A very Lordly name

Portrait of a Man, self-portrait of Greek-born painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco (1541–1614), ca. 1595–1600

The English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, and French name Dominic comes from the Latin name Dominicus, “of the Lord.” It was traditionally bestowed upon boys born on Sunday. In the Anglophone world, it came into widespread usage in the 13th century thanks to the popularity of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order. Because of this namesake, the name is primarily used by Catholics.

Dominic entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2002, after a very long, slow rise from near the bottom of the chart. In 2018, it was #75. The name also enjoys popularity in England and Wales. It was on the Top 100 from the Nineties until 2007, fluctuated between #103 and #127 during the ensuing decade, and rose back to #100 in 2018.

Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757),
painted by Domingo Antonio Velasco

Other forms of the name include:

1. Dominik is German, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Scandinavian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Croatian, and English.

2. Domenico is Italian.

3. Domingo is Spanish.

4. Domingos is Portuguese.

5. Domonkos is Hungarian.

6. Domen is Slovenian.

7. Dominykas is Lithuanian.

8. Dominique is French.

9. Dominicus is the full, formal Dutch name, though most Dutch people only use Latinate forms of their names on official documents.

10. Domenikos is Greek.

Polish–Lithuanian noble and politician Dominik Mikołaj Radziwiłł, 1643–97

11. Domhlaic is Irish.

12. Domenge is Gascon.

13. Domènec is Catalan.

14. Daminik is Belarusian.

15. Dominico is Italian.

16. Dominiks is Latvian.

17. Dominigu is Sardinian.

18. Dominig is Breton.

19. Dumenicu is Corsican.

20. Duminku is Maltese.

Self-portrait of U.S. painter Domenic Cretara, 1946–2017

21. Dumeni is Romansh.

22. Domokos is Hungarian.

23. Domenic is English.

24. Dominick is English.

25. Kominiko is Hawaiian.

26. Txomin (Cho-meen) is Basque.

Sister Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1837–81),
founder of the Salesian Sisters

Female forms:

1. Dominika is German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, Czech, and Slovak.

2. Dominica is English.

3. Domenica is Italian.

4. Dominga is Spanish.

5. Dominique is French.

6. Domnika is Macedonian and Kashubian.

7. Dominiki is Greek.

8. Dominyka is Lithuanian.

9. Domnica is Romanian and Moldovan.

10. Domencha is Aragonese.

French–American art collector, philanthropist, and human rights advocate Dominique de Menil, 1908–97

11. Domengina is Gascon.

12. Domenja is Provençal.

13. Domìniga is Sardinian.

14. Dumenia is Romansh.

15. Dumina is also Romansh.

16. Duminka is Maltese.

17. Daminika is Belarusian.

A quintessentially Irish name

St. Brigid of Kildare, painted by Patrick Joseph Tuohy

One needn’t be a passionate Hibernophile to be aware Bridget is one of the most quintessential of Irish names. And unlike most Celtic names, this one spread to many other languages instead of staying a primarily native product.

Brighid means “exalted one” and “power, strength, virtue, vigour.” Brighid was a goddess of fire, poetry, and wisdom.

Another beloved bearer was the abovepictured St. Brigid of Kildare, who lived in the 5th century and became one of Ireland’s patron saints. However, because this was the name of a saint, it was considered too sacred for normal use. Only in the 17th century did Brighid, or Brigid, become popular.

As Brigitta, this name has also long been popular in Scandinavia. The 14th century St. Brigitta is Europe’s patron saint.

The most common English form is Bridget, which has never been in the U.S. Top 100. Its highest rank to date was #112 in 1973.

Beata Brigida, painting of St. Birgitta of Sweden, done between ca. 1534–66 by Jerónimo Cosida

Other forms of this popular name include:

1. Bridgette is English.

2. Brigitte is French.

3. Brigita is Latvian, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Sorbian, Kashubian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Croatian. The variant Brígida is Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese.

4. Berit is Scandinavian.

5. Brygida is Polish.

6. Birita is Faroese.

7. Brigitta is German, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian.

8. Bríd is modern Irish.

9. Brìghde is Scottish.

10. Birgithe is a rare Scandinavian variant.

1924 self-portrait of U.S. miniature painter Birgitta Moran Farmer (1881–1939)

11. Birgit is Scandinavian and German.

12. Ffraid is Welsh.

13. Piritta is Finnish. Nicknames include Pirkko, Priita, Pirjo, and Riitta.

14. Breeshey is Manx.

15. Birte is Norwegian.

16. Bergit is Scandinavian.

17. Berc’hed is Breton.

18. Birgitte is Norwegian.

19. Britta is German and Scandinavian.

20. Birkide is Basque.

German actor Brigitte Helm (1908–1996)

21. Bregida is Occitan.

22. Brigyta is Lithuanian.

23. Bríxida is Galician.

24. Bedelia, or Bidelia, is an Irish diminutive.

All about Arthur

Stan Laurel (né Arthur Stanley Jefferson),
16 June 1890–23 February 1965

To mark the 55th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) of dear Stan Laurel, I’m shining the spotlight on his birth forename, Arthur. I love this timeless, classic name that works on any fellow of any age, from any background. If I’d been born male, I think Arthur would’ve been the perfect name for me.

Arthur’s etymology is unknown, though there are two posited meanings, the obscure Roman family name Artorius, or Celtic roots artos (bear) and viros (man) or rigos (king). The name is used in English, French, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. It rose to popularity in the Middle Ages thanks to legends about King Arthur, who probably wasn’t a real person (though he may have been based on real people).

Arthur was #14 in the U.S. in 1880, when name records were first collected. It alternated between #14 and #15 till 1904, and remained in the Top 20 till 1926, the Top 50 till 1953, and the Top 100 till 1969. The year I was born, it was #143. In recent years, it’s been on a gradual rise. Arthur was #229 in 2018.

The name is also popular in Belgium (#1), France (#7), England and Wales (#7), Denmark (#17), Northern Ireland (#21), Switzerland (#42), Scotland (#46), New Zealand (#63), and Ireland (#73).

Tapestry of King Arthur, ca. 1385

Other forms of this lovely name include:

1. Artur is Slavic, Estonian, Catalan, Portuguese, Galician, Armenian, Albanian, Uzbek, Turkish, Ossetian, Romanian, Scandinavian, and Basque. It’s currently #40 in Portugal, #49 in Poland. The alternate form Artúr is Slovak, Hungarian, and Irish.

2. Arturo is Spanish and Italian.

3. Artturi is Finnish. Nicknames include Arttu and Arto.

4. Artair is Scottish.

5. Artūrs is Latvian.

6. Arzhur is Breton.

7. Arturi is Georgian and Albanian.

8. Arthouros is Greek.

9. Artūras is Lithuanian.

10. Arturu is Maltese.

Italian–American political activist and poet Arturo Giovannitti, 1884–1959

11. Èrthu is Norman and Jèrriais.

12. Tuur is Limburgish.

13. Artús is Occitan and Asturian.

Female forms:

1. Arturiana is Romanian.

2. Artura is a rare English, Spanish, and Italian form. The alternate form Artūra is Lithuanian.

3. Arthurine is French.

4. Arthurina is English.

5. Arthuria is English.

6. Artha is English.

7. Artūrė is Lithuanian.

Cornwall’s most popular export

William Morris painting of legendary Queen Guinevere, 1858

Being the age I am, every other woman within ten years of my age either way is named Jennifer in the Anglophone world. Though my personal tastes strongly tend towards classical eccentric and classical unusual, I’ve always had fond feelings for Jennifer. I can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known, and I’ve encountered quite a few over forty years!

Jennifer is the Cornish form of the Welsh Gwenhwyfar (white phantom), which derives from Old Celtic roots •windos (white, fair, blessed) and *sebros (magical being, phantom). Almost everyone is familiar with Norman–French form Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Though they sound nothing alike, the Old Irish form is Findabair (Fionnabhair in modern Irish).

It’s just a coincidence that Jennifer sounds very similar to Juniper. The names have completely different etymologies.

U.S. actor Jennifer Jones (1919–2009) in 1953

Jennifer was extremely rare outside of Cornwall before the 18th century, and only began gaining in recognition and popularity in 1906, when Sir George Bernard Shaw used it as the name of the female protagonist in the play The Doctor’s Dilemma. In 1934, it entered the Top 100 in England and Wales. It attained its highest rank of #11 there in 1984, and stayed in their Top 100 till 2005.

Jennifer entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 1938, at #992. It jumped to #891 the next year, then #686, #604, #527, #397, #263, #199, #156. Its big leaps in popularity during the 1940s were likely strongly influenced by the above-pictured Jennifer Jones. The name continued gaining in popularity, and entered the Top 100 in 1956 at #97.

By 1965, Jennifer was #20, and it was #10 the next two years. It then rose to #4 and #3 before landing at #1 in 1970, a position it occupied till 1984. Jennifer stayed in the Top 10 till 1991, the Top 20 till 1998, and the Top 100 till 2008. In 2018, it was #344.

It’s common knowledge that Jennifer got its biggest boost of popularity thanks to the 1970 novel and film Love Story (with the hideous catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”).

A suggested reason it remained on the chart so long past that film is that it was the first love story with a tragic ending many young women saw, and it remained with them all those years. When they had daughters, Jennifer was the natural choice. For similar reasons, the oversaturated Madison is still hanging around the Top 100 years after 1984’s Splash!

Jennifer remained #1 in Delaware, Massachusetts, and Illinois till 1985. Tellingly, its immediate replacement on the overall chart was Jessica. Parents tired of Jennifer turned to a name with a fairly similar sound, just as Emily was replaced by Emma, Madeline overtook Madison, and Amelia replaced Emma. The original names never stopped being widely-used, but many people desired a close-enough substitute.

Italian aristocrat Ginevra de’ Benci (1457–1521), painted ca. 1474–78 by Leonardo da Vinci

Other forms of this hugely popular name include:

1. Guenièvre is French.

2. Ginevra is Italian and Portuguese.

3. Yenifer is Latin American–Spanish.

4. Jenifer is Spanish, Cornish, and English.

5. Jenefer is another Cornish variation.

6. Gwenivar is Breton.

7. Ginebra is Catalan.

8. Ginewra is Polish.

9. Gvinevra is Russian. Not a name that translates well into this language!

10. Xenebra, or Xenevra, is Galician.

U.S. socialite Ginevra King, 1898–1980

11. Gaenor, or Gaynor, is Welsh.

12. Dzsenifer is Hungarian. Also not a language that’s naturally suited to translating this name as-is.

13. Gkouinevir is Greek. What I said about Hungarian and Russian.

14. Dženifera is Latvian. Not exactly fond of this form either.

15. Gennifer is English.

16. Ginnifer, or Ginifer, is English.

17. Jeniffer is a rare Scandinavian form.

18. Jennifera is a rare English form.

19. Llénifer is a rare Spanish form.

The many forms of Martin

To mark Martin Luther King Day, I thought it’d be fitting to do a post spotlighting this incredible hero’s name.

Martin comes from the Latin Martinus, which in turn derives from Martis, the genitive case of Mars. The Roman god Mars was copied from the Greek god Ares, the god of war. Mars may derive from the Latin word mas (male). Very fitting, given that the astrological glyph for Mars is the same as the symbol for male!

St. Martin of Tours, a fourth century bishop, is France’s patron saint. One of many legends about him depicts him as ripping his cloak in half to warm a freezing beggar during winter. Because he was such a beloved saint during the Middle Ages, his name became popular across Christendom. Theologian Martin Luther later added to the name’s popularity.

Statue of Mars at Rome’s Capitoline Museums, Copyright Andrea Puggioni

Martin is used in English, French, German, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Macedonian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Estonian, and Croatian. The variant Martín is Spanish, and Martîn is Norman.

In the U.S., Martin was Top 100 from 1880–1970. To date, its highest rank was #44 in 1880. In 2018, it was #272. It also enjoys popularity in Galicia (#2), Spain (#3), the Czech Republic (#13 in 2016), France (#24), Norway (#25), Slovenia (#36), Hungary (#38), Catalonia (#41), Belgium (#73), Ireland (#79), and Switzerland (#82).

Polish historian, diplomat, and cartographer Marcin Kromer (1512–89), painted by unknown 1688–1703

Other forms of Martin include:

1. Martim is Portuguese.

2. Martyn is Welsh, Ukrainian, and Manx. This is also a Russian variation.

3. Marcin is Polish.

4. Márton is Hungarian.

5. Martti is Finnish.

6. Máirtín is Irish. Without accents, Mairtin is Scottish.

7. Martynas is Lithuanian.

8. Martino is Italian.

9. Mattin is Basque. The nickname is Matxin.

10. Morten is Danish and Norwegian.

Self-portrait (1553) of Dutch painter Maarten van Heemskerck, 1498–1574

11. Martí is Catalan.

12. Maarten is Dutch.

13. Martijn is also Dutch.

14. Mārtiņš is Latvian.

15. Mārcis is also Latvian. It started as a nickname for Mārtiņš, but is now used as a given name in its own right.

16. Mårten is Swedish. The variant Marten is Dutch.

17. Màrtainn is Scottish Gaelic.

18. Martèin is Emilian-Romagnol, a Gallo-Italic language spoken in northern Italy.

19. Martiño is Galician.

20. Martinos is a rare Greek form.

Hungarian actor Márton Rátkai, 1881–1951

21. Martinu is Corsican.

22. Marttiin is Finnish.

23. Marzhin is Breton.

24. Mātene is Maori.

25. Měrćin is Sorbian.

26. Mieta is Vilamovian.

27. Môrcën is Kashubian.

28. Martinian is an English, Russian, and Ukrainian form of Latin name Martinianus, which derives from Martinus, the original Latin form of the name. Martinus is also the official Dutch form, though almost no Dutch people use Latin forms of their names outside of legal documents.

29. Martiniano is Spanish and Italian.

30. Martinien is French.

Roman Emperor Martinian (Sextus Marcius Martinianus), ?–325

31. Martinijan is Serbian and Croatian.

32. Martynian is Polish.

Female forms:

1. Martina is English, German, Italian, Catalan, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Slovenian, Swedish, Czech, Slovak, Aragonese, Gascon, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Russian, and Croatian. The name is #2 in Catalonia, #3 in Spain, and #4 in Galicia. In Icelandic, it’s Martína.

2. Martine is French, Dutch, Danish, and Norwegian.

3. Martyna is Polish.

4. Martinha is Portuguese.

5. Martixa is Basque.

6. Martyne is Québecois.

7. Martien is Dutch. This can also be a male name.