The many forms of Sophia

British novelist Sophia Lee, 1750–1824

Sophia, which means “wisdom” in Greek, has been extraordinarily popular over the last 15-20 years, after decades of being unfashionable and considered geriatric. In 1997, it shot into the U.S. Top 100, at #94, up from #124 the previous year. It continued rocketing upwards, reaching #1 from 2011–13. In 2017, it was down to #5.

It’s also #3 in Canada; #5 in Austria; #10 in Northern Ireland; #11 in England and Wales; #15 in Australia; #17 in Switzerland and Scotland; #18 in Ireland; #23 in New Zealand; #42 in The Netherlands; #54 in Belgium; and #90 in Norway.

Saint Sophia with her daughters Faith, Hope, and Love

Sofia, which is modern Greek, Italian, Catalan, Romanian, Slovak, Estonian, Finnish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and German, has also been enjoying great popularity. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2003, at #97, and shot up to its peak of #12 in 2014. In 2017, it was #15.

It’s also #1 in Italy, Galicia, and Chile; #2 in Spain (as Sofía) and Finland; #3 in Switzerland and Denmark; #8 in Belgium and Portugal; #12 in Catalonia; #19 in Norway; #31 in England and Wales; #32 in France; #37 in Canada; #38 in Australia; #42 in Austria; #43 in Scotland and Ireland; #44 in The Netherlands; #45 in Sweden; #50 in Northern Ireland; #61 in New Zealand; and #97 in the Czech Republic.

Regent Sofya Alekseyevna of Russia (1657–1704), Peter the Great’s older halfsister, who would’ve been an excellent empress in her own right

Sophie, which is French, Dutch, English, and German, has also been experiencing great popularity. It entered the U.S. top 100 in 2007, at #82, and attained its highest rank of #51 in 2011. In 2017, it was #106.

It’s also #1 in The Netherlands; #4 in Scotland; #5 in Ireland; #6 in Northern Ireland; #8 in Austria; #9 in New Zealand; #11 in Australia; #16 in England and Wales; #23 in Canada; and #25 in Switzerland.

Heroic Sophie Scholl (1921–43) of the anti-Nazi White Rose group

Other forms of the name include:

1. Zofia is Polish, and my favourite spelling. The Z just gives it so much character, zing, and personality. I loved this name from the first time I saw it. The nickname is Zosia (ZO-sha). Its Slovak form is Žofia (Zho-fee-yah).

2. Sofya is Russian. Its base nickname is the familiar Sonya.

3. Sofiya is Ukrainian, Russian, and Bulgarian.

4. Sofija is Serbian, Macedonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

5. Soffia is Welsh. The variation Soffía is Icelandic.

6. Zsófia is Hungarian.

7. Sofie is Czech, Dutch, German, and Danish. The last two letters are pronounced separately in Czech and Danish, not as one.

8. Žofie is also Czech, with the same pronunciation rules.

9. Sopio is Georgian. Another Georgian form is Sopia.

10. Kopi is Hawaiian. A rarer Hawaiian variation is Kopaea.

Polish writer Zofia Nałkowska, 1884–1954

11. Sovaia is Fijian.

12. Suvfia is Greenlandic.

13. Zofija is Slovenian and Lithuanian.

14. Sufia is Arabic.

15. Soffá is Sami. Another Sami form is Sofe.

16. Sofio is Esperanto. Traditional (as it were) female names in Esperanto end in O, despite that being seen as the mark of a male name in other languages.

17. Suffía is Faroese.

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The Zs of Medieval names

Male:

Zakarriyya (Moorish Arabic): Form of Zachary (God remembers), derived from Hebrew name Zecharyah.

Zavida (Serbian): “To envy,” from root zavideti. It was superstitiously used to divert the evil eye from children. The rare modern Serbian name Zaviša descends from Zavida.

Zbignev (Slavic): “To dispel anger,” from roots zbyti and gnyevu. The modern forms are Zbigniew (Polish) and Zbygněv (Czech).

Zeisolf (German): “Tender wolf,” from roots zeiz and wolf.

Zhelimir (Slavic): Hypothetical form of modern Serbian and Croatian name Želimir (to desire peace). Its roots are zheleti (to wish, to desire) and miru (peace, world).

Zierick (Flemish)

Zilar (Basque): “Silver.”

Zilio (Tuscan Italian)

Zorzi (Tuscan Italian): Form of George (farmer).

Zuan (Venetian Italian): Form of John (God is gracious), from Hebrew name Yochanan. The feminine form was Zuana.

Zumurrud (Moorish Arabic): “Emerald,” from Persian root zumrud.

Female:

Zalema (Juedo–Catalan, Ladino [Judeo–Spanish]): Form of Arabic name Salimah (to be safe).

Zaneta (Tuscan Italian): Nickname for Giovanna (a feminine form of John).

Zanobi (Tuscan Italian): Form of Zenobia (life of Zeus).

Zelante (Tuscan Italian)

Zelva (Baltic)

Zezilia (Basque): Form of Cecilia (blind), from Latin root caecus.

Zianna (Basque)

Zita (Basque): “The lord, the master,” from Arabic root as-sayyid. The masculine form was Ziti. This is the source of El Cid’s name.

Zubayda (Judeo–Arabic): “Prime, élite, cream.”

Zubiya (Arabic): “Gazelle.”

Zuria (Basque): “White,” from root zuri.

Zymeria (German)

When Z replaces S

I love the flair and extra personality brought to a name when Z is used in place of S. Whereas names using K instead of C tend to be from a wider range of languages, switching out S for Z seems to be mostly a feature of Slavic languages, Hungarian, Armenian, Lithuanian, and Latvian.

Elizabeth seems about evenly split. A Z is used in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian, while S is used in most other languages’ versions.  Over time, I’ve grown to far prefer the spelling Elisabeth, and love variants such as Eliisabet, Elisabeta, and Elisabetta.

Names using Z in place of the S expected in the Anglophone world include:

Female:

Anastazija, Anastazie, Anastázia, Anasztázia

Izabella, Izabela, Izabelė

Izaura

Izida (most Slavic languages’ form of Isis), Izīda (Latvian form), Izidė (Lithuanian form), Izyda (Polish form)

Izolda

Izydora, Izidóra

Jazmín

Jozefa, Jožefa, Józefa

Jozefina, Józefina, Jozefína, Jozefien, Jozefine

Jozette

Jozina, Jozine, Jozien

Kazimiera, Kazimira

Luiza, Louiza

Roza, Róža, Róża, Ruža, Róza, Rožė, Růžena

Rozalia, Rozalija, Rozalie, Rozália, Rozālija, Rozálie

Tereza, Terezie, Teréz, Terézia, Terezija

Zabel (Armenian form of Isabella)

Zofia, Zsófia, Žofia, Žofie

Zsuzsanna, Zuzana, Zuzanna, Zane

Male:

Ambroży, Ambrož, Ambrozije

Anastazy

Izaak, Izsák, Izaäk, Izák, Izak, Izaokas

Izaiaš, Izaija

Izydor, Izidorius

Jozef, Józef, Jožef, József, Jozefo

Jozias

Jozue (Czech and Slovak form of Joshua), Jozuė (Lithuanian form)

Kazimir, Kazimierz, Kázmér, Kazimír, Kazimieras

Zelig

Zurab (Georgian form of Sohrab, which means “shining” or “red water” in Persian)

Zygfryd

Zygmunt, Zikmund, Zsigmond, Žigmund, Žiga

Silvery, golden names

To continue with the theme of my last post, here are some more names related to metals, though a bit more upscale than the previous ones. Whereas almost all of the names I found relating to metal, steel, iron, copper, and bronze were male, these names relating to gold and silver are much more evenly distributed among the sexes.

Unisex:

Aurum means “gold” in Latin.

Hiran means “silver” in Thai.

Hopea means “silver” in Finnish.

Jin can mean “gold, metal, money” in Chinese.

Jinhua can mean “brilliance/magnificence of gold” in Chinese.

Jinyu can mean “gold feather,” “gold jade,” and “gold, flawless gem” in Chinese.

Kanok means “gold” in Thai.

Kulta means “gold” and “dear, darling” in Finnish.

Lipaz means “my gold” in Hebrew.

Olaedo means “gold” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Paz means “gold” in Hebrew.

Souvankham is a Lao name derived from suvan (gold) and kham (golden, precious).

Souvanna means “gold” in Lao.

Spinzar literally means “white gold” in Pashto, though in actual practice means “silver.”

Vanna means “golden” in Khmer.

Vendi means “silver” in Telugu.

Voski means “gold” in Armenian.

Yari is a Spanish–Caribbean name supposedly derived from a Taino word meaning “small gold jewelry.”

Female:

Aranka means “gold” in Hungarian, and is also used as their form of Aurelia, which means the same thing. One of the nicknames is Ari.

Argenta is an Italian name of Greek origin, meaning “silver.”

Arianrhod means “silver wheel” or “round wheel” in Welsh.

Arianwen means “blessed/white/fair silver” in Welsh.

Altynai means “golden Moon” in Kazakh and Kyrgyz.

Altynshash means “golden voice” in Kazakh.

Anacaona means “golden flower” in Taino.

Aouregan means “golden face” or “shining gold” in Breton.

Ardita means “golden day” in Albanian.

Arjeta means “golden life” in Albanian.

Arlinda means “golden birth” in Albanian.

Arta means “golden” in Albanian.

Auria, or Aurea, means “golden” in Latin.

Ayzik means “gold” in Nivkh, a language spoken in Outer Manchuria.

Chrysanthemum means “golden flower” in Greek. I prefer this as a middle name paired with a shorter forename.

Chrysopelia means “golden dove” in Greek.

Dinara is a rare but gorgeous Russian, Kazakh, and Tatar name derived from the name of the Persian golden coin.

Eurddolen means “golden ring” in Welsh.

Eurgain means “splendid gold” in Welsh.

Eurwen is a Welsh name derived from the elements aur (gold) and gwen (white, fair, blessed).

Fidda means “silver” in Arabic.

Genji means “gold” in Chinese, and is somewhat of a rare name.

Ginko means “silver child” in Japanese.

Golda is Yiddish.

Gulazer means “golden rose” in Kurdish.

Hema means “golden” in Sanskrit.

Kanaka means “gold” in Sanskrit.

Kanchana means “golden” in Sanskrit.

Kezîzer means “golden fringe” in Kurdish.

Kula means “gold” in Hawaiian.

Lalzari means “golden ruby” in Pashto.

Lamar means “liquid gold” in Arabic. I’d avoid this in the Anglophone world, where the name (albeit with a different etymology) is exclusively male.

Lujayn means “silver” in Arabic.

Masayu means “pretty/beautiful gold” in Malay.

Millaray means “golden flower” in Mapuche.

Nubia possibly derives from the Ancient Egyptian nbw (gold).

Orabela means “golden-beautiful” in Esperanto.

Oravera means “true gold” in Judeo–Italian.

Órfhlaith means “golden princess” in Irish. Simplified, Anglicized forms are Orla, Orlagh, and Órlaith.

Oria is an Italian name probably derived from the Latin aurum, the Spanish oro, or the French or (gold). The elaborated form is Oriana.

Oriane, or Orianne, is the French version of Oriana.

Orinda is an English name possibly derived from the Spanish oro.

Orovida means “golden life” in Ladino (Judeo–Spanish).

Q’orianka means “golden eagle” in Quechuan, an indigenous South American language.

Qullqi means “silver” in Quechuan.

Quri means “gold” in Quechuan.

Quriquyllur means “golden star” in Quechuan.

Qurit’ika means “golden flower” in Quechuan.

Rukmini means “adorned with gold” in Sanskrit. This was Lord Krishna’s first wife.

Saffron is an English name which refers to the world’s most expensive spice, the flower it’s harvested from, and its orange-yellow colour. It ultimately derives from the Arabic za’faran, and probably a Persian word meaning “gold leaves.” This is also the name of Simon and Yasmin Le Bon’s middle daughter.

Silfrún is a modern Icelandic name meaning “silver secret.”

Simin means “silvery” in Persian.

Solgull is a modern Norwegian name meaning “golden Sun.”

Sona means “gold” in Hindi.

Sonal means “gold” in Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati.

Sovanna means “golden, dream” in Khmer.

Tala means “gold” in Persian.

Teruworq means “good gold” in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia.

Thangam means “gold” in Tamil.

Tylla means “gold” in Turkmeni.

Urairat means “glass and gold” in Thai.

Vosgedzin means “creator of gold” in Armenian.

Worknesh, or Werknesh, possibly means “you are like gold” in Amharic.

Wuraola means “gold of wealth” in Yoruba.

Zahava, or Zehava, means “gold” in Hebrew.

Zarafshan means “distributor of gold” in Persian.

Zarbaha means “gold” in Pashto.

Zareen means “golden” in Persian.

Zarsa means “like gold” in Persian.

Zaruhi is an Armenian name derived from the Persian zar (gold) and the Armenian feminine suffix uhi.

Zêrav means “golden water” in Kurdish.

Zêrda means “gold” in Kurdish.

Zêrgul means “golden rose” in Kurdish.

Zerrin means “golden” in Turkish.

Zlata means “golden” in Serbian, Czech, Slovenian, Slovak, Russian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The base nickname in most of those languages is Zlatica.

Zlatomira means “golden peace” in Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

Male:

Afwerki means “mouth of gold” in Tigrinyan, a language spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.

Altanbaatar means “gold hero” in Mongolian.

Ardit means “golden day” in Albanian.

Argento means “silver” in Esperanto.

Argyros means “silver” in Greek.

Arian means “golden life” in Albanian.

Arlind means “golden birth” in Albanian.

Armend means “golden mind” in Albanian.

Armir means “good gold” or “beautiful gold” in Albanian.

Auksys is a rare Lithuanian name meaning “gold.”

Aureus means “golden, gilded” in Latin.

Aurian means “gold” or “golden” in Latin.

Draupnir means “goldsmith” in Old Norse.

Eurig means “gold” in Welsh.

Eurion means “gold” in Welsh.

Florin means “piece of gold” in Albanian.

Goldmund means “gold mouth” and “golden protection” in German. This is the name of one of the two title characters in Hermann Hesse’s excellent Narcissus and Goldmund, which is set during the Middle Ages.

Kou means “gold” in Hmong.

Nhia means “silver” in Hmong.

Okropir means “gold mouth” in Georgian.

Oriol means “golden” in Catalan.

Pazel means “God’s gold” in Hebrew.

Pazi means “my gold” in Hebrew.

Perak means “silver” in Malay.

Prak means “silver” in Khmer.

Rezart means “golden ray” in Albanian.

Wunna means “gold” in Burmese.

Zilar means “silver” in Medieval Basque.

Zlatan is the male form of Zlata, The base nickname form in most languages is Zlatko.

Zlatibor means “golden battle” in Serbian and Croatian. This is also the name of a Serbian mountain.

Zlatomir is the masculine form of Zlatomira.

Memorable names

To mark the upcoming Memorial Day, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “memory” and “remember.” Many of the names I found are Greek and Lithuanian.

Unisex:

Chikumbutso means “memory” in Chewa, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Kumbukani means “remember” in Chewa.

Oluranti, or Oluwaranti, means “God remembers” in Yoruba.

Remember was a Virtue name in the Pilgrim/Puritan era.

Male:

Algminas comes from the Lithuanian alga (reward; salary) and minėti (to remember, to commemorate; to celebrate).

Alminas comes from the Lithuanian al (everything) and minėti.

Almintas comes from the Lithuanian al and mintis (thought). The latter element is related to minti (to remember, to recall).

Arminas, as an independent Lithuanian name instead of the Lithuanian form of the German Armin, comes from ar (also) and minėti.

Darmintas comes from the Lithuanian daryti (to act, to d0, to work) and mintis.

Daugmintas comes from the Lithuanian daug (much) and mintis.

Domintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian dovis or dotas (present, gift) and mintis.

Ekiye means “remember me” in Ijaw, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Funganayi means “remember each other” in Shona, a Bantu language spoken in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Gailiminas comes from the Old Lithuanian gailas (potent, strong; remorseful, sorrowful, miserable; jagged, sharp; violent, fierce, angry), and the modern Lithuanian galia (force, might, power). The second element is minėtiMingailas is a flipped form.

Gaudminas comes from the Lithuanian gaudyti (to take, to hunt, to catch) or gaudus (sonorous, echoing, loud, ringing, resonant), and minėtiMingaudas is a flipped form.

Gedmintas comes from the Old Lithuanian gedauti (to ask) or modern Lithuanian gedėti (to grieve, to mourn, to miss, to long, to yearn, to pine), and mintisMingedas is a flipped form.

Gosminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian gosti or gostis (to crave, to desire; to seek, to strive, to pursue) and minėti.

Ituaton means “remember me” in Ijaw.

Kęsminas is derived from the Lithuanian kęsti (to cope; to suffer, to endure, to undergo) and minėti.

Kujtim means “remembrance” in Albanian.

Liaudminas comes from the Lithuanian liaudis (people, folk) and minėti.

Mantminas comes from the Lithuanian mantus (intelligent), or manta (property, estate, riches, fortune, wealth), and minėti. A flipped form is Minmantas.

Mímir means ” memory” in Old Norse, and was the name of a god with omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mimulf is an Ancient Germanic name also derived from the element mímir, coupled with the Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Minalgas comes from minėti or mintis, and alga.

Mingintas comes from mintis or minėti, and ginti (to defend, to protect).

Mingirdas comes from mintis or minėti, and girdas (rumour).

Minjotas comes from mintis or minėti, and joti (to ride horseback).

Mintautus comes from the Baltic tauta (nation, people) and minėti. The flipped form is Tautminas.

Minvaidas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaidyti (to appear, to visit). The flipped form is Vaidminas.

Minvainas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaina (fault; cause, reason).

Minvilas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vil (hope).

Minvydas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vyd (to see). The flipped form is Vydminas.

Mnemon means “mindful” in Greek, derived from mneme (memory, remembrance), and ultimately from mnaomai (to remember, to be mindful of).

Mnesarchos is derived from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which itself is derived from mnemoneuo (to remember, to call to mind, to think of). In turn, mnemoneuo is derived from mnaomai. The second element may be either archos (leader, master) or arche (source, origin, beginning).

Mnesikles is derived from mnesios (of memory) and kleos (glory).

Mnesitheos is derived from mnesios and theos (God).

Mnesos is also derived from mnesios.

Muninn comes from the Old Norse munr (mind), and is the name of one of Odin’s two ravens. Muninn symbolizes Memory. Every day, he and the other raven, Huginn, fly all over the world to get information and news for Odin.

Normintas comes from the Lithuanian noras (desire, wish) and mintis.

Oroitz means “memory” in Basque.

Tonderai means “remember” in Shona.

Vaimintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian vajoti (to pursue, to chase), or vajys (courier, messenger), and mintis.

Virminas comes from the Lithuanian vyrauti (to prevail, to dominate) and minėti.

Visminas comes from the Baltic vis (all) and minėti.

Yozachar means “God remembered” in Hebrew.

Žadminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from žadėti (to promise) and minėti.

Zechariah, or Zachariah, is the Anglicized form of the Hebrew Zecharyah, which means “God remembers.” Other forms include Zacharias (Greek), Zakariás (Hungarian), Zacharie (French), Zachariasz (Polish), Zakaria (Georgian and Arabic), Zaccharias (Latin), Zakariya and Zakariyya (Arabic), Zakhar (Russian), Zahari (Bulgarian), Zacarías (Spanish), ZacharyZachery, and Zackary (English), Sachairi (Scottish), Sakari (Finnish), Zaharija and Zakarije (Serbian and Croatian), Zakar (Armenian and Mordvin), Zakarija (Croatian), Zaccaria (Italian), Zakaría (Icelandic), and Zekeriya (Turkish).

Zichri means “remembrance” in Hebrew.

Female:

Coventina was a British Celtic goddess of springs and water. Her name derives from Proto–Celtic kom-men (memory) and ti-ni (to melt, to disappear).

Jadyrah, or Zhadyrah, is a Kazakh name possibly derived from jad/zhad (memory).

Khatereh means “memory” in Persian.

Mimigard is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the Old Norse mímir (memory) and gardan (to fence in, to hedge in, to enclose). Mímir was also the name of a god who had omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mneme means “memory” in Greek.

Mnemosyne means “remembrance” in Greek. She was the Muse of memory.

Mnesarete roughly means “commemorating virtue.” It comes from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which is in turn derived from mnemoneuo and mnaomai; and arete (goodness, skill, excellence, virtue).

Remembrance was a Virtue name in the Puritan/Pilgrim world.

Smriti means “memory” in Sanskrit.

Tizita means “memory” in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia.

Yeukai means “remember” in Shona.

Zacharine is a rare feminine form of Zachary, found in English, Norwegian, and German.