An Egyptian lotus and a Hebrew rose

U.S. suffragist and political activist Susan B. Anthony, 1820–1906

Susan, a name most popular from the 1940s–1960s, traces its etymology back to a rather unexpected source—Ancient Egypt. This is one Indo–European name that didn’t originate among the Vikings, Anglo–Saxons, Normans, Goths, Romans, or Greeks.

Sšn means “lotus” in Egyptian, and later morphed into the Ancient Hebrew word shoshan, “lily.” In Modern Hebrew, shoshan means “rose.” It gave rise to the name Shoshanah, and then was adopted by the Greeks as Sousanna.

Over time, it appeared in many European languages in various forms. In the Medieval Anglophone world, Susannah was sometimes used in honour of a woman falsely accused of adultery in the Book of Daniel, and another Biblical woman who ministers to Jesus. Only after the Protestant Reformation did it become more common, in the form of Susan.

French painter Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) with her son Maurice

Susan was #80 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and left the Top 100 in 1885. It briefly returned in 1887, then dropped out again and gradually sank in popularity. During the 1930s, it slowly made its way back up the chart, and re-entered the Top 100 in 1937 at #97.

In 1945, it was #10, and entered the Top 5 in 1948. Apart from 1951 and 1966, when it was #6, Susan was in the Top 5 until 1968. Its all-time highest rank was #2, from 1957–60. In 1972, it fell off the Top 20, and left the Top 100 in 1985.

Susan’s last year on the Top 1000 was 2017, when it was #957.

Austrian-born painter Soshana Afroyim (née Susanne Schüller),
1927–2015

Other forms of the name include:

1. Suzanne is French, Dutch, and English.

2. Susanna is English, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Catalan, Swedish, Estonian, and Finnish. The alternate form Súsanna is Icelandic, Faroese, and Irish; Susánna and Susánná are Sami.

3. Susannah is English.

4. Susana is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Suzana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Brazilian–Portuguese, Romanian, and Croatian.

6. Susanne is German and Scandinavian.

7. Syuzanna is old-fashioned Russian.

8. Suzanna is English.

9. Shoshana, or Shoshanah, is Hebrew.

10. Sawsan is Arabic.

Hungarian Princess Zsuzsanna Lorántffy (1602–1660), who founded and sponsored several schools, including schools offering girls a modern, equal education

11. Savsan is Tajik.

12. Sosamma is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

13. Zsuzsanna is Hungarian.

14. Zuzanna is Polish and Latvian.

15. Zuzana is Czech and Slovak.

16. Huhana is Maori.

17. Zusana is Sorbian.

18. Syzana is Albanian.

19. Siùsan is Scottish.

20. Sósanna is a rare Irish form.

Polish poet Zuzanna Ginczanka, 1917–1945

21. Susaina is a Catalan variant, usually used on Mallorca.

22. Suzannah is English.

23. Suzonne is Norman.

24. Jujen is Marshallese.

25. Siwsan is Welsh.

26. Susane is English.

27. Suusan is Inuit.

28. Suzette is a French diminutive, also used in English as a full name.

29. Suzzanna is a rare English form.

30. Shushan is Armenian.

31. Susano is a male Filipino form.

Glorious Slavic names

Slava is a common root in Slavic names, and means “glory, fame.” It appears fairly evenly among East, West, and South Slavic names. A few of these names are so popular, they also have equivalents in non-Slavic languages.

Some sources believe the name Gustave, with its many variants, also comes from the slava root. Though a possible etymology is “staff of the Geats,” from Old Norse gautr (Goth, Geat) and stafr (staff), the name Gautstafr isn’t well-documented in any evidence from that time and place. It may have truly come from Medieval Slavic name Gostislav (glorious guest).

As expected, the common nickname for both sexes is Slava or Sława.

Berislav(a) (Croatian): To gather glory, to take glory

Blahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Pleasant glory

Bogoslav(a) (Croatian), Bohuslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian), Bogusław(a) (Polish): Glory of God

Bojislav(a) (Czech, Croatian): Battle glory

Boleslav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian), Bolesław(a) (Polish): Greater glory; more glory

Borislav(a) (Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian): Glorious battle

Branislav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian), Bronisław(a) (Polish), Bronislav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak), Bronislovas (Lithuanian): Protection and glory

Břetislav(a) (Czech), Bryachislav(a) (Russian), Bretislav(a) (Slovak, Slovenian): To cry glory

Budislav(a) (Czech, Serbian, Croatian): To wake up glory

Czesław(a) (Polish): Honour and glory

Desislav(a) (Bulgarian): Tenfold glory

Dobroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Dobrosław(a) (Polish): Good glory

Domaslav(a) (Medieval Russian): Home glory

Dragoslav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian), Drahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Precious glory

Drenislav(a) (Croatian): European cornel (a type of dogwood) glory

Fiebrosław(a) (Medieval Polish): February glory

Goroslav(a) (Croatian): Mountain glory

Hranislav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): To protect glory; to defend glory

Hrvoslav(a) (Croatian): Croatian glory

Jugoslav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): Southern glory

Krumislav(a) (Macedonian): Possibly “rock glory”

Krunoslav(a) (Croatian): Glorious crown

Květoslav(a) (Czech), Kvetoslav(a) (Slovak), Cvjetislav(a) (Croatian): Flower of glory

Lechosław(a) (Polish): Glory of Lech (legendary founder of Poland)

Levoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious lion

Ľuboslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious love

Mieczysław(a) (Polish), Mechislav(a) (Russian): Sword of glory

Miloslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Miłosław(a) (Polish): Gracious glory; dear glory

Miroslav(a) (Russian, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Croatian), Mirosław(a) (Polish), Myroslav(a) (Ukrainian): Peaceful glory; world glory

Mislav(a) (Croatian): “My glory” or “thought of glory”

Mstislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Mścisław(a) (Polish): Vengeance and glory

Nadislav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Hope and glory

Ninoslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Now glory

Novislav(a) (Bulgarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian): New glory

Pomnislav(a) (Medieval Slavic): To think of glory

Pravoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Justice and glory

Prvoslav(a) (Serbian): First glory

Radoslav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian), Radosław(a) (Polish): Happy glory

Ratislav(a) (Serbian): Glorious war

Rostislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Rastislav(a) (Slovak): Growth of glory

Slavěna (Czech): Glory

Slaveya (Bulgarian): Glory

Slavogost (Medieval Slavic): Glorious guest

Slavoj (Slovenian, Czech, Slovak): Soldier of glory

Slavomir(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Slavomír(a) (Czech, Slovak), Sławomir(a) (Polish), Sławòmir(a) (Kashubian): Great glory; famous glory; glorious peace; glorious world

Sobiesław(a) (Polish), Soběslav(a) (Czech): Glory for oneself

Stanislav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian), Stanisław(a) (Polish), Stanislaǔ (Belarusian), Staņislavs (Latvian), Stanislovas (Lithuanian, male), Stanislova (Lithuanian, female): To stand in glory; to become glory

Svyatoslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Svetoslav(a) (Bulgarian), Svatoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Świętosław(a) (Polish): Holy glory, blessed glory

Tomislav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian): Glorious torture

Velislav(a) (Bulgarian): Great glory

Věroslav(a) (Czech), Vieroslav(a) (Slovak): Faith and glory

Víťazoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious winner; glorious champion; glorious conqueror

Vítězslav(a) (Czech): Master of glory; lord of glory

Vjekoslav(a) (Croatian): Age of glory

Vladislav(a) (Russian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Ladislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian), Vladyslav(a) (Ukrainian), Władysław(a) (Polish), Włodzisław(a) (Polish), Ladislao (Italian), László (Hungarian): To rule in glory

Vlastislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian): To rule in glory

Vl’koslav(a) (Russian): Great glory

Voyslav(a) (Russian): Glorious war

Vratislav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Warcisław(a) (Polish): To return in glory

Vyacheslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Václav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Vyachaslaǔ (Belarusian), Ventseslav(a) (Bulgarian), Višeslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Vjenceslav(a) (Croatian), Vecéslav(a) (Croatian), Věnceslav(a) (Czech), Więcesław(a) (Polish), Wacław(a) (Polish), Vencel (Hungarian), Veaceslav (Romanian), Wenzel (German), Wenzeslaus (German), Venceslás (Spanish): More glory

Witoslav(a) (Medieval Czech): To rule in glory

Yanislav(a) (Bulgarian), Janislav(a) (Slovenian, Croatian): John’s glory

Yaroslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Jaroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Jaroslavas (Lithuanian), Jarosław(a) (Polish): Fierce and glorious

Zbysław(a) (Polish): To dispel glory

Zdislav(a) (Czech), Zdzisław(a) (Polish), Zdeslav(a) (Croatian): To build glory

Zmagoslav(a) (Slovenian): Victory and glory

The Ses of Estonian names

Female:

Saale is a short form of Rosaalie, now sometimes used as an independent name. This is also the Estonian word for “hall.”

Säde means “spark” and “radius.” This is also a Finnish name.

Signe is adopted from the Scandinavian languages, and means “new victory.”

Sigrid, or Sigrit, is adopted from the Scandinavian languages, and means “beautiful victory.” The Estonian nickname is Siiri.

Sireli means “lilac.”

Sirje means “blue-feathered” or “bluebird.” In Estonia’s great national epic, The Kalevipoeg, there’s a magical bird called the sinisirje.

Male:

Saveli is adopted from the Russian name Saveliy, and means “a Sabine.”

Savva is adopted from Russian, and derives from the Greek name Sabas. Its ultimate root is the Hebrew word sava (old man).

Stanislav is adopted from Russian, and means “to become glory.”

Stefan is adopted from German and the Scandinavian languages. Also commonly used is Stepan, adopted from Russian. It means “wreath, crown.”

Sulev means “benevolent, good-natured.” I have a character by this name. The female form is Sula.

Svjatoslav is adopted from the Russian name Svyatoslav, and means “holy, blessed glory.”

Happy Halloween!—Orange names

Happy Halloween! Here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “orange” (the colour). In some languages, the word for the fruit and colour are identical, while in others they’re different. As always, some of these names might sound much better on pets, stuffed animals, dolls, or fictional characters. I obviously wouldn’t recommend using some of these word names on real people in countries where that language is spoken.

Alani is Hawaiian, and refers to the colour, fruit, and flower.

Arancia is Italian.

Aranciu is Corsican.

Kamala is Bengali.

Karaka is Maori.

Kesari is Marathi.

Lalanje is Nyanja, a Bantu language primarily spoken in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Laranja is Basque and Portuguese.

Laranxa is Galician.

Namunu is Southern Sotho.

Naranja is Spanish.

Narıncı is Azeri.

Narinja is Telugu.

Oren is Malaysian and Welsh. This has a completely different etymology from the Hebrew name meaning “pine tree.”

Orenji is Japanese. I’m 99% sure this is a very modern, unusual name inspired by the English word, not a historic, native Japanese name.

Porteqalî is Kurdish.

Portokalea, or Portokali, is Greek.

Portokhali is Georgian.

Santara is Hindi.

Satara is Punjabi.

Sienna is a modern English name meaning “orange-red,” derived from the Italian city Siena. The city’s clay is sienna in colour.

Suntala is Nepali.

Taronja is Catalan.

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.