The many forms of Charles and Charlotte

Charles has been a very popular Top 100 name in the U.S. since at least 1880, and spent 1880–1954 in the Top 10. Many of those years were also spent in the Top 5, with its highest rank of #4 coming in 1880 and 1883. It fell out of the Top 20 in 1970, and in 2016, it was down to #51.

Charlotte enjoyed modest popularity in the first half of the 20th century, but fell out of the Top 100 in 1953, and sank lower and lower. Some years it was more popular than others, but it didn’t begin dramatically climbing in popularity till 2000. It vaulted up the charts at amazing speeds, and in 2016, it achieved its highest rank of #7.

Caroline has also been enjoying a noticeable uptick in popularity, and was #56 in 2016. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this is one of those “replacement” names people use when they’re off-put by another name’s popularity. Think of Madison and Madeline; Jennifer and Jessica; or Emily and Emma, Amelia, and Amalia. The replacement name often overtakes the original popular name.

Forms of Charles:

1. Charles is English and French. English nicknames are Charlie, Charley, Chuck, Chas, Chaz, and Chip. The French nickname is Charlot, which is how the French people refer to Charlie Chaplin.

2. Karl is German, Russian, Scandinavian, Finnish, and English, and the original form of the name. It either means “man” or “army, warrior.” The Swedish and Finnish nickname is Kalle, and the Russian nickname is Karlik.

3. Carl is English, as well as an alternate German and Scandinavian form.

4. Carlos is Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan.

5. Carles is Catalan.

6. Carol is Romanian, and the name of the scummy King Carol II.

7. Carlo is Italian.

8. Karolis is Lithuanian.

9. Kaarel is Estonian

10. Kaarle is Finnish.

11. Kaarlo is also Finnish.

12. Karol is Polish, Slovak, and Slovenian. Most people know this was the birth name of the popular Pope John Paul II.

13. Karlo is Georgian and Croatian.

14. Karel is Slovenian, Czech, and Dutch.

15. Séarlas is Irish.

16. Carlu is Corsican.

17. Charel is Luxembourgish.

18. Charl is South African.

19. Karle is Gascon.

20. Kārlis is Latvian.

21. Kale is Hawaiian.

22. Sjarel is Limburgish.

23. Siarl is Welsh.

24. Karles is Icelandic, Swedish, and Norwegian.

25. Karolos is Greek.

26. Scharri is Alsatian.

27. Xarles is Basque.

28. Kârale is Greenlandic.

29. Kárral is Sami.

30. Käru is Swiss–German.

31. Korla is Sorbian.

32. Károly (KAH-roy) is Hungarian.

Forms of Charlotte:

1. Charlotte is French, English, German, Dutch, and Scandinavian.

2. Charlotta is Swedish.

3. Karla is Slavic, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Yiddish, and Scandinavian.

4. Carla is Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, English, German, and Dutch.

5. Karola is Polish, German, Hungarian, Latvian, Yiddish, and Croatian.

6. Caroline is French, English, German, Dutch, and Scandinavian.

7. Carolina is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, English, and Swedish.

8. Karolina is Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, Scandinavian, German, Macedonian, Russian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, and Croatian. The variation Karolína is Czech, with the nickname Kája. The Icelandic variation is Karólína, and Karolīna is Latvian.

9. Carola is Italian, German, Dutch, and Swedish.

10. Carlotta is Italian.

11. Carlota is Spanish and Portuguese.

12. Charlize is Afrikaans.

13. Karoliina is Finnish. Nicknames include Iina and Liina.

14. Karoline is German, Danish, and Norwegian. Nicknames are Ina, Lina, and Line.

15. Séarlait is Irish.

16. Karlota is Greek.

17. Karlotte is Estonian.

18. Kalaki is Hawaiian.

19. Sālote is Tongan.

20. Šarlota is Czech.

21. Šarlote is Latvian.

22. Seàrlaid is Scottish.

23. Sjarlot is Limburgish..

24. Szarlota is Polish.

25. Kalolaina is Hawaiian and Fijian.

26. Kararaina is Maori.

27. Karolyna is Polish.

28. Kealalaina is Hawaiian.

29. Charlene originated as an English nickname, but now is more commonly used as a full name in its own right.

30. Charline is a French diminutive form of Charlotte, but now often used as a full name in French and English.

31. Carole is French and English.

32. Charla is English.

The many forms of Sarah

Though Sarah tends not to have as wide of a variation across languages as, say, Elizabeth or Katherine, there are still a number of interesting variations. There are also a number of alternative spellings in English, which I don’t mind as much as I normally do. I strongly prefer the two most common spellings, but I’m not categorically against another spelling as long as it’s not something crazy like Seighraigh, Sy’Rah, or Seyrhaheigh.

Sarah, which means “princess” in Hebrew, has been in the Top 100 in the U.S. since at least 1880, with the exception of 1954–61, when its rank ranged from #103 to #119. Frequently, it’s been near the top of the charts, and was Top 10 from 1978–2002. In 2016, it was #57.

The spelling Sara hasn’t been quite as popular, though it spent 1973–2008 in the Top 50. In 2016, it was #152. Both spellings are currently popular in Switzerland, Bosnia, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Portugal, Norway, Poland, The Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Catalonia, Chile, Belgium, England and Wales, Canada, Austria, France, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Sarah is English, Hebrew, German, French, and Arabic, while Sara, in addition to also being used in the abovementioned languages, is found in Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Persian, the Slavic languages, Finnish, Catalan, and Greek.

The variation Sára is Hungarian, but pronounced SHAH-rah. Likewise, the nickname Sári is pronounced SHAHR-ee. Sometimes Hungarian women who immigrate to Anglophone countries have changed their names to Shari or Shara, so people won’t get confused by pronunciation. Sára is also used in Czech and Slovak, though pronounced the more familiar way.

Other forms include:

1. Sarra is Old Church Slavonic, Biblical Latin, and Biblical Greek.

2. Sarrah is an English variation.

3. Sera is an English variation, as well as a nickname for the English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and German name Serafina (also spelt Seraphina). In Russian and Macedonian, this is one of the nicknames for Serafima.

4. Serra is an English variation.

5. Cera is another English variation.

6. Sarita is a Spanish nickname.

7. Saara is Estonian and Finnish. Nicknames include Saija and Salli.

8. Sarit is a Hebrew nickname.

9. Sari is Finnish.

10. Sarina is an English nickname.

11. Sassa is a Swedish nickname.

12. Sora is Yiddish.

13. Sura is another Yiddish variation. It depends upon one’s regional dialect.

14. Tzeitl, or Tzeitel, is a Yiddish nickname, made famous by Fiddler on the Roof (one of the rare films which stayed fairly close to the original source material).

15. Sadie is an English nickname, which has been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2013. These days, it’s more often used as a full name in its own right instead of a nickname for Sarah.

16. Sally, or Sallie, is another traditional English nickname which has long since fallen completely off the Top 1000.

17. Suri is a Yiddish nickname.

18. Sare is Turkish. The variation Sarê is Kurdish.

19. Sarette is an English and Afrikaans nickname.

20. Tzeril is a Yiddish nickname.

21. Zarita is a Latin American–Spanish nickname.

22. Surkki is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

The many forms of Samuel

It’s never been a secret that Samuel is my absolute favoritest male name! If I’m ever blessed with kids before I’m too old, and I have a boy (like I’ve dreamt about constantly for many years), his name will absolutely be Samuel. First and foremost, it’s after the Prophet Samuel. Other awesome namesakes are Samuel P. Gompers, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), and Shemp Howard (Samuel Horwitz). In fact, I plan to call him Shemp for short, since I’m such a massive Stooges fans!

Since I love this name so much, and there’s no chance I’m naming my potential firstborn son anything else (particularly considering I might not have a second chance to name a boy!), its rising popularity concerns me. It’s been Top 30 in the U.S. since 1996, and doesn’t show any signs of shooting down the charts. In 2016, it was #21.

Ultimately, this name means so much to me, it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks I was just mindlessly choosing a popular name. I’ve never been a crowd-follower, and I highly doubt anyone would ever mistake me for one!

Samuel is also currently popular in Austria (#22), England and Wales (#23), Canada (#21), Australia (#15), the Czech Republic (#29), Finland (#35), Belgium (#46), New Zealand (#16), Ireland (#41), Italy (#40), Galicia (#43), The Netherlands (#64),  Northern Ireland (#47), Norway (#76), Switzerland (#8), Scotland (#39), Portugal (#48), Spain (#36), Sweden (#74), Mexico (#49), Hungary (#93), France (#48), Chile (#68), and Catalonia (#80).

As indicated above, the spelling Samuel is used in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, the Scandinavian languages, Portuguese, Czech, and Finnish. It’s also used in Slovak and Polish. The Hungarian variation is Sámuel, with the nickname Samu; the Dutch form is Samuël; and the Icelandic form is Samúel. Other forms include:

1. Sh’muel is the Hebrew original, and means “God has heard,” in reference to Chana (Hannah)’s heartfelt prayer for a child being answered. A common nickname is Shmuley, alternately spelt Shmuli.

2. Samuli is Finnish. Nicknames include Samppa (the name of a well-known body modification artist who travels to different shops to do things like ear-pointing and repairing stretched piercings people don’t want anymore), Sami, and Samu.

3. Samuil is Bulgarian and Russian. Russian nicknames include Sanya, Sanka, Samonya, Samokha, Samoshka, Samko, Samosha, Sanchik, Samunka, Sansha, Samunya, and Samukha.

4. Samoil is Macedonian.

5. Samuele is Italian.

6. Sawyl is Welsh.

7. Hāmiora is Maori.

8. Hāmuera is also Maori.

9. Kamuela is Hawaiian.

10. Saamuel is Estonian.

11. Sámal is Faroese.

12. Sameli is Finnish.

13. Samhail is Irish.

14. Samoel is Georgian.

15. Samouil is modern Greek.

16. Sämu is Swiss–German.

17. Samuelis is a rare Lithuanian and Dutch form.

18. Samuilo is a rare Serbian form.

19. Samuyil is Ukrainian.

20. Samvel is Armenian.

21. Shamil is Tatar, Chechen, Dagestani, Kazakh, Avar, Abkhaz, Azeri, and Circassian.

22. Sumayl is Moorish.

Feminine forms:

1. Samine is Norwegian.

2. Samuella is English and Dutch.

3. Samuelita is Spanish.

4. Samuelette is English.

5. Samuelle is French and English.

6. Samulina is Faroese and Medieval English.

7. Samuline is Norwegian.

The many forms of Steven

Steven has been quite popular in the U.S. in decades past. From 1941–2007, it was in the Top 100, and was in the Top 20 from 1949–76. Its highest rank was #10, from 1955–61. By 2016, it had dropped down to #167.

The variant Stephen has followed a similar trajectory, though it’s been much more popular historically. However, it’s never been more popular than #19, from 1949–51. In 2016, it was #265.

I completely understand why Steven became more popular than Stephen, since it matches the pronunciation. For years, I believed Stephen was pronounced Stef-in, since we don’t pronounce Stephanie with a V sound. Since the first E is long, PH turns into a V sound instead of its usual F.

Outside of the Anglophone world, other forms of the name include:

1. Stepan is Russian and Armenian. Russian nicknames include Styopa, Stepa, Stenik, Stenchik, Stenka, Stepik, Steshok, Steshka, Stefka, Stepka, Stesha, Stenya, Styopka, Stepok, Stepunka, and Stepanik.

2. Stefano is Italian.

3. Stefan is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Polish, and Serbian. The variation Štefan is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian; Štěpán is Czech; Stefán is Icelandic; and Ștefan is Romanian. The Dutch nickname is Stef; Serbian and Croatian diminutives include Stevo, Stipe, and Stipo; the Polish base nickname is Stefek; and the Romanian nickname is Fane.

4. Stevan is Serbian and Croatian.

5. Stipan is Croatian.

6. Stjepan is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Steffen is Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Low German.

8. Stephan is German and Dutch.

9. Staffan is Swedish.

10. Steffan is Welsh.

11. Steafan is Scottish.

12. Steaphan is also Scottish. The nickname for both is Steenie.

13. Stefanus is the official Dutch form, used on legal documents and birth certificates.

14. Szczepan is Polish.

15. Stiofán is Irish.

16. István is Hungarian. Nicknames include Istók, Pista, Pisti, Isi, Istó, Pityu, Isti, Pistu, Pityus, Petya, and Pesta.

17. Stepane is Georgian.

18. Stefanos is Greek.

19. Stephanos is also Greek.

20. Estevão is Portuguese.

21. Étienne is French.

22. Stéphane is a French variation, most popular in the 1970s.

23. Estève is Occitan, and Esteve is Catalan.

24. Esteban is Spanish.

25. Estavan is a Spanish variation.

26. Estevo is Galician.

27. Stefans is Latvian.

28. Steponas is Lithuanian.

29. Tipene is Maori.

30. Tapani is Finnish.

31. Tahvo is also Finnish. The nickname for both is Teppo.

32. Eappen is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

33. Istebe is Aragonese.

34. Kepano is Hawaiian.

35. Sćěpan is Sorbian.

36. Stiven is an alternate Georgian form.

37. Styve is Québécois.

38. Tēpene is an alternate Maori form.

39. Estepan is Basque.

40. Ixtebe is also Basque.

Semele and Silenus

Jupiter and Semele, by Dosso Dossi, 1520s

Semele is the mortal mother of the god Dionysus, and the daughter of heroic Theban founder Kadmos (Cadmus) and his wife Harmonia. Her Roman name is Stimula.

Semele was a priestess of Zeus, and Zeus liked what he saw when he watched her slaughtering a bull by his altar and swimming in the river Asopos to clean off the blood. He flew over the river, disguised as an eagle, and fell in instalove yet again. Zeus, being Zeus, couldn’t keep it in his pants, and began an affair with Semele.

Hera, being Hera, was extremely pissed when she discovered the affair and that Semele was pregnant. She took on the guise of an old crone and befriended Semele, who admitted she’d been sleeping with Zeus. Hera pretended she didn’t believe Semele, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele’s mind.

Semele asked Zeus to grant her a boon, and Zeus was only too eager to comply. He promised by the River Styx to grant her whatever she asked for. Semele asked him to reveal himself in all his glory to prove his divinity. This request didn’t go over so well, but Semele persisted, and Zeus had no choice but to do it.

Jupiter and Semele, by Gustave Moreau

He tried to spare her life by only showing her his smallest thunderbolts and thinnest thunderstorm clouds, but it’s impossible for mortals to look upon deities without burning up. Semele was consumed by lightning-created flames.

Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh. When Dionysus grew up, he rescued Semele from Hades and made her a goddess on Mount Olympus, with the name Thyone. She presided over her son’s wine-induced frenzies.

Semele may be of Thraco–Phyrigian origin, derived from the Proto–Indo–European root dgem, “earth.” It thus may be borrowed from the Thracian name Zemele, which means “mother earth.” However, this etymology is impossible to definitively establish after so many millennia.

The Train of Silenus, in the style of Peter Paul Rubens

Silenus (Seilenos) is the usually-drunk tutor and companion of Dionysus. He’s usually depicted as older than the other satyrs, sometimes significantly older. Originally, he was cast as a forest man with horse ears, sometimes also a horse tail and legs. Later on, he often began to be depicted as fat, bald, human-legged, thick-lipped, and squat-nosed.

Silenus is often so drunk, he has to be supported by other satyrs or carried by a donkey. Though he’s the drunkest of the satyrs, he’s also the wisest. When drunk, he possesses the gift of prophecy. King Midas of Phrygia took advantage of this, and spiked a fountain Silenus often drank from. When Silenus fell asleep, servants took him to the palace.

Drunken Silenus, by Giulio di Antonio Bonasone, ca. 1547

When Midas asked for some wisdom, Silenus replied, “The best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible.” This is very similar to the pessimistic musings of King Kohelet in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

In another version, Silenus was found wandering in the forest, rescued by peasants, and taken to Midas. The King showered him with xenia (hospitality), and Silenus told him stories in exchange. Midas loved the stories so much, he kept Silenus as a guest for five days and nights. Dionysus offered Midas a reward for his xenia, and Midas famously asked everything he touched to be turned into gold.

Silenus is of unknown etymology, though it could be related to the Thracian word zilai (wine).