patrikios is Greek.

26. Patrycjusz is an alternate Polish form.

Feminine forms:

1. Patricia is English, Spanish, Latin, and German. This name was super-popular in the U.S. from the 1920s to the early 1970s, spending 1929–1966 in the Top 10. By 2015, it had dropped to #805. The alternate form Patrícia is Portuguese and Slovak.

2. Patrizia is Italian.

3. Patricie is Czech. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

4. Patrycja is Polish. The most common nickname form is Patka.

5. Pádraigín is Irish.

6. Patrice is an alternate English form. As a French name, this is exclusively masculine.

7. Patricija is Slovenian and Croatian. The alternate form Patrīcija is Latvian.

8. Patricea is Romanian.

9. Patrike is Basque. This is a modern, not traditional, name, and is very rare.

10. Patrisía is Icelandic. This is a modern, not traditional, name.

11. Patritsiya is Russian.

Wolf names

Like the raven, the wolf too is an animal many people have spooky Halloween associations regarding. There are so many lovely wolf names, though almost all of them are male. Many of these names have Old Germanic or Anglo–Saxon roots.

Female:

Adolfa is a German and Dutch name derived from the Old Germanic name Adalwolf, means “noble wolf.” While the male form of this name is obviously one of the most taboo names in the Western world, the feminine form seems slightly more acceptable. This could also be used as a middle name if you want to honor an Adolf/Adolph in your family tree, but are off-put by using it as a forename. Potential nickname are Olfie, Ollie, Dolly, and Addie.

Ylva means “wolf” in the Scandinavian languages. (I honestly don’t understand why the term “she-wolf” is still used in the 21st century! It’s akin to terms like “a lady doctor” and “authoress.”)

Male:

Aatto, or Aatu, is the Finnish form of Adolf, which would doubtless be much more palatable to the vast majority of folks who find Adolf beyond the pale of onomastic redemption. The nickname form is Atte.

Adalwolf, the original form of Adolf, means “noble wolf.” This is a great choice if you really want to name your baby after an Adolf in your family who was born before the name became taboo.

Agilulf roughly means “blade wolf” in Ancient Germanic. This was the name of a 6th century king of the Lombards, who features in one of my favoritest Decameron stories. Agilulf discovers his wife, Queen Teudelinga, was tricked into sleeping with another man (a groom), but since the queen doesn’t suspect she was tricked, he says nothing.

Agilulf shows a lot of restraint and wisdom in dealing with the situation, and when the guilty party outsmarts him at his own game, Agilulf lets the matter drop with a cryptic warning to his servants. He’s determined to not acquire great shame at the expense of trivial revenge.

Arnulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements arn (eagle) and wulf (wolf).

Athaulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements atta (father) and wulf.

Beowulf may mean “bee wolf” in Anglo–Saxon.

Conan is an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “little wolf” or “little hound.”

Conor is an Anglicized form of Conchobhar, an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “wolf-lover” or “dog-lover.”

Conrí means “wolf king” in Irish Gaelic.

Cuán means “little wolf” or “little hound” in Irish.

Eadwulf is an Anglo–Saxon name derived from the elements ead (fortune, wealth) and wulf (wolf). It fell out of use after the Norman invasion and occupation.

Eardwulf is an Angli–Saxon name derived from the elements eard (land) and wulf.

Faolán means “little wolf” in Irish.

Gerulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements ger (spear) and wulf.

Gurgen is an Armenian and Georgian name meaning “little wolf.”

Ingolf is a Scandinavian and German name derived from the Old Norse Ingólfr, which is composed of the elements Ing (a Germanic god) and úlfr (wolf).

Ivaylo is a Bulgarian name which may be derived from the Old Bulgar name which meant “wolf.”

Loup is the French form of the Latin name Lupus, which means “wolf.” The Spanish form is Lope.

Lowell is an English name taken from the Norman French nickname louelle, “little wolf.”

Ludolf is a German and Dutch name derived from the Ancient Germanic Hludwolf, “famous wolf.”

Lyall is an English name taken from a Scottish surname, which in turn was derived from the Old Norse Liulfr, and thus ultimately related to the word úlfr (wolf).

Lycurgus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykourgos, derived from the elements lykos (wolf) and ergon (work, deed).

Lycus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykos (wolf).

Randolph, or Randolf, is an English name taken from the Ancient Germanic elements rand (rim [of a shield]) and wulf. The Ancient Germanic form is Randulf; the Scottish forms are Ranulf and Randulph; and the Ancient Scandinavian form is Randúlfr.

Rádúlfr roughly means “wolf counsel” in Ancient Scandinavian.

Rudolph means “famous wolf” in Ancient Germanic. (See my previous post, “All About the Name Rudolph!,” for more details.)

Sandalio is the Spanish form of the Latin Sandalius, which in turn comes from the Gothic Sandulf and means “true wolf.”

Ulf is a Scandinavian name derived from the Old Norse Úlfr, “wolf.”

Vakhtang is a Georgian name derived from the Old Persian varka-tanu, “wolf-bodied.”

Valko means “wolf” in Bulgarian.

Varg is a Norwegian name which means “wolf” in Old Norse.

Velvel means “wolf” in Yiddish, and is frequently used as a form of William. If my Samuel ever exists in reality and not just fantasy, his Hebrew name will be Shmuel Velvel.

Vuk means “wolf” in Serbian. A related name is Vukašin.

Wolf is English and German.

Wolfgang means “wolf path” in German.

Wolfram (one of my favoritest male names!) comes from the Germanic elements wulf and hramn (raven).

Wulfnod is an Anglo–Saxon name roughly meaning “daring wolf.”

Wulfric is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf power.” The Middle English form is Ulric, not to be confused with the German, Scandinavian, Czech, Slovenian, and Slovakian name Ulrich/Ulrik/Oldrich/Urh.

Wulfsige is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf victory.”

Wulfstan is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf stone.”

Zev means “wolf” in Hebrew. Other forms are Ze’ev and Zeevie.