The many forms of Benjamin

Benjamin (the name of the only great-grandpap I have memories of) has never charted any lower than #155 in the U.S. (in 1960), and is one of those names which has sharply gone from popular to unpopular and back again. Ever since 1966, when it charted at #133, it’s been steadily rising in popularity (or at least staying stable) each year. In 2016, it jumped to #6, from #10 the previous year.

The name is also popular in Canada (#4), Chile (#2), Australia (#17), England and Wales (#30), Austria (#25), Bosnia (#23), Denmark (#26), Hungary (#60), New Zealand (#5), Norway (#21), Scotland (#51), The Netherlands (#21), Ireland (#58), Finland (#35), France (#67), Sweden (#25), Switzerland (#23), Slovenia (#52), Northern Ireland (#58), and Croatia (#82).

The spelling Benjamin is used in English, French, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. Variations are Benjámin (Hungarian) and Benjamín (Slovak, Spanish, Icelandic, and Czech). As most people know, J takes an H sound in Spanish, and a Y sound in almost all of the European languages.

Other forms include:

1. Binyamin is the original Hebrew form, as well as Arabic. It means “son of the right hand” and “son of the south.” In the Torah, Binyamin is the second of the two sons of Jakob and Rachel. His name was originally Ben-Oni (son of sorrow), because his mother died from childbirth, but his father later changed it.

2. Beniamino is Italian.

3. Benjamim is Portuguese.

4. Beniamin is Romanian.

5. Benjaminas is Lithuanian, with the nickname Benas.

6. Veniamin is Russian and Greek. This is one of those cases when the accurate Russian transliteration really calls for IA, instead of YA or IYA. Nicknames include Vinya, Minya, Venya, Vena, Venyulya, Venyusha, and Venusha.

7. Venijamin is Macedonian.

8. Peni is Hawaiian.

9. Bünyamin is Turkish.

10. Benchamín is Aragonese.

11. Bendžaminas is an alternate Lithuanian form.

12. Benjáme is Sami, a language spoken in northwestern Russian and northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

13. Be’njam is an alternater Sami form.

14. Benjamini is Greenlandic.

15. Benjeminas is another Lithuanian form.

16. Binjamin is Picard, a Romance language spoken in far northern France.

17. Penjami is Finnish. The nicknames are Penna, Penni, and Pena.

18. Pîniamît is another Greenlandic form.

19. Veniamina is a Greek feminine form.

20. Benjamina is an English feminine form.

The many forms of Sarah

Though Sarah tends not to have as wide of a variation across languages as, say, Elizabeth or Katherine, there are still a number of interesting variations. There are also a number of alternative spellings in English, which I don’t mind as much as I normally do. I strongly prefer the two most common spellings, but I’m not categorically against another spelling as long as it’s not something crazy like Seighraigh, Sy’Rah, or Seyrhaheigh.

Sarah, which means “princess” in Hebrew, has been in the Top 100 in the U.S. since at least 1880, with the exception of 1954–61, when its rank ranged from #103 to #119. Frequently, it’s been near the top of the charts, and was Top 10 from 1978–2002. In 2016, it was #57.

The spelling Sara hasn’t been quite as popular, though it spent 1973–2008 in the Top 50. In 2016, it was #152. Both spellings are currently popular in Switzerland, Bosnia, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Portugal, Norway, Poland, The Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Catalonia, Chile, Belgium, England and Wales, Canada, Austria, France, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Sarah is English, Hebrew, German, French, and Arabic, while Sara, in addition to also being used in the abovementioned languages, is found in Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Persian, the Slavic languages, Finnish, Catalan, and Greek.

The variation Sára is Hungarian, but pronounced SHAH-rah. Likewise, the nickname Sári is pronounced SHAHR-ee. Sometimes Hungarian women who immigrate to Anglophone countries have changed their names to Shari or Shara, so people won’t get confused by pronunciation. Sára is also used in Czech and Slovak, though pronounced the more familiar way.

Other forms include:

1. Sarra is Old Church Slavonic, Biblical Latin, and Biblical Greek.

2. Sarrah is an English variation.

3. Sera is an English variation, as well as a nickname for the English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and German name Serafina (also spelt Seraphina). In Russian and Macedonian, this is one of the nicknames for Serafima.

4. Serra is an English variation.

5. Cera is another English variation.

6. Sarita is a Spanish nickname.

7. Saara is Estonian and Finnish. Nicknames include Saija and Salli.

8. Sarit is a Hebrew nickname.

9. Sari is Finnish.

10. Sarina is an English nickname.

11. Sassa is a Swedish nickname.

12. Sora is Yiddish.

13. Sura is another Yiddish variation. It depends upon one’s regional dialect.

14. Tzeitl, or Tzeitel, is a Yiddish nickname, made famous by Fiddler on the Roof (one of the rare films which stayed fairly close to the original source material).

15. Sadie is an English nickname, which has been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2013. These days, it’s more often used as a full name in its own right instead of a nickname for Sarah.

16. Sally, or Sallie, is another traditional English nickname which has long since fallen completely off the Top 1000.

17. Suri is a Yiddish nickname.

18. Sare is Turkish. The variation Sarê is Kurdish.

19. Sarette is an English and Afrikaans nickname.

20. Tzeril is a Yiddish nickname.

21. Zarita is a Latin American–Spanish nickname.

22. Surkki is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

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.

The many forms of Rebecca

Rebecca has been a Top 200 mainstay in the U.S. since at least 1880. Its popularity has fluctuated up and down, but it’s never been out of the Top 200 until 2016, when it was #207. It slowly but surely began rising in popularity starting in 1938, when it jumped to #145 from #166.

It entered the Top 30 in 1952, and attained its highest rank of #10 in 1973 and 1974. In 1998, it slowly began losing popularity, and dropped out of the Top 100 in 2007. However, it’s still a solid classic that ages very well, and has Biblical appeal for those religiously inclined.

Rebecca is the spelling used in English and Italian, and may come from a root meaning “snare, joint, tie.” The variation Rébecca is French. Other forms of the name are:

1. Rivkah, or Rivka, is the Hebrew original. This was the name of the Patriarch Isaac (Yitzchak)’s wife. A very disturbing Midrash (rabbinic elaboration on the straight Torah text) claims they married when Rivkah was three and Yitzchak was forty, but that’s not a mainstream belief outside of the ultra-Orthodox world, thankfully.

2. Rebekka is Finnish, German, Scandinavian, Faroese, Dutch, Icelandic, and Ukrainian.

3. Rifke (alternately spelt Rifkeh, Rifka, and Rifkah) is Yiddish. The nicknames are Riva, Riki, and Rika.

4. Rebeka is Hungarian, Polish, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Czech.

5. Rebecka is a Swedish variation.

6. Rebekah is a variant form used in some Bible translations.

7. Rebeca is Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Romanian, and Welsh.

8. Acca is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

9. Reveka is Romanian, Bulgarian, and Georgian.

10. Rhebecca is a rare Welsh variant form, inspired by the RH in many other Welsh names.

11. Revekka is modern Greek.

12. Ribka is Indonesian.

13. Ripeka is Maori. This also means “to crucify” in Maori.

14. Rywka is the Polish form of Rikvah.

15. Lepeka is Hawaiian.

16. Rabqa, or Rabka, is Arabic. Another Arabic variation is Rafqa, or Rafka.

17. Rebeque is French.

18. Revekka is Russian.

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.