Toumaï

Copyright Didier DescouensCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Toumaï means “hope of life” in the Nilo–Saharan Daza language of Chad. Traditionally, it’s given to children born just before the dry season. It’s also the nickname of a Sahelanthropus tchadensis skull, five pieces of jaw, and a few teeth.

Toumaï, discovered by Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye in July 2001 in Chad’s Djurab Desert, is roughly seven million years old, and our currently oldest known hominin ancestor. (Hominins are humans and our ancestors in the Homo genus; hominids are non-human primates and the Homo genus.)

I really, really love the name Toumaï. Not only does it have an attractive sound, but it’s got such a powerful symbolism. It really gives me goosebumps.

Model of the head and shoulders of an adult male Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Hall of Human Origins, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Copyright Tim Evanson; source http://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/7283201268/

Paleoanthropology has been one of my passions since second grade (almost thirty years), as well as being my dream career. It’s such a beautiful, perfect blend of science and history. While my personal favourite prehistoric ancestors have always been the Neanderthals (whose name does not deserve to be used so pejoratively!), I also have great love for our much more ancient ancestors.

This would be a great name (in either the front or middle position) for a child born very sickly, or after many years of infertility. It would also work very well if you follow the custom of adding a name after surviving a serious illness or accident, for good luck.

Our ancestor Toumaï, 230,000 generations before us, truly represents our hope of life, and the genesis of our long journey to Homo sapiens.

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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.

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.

Fatherly names

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “father.”

Female:

Abigail is the English and German form of the Hebrew Avigayil, which means “my father is joy.” The variation Abigaíl is Spanish, and the variation Abigaïl is Dutch and French. Other forms include Abigél (Hungarian), Apikalia (Hawaiian), Abigaëlle (French), Abigaël (Dutch and French), Abigailė (Lithuanian), Apikaira (Maori), and Avigeya (Russian).

Adanna means “father’s daughter” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Adannaya means “her father’s daughter” in Igbo.

Akunna means “father’s wealth” in Igbo.

Aviela, or Aviella, means “God is my father” in Hebrew.

Avishag means “my father strays” in Hebrew.

Avital means “my father is dew” in Hebrew.

Cleopatra means “glory of the father” in Greek. This spelling is used in English, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish, Other forms include Kleopatra (Greek, Polish, Macedonian, Serbian, Czech, Croatian, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Bosnian, Bulgarian), Kleópatra (Icelandic), Cléopâtre (French), Cliupatra (Sicilian), Cleòpatra (Catalan), Cleópatra (Portuguese), and Kleopátra (Hungarian).

Male:

Abidemi means “born during father’s absence” in Yoruba.

Aitor may mean “good fathers” in Basque.

Attila is a popular Hungarian name which may mean “little father” in Gothic. Attila József (or József Attila in the Hungarian style) is one of Hungary’s greatest national poets.

Avi means “my father” in Hebrew.

Avidan means “my father is judge” in Hebrew.

Aviel means “God is my father” in Hebrew.

Aviezer means “my father is help” in Hebrew.

Avihu means “he is my father” in Hebrew.

Avimael means “my father is God” in Hebrew.

Avimelech means “my father is king” in Hebrew.

Avinoam means “my father is pleasant” in Hebrew.

Aviram means “my father is exalted” in Hebrew.

Avishai means “my father is a gift” in Hebrew.

Avner, or Abner, means “my father is light” in Hebrew.

Avraham, or Abraham, means “father of many” in Hebrew.

Avram, or Abram, means “high father” in Hebrew.

Avshalom, or Absalom, means “my father is peace” in Hebrew.

Babajide means “father has returned” in Yoruba.

Babak means “little father” in Persian.

Enyinnaya means “his father’s friend” in Igbo.

Ikenna means “father’s power” in Igbo.

Liav means “I have a father” in Hebrew.

Mamuka means “little father” in Georgian.

Nnamdi means “my father is alive” in Igbo. This was traditionally bestowed upon a boy believed to be the reincarnation of his grandfather.

Obinna means “father’s heart” in Igbo.

Okenna means “great father” in Igbo.

Otaslav means “father’s glory” in Russian.

PatroklosPatroclos, or Patroclus means “glory of the father” in Greek.

Tatomir is a Polish, Serbian, and Croatian name meaning “father of peace.”

Toishybek means “father will be celebrating” in Kazakh.

Udonna means “father’s peace” in Igbo.

Ugonna means “father’s glory” or “eagle of the father” in Igbo.

Freedom names

To mark the 28th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests I thought I’d put together a list of names whose meaning relates to the words “freedom” and “free.” That image of the lone man facing down a line of tanks (not just the one most commonly shown) has stayed with me and given me goosebumps since it made the news when I was nine years old.

Unisex:

Azadeh means “freedom” in Persian.

Hürriyet means “liberty, freedom” in Turkish.

Kainoa means “sea of freedom” in Hawaiian.

Kanoa means “the free one” in Hawaiian.

Liri, or Lirian, means “freedom” in Albanian.

Liron means “our freedom” in Albanian. This isn’t to be confused with the Hebrew name Liron, which means “joy for me” or “song for me.”

Ominira means “freedom, independence” in Yoruba.

Serey means “freedom” in Khmer, as well as “peace,” power, authority,” and “charm, beauty.”

Wanangwa means “freedom” in Tumbuka, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Female:

Aditi means “freedom, security” or “entire, boundless” in Sanskrit. She’s the mother of all the Hindu deities, and goddess of fertility and the sky.

Cherut, or Herut, means “freedom” in Hebrew.

Eleuthera is a rare English name derived from the Ancient Greek Eleutheris, meaning “freedom, liberty.”

Elira means “to be free” in Albanian.

Isaree means “freedom” in Thai.

Libertad means “freedom, liberty” in Spanish.

Libertas means “freedom, liberty” in Latin. She was the goddess of liberty.

Lirija means “freedom” in Albanian.

Malaya means “free, independent” in Tagalog.

Nonkululeko means “freedom” in Zulu.

Qhispi means “free, freedom” in Quechan, a native South American language.

Saoirse (SEER-sha) means “freedom” in Irish.

Slobodanka means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. A rarer form is Sloboda.

Male:

Dror means “freedom” in Hebrew. This name also means “sparrow.”

Ilir is an Albanian name derived from the Illyrian tribe from whom the present-day Albanian people are descended. It’s believed to mean “freedom” or “the free.”

Irek means “free” in Tatar and Bashkir.

Laisvydas is a rare Lithuanian name meaning “to see freedom.”

Liridon means “desire for freedom” in Albanian.

Merdeka means “free, independent” in Malay.

Neberd means “free” in Kurdish.

Nebez also means “free” in Kurdish.

Serbest means “freedom” in Kurdish.

Slobodan means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The nickname is Boban.

Volya is a rare Russian name meaning “freedom, will.”