The Ws of Medieval names

Female:

Warina (English): Feminine form of Ancient Germanic name Warin (protect, guard).

Wulfhild (Scandinavian, German): “Wolf battle,” from Ancient Germanic roots wulf and hild.

Wulfrun (English)

Wulfwynn (English)

Wymarda (English)

Male:

Waldeko (Baltic, Livonian)

Waleran (English, Flemish, French): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Walderam, with Gothic roots valdan (to reign) and hraban or hramn (raven). In the case of the English name, it may also be a form of Valerian (to be strong), from Latin root valere.

Walraven (Flemish)

Waste (Swedish): Nickname for names ending in -vast (firmly, fast), from Old Norse root fast. Obviously a name to be avoided in the Anglophone world!

Witoslav (Czech): “To rule in glory,” from roots wit and slava.

Wolfstan, Wolstan (English): Derived from Anglo–Saxon name Wulfstan (wolf stone), with roots wulf and stan.

Wortwin (German): From Old High German roots wort (word) and wini (friend).

Woru (Welsh)

Wrath (English): Referred to the wrath of God.

Wybert (English): Derived from Old English name Wigberht (bright battle), with roots wig (battle) and beorht (bright).

Wymond (English): Derived from Old English name Wigmund, with roots wig and mund (protector).

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All about the names Edward, Edmund, and Edgar

King Edward VI of England (as Prince of Wales), 12 October 1537–6 July 1553

Edward, used in English and Polish (albeit with differing pronunciations), comes from the Old English elements ead (fortune, wealth) and weard (guard). It loosely translates as “rich guard.” Several Anglo–Saxon kings bore this name, the last of whom was Edward the Confessor.

Thanks to Edward the Confessor’s popularity, the English people kept using his name even under Norman occupation. It’s remained popular not only in England, but throughout Europe as well (under various forms).

Edward ranged from #11–#8 from 1880–1933. It remained in the Top 20 till 1948, was in the Top 50 till 1979, and in the Top 100 till 1997. As of 2016, it was #163. The name is more popular in England and Wales (#23), Australia (#52), New Zealand (#74), and Ireland (#95).

Edward the Confessor (ca. 1003–5 January 1066), centre, left panel of the Wilton Diptych

Other forms of Edward include:

1. Eduard is Romanian, German, Dutch, Russian, Armenian, Georgian, Czech, Slovak, Estonian, Bosnian, Ossetian, Ukrainian, Catalan, and Croatian. The Russian nickname is Edik, the Czech nicknames are Edík and Eda, and the Croatian nickname is Edi. The variant form Eduárd is Hungarian.

2. Eduardo is Spanish and Portuguese.

3. Edvard is Czech, Scandinavian, Slovenian, Finnish, Armenian, and modern Russian. The variant form Edvárd is Hungarian. Edi is a nickname form in several of these languages.

4. Édouard is French.

5. Eduards is Latvian.

6. Edoardo is Italian.

7. Eideard is Scottish.

8. Eadbhárd is Irish.

9. Edorta is Basque.

10. Ekewaka is Hawaiian.

French composer Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo, 1823–1892

11. Eetu is Finnish.

12. Duarte is Portuguese.

13. Ebardo is Aragonese.

14. Edouardos is Greek.

15. Edvardas is Lithuanian.

16. Eetvart is Finnish.

17. Yetvart is Armenian.

18. Eduarda is a Portuguese feminine form.

English poet Edmund Spenser, 1552/53–13 January 1599

Edmund, an English, German, and Polish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and mund (protection). Like Edward, it too remained in use under the Norman occupation, due to the popularity of King Edmund I (922–946).

After the 15th century, it became less common in England. Its highest rank to date in the U.S. was #130, in 1914. The name hasn’t charted since 1997, when it was #921.

Other forms of Edmund include:

1. Edmond is French. The nickname is Edmé.

2. Edmundo is Spanish.

3. Edmondo is Italian.

4. Edmao is Limburgish. The nickname is Mao.

5. Ödön is Hungarian. The nickname is Ödi.

6. Éamonn is Irish. Variant forms are Éamon and Eamon.

7. Edmundas is Lithuanian.

8. Edmunds is Latvian.

9. Edmwnt is Welsh.

10. Edmonde is a French feminine form. The nickname is Edmée.

11. Edmonda is an Italian feminine form.

12. Edmunda is a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and German feminine form.

U.S. writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Edgar, an English, French, Estonian, Portuguese, and Spanish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and gar (spear). It was borne by King Edgar the Peaceful of England (ca. 943–8 July 975), but fell into disuse after the Norman occupation.

The name came back into widespread usage in the 18th century, and enjoyed an additional boost thanks to a character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel The Bride of Lammermoor. It was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1880–1925, and gradually went up and down over the ensuing decades. As of 2016, it was #342.

In Portugal, the name is #79, and is #263 in France. The variant Édgar is Spanish.

Other forms of Edgar include:

1. Edgardo is Italian and Spanish.

2. Edgaras is Lithuanian.

3. Edgard is French.

4. Edgars is Latvian.

5. Edgeir is a rare Norwegian form.

6. Edgarda is a rare Latin American–Spanish, Italian, and English feminine form.

The two names I’ve loved longest, Part II

As mentioned in my last post, the two names I’ve loved longest are Easter and Echo. I’ve no idea why I fell so deeply in love with them, but I’ve remained firmly captivated by them all these years. While I’d like to use Echo as a middle name for a future daughter (paired with Cecilia), Easter is off-limits for the obvious reason that I’m not Christian.

However, I’m of the camp that feels one need not be a member of a certain religion to find great beauty in some of its names, music, stories, etc. Liking a name, song, ikon, teaching, etc., doesn’t automatically mean you’re having a crisis of faith and converting!

The English name Easter comes from Eostre (alternately called Ostara), the Ancient Germanic dawn goddess. As such, her name is etymologically linked to Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn (whose name fittingly means “dawn”). Every morning, her rosy fingers open the gates of heaven for the Sun to rise.

The Ancient Germanic name, like the Greek name, derives from the Proto–Germanic *Austrǭ. In turn, that name ultimately derives from the Proto–Indo–European *h2ews- (to shine). The modern English word “east” also descends from this ancient root.

Many other dawn goddesses from Indo–European language-speaking cultures share this cognate, leading to the theory of a Proto–Indo–European dawn goddess from whence they all came.

Over time, Eostre became associated with fertility and the dawning of spring, hence why the Christian spring holiday took on an updated form of her name.

Though it’s no longer very common for girls born around Easter to be given this name, the Latin word for Easter, Pascha, forms the basis for a number of names which are a fair bit more common. These include:

Female:

Pascale is French. The nickname is Pascaline.

Pascuala is Spanish.

Pascualina is Italian.

Pascalina is Gascon and Sardinian.

Paškvalina is Croatian.

Male:

Pascal is French, Dutch, and German.

Pasquale is Italian.

Pascual is Spanish.

Paskal is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Pascoe, or Pasco, is Cornish.

Paschalis is Greek.

Paškal is Croatian. The nickname is Paško.

Pascau is Gascon.

Paskalis is Lithuanian.

Paszkál is Hungarian.

Paxkal is Basque.

Päscu is Swiss–German.

Pasqual is Catalan.

Pascoal is Portuguese.

The reason I see Easter as a workable (if rather uncommon) name is because I’m used to seeing and hearing it as a human’s name. It’s become rather unusual, but it’s not completely unheard-of. Christmas was a fairly common given name in the Middle Ages, but it doesn’t sound like a name, and is even rarer to encounter on a real person.

As with many names, it’s all about perception and associations.

The various forms of Roger (Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day!)

To mark this special holiday (which is very much real), and because Roger is my favourite member of the band, I thought I’d do a post about the name Roger. This isn’t a name I used to have a high opinion of (since at least when I was younger, it frequently seemed to be given to characters who were bullies and thugs), but I’ve really grown to love the name.

Roger was on the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1921–75, and the Top 50 from 1932–62 and again in 1964 and 1965. It attained its highest rank of #22 in 1945. The name has steadily plummeted in popularity, and was down to #643 in 2016. The alternate spelling Rodger, always less popular, last charted at #921 in 1985.

Roger is used in English, French, the Scandinavian languages, Catalan, Dutch, and German. It means “famous spear,” from the Old Germanic elements hrod (fame) and ger (spear). The name came to England after the Norman conquest of 1066 and the resulting occupation. It replaced the Old English Hroðgar (Hrothgar), which was the name of the legendary Danish king featured in Beowulf.

During the Middle Ages, Roger was a common name in England, though had become rare by the 18th century. Later on, it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.

Other forms include:

1. Ruggieri is Medieval Italian.

2. Ruggiero is modern Italian.

3. Ruggero is an alternate Italian form.

4. Rogel is Spanish.

5. Rüdiger is German. The parents of my character Roger Brandt-van Acker wanted to name their son this name instead, after his great-great-uncle, but they were pressured into choosing the English form.

6. Rutger is Dutch and Limburgish. The Limburgish nickname is Ruth.

7. Rogier is also Dutch.

8. Rogério is Portuguese.

9. Roar is Norwegian, and obviously not a name I’d recommend in an Anglophone country.

10. Hrodger is the original Ancient Germanic form.

11. Hróarr is Old Norse.

12. Hróðgeirr is also Old Norse.

13. Dodge is a Medieval English nickname.

14. Hodge is another Medieval English nickname, spelt such because of the way in which the English mispronounced the occupying Normans’ R.

15. Roschi is Alsatian.

16. Ruđer is Croatian.

Wayland the Smith and Whaitiri

FYI: The Old Norse, Old and Middle English, Faroese, and Icelandic letter Ð ð is pronounced like an English DH, and Þ þ is TH.

Wayland the Smith is a master blacksmith who features in Norse, Germanic, and Old English mythology and folklore. Other iterations of his name include Wieland (German), Weland (Old English), Völundr and Velentr (Old Norse), Wiolant (Old High German), and Welandaz (Proto–Germanic).

In Völundarkviða (part of the Old Norse Poetic Edda cycle), Völundr is one of three sons of the King of the Samis (the Far North of Scandinavia, and Russia’s northwest Kola Peninsula). He and his brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr, cohabit with Valkyries for nine years. When the Valkyries leave, Egil and Slagfiðr follow them and never return.

Völundr is captured by King Niðhad of Närke (now part of Sweden), hamstrung, and imprisoned on Sævarstaðir island. Niðhad takes advantage of Völundr’s most exquisite skill as a blacksmith, and forces him to forge many things. He also steals Völundr’s sword and the ring from his Valkyrie lover.

In revenge, Völundr kills the princes, and makes goblets from their skulls, a brooch from their teeth, and jewels from their eyes. He sends the goblets to Niðhad, the jewels to the Queen, and the brooch to Princess Böðvildr. When Böðvildr comes to have “her” ring mended, Völundr takes the ring back, rapes and impregnates her, and laughingly flies away on wings he’s made. He makes sure to tell Niðhad about his gruesome revenge.

In the Velents þáttr smiðs section of Þiðrekssaga, Niðhad is King of Jutland (now part of Denmark) After Niðhad graciously receives master smith Velend as a servant at court, Velend loses Niðhad’s knife and secretly makes another. When Niðhad realises this knife cuts much better than before, he asks Velend about the matter, and Velend pretends court smith Amilias made it.

Niðhad has his suspicions, and puts both smiths to a test. Velend forges a sword, and Amilias armour. Velend must use the sword to try to kill Amilias when he’s in the armour. Velend is about to start to work when he discovers his tools are gone. Suspecting chieftain Regin, Velend makes a lifelike statue of him. Niðhad then realises the truth, and gives the tools back.

Velend has many more adventures in Velents þáttr smiðs, also ending with gruesome revenge and flying away on wings.

As Welund, he appears in the Old English poem Deor. In Beowulf, he’s mentioned as Weland, the smith who made the title character’s mail shirt. He also featured in the story of Franks Casket, a whale’s bone chest with many knife-cut narrative scenes. No written form of this story has survived.

He also features in many other poems and folktales.

Wayland is derived from the Germanic elements wela (skill) and land.

Copyright Fir0002

Whaitiri is the Maori goddess personifying thunder, descended from several deities personifying lightning. She’s not exactly a kind and gentle goddess, particularly since she loves cannibalism. When she heard about a mortal named Kaitangata, she was thrilled. Since Kaitangata means “man-eater,” Whaitiri was convinced he’d be the perfect husband.

Whaitiri was very disappointed when Kaitangata turned out to be a kind, gentle person who didn’t engage in any cannibalism. Trying to prove her devotion, Whaitiri killed her favourite slave, Anonkia, and gave Kaitangata the heart and liver. Kaitangata was horrified.

Copyright Sailko

Kaitangata spent a lot of time fishing to feed his family, but most of the fish got away due to his lack of proper equipment. Whaitiri taught him how to make barbed fishing hooks, and he became much more successful. However, she quickly tired of this pescatarian diet, and caught two of Kaitangata’s relatives in a fishing net for her next meal.

Not suspecting the bones came from his own family, Kaitangata used them to make fishing hooks. Whaitiri likewise didn’t know some of their fish came from those hooks, and started going blind after eating it. The fish was infused with lapa, sacredness, from the humans.

Whaitiri was very offended to overhear Kaitangata describing her heart as cold as snow, with skin like the wind, and complaining about how dirty their kids were. She revealed her true nature, and returned to the heavens.

Whaitiri means “thunder” in Maori.