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.

All about Harold

“Here sits Harold, King of the English,” Scene 31 of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting King Harold II (ca. 1022–14 October 1066)

The English name Harold derives from Old English Hereweald, and the roots here (army) and weald (ruler, power, leader). After the Norman invasion and occupation of England, Harold fell into general disuse, and was only revived in the 19th century.

The Ancient Germanic form Hariwald, or Chariovalda, dates back even earlier, to the first century of the Common Era. Another early, related form is Arioald. This name comes from Proto–Germanic *harja-waldaz, which has roughly the same meaning as Hereweald.

Haraldr, the Old Norse form, was also a common name during these long-ago centuries, in both Scandinavia itself and among many settlers in the Danelaw (Danish-dominated part of England).

King Harald V of Norway (born 1937, reigning since 1991), circa 1956–57

Harold was #116 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and moved into the Top 100 in 1884, at #85. It jumped up the charts every year until attaining its highest rank of #12 in 1915. Until 1928, Harold went back and forth between #12, #13, and #14. It slowly descended in popularity during the ensuing years, and remained in the Top 100 till 1966. In 2018, it was #797.

Though many deride Harold as a geriatric, outdated name, I’ve always found it sweet and charming. It seems like the name of a serious, studious fellow. On a personal level, I’ve become even fonder of it since discovering the great comedian Harold Lloyd (1893–1971), one of the Big Three comics of the silent era.

Harold is one of my heroes because he was a fellow burn survivor, and resolved to become an even stronger performer after almost dying in a 1919 accident with a prop bomb. Many people would’ve given up and retreated from acting altogether, but Harold didn’t let the loss of two fingers, temporary blindness, and a long, touch-and-go hospital stay keep him from his life’s calling.

Other forms of Harold include:

1. Harald is Scandinavian and German, and has been borne by three kings of Denmark, five kings of Norway (including the current king), and three earls of Orkney.

2. Haraldur is Icelandic.

3. Haroldo is Spanish and Portuguese.

4. Harri is Finnish and Welsh.

5. Aroldo is Italian.

6. Aroldos is a rare Greek form.

7. Haroldas is Lithuanian.

8. Harailt is Scottish.

9. Harolyn is a rare, English feminine form. I’m not really a fan of this name!

The many forms of Alfred

King Alfred the Great of England, ca. 847-849–26 October 899, my 36-greats-grandfather

Alfred is an English, French, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Polish, Estonian, Slovenian, Finnish, Catalan, Georgian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, and Serbian name derived from the original Old English Ælfræd (elf counsel). Its roots are ælf (elf) and ræd (counsel). Though many Anglo–Saxon names fell out of use after the Norman invasion and occupation, Alfred stayed popular thanks to my amazing ancestor Alfred the Great, a fellow scholar and person of letters.

By the Middle Ages, the name had become rare, but returned to common use in the 18th century. When the U.S. began keeping track of name popularity in 1880, it was #35, and stayed in the Top 100 (albeit on a very gradual downward decline) till 1950. Its highest rank was #32 in 1882.

Since dropping out of the Top 100, it’s mostly declined in popularity each year. In 2018, it was #872. The name is much more popular in England and Wales (#107), Sweden (#12), Denmark (#8), and Norway (#52).

The variation Alfréd is Slovak, Czech, and Hungarian, and Alfreð is Icelandic. Other forms of Alfred include:

1. Alfredo is Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Galician, Aragonese, and Esperanto.

2. Alfrēds is Latvian.

3. Alfredas is Lithuanian.

4. Alfrid is Tatar.

5. Alfredos is Greek.

6. Alfreeti is Finnish.

7. Alfried is a Dutch and German variation.

8. Alured is Manx.

9. Elfried is an alternate German and Dutch form.

10. Alfredu is Asturian and Sicilian.

11. Alperda is Basque.

Female forms:

1. Alfreda is English, Italian, German, and Polish.

2. Alfrédie is a rare Norman form.

3. Albrea is Middle English.

4. Alfredine is a rare French and English form.

5. Alverdine was occasionally used in English in the 19th century.

6. Alvedine is the 20th century form of the uncommon Alverdine.

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).

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.