All about the name Alexander

Copyright Юрий Абрамочкин (Yuriy Abramochkin)

In loving memory of my favourite writer, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, on what would’ve been his 99th birthday, I decided to have a post about his lovely name. I had a previous post about my favourite forms of the name, but that didn’t include all forms, nor did it include much background information.

Alexander is the Latinized form of the Greek Alexandros, which means “defender of man.” It’s composed of the elements alexo (to defend/help) and aner (andros in the genitive case) (man). As almost everyone knows, its most famous bearer has been Alexander the Great of Macedonia, who rose to become emperor of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and parts of India.

Alexander the Great’s fame and popularity was such that his name became widespread through many of the areas he’d conquered and ruled. Through the ages, famous bearers of the name in its various forms have included kings, emperors, tsars, popes, politicians, writers, scientists, inventors, explorers, artists, philosophers, and athletes.

Alexander the Great was also a fellow lefty!

Alexander was in the lower reaches of the U.S. Top 100 from 1880–96, and crept back into those ranges a number of times again over the years. It slowly began sinking in popularity in 1918, with a few years when it slightly rose in popularity. Its lowest rank was #233 in 1959.

After this, it began a nearly uninterrupted steady climb into the Top 10. Its highest rank was #4 in 2009. In 2011, it was #11.

The name is also popular in Iceland (#2), Canada (#6), Sweden (#7), Scotland (#8), Austria  and Australia (#9 in both), Mexico (#13), Denmark (#16), England and Wales (#21), Belgium (#22), Norway and New Zealand (both #30), Switzerland (#35), Ireland and Northern Ireland (#46 in both), Chile (#56), The Netherlands (#79), Poland (#93), the Czech Republic (#94), Hungary (#98), and Italy (#109).

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, the future Empress Aleksandra of Russia, before so much sadness began invading her life

The feminine form Alexandra is also quite common, though not as much as its male counterpart. It entered the U.S. Top 100 at #945 in 1915, immediately dropped out the next year, returned at #992 in 1934, again dropped out, was #941 in 1936, and finally entered long-term at #866 in 1938.

The name slowly climbed to the Top 100, with some quite large leaps in the early Eighties. Its highest rank was #26 in 1995 and 1996. Alexandra’s popularity slowly diminished, and by 2016, it was #110.

Alexander is used in English, Greek, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Hungarian, German, Dutch, and Slovak. Alexandra is used in English, German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Spanish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, and Romanian.

U.S. inventor Alexander Graham Bell

Other forms of Alexander:

1. Aleksandr is Russian, Ukranian, and Armenian. Russian nicknames include Sasha, Sanya (my favourite writer’s own nickname), Shura, Sanyechka, Sashenka, Shurik, Sashura, and Shuryenka.

2. Aleksander is Polish, Estonian, Slovenian, Danish, and Norwegian. The variation Aleksandër is Albanian. Nicknames include Aleks and Olek (Polish); Sander and Alex (Norwegian and Danish); Sašo, Saša, Sandi, Aleks, and Aleš (Slovenian); and Skender (Albanian).

3. Alyaksandr is Belarusian.

4. Alexandru is Romanian, with the nicknames Sandu and Alex.

5. Aleksandar is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Sasho (Bulgarian and Macedonian); Saša (Serbian and Croatian); Sandi (Croatian); Ace (Macedonian); and Aco and Aca (Serbian and Macedonian).

6. Alessandro is Italian.

7. Aleksandro is Esperanto, with the nickname Aleĉjo.

8. Alexandre is French, Galician, Catalan, and Portuguese.

9. Aleksandrs is Latvian.

10. Aleksanteri is Finnish, with nicknames including Ale, Samppa, Santeri, and Santtu.

French writer Alexandre Dumas père

11. Alesander is Basque.

12. Aleksandras is Lithuanian.

13. Alasdair is Scottish. It’s most often Anglicized as Alastair.

14. Aleksandur is Faroese.

15. Aleksantare is Greenlandic.

16. Alagsantere is also Greenlandic.

17. Alekanekelo is Hawaiian.

18. Alessandru is Sardinian.

19. Alexandro is Brazilian–Portuguese and Spanish.

20. Alissandru is Sicilian.

Pope Alexander VII, né Fabio Chigi, 13 February 1599–22 May 1667

21. Alyksandr is Abkhaz and Ossetian.

22. Alyok is Mordvin.

23. Alastar is Irish.

24. Aleksandre is Georgian, with the nickname Sandro.

25. Alexandr is Czech, with the nickname Aleš.

26. Alexandros is Greek, with the nickname Alekos.

27. Eskender is Amharic.

28. Iskandar is Arabic, Indonesian, and Malaysian.

29. Sándor (SHAHN-dor) is Hungarian. One of the nicknames is Sanyi.

30. Sikandar is Pashto and Urdu.

Tsar Aleksandr II of Russia

31. Eskandar is Persian.

32. Alejandro is Spanish.

33. Sender is Yiddish.

34. Oleksandr is Ukrainian, with nicknames including Olek, Oles, and Sasha.

35. Chandy is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

36. Eskendir is Kazakh.

37. Isgandar is Azeri.

38. Îskenderê is Kurdish.

39. Jinoquio is Romany Caló.

40. İskender is Turkish.

King Alexander of Greece, 1 August 1893–25 October 1920

41. Lixandro is Aragonese.

42. Lisandru is Sardinian and Corsican.

43. Lexu is Swiss–German.

44. Santӑr is Chuvash.

45. Xandru is Maltese.

Other forms of Alexandra:

1. Aleksandra is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, Estonian, Latvian, Albanian, and Croatian. Its Russian nicknames are the same as those for Aleksandr. Sasha is also a Ukrainian nickname. Others include Sanda (Croatian), Saša (Slovenian and Croatian), Lesya and Alesya (Ukrainian), Ola (Polish), and Sashka (Macedonian and Bulgarian).

Queen Alexandra of England, née Princess of Denmark

2. Alexandrine is French and German.

3. Alexandrie is French.

4. Alessandra is Italian.

5. Alesandere is a rare, modern Basque name.

6. Alejandra is Spanish.

7. Aletsandra is Occitan.

8. Alyaksandra is Belarusian.

9. Alissandra is Sicilian.

10. Oleksandra is Ukrainian.

11. Alexandria is English. I always preferred this name with long As.

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The many forms of Gabriel and Gabriella

Gabriel entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1976, at #81, and stayed near the lower reaches of the chart till falling out in 1988. It re-entered at #82 in 1991, and began steadily climbing up the charts. Its highest position to date has been #21, in 2010. As of 2016, it was #25.

The name is also rather popular in France (#1), Switzerland (#4), Romania (#4), Belgium (#11), Portugal (#11), Croatia (#19), Chile (#19), Galicia (#25), Canada (#27), Italy (#27), Mexico (#35), Iceland (#37), Austria (#38), Spain (#39), Sweden (#42), Poland (#46), Norway (#47), Catalonia (#55), Slovenia (#66), England and Wales (#67), Australia (#78), New Zealand (#89), and the Czech Republic (#92).

This spelling is used in English, French, Finnish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, German, Georgian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The alternate form Gabriël is Dutch, Gábriel is Hungarian, and Gabríel is Icelandic.

Gabrielle, one of the feminine forms, is English and French. In France, it’s #74, and in the U.S., it’s fallen to #225, after peaking at #46 in 1999. The alternate form Gabriëlle is Dutch.

Gabriella is English, Hungarian, Swedish, and Italian. In the U.S., it’s #61, down from a peak of #33 from 2009–11. The alternate form Gabriëlla is Dutch, and Gabríella is Icelandic.

Gabriela is Polish, Bulgarian, Slovak, Czech, German, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Croatian. It’s #8 in Romania, #19 in Poland, #29 in Portugal, #30 in the Czech Republic, #36 in Croatia, #50 in Mexico, #56 in Chile, #73 in Spain, and #252 in the U.S. The alternate form Gabríela is Icelandic.

Other forms include:

Male:

1. Gabriels is Latvian.

2. Gabrielius is Lithuanian.

3. Gavriel is the original Hebrew. It means “God is my strong man.”

4. Gavrel is Yiddish.

5. Gavriil is Russian.

6. Gavril is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

7. Gavrail is Bulgarian.

8. Gábor is Hungarian.

9. Gavrilo is Serbian. This form was famously borne by Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First World War.

10. Gabrijel is Slovenian and Croatian.

11. Havryyil is Ukrainian.

12. Kaapo is Finnish. An alternate form is Kaappo.

13. Kaapro is also Finnish.

14. Gabriele is Italian.

15. Jabril is Arabic.

16. Jibril is also Arabic.

17. Dzhabrail is Chechen.

18. Cabbrieli is Sicilian.

19. Djibril is Western African.

20. Džibril is Bosnian.

21. Cebraîl is Kurdish.

22. Cəbrayil is Azeri.

23. Crabiele is Sardinian.

24. Gabirel is Basque.

25. Gabrielo is Esperanto.

26. Gābriyēl is Telugu.

27. Kapriel is Armenian.

28. Gabriyel is also Armenian.

29. Gaibrial is Irish.

30. Gavrylo is Ukrainian.

31. Gēbriyal is Kannadan.

32. Gēbriyala is Hindi and Gujarati.

33. Habryyel is Belarusian.

34. Haŭryil is also Belarusian.

35. Jebreil is Persian.

36. Jiboraeel is Bengali.

37. Jibriil is Somali.

38. Kapeliela is Hawaiian.

39. Kâpriale is Greenlandic.

40. Kēpriyal is Tamil.

41. Xhebraili is Albanian. The XH sound is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

42. Zibrail is Sylheti.

43. Cebrail is Turkish.

Female:

1. Gavriela, or Gavriella, is Hebrew.

2. Gavrilla is an alternate Hebrew form.

3. Gavrela is Yiddish.

4. Havyryyila is Ukrainian.

5. Kaapriella is Finnish.

6. Gabrielė is Lithuanian.

7. Gabriele is German.

8. Gabrijela is Croatian.

9. Gavrila is Romanian. An alternate form is Gavrilă.

All about the name Valentino

In honour of Rudy Valentino’s 91st Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I present a post celebrating his adopted surname and all its various forms. Though most Anglophones think of Valentino as a surname, and don’t typically encounter forenames like Valentine or Valentin, this is very much a common, established name in many other languages. It also comes in both male and female forms.

The originating form is the Latin cognomen (surname) Valentinus, which in turn derived from Valens (strong, healthy, vigourous). A related cognomen was Valentinianus. It later morphed into Valentine, the name of several Roman Catholic saints, most notably the third century martyr after whom Valentine’s Day is named.

Because the most famous St. Valentine’s feast day fell out on 14 February, coinciding with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, an association between St. Valentine and love was forged.

Valentine began to be used as an English name in the 12th century, almost always for boys. The name was in the male U.S. Top 1000 from 1880–1944, again from 1947–53, and finally in 1955. It hasn’t charted since. On the girls’ side, Valentine has only charted in 1885 and 1917.

In France, Valentine is an exclusively female name. It was in the Top 100 from 1900–14, and stayed in the Top 500 until 1972, after which it dropped off the charts. In 1975, it returned, and slowly began moving up the charts. To date, its highest position has been #44, in 1997, In 2016, it was #64.

In Belgium, where the name is also feminine-only, it was in the Top 100 from at least 2000–06, and again in 2008.

Other forms of the name include:

Male:

1. Valentin is Russian, Romanian, Czech, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, French, Macedonian, German, and Croatian. The variant form Valentín is Slovak and Spanish. Nicknames include Tine and Tinek (Slovenian), Valya, Valyusha, Valyushka, Valyechka, and Valentulya (Russian), Vali (Romanian), and Valent and Tin (Croatian).

2. Valentino is Italian.

3. Valentijn is Dutch.

4. Walenty is Polish.

5. Walentyn is also Polish.

6. Bálint is Hungarian.

7. Folant is Welsh.

8. Ualan is Scottish.

9. Valentyn is Ukrainian.

10. Balendin is Basque.

11. Valantín is Aragonese.

12. Valentinas is Lithuanian.

13. Valentīns is Latvian.

14. Valyantsin is Belarusian.

15. Valentí is Catalan.

16. Valentim is Portuguese.

17. Valentinià is Catalan.

18. Valentinian is Russian, Bulgarian, German, and English.

19. Valentynian is Ukrainian.

20. Valentiniano is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

21. Valentinianos is the modern Greek form of Oualentinianos.

22. Valentinien is French.

23. Valentinos is modern Greek.

24. Valentinijan is Croatian.

25. Valentínus is Icelandic.

26. Valentýn is Czech.

27. Valintinianu is Sicilian.

28. Walentynian is Polish.

29. Valente is Italian and Portuguese.

Female:

1. Valentina is Russian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Italian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Croatian. The variant Valentína is Slovak and Icelandic, and Valentīna is Latvian.

2. Valentyna is Ukrainian.

3. Walentyna is Polish.

4. Valentine is French and English.

5. Balentina is Basque and Latin American–Spanish.

6. Valantina is Aragonese.

7. Valantine is Picard.

8. Valentini is an alternate Greek form.

9. Walenekina is Hawaiian.

The many forms of Daniel

Daniel has been a steadily popular Top 60 name in the U.S. since at least 1880. Its lowest rank was #55, from 1914–16. It entered the Top 20 in 1952, and in spite of a somewhat fluctuating rank, eventually entered the Top 10. Its highest rank was #5, which it held in 1985, 1990, 2007, and 2008. In 2016, it was #13.

It’s also popular in Romania (#9), Spain (#2), Ireland (#3), Galicia (#5), Hungary (#8), Finland (#10), the Czech Republic (#12), Iceland (#10), Catalonia (#13), Austria (#26), Canada (#23), England and Wales (#24), Australia (#29), Chile (#33), Italy (#41), Mexico (#12), New Zealand (#28), Norway (#17), Scotland (#18), Northern Ireland (#5), Croatia (#63), Switzerland (#39), Portugal (#31), and Poland (#55).

The spelling Daniel is used in English, French, German, the Scandinavian languages, Romanian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Armenian, Georgian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Croatian. The variant Dániel is Hungarian and Faroese; Daníel is Icelandic; and Daniël is Dutch.

Other forms include:

1. Daniyel is the original Hebrew form, and means “God is my judge.”

2. Daniil is Russian, with the nickname Danya.

3. Danilo is Slovenian, Serbian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Montenegrin, and Croatian.

4. Daniele is Italian.

5. Danijel is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

6. Danyal is Persian, Urdu, Arabic, and Turkish.

7. Taniel is Western Armenian.

8. Danielius is Lithuanian.

9. Daniels is Latvian.

10. Dánjal is Faroese.

11. Deniel is Breton.

12. Danail is Bulgarian. The nickname is Dancho.

13. Taneli is Finnish. The nickname is Tatu.

14. Deiniol is Welsh.

15. Taaniel is Estonian.

16. Tanel is also Estonian.

17. Tâniale is Greenlandic.

18. Daaniel is Estonian.

19. Dainéil is Irish.

20. Dánial is Faroese.

21. Daniello is Italian.

22. Danielo is Latin American–Spanish.

23. Danilbek is Chechen, and means “Lord Daniel.”

24. Danilis is modern Greek.

25. Danilos is also Greek.

26. Daniyal is Kazakh and Pakistani.

27. Dänu is Swiss–German.

28. Danyil is Ukrainian.

29. Danila is Belarusian.

30. Daniley is also Belarusian.

31. Danylo is Ukrainian.

32. Kaniela is Hawaiian.

33. Rāniera is Maori.

Yoŭnik and Yara

Copyright Natalia.sk

Yoŭnik (also called Yovnik) is an adorable farmstead creature in Belarusian mythology. He lives in a drying barn, called yoŭnya or yovnya in Belarusian. Here the sheaves of grain were dried before threshing. Yoŭnik is rather small, and perpetually blackened from smoke and soot. He’s also frequently covered in spider webs.

He’s very ashamed of his appearance, and so always hides from people. However, he’s very hardworking, and always serving his people. Yoŭnik starts the fire in the oven, airs out the sheaves, sweeps the floor, and protects the harvest from evil spirits and bad people.

Sometimes, he comes to the barn window to cough up the soot and dust. More rarely, he crosses the threshold to inspect the sheaves in the warehouse, deflect or direct the wind during winnowing, or look at the people working in the barn.

Copyright Natalia.sk

If a bad person comes into the barn, Yoŭnik waits for him or her to fall asleep, and then disturbs the person’s sleep, sends smoke, or sometimes even burns the barn down or strangles the person. Yoŭnik himself can’t burn in the fire, unless lightning strikes. If that happens, he leaves behind no dust.

A parallel figure is Ovinnik, a protective barn spirit in the shape of a black cat, as big as a standard dog, with eyes burning like coals.

Copyright Oosoom

Yara (also called Iara, Uiara, or Mãe das Águas) is a water nymph, mermaid, or siren in Brazilian mythology. Her form changes depending upon the story. Yara originated in Guarani and Tupi mythology.

Yara is described as green-haired, brown-eyed, with copper or light brown skin (either a native Brazilian or a caboclo, someone of mixed-race ancestry). She sits on a rock by the river, combing her hair or napping in the sunlight. When she feels the presence of a man, she begins to softly sing to him.

Once under Yara’s spell, a man will leave anything to join her in her underwater world forever. This was no trick, as Yara is very beautiful, and will cater to all of her lover’s needs for the rest of his life. Though Yara is immortal, her lovers eventually get old and die.

The Yara legend was one of the more common explanations behind the disappearance of those who got lost in the jungle.

Yara means “water lady,” derived from Old Tupi y (water) and îara (lady). The name is very popular in Brazil, both as Yara and Iara.