The many forms of Isaac

Isaac, like many other male Biblical names, has been rather popular in the U.S. in recent years. It entered the Top 100 in 1995, at #98, and has been in the Top 50 since 2001. Its most popular ranking to date came in 2013, when it was #29. Isaac has held steadily at #31 ever since.

The name is also very popular in Canada (#24), Australia (#14), England and Wales (#20), Mexico (#42), New Zealand (#30), Portugal (#40), Northern Ireland (a.k.a. Ireland by any other name) (#42), Scotland (#54), and Catalonia (#56). It’s additionally in the Top 100 in Spain (#82), France (#70), Chile (#70), and Ireland (#77).

Though my favourite of the Biblical Patriarchs is Jakob, I have a soft spot for Isaac. He’s kind of The Quiet One of the three Patriarchs, since he’s always passively acted on instead of acting in his own right, or copying things that already happened to his father (e.g., passing his wife off as his sister in Egypt, uncovering wells his father had dug).

Isaac means “to laugh,” from the Hebrew root tzachak. It was mostly a Jewish name in the English-speaking world until the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers just about everyone has heard of were Sir Isaac Newton and the awesome writer Isaac Asimov.

This spelling is used in English, French, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish. Other forms of the name include:

1. Yitzchak is the original Hebrew form. Alternate transliterations are Yitzhak, Yitshak, Yitschak, Itzhak, Itshak, Itschak, and Itzchak. I love the cute nicknames Yitzi and Itzi. In the modern era, a very famous bearer was the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

2. Isak is Scandinavian, Belarusian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Lao. The variation Ísak is Icelandic.

3. Isaak is German, Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Albanian, Esperanto, Greek, Mongolian,  and Ukrainian.

4. Izaäk is Dutch. Nicknames include Sjaak and Sjakie. The variation Izaak is Polish.

5. Izsák is Hungarian.

6. Iisakki is Finnish. Nicknames include Iikka and Iiro.

7. Izak is Slovenian and Croatian. The variation Izák is Czech and Slovak.

8. Izaokas is Lithuanian.

9. Ixaka is Basque.

10. Isxak (pronounced like Iskhak) is Tatar.

11. Ishoq is Uzbek.

12. Isaque is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Isaq is Ossetian and Uyghur.

14. Ishak is Arabic, Bosnian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Bengali. The variation İshak (with a dot over the I) is Turkish.

15. Isaki is Ndebele, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. This spelling is also used in Swahili. The variation Ísáki is Yoruba.

16. Ihaka is Maori.

17. Isac is Romanian and Portuguese.

18. Isacco is Italian.

19. Sahak, or Sahag (depending upon your form of the language), is modern Armenian.

20. Isahak is archaic Armenian, and considered a more scholarly form than Sahak.

21. Bonisac means “good Isaac” in Judeo–Provençal, a, Occitan dialect which sadly lost its last native speaker in 1977.

22. Higgin is a Medieval English diminutive. Another Medieval diminutive is Higg.

23. Itty is Malayalam, a language spoken in India. This may also be a form of Steven.

24. Jaziquet is Judeo–Provençal.

25. Saconet is also Judeo–Provençal.

26. Yeshak is Coptic.

27. Eisik is Yiddish. Another transliteration is Aizik.

28. Iisak is Estonian.

29. Ísakur is Faroese.

28. İshaq (with a dot on top of the I) is Azeri.

29. Isaakios is Greek.

30. Izarak is Haitian Creole.

31. Ixaj is Hmong.

32. Íosác is Irish.

33. Iskak is Javanese.

34. Aisak is Khmer.

35. Iskhaq is Kyrgyz.

36. Ysqaaq is also Kyrgyz.

37. Izaks is Latvian.

38. Aizeks is also Latvian.

39. Ițac is Romanian.

40. Iosag is Scottish.

41. Isxaaq is Somali.

42. Isaka is Swahili and Zulu.

43. Xịsæk is Thai.

Yoŭnik and Yara


Yoŭnik (also called Yovnik) is an adorable farmstead creature in Belarusian mythology. He lives in a drying barn, called yoŭnya or yovnya in Belarusian. Here the sheaves of grain were dried before threshing. Yoŭnik is rather small, and perpetually blackened from smoke and soot. He’s also frequently covered in spider webs.

He’s very ashamed of his appearance, and so always hides from people. However, he’s very hardworking, and always serving his people. Yoŭnik starts the fire in the oven, airs out the sheaves, sweeps the floor, and protects the harvest from evil spirits and bad people.

Sometimes, he comes to the barn window to cough up the soot and dust. More rarely, he crosses the threshold to inspect the sheaves in the warehouse, deflect or direct the wind during winnowing, or look at the people working in the barn.


If a bad person comes into the barn, Yoŭnik waits for him or her to fall asleep, and then disturbs the person’s sleep, sends smoke, or sometimes even burns the barn down or strangles the person. Yoŭnik himself can’t burn in the fire, unless lightning strikes. If that happens, he leaves behind no dust.

A parallel figure is Ovinnik, a protective barn spirit in the shape of a black cat, as big as a standard dog, with eyes burning like coals.

Copyright Oosoom

Yara (also called Iara, Uiara, or Mãe das Águas) is a water nymph, mermaid, or siren in Brazilian mythology. Her form changes depending upon the story. Yara originated in Guarani and Tupi mythology.

Yara is described as green-haired, brown-eyed, with copper or light brown skin (either a native Brazilian or a caboclo, someone of mixed-race ancestry). She sits on a rock by the river, combing her hair or napping in the sunlight. When she feels the presence of a man, she begins to softly sing to him.

Once under Yara’s spell, a man will leave anything to join her in her underwater world forever. This was no trick, as Yara is very beautiful, and will cater to all of her lover’s needs for the rest of his life. Though Yara is immortal, her lovers eventually get old and die.

The Yara legend was one of the more common explanations behind the disappearance of those who got lost in the jungle.

Yara means “water lady,” derived from Old Tupi y (water) and îara (lady). The name is very popular in Brazil, both as Yara and Iara.

The many forms of George

Once a solid Top 5, Top 10, and Top 20 name in the U.S., George gradually began slipping down the popularity charts during the 1950s. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1992, when it was #95. As of 2015, it was #135. In England and Wales, it’s much more popular, at #4, and in New Zealand, it’s #15. The name is #20 in Romania.

I know a lot of people associate this name with a dumb farmer or an old man (plus certain political associations I’m sure we don’t need to be told about!), but I’ve always been fond of it. It was the name of the father of my country, George Washington, one of our greatest presidents ever, as well as George Harrison. It took quite a long time for my head to understand what my heart already did, but I now proudly acknowledge the fact that he’s become my favourite Beatle. It just feels right, even if it was hard to come to terms with the fact that John had stopped being my fave rave. He needed to be my favourite during one long period of my life, but now George feels right as my favourite.

George is used in English and Romanian. Other forms include:

1. Gheorghe is another Romanian form, and currently extremely popular. Nicknames are Ghiță and Gigi.

2. Gjergj is Albanian.

3. Giorgi is Georgian, with the nickname Goga.

4. Gorka is Basque.

5. Georg is German, Scandinavian, Icelandic, and Estonian. German nicknames are Jockel and Jörg.

6. Giorgio is Italian. I’ve always adored this name!

7. Jorge is Spanish and Portuguese.

8. Georges is French.

9. Georgiy is Russian, with the nicknames Gosha and Zhora.

10. Georgi is Bulgarian.

11. Jürgen is Low German. Without diacritical marks, Jurgen is Dutch.

12. Jørgen is Norwegian and Danish. Nicknames are Jørn and Jørg. The alternate Swedish form is Jörgen.

13. Georgo is Esperanto.

14. Jurgis is Lithuanian.

15. Georgijs is Latvian.

16. Georgs is also Latvian.

17. Juris is an alternate Latvian form.

18. Iuri is an alternate Georgian form.

19. Jiří is Czech. Nicknames are Jura, Jirka, Jíra, Jiřík, Jiříček, Jiránek, Jiroušek, and Jiřin.

20. Juraj is Slovak and Croatian. Nicknames are Juro, Jurica, and Jure.

21. Jurij is Slovenian and Sorbian. Nicknames are Jurica and Jure.

22. Jurriaan is Dutch.

23. Joeri is an alternate Dutch form.

24. Joris is Frisian and Dutch.

25. Sjors is an alternate Dutch form.

26. György is Hungarian, with the nickname Gyuri. The Hungarian GY sound is kind of like the dg in “edge.”

27. Đorđe is Serbian.

28. Đuro is Serbian and Croatian.

29. Đurađ is another Serbian variation.

30. Georgios is Greek.

31. Giorgos is a modern Greek variant.

32. Yiorgos is another Greek form.

33. Yorgos is yet another Greek form.

34. Kevork is Western Armenian.

35. Gevorg is Eastern Armenian.

36. Jory is Cornish.

37. Jordi is Catalan. The Gascon form is Jòrdi.

38. Jyri is Finnish.

39. Jyrki is also Finnish.

40. Yrjänä is another Finnish form. The nickname is Yrjö.

41. Gjorgji is Macedonian.

42. Geevarghese is Malayalam, a language spoken in India. The nickname is Varghese.

43. Jerzy is Polish, with the nickname Jurek.

44. Yuriy is Russian and Ukrainian, with nicknames including Yura, Yurik, and Yuryechka.

45. Yegor is Russian. This isn’t to be confused with the similar name Igor.

46. Seoirse is Irish.

47. Deòrsa is Scottish. Nicknames are Dod, Dode, and Doddie.

48. Seòras is an alternate Scottish form.

49. Siôr is Welsh.

50. Siors is also Welsh.

51. Siorus is a third Welsh form.

52. Chorche is Aragonese.

53. Đura is Serbian and Croatian.

54. Georgije is an alternate Serbian form.

55. Ġorġ is Maltese.

56. Hori is Maori.

57. Jore is Norman, a language spoken in northern France.

58. Jori is yet another Finnish form.

59. Jüri is Estonian.

60. Jurjen is West Frisian.

61. Siaosi is Tongan.

62. Xurde is Asturian, a language spoken in Spain.

63. Yagur is Kalmyk, a Mongolic language spoken in Russia, Kazakhstan, and China.

The many forms of Jakob

Regular readers of both this blog and my main blog may have noticed I consistently use the spelling Jakob instead of the more common Jacob. While I personally think the K makes it stand out and gives it an added boost of personality (particularly considering how super-popular it’s been for so long), my main reason is that the first Jacob I knew was a terrible bully. Even after meeting wonderful Jacobs who were nothing like the first, that association stayed. Using the K spelling takes the sting out of the name for me. It doesn’t make me think of him.

The conventional English spelling Jacob has been in the Top 10 in the U.S. since 1993. From 1999–2012, it was #1. As of 2015, it was #4, and also enjoying high popularity in Canada (#6), Australia (#11), New Zealand (#10), Northern Ireland (#12), England and Wales (#5), and Scotland (#11). My spelling, Jakob, was #3 in Austria, #15 in Norway, and #6 in Slovenia.

The spelling Jacob is used in English and Dutch. Other variants, starting with the one I prefer, are:

1. Jakob is German, Scandinavian, Slovenian, and Icelandic, as well as an alternate Dutch spelling. It still rankles when I remember one of the know-it-all agents who dogpiled me in a pitchfest some years back, insisting (based on something like three lines of a pitch!) I hadn’t done my research and didn’t know jack due to my usage of the spelling Jakob on a Dutch character. Um, no, it’s a legit Dutch spelling variation, and the reason for it is explained in the story. Odd how everyone else has praised my attention to historical accuracy and detail, including the names I choose. Yet another reason why I went indie.

Jockel is the German nickname; Jaša and Jaka are Slovenian; Jeppe and Ib are Danish; and Jaap, Jaapje, Jaapetje, Jop, Koos, Kobus, Kobe, Coos, and Cobus are Dutch.

The slight variation Jákob is a lesser-used Hungarian form, though the more widely-used Hungarian form is…

2. Jakab. Nicknames for both include Jaksi, Jákó, Jaksa, Jaki, and Koba.

3. Jakub is Polish, Czech, and Slovak, with the cute Polish nickname Kuba. Slovak and Czech nicknames include Jašek, Kuba, Kubík, Kubíček, Jakoubek, and Jakes.

4. Jakov is Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The Serbian and Croatian nickname is Jakša.

5. Japik is Frisian.

6. Jokūbas is Lithuanian.

7. Jēkabs is Latvian.

8. Jakes is Basque.

9. Jaakko is Finnish.

10. Jaakoppi is also Finnish.

11. Jaakob is a third Finnish form, and Estonian. The nickname for all three is Jaska.

12. Jaagup is Estonian. The nickname is Jaak.

13. Jákup is Faroese.

14. Jacobo is Spanish.

15. Jago is Cornish.

16. Jaume is Catalan. The nickname is Jaumet.

17. Jacques is French.

18. Jaques is Jèrriais. Nicknames include Jacot and Jaquinot. An alternate Jèrriais form is Jâcob.

19. Iago is Galician and Welsh, and of course the familiar name of the antagonist of Othello.

20. Jacó is Portuguese.

21. Iakob is Georgian, with the nickname Koba.

22. Yakov is Russian and Bulgarian, with the nickname Yasha. This is one of the irregular patronymics, with the male form Yakovlevich and the feminine Yakovlevna.

23. Yakiv is Ukrainian and Belarusian.

24. Yakub is an alternate Belarusian form, as well as Arabic. The Belarusian and Ukrainian nickname for both Yakiv and Yakub is Yakush.

25. Ya’akov is Hebrew.

26. Akiva is a variant Hebrew form. Rabbi Akiva was a famous First Century scholar who was an illiterate shepherd till he was 40. His wife Rachel saw something special in him, and pushed him to start learning and go off to study. He became a great sage, in spite of having no formal Jewish background or even the ability to read and write.

27. Yankel is Yiddish.

28. Kapel is also Yiddish.

29. Koppel is a third Yiddish form.

30. Jacopo is Italian.

31. Giacobbe is an alternate Italian form.

32. Iacopo is also Italian. The nickname for all three is Lapo.

33. Yaqub is a variant Arabic transliteration.

34. Hagop is Armenian.

35. Hakob is an alternate Armenian form. Eastern and Western Armenian pronounce certain letters differently, and have other significant linguistic differences.

36. Yakup is Turkish.

37. Seumas is Scottish.

38. Iakopa is Hawaiian.

39. Hemi is Maori.

40. Yago is an alternate Spanish form.

41. Iacob is Romanian.

42. Iacov is also Romanian.

43. Iakovos is Greek.

44. Jaimé is Filipino.

45. Yakaŭ is an alternate Belarusian form.

46. Jakobo is Esperanto.

47. Jappe is West Frisian.

48. Jeikobu is Japanese.

49. Küba is Vilamovian, a Germanic language spoken in Poland.

50. Ukba is Aramaic.

51. Xacobe is Galician.

52. Yaghoub is Persian.

53. Yakobo is Swahili.

54. Yaqup is Bashkir, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

55. Yoqub is Uzbek.

56. Séamus is Irish.

57. Séamas is also Irish.

The many forms of Joseph

Once considered “too Jewish” for most Christians to use, the name Joseph has been a popular mainstay since the late Middle Ages, when Saint Joseph’s star rose. It first caught on among a wider audience in Spain and Italy, and it became more popular in England after the Protestant Reformation. In the Jewish world, it calls to mind the Biblical Yosef, favourite son of Jakob, and in the Christian world, it calls to mind the father of Jesus.

Joseph was on the Top 10 in the U.S. from 1880–1934, and then dropped into the Top 20. It rose and fell slightly over the ensuing decades, with its lowest rank being #22 in 2011. In 2015, it was #21. The name has also enjoyed much popularity in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and New Zealand. The spelling Josef was once quite popular in Switzerland, and is currently enjoying a #26 rank in the Czech Republic and #48 in Sweden.

The spelling Joseph is English and French. Other versions include:

1. Josef is German, Czech, and Scandinavian. German nicknames include Sepp and Seppel, and Czech nicknames include Pepa, Pepík, Pepíček, Jožka, Joska, and Jožánek.

2. Józef is Polish. The nickname is Józek. The alternate version Jožef is Slovenian, with the nickname Jože. Another alternate version, Jozef without any diacritical marks, is Slovak and Dutch. The Dutch nicknames include Sjef, Zef, Jos, Jef, Joep, Joop, Joos, and Joost.

3. József is Hungarian. Nicknames include Jóska and Józsi.

4. Josif is Serbian and Macedonian.

5. Joosep is Estonian.

6. Juozapas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Juozas.

7. Jāzeps is Latvian.

8. Jozefo is Esperanto. The nickname is Joĉjo.

9. Josèp is Occitan. Josep, without any diacritical marks, is Catalan.

10. Josip is Slovenian and Croatian. The Croatian nicknames are Joško, Joso, and Jozo, and the Slovenian nickname is once again Jože.

11. Jooseppi is Finnish. The nickname is Juuso.

12. Iosif is Russian, Romanian, and Greek. One of the Russian nicknames is Osya.

13. Ioseb is Georgian, with the nickname Soso. This was Stalin’s real name.

14. José is Spanish and Portuguese. Spanish nicknames are Pepe, Pepo, and Pepito, and Portuguese nicknames are  and Zezé.

15. Xosé is Galician.

16. Joseba is Basque.

17. Josepe is an alternate Basque form.

18. Giuseppe is Italian, with the nicknames Beppe, Peppe, Peppi, Pino, and Peppino.

19. Yosef is Hebrew.

20. Osip is an alternate Russian form, also with the nickname Osya.

21. Yusuf is Arabic and Turkish.

22. Yusef is another Arabic form.

23. Yousef is another way to transliterate the Arabic form of Joseph.

24. Hovsep is Armenian.

25. Yusif is Azeri.

26. Yosif is Bulgarian.

27. Hohepa is Maori.

28. Yusup is Uyghur, a Turkic language spoken in China.

29. Yosyp is Ukrainian.

30. Yussel is Yiddish.

31. Seòsaidh is Scottish.

32. Seosamh is Irish.

33. Ghjaseppu is Corsican.

34. Ġużeppi is Maltese.

35. Iokepa is Hawaiian.

36. Iosefo is Samoan.

37. Ipe is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

38. Jisepu is Sardinian.

39. Jósepr is Old Norse.

40. Joskin is a Medieval English nickname.

41. Juza is Vilamovian, a Germanic language spoken in Poland.

42. Osi is Nenets, a native Siberian language.

43. Outha is an alternate Malayalam form.

44. Ouseph is also Malayalam.

45. Seppi is Alsatian.

46. Sifa is Tongan.

47. Sifis is a variation found on Crete.

48. Simprofié is Romani.

49. Yisap is Chuvash, a native Siberian language.

50. Yosip is Assyrian.

51. Yosop is Bashkir, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

52. Yosyf is Tatar.

53. Yusup is Turkmeni.

54. Yusupha is Sanskrit and Hindi.

55. Yuusuf is Somali.

56. Jâosé is Jèrriais. The nickname is Jâoséphin.

57. Yazep is Belarusian.