All about Howard

Today, 18 January, is the 68th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) of the great comedian Curly Howard, né Jerome Lester Horwitz. I had a post about the name Jerome three years ago, so now it’s time for Curly’s adopted surname to shine. There’s really not much to say about his middle name Lester.

The English name Howard started its life as a surname, and eventually became a forename as well. There are at least four known etymologies:

Hughard, an Ancient Germanic name derived from roots hug (mind, heart) and hard (brave, hardy). It evolved into Anglo–Norman Huard.

Ewehirde, a Middle English word meaning “ewe-herder.”

Haward, an Anglo–Scandinavian name derived from Anglo–Saxon roots hæg (fence, enclosure) and weard (guard).

Hávarðr, an Old Norse name derived from roots  (high) and varðr (defender, guardian). The modern Norwegian form is Håvard, which entered Norway’s Top 100 in 1962 at #90, then briefly fell off and returned in 1964 at #86. Håvard was in the Top 100 till 2010. Its highest rank was #33, from 1994–96.

In the U.S., Howard was #44 when records began being kept in 1880, and stayed in the Top 100 till 1958. Its highest rank was #24 in 1919 and 1920. In 2018, it was #965, up from #999 in 2017. Surprisingly, Howard made the Top 1000 for girls twice, at #959 in 1888 and #994 in 1928.

In British Columbia, Canada, Howard was in the Top 100 from 1918–48, and again from 1950–60. Its highest rank there to date was #38 in 1923 and 1925.

Hovard is a rare Swedish and German form, and Jovardo is a rare Spanish form.

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.

Thor-inspired names

Dedicated in loving memory of Peter Tork, né Peter Halsten Thorkelson, 13 February 1942–21 February 2019, whose birth surname inspired this post.

Thor’s Fight with the Giants, Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872

I’ve wanted to do a post on Thor-inspired names for quite some time. Though many might consider the name Thor itself to be pompous and pretentious, there are quite a few other names whose meanings relate to Thor. If you wouldn’t consider the name Thor for a real child, perhaps you’d be more inclined to use one of these names.

Unless otherwise noted, all these names are male.

Thor was the Norse god of thunder, from Old Norse þórr, ultimately from Ancient Germanic *þunraz. The name was #48 in Denmark in 2017. Its modern form is Tor, and the feminine forms are Thora and Tora.

Haldor (Norwegian) means “Thor’s rock,” from Old Norse Hallþórr.

Tollak (Norwegian) means “Thor’s play/game,” from Old Norse þórleikr. The word leikr refers to a game or play involving weapons.

Torbjörn (Swedish) means “Thor’s bear,” from Old Norse þórbjörn. Variants include Torbjørn (Danish, Norwegian); Thorbjørn (Norwegian); Torben (Danish, German); Thornben (German); and þorbjörn (Icelandic).

Torgeir (Norwegian) means “Thor’s spear,” from Old Norse þórgeirr. Variants are Torger and Terje. The latter isn’t to be confused with a female Estonian name meaning “mist.”

Torgny Segerstedt (1876–1945), Swedish scholar of comparative religion, and publicist and editor-in-chief of anti-Nazi newspaper Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning

Torgny (Swedish) means “Thor’s noise/murmur/grumble,” from Old Norse þórgnýr.

Torhild (Norwegian, female) means “Thor’s battle,” from Old Norse þórhildr. Variants are Toril and Torill.

Torkel (Swedish, Norwegian) means “Thor’s cauldron,” from Old Norse þórketill. Variants include Tyge (Danish); Tyko (Finnish); Tygo (Dutch); Tycho (Dutch, Danish); Torcuil (Scottish); Torquil (Anglicized Gaelic); and Torkil (Danish, Norwegian).

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, 1546–1601

Torleif (Norwegian) means “Thor’s descendent,” from Old Norse þórleifr.

Tormod (Norwegian) means “Thor’s mind/mood,”  from Old Norse þórmóðr.

Torsten (Danish, Swedish, German) means “Thor’s stone,” from Old Norse þórsteinn. Variants include Thorsten (Swedish, Danish); Thorstein, Torstein (Norwegian); Torsti (Finnish); and Thurston (English). þorstína and þorsteina (Icelandic) are feminine forms. An elaborated Icelandic feminine form, þórsteinunn, means “Thor’s stone wave.”

Torvald (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) means “Thor’s ruler,” from Old Norse þórvaldr. Many people may recognize this as the name of the husband in Henrik Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House.

Doubling up on vowels

I’ve always loved names with two of the same vowel in a row (often found in Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, and Greenlandic). I’ll feature more of these names in a future post, but for now, I’m focusing on names starting with two of the same vowel in a row.

Unisex:

Aajunnguaq means “dear older sibling” in Greenlandic.

Iimaan is the Somali form of Iman.

Ooquna is Greenlandic.

Uukkarnit means “calved ice” in Inuktitut.

Male:

Aabraham is Finnish. An alternate form is Aapo.

Aadam is Estonian.

Aadolf is Finnish, with alternate forms Aatu and Aatto. The lattermost also means “evening before, eve.”

Aage is the modern Norwegian and Danish form of Áki, an Old Norse nickname for names with the element Anu (father, ancestor).

Aali means “sublime, lofty, high” in Arabic.

Aamir is a variant of Amir (prince, commander). When rendered ‘Aamir, it means “substantial, prosperous.”

Aapeli is the Finnish form of Abel, which derives from the Hebrew Hevel (breath).

Aarne is the Finnish form of Arne, which originally was an Old Norse nickname for names starting in Arn (eagle).

Aaron is the English form of the Hebrew Aharon, which possibly means “exalted” or “high mountain.” Other sources suggest it’s more likely of unknown Egyptian origins.

Aarti is a Hindi and Marathi name taken from a ritual where candle and lamp offerings are made to deities, from Sanskrit aratrika. The Tamil form is Aarthi.

Aatami is the Finnish form of Adam.

Aatos means “thought” in Finnish.

Eeli is the Finnish form of Eli.

Eelis is the Finnish form of Elijah.

Eemeli is the Finnish form of Emil.

Eenokki is the Finnish form of Enoch.

Eerik is the Finnish form of Eric. Alternate forms are Eerikki and Eero.

Eetu is the Finnish form of Edward.

Iiggiti, or Iigiti, means “oak,” from Ancient Scandinavian eik. The name is Greenlandic.

Iikkila means “how sweet you are” in Greenlandic.

Iiku is the Finnish form of Igor.

Iisaja is the Greenlandic form of Isaiah.

Iisakki is the Finnish form of Isaac (he will laugh). Nicknames include Iikka and Iiro.

Iissát is the Sami form of Isaac.

Iivanni is the Greenlandic form of John.

Iivari is the Finnish form of Ivar.

Oochalata is Cherokee.

Ooqi is Greenlandic.

Uugi is the Greenlandic form of Áki. Another form is Ûge.

Uula is the Finnish form of Ola, a Swedish and Norwegian nickname for Olaf (ancestor’s descendant), and a nickname for Uljas (proud, gallant, noble, valiant). Another form is Oola.

Uularik is the Greenlandic form of Ulrich (prosperity and power). Another form is Uulorik.

Uuli is a Greenlandic form of Olaf. Another form is Uuluffi.

Uuloffi is a rare Finnish form of Olaf.

Uumaaq is a modern Greenlandic form of Ûmâk (green, fresh).

Uuno possibly means “one” in Finnish, from Latin unus, or is a male form of Una. It’s very rare today, owing to becoming an insult meaning “dumb, stupid.”

Uuttuaq is Greenlandic.

Female:

Aalis is the Medieval French form of Alice.

Aaliyah is the feminine form of Aali. As anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows, it got really popular and trendy thanks to the late singer Aaliyah Haughton.

Aamina, or Aaminah, is an alternative form of the Arabic Amina (feel safe).

Aamu means “morning” in Finnish.

Aava means “open, wide” in Finnish.

Eedit is the Estonian and Finnish form of Edith.

Eelisi is a Greenlandic form of Elizabeth.

Eerika is the Finnish form of Erica.

Eeva is the Finnish form of Eva. An alternate form is Eevi.

IidaIitu, and Iita are Finnish forms of Ida (labour, work). Sami forms are Iidá and Iiddá.

Iidaliisa is a rare Finnish name.

Iines is the Finnish form of Agnes (chaste; lamb).

Iingili is the Greenlandic form of Ingrid.

Iingka is the Greenlandic form of Inga.

Iintariina is the Greenlandic form of Henrietta.

Iiris is the Estonian and Finnish form of Iris (rainbow). A Finnish varation is Iiri.

Iisimaleq is Greenlandic.

Iista is the Greenlandic form of Esther. Another form is Eersta.

Oona, or Oonagh, is an alternate form of the Irish Úna (possibly meaning “lamb”). The first spelling is also Finnish. Its most famous bearer was Charles Chaplin’s fourth wife, Oona O’Neill, daughter of famous playwright Eugene. Their marriage was far and away Charles’s happiest and most successful, in spite of the 36-year age difference.

Uularikka is the Greenlandic form of Ulrika.

Uulina is a Greenlandic feminine form of Olaf.

Uullat is the Greenlandic form of Olga.

Uuriintuya means “light of dawn” in Mongolian.

The Hs of Medieval names

Male:

Hakun (Danish): Form of Haakon, derived from Old Norse name Hákon (high son). Its roots are  (high) and konr (descendant, son).

Haldan, Halden (Swedish): Form of modern Norwegian and Danish name Halfdan, which derives from Old Norse name Hálfdan. Its roots are hálfr (half) and Danr (Dane). Originally, it was used for half-Danish boys.

Hamdun (Moorish Arabic): “Praiseworthy, praise.” The feminine form is Hamduna.

Harik (Swedish): Form of Old Norse name Hárekr, from Ancient Germanic root ha (uncertain origin) and Old Norse ríkr (rich, distinguished, mighty).

Härjulf (Swedish): Form of Old Norse name Hæriulfr, ultimately descended from Proto–Norse name Hariwolfar. Its roots are hariar (warrior) and ulfr (wolf).

Härlek (Swedish): Form of Ancient Scandinavian name Herleikr, from roots herr (army) and leikr (fight, game, sport, play).

Härlög (Swedish): Form of Ancient Scandinavian name Herlaugr, derived from Old Norse name Hærlaugr. Its roots are herr and laug (to celebrate marriage, to swear a holy oath; to be dedicated, promised).

Hasten (Swedish, Danish): Form of Ancient Scandinavian and modern Icelandic name Hásteinn, from roots hár (high) and steinn (stone).

Haveron (English): Form of Harvey, derived from Breton name Haerviu (battle-worthy). Its roots are haer (battle) and viu (worthy). This name was borne by a 6th century Breton hermit who became patron saint of the blind.

Hellenboldus (German)

Hellenbrecht (German)

Hemkil, Henkil (Swedish and Danish): Form of Ancient Scandinavian name Hæimkæll, from Old Norse roots heimr (home, house) and ketill (cauldron hat, helmet).

Heranal (Breton): I obviously wouldn’t recommend this name in the Anglophone world!

Herdan (German)

Heri (Scandinavian): Possibly a nickname for names starting in Herr, or from Old Norse word héri (hare, hare-hearted). This is still used in modern Faroese and Danish.

Hizquia (Judeo–Catalan): Form of Hezekiah (God strengthens).

Hopkin (English): Nickname for Robert. A lot of English nicknames which appear to make no linguistic sense arose from the custom of swapping letters. E.g., Rob became Hob, Rick became Dick, Meg became Peg, Will became Bill.

Humfroy (French): Form of Humphrey and Onfroi (peaceful warrior), from Ancient Germanic elements hun (bear cub, warrior) and frid (peace).

Female:

Halawa (Moorish Arabic): “Sweetness.”

Halhal (Moorish Arabic): “Agitation.”

Hamda (Moorish Arabic): Feminine form of Ahmed (more commendable).

Helissent (French): Possibly a form of Ancient Germanic name Alahsind, from roots alah (temple) and sinþs (path).

Helzbieta (Polish, Slavic): Form of Elizabeth, ultimately derived from Hebrew name Elisheva (“my God is abundance” or “my God is oath”).

Herannuen (Breton): From Old Breton root hoiarn (iron) and feminine suffix -uen.

Herborg (Swedish): From Old Norse roots harja or herr (army) and björg (help, protection). This name is used rarely in modern Swedish and Danish, though it’s somewhat more common in Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese.

Hereswith (English): From Ancient Germanic roots hari (army) and swinth (strong).

Herlinde (German): From Ancient Germanic roots hari and lind (linden tree, lime; soft, gentle; lime wood shield).

Hervor (Scandinavian): Form of Hervǫr, from Old Norse roots herr (army) and vár (woman; truth).

Heylzoete (Flemish)

Heyndrynen (Flemish)

Hodierna (French): From Old French name Odierne, derived from Ancient Germanic name possibly made of elements od (wealth, riches, fortune) and gern (desiring, eager). The spelling was probably changed to resemble Latin word hodierna (present, of today, existing now).

Holuba (Polish, Slavic): “Pigeon, dove.”

Honesta (Italian): From a Latin word meaning “respected, reputable, distinguished, honourable.”

Hudria (French–Swiss)

Hullah (Moorish Arabic): “Dress, garment.”

Human (Moorish Arabic): “Melted snow.”

Hunydd (Welsh): Possible from the Welsh word huan (sun) or hun (sleep).

Husa (German): Probably related to the modern German word Haus (house), as its dialect form is Hus.

Hyssop (English): A type of aromatic shrub from the mint family.