Angelic names

Irish–British–American actress Angela Lansbury, 1925–2022

Names derived from the Greek word angelos (angel; messenger of God) historically have been much more common outside of the Anglophone world. Only in the 20th century did names like Angela, Angelica, and Angelina start becoming popular. On the male side, the name Angel (Ahn-hell) seems to be almost exclusively used on boys from Hispanic families, and Angelo is most frequently used on boys of Italian descent.

Angela is used in English, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Greek, Slovenian, Slovakian, the Scandinavian languages, Estonian, Finnish, Luxembourgish, Flemish, Macedonian, and modern Russian. In all of those languages except English and Italian, it’s pronounced with a hard G. The variant form Angéla is Hungarian; Angèla is Occitan and Gascon; Ángela is Spanish; Àngela is Catalan; and Ângela is Portuguese.

St. Angela Merici of Italy, 1474–1540

Angela was #679 in the U.S. in 1880, the year popularity records began, and gradually rose to the Top 100. It entered that upper echelon in 1956, at #93, and continued climbing upwards very quickly. By 1963, it was already #30, and it was in the Top 10 from 1965–79, holding its highest rank of #5 from 1974–76. The name began a slow descent in popularity in 1980, interrupted a few times by a rise back upwards. In 2021, it was #234.

Angela is also popular in Mexico (#46), Spain (#60), and Italy (#87).

Self-portrait of Swiss artist Angelica Kaufman, 1741–1807

Other forms of the name include:

1. Angelica is Italian, Romanian, Gascon, Provençal, Scandinavian, Romansh, Flemish, Dutch, and German. The variant Angélica is Spanish and Portuguese, and Angèlica is Sicilian.

2. Angélique is French. Without an accent mark, this is also a Dutch name.

3. Anzhelika is the traditional Russian and Ukrainian form.

4. Anzhela is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Belarusian.

5. Angeliki is Greek.

6. Anxhela is Albanian. The sound XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

7. Angyalka is Hungarian. The sound GY is pronounced kind of like the soft, barely perceptible DY sound in due, duel, and during.

8. Ànghela is Sardinian.

9. Anhelina is Ukrainian and Belarusian.

10. Angelina is English, Italian, Greek, Armenian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian, Bulgarian, Latvian, Croatian, Scandinavian, Provençal, Slovenian, and Russian.

French midwife Angélique du Coudray, ca. 1712–1794

11. Anzhelina is Russian and Ukrainian.

12. Anđela is Serbian and Croatian. Nicknames include Anđa and Anđelka. The variant Anděla is Czech.

13. Aniela is Polish and Kashubian.

14. Angeline is French.

15. Angiola is an Italian variant.

16. Anželika is Latvian and Lithuanian.

17. Andżelika is a Polish variant.

18. Anchela is Aragonese.

19. ʻĀnela is Hawaiian.

20. Ainelag is a rare, modern Manx form.

Polish translator Aniela Zagórska, 1881–1943

21. Andżela is Kashubian.

22. Anelė is Lithuanian.

23. Aela is a modern Breton form.

24. Angele is Scandinavian.

25. Anghjula is Corsican.

26. Àngila is Sicilian.

27. Àngiula is also Sicilian.

28. Ansina is Chuukese, an Austronesian language spoken on the Chuuk islands of the Caroline Islands of Micronesia.

29. Ánxela is Gascon.

30. Ànzela is Sardinian. The variant Anžela is Estonian and Latvian.

American suffragist and mathematician Angeline Stickney (Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall), 1830–92

31. Añjela is a rare Breton form.

32. Aungèle is Norman.

33. Ancèlica is Sicilian.

34. Anchelica is Aragonese.

35. Angilica is Sicilian.

36. Anxélica is Gascon.

37. Anzhalika is Belarusian.

38. Ancilina is Sicilian.

39. Anđelina is Serbian and Croatian.

40. Aungélina is Norman.

American suffragist and abolitionist Angelina Grimké, 1805–79

41. Anghjulina is Corsican.

42. Angilín is Faroese.

43. Angilina is Sicilian.

44. Anxhelina is Albanian.

45. Anzelina is Sardinian.

46. Anxelina is a rare Gascon form.

Italian doctor, parasitologist, hygienist, and philanthropist Angelo Celli (1857–1914)

Male forms of the name include:

1. Ángel is Spanish, and quite popular in that language. The variant Àngel is Catalan, and Angèl is Lengadocian (an Occitan dialect). Without accent marks, this name is sometimes used in Bulgarian, Slovenian, and Macedonian.

2. Angelo is Italian. The variant Ângelo is Portuguese; Anĝelo is Esperanto; and Ángelo is Spanish.

3. Anghel is Romanian.

4. Angiolo is Italian.

5. Ànghelu is Sardinian.

6. Anđelko is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Anđelo is Croatian.

8. Aingeru is Basque.

9. Anxo is Galician.

10. Angelos is Greek.

Romanian historian, writer, and literary critic Anghel Demetriescu, 1847–1903

11. Ankelo is Albanian.

12. Angeoul is Gascon.

13. Angé is also Gascon.

14. Anxhelo is Albanian.

15. Angyal is Hungarian.

16. Ánxel is Asturian.

17. Ánxelu is also Asturian.

18. Àncilu is Sicilian.

19. Angelu is also Sicilian.

20. Àngilu is another Sicilian form.

Bosnian Franciscan friar Anđeo Zvizdović, who negotiated for religious freedom after the Ottoman conquest and occupation of Bosnia (ca. 1420–98)

21. Anđeo is a rare Bosnian and Croatian form.

22. Angiulu is Sicilian.

23. Anzolo is Venetian.

24. Ael is a modern Breton form.

25. Aggelos is modern Greek.

26. Agnul is Friulian.

27. Angelico is Italian and Filipino.

28. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

29. Ánchel is Aragonese.

30. Ancèlicu is Sicilian.

Italian Augustine monk, bibliophile, and scholar Angelico (né Ludovico) Aprosio, 1607–81

31. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

32. Anděl is Czech. The rare, variant form Anđel is Serbian and Croatian.

33. Angelas is Lithuanian.

34. Angèlicu is Sicilian.

35. Angelu is also Sicilian.

36. Angelusz is Hungarian.

37. Anġlu is Maltese.

38. Anzelinu is Sardinian.

39. Ànzelu is also Sardinian.

40. Anxelo is a rare Gascon form.

Unisex forms:

1. Angel is English, though predominantly feminine in that language.

2. Ange is French.

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A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

The Ys of Medieval Scandinavian, Breton, Basque, Flemish, French, Cornish, Galician, and Spanish names

Because Italian has no names starting with Y, today is another wildcard day. I took great care not to repeat any of the Medieval Y names from my 2018 post.

Male names:

Yagu (Breton) is a form of Jakob, which derives from the Hebrew name Ya’akov. Though traditional etymology claims this name means “heel” and “supplanter,” many modern Biblical scholars believe it comes from Semitic roots meaning “may God protect.”

Yowann (Cornish) is a form of John (God is gracious).

Yrian, Yryan (Scandinavian) is a form of Jurian (i.e., George, which means “farmer”).

Ysaque (Galician) is a form of Isaac, which comes from the Hebrew name Yitzchak (he will laugh).

Ythier (French) derives from Ancient Germanic roots id (labour, work) or idhja (negotiate), and hari (warrior, army).

Yuzhael (Breton)

Female names:

Ybba (Swedish) is a form of Eyba, a diminutive of names starting with the Ancient Germanic root ebur (wild boar). The modern form is Ebba.

Yden (Flemish)

Yenega (Basque) is a form of Iñiga, a feminine form of Eneko. The name may derive from the Basque words ene (my) and ko (a diminutive suffix).

Yfame (French)

Ynes (Spanish) is a form of Agnes, which derives from the Greek word hagnos (chaste). Since St. Agnes was frequently depicted with a lamb, the name acquired the secondary meaning of “lamb,” from the Latin word agnus.

Yzabé (French) is a form of Elizabeth (my God is an oath).

The Ws of Medieval English, German, Slavic, French, Norman, Flemish, and Cornish names

Seeing as there are no Italian names, Medieval or otherwise, from any region of Italy, starting with W, today is another wildcard day featuring other Medieval names. I’ve taken special care not to include any repeats from my 2018 post on Medieval names starting with W.

Male names:

Waelweyn (Flemish)

Waltram (German) derives from Ancient Germanic roots wald (to rule) and hraban (raven).

Wenceslaus (Czech) is the Latinised form of Veceslav (more glory). The modern form of this name is Václav.

Wilkin (English) is a nickname for William (will helmet)

Wilky (English) is also a nickname for William.

Wischard (Norman) is a form of Guiscard, which derives from Old Norse roots viskr (wise) and hórðr (hardy, brave).

Wszebąd (Polish) derives from roots wsze (always, everything, everyone) and bąd (to live, to exist, to be).

Wynwallow (Cornish) is a form of the Breton name Gwenole, derived from Old Breton roots uuin (white, blessed, fair) and uual (brave). The modern Breton form is Guénolé.

Wyot (English) is a form of the Old English name Wigheard, which derives from roots wig (battle) and heard (brave, hardy).

Female names:

Wantliana (English) is a form of the Welsh name Gwenllian, which is composed of roots gwen (fair, white, blessed) and lliain (flaxen).

Wastrada (German)

Weltrude (German) derives from Proto–Germanic roots wela (good, well), and þrūþ (strength) or trut (maiden).

Wigfled (English)

Wilburga (Polish)

Willberna (German) derives from Old High German roots willo (will) and bero (bear).

Williswinda (German) means “strong desire, strong will.”

Wilmot (English) is a feminine form of William. This is also a male nickname for William.

Wistrilde (French) derives from Proto–Germanic root *westrą (west) and Old High German hiltja (battle).

Maximum names

German theoretical physicist Max Planck, 1858–1947 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R0116-504 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Max, as both a nickname and full given name, has been very trendy for awhile. It’s been in the Top 100 in England and Wales since at least 1998. In 2018, it was #31, and has charted as high as #18 in 2012. The name has also been in New Zealand’s Top 30 since at least 2004 (many of those years in the Top 20), and was #21 in 2019.

Sweden is another country where Max enjoys great popularity. It’s been Top 50 since at least 1998, when it was #44, and had a high of #13 in 2006. In 2019, it was #67.

Max is also popular in Switzerland (#53 in 2018), Northern Ireland (#33 in 2018), Scotland (#12), Norway (#77 in 2018), Ireland (#34), Germany (#20 in 2018), The Netherlands (#17), Catalonia (#20 in 2018), and Austria (#54 in 2018).

Surprisingly, it’s not as popular as I assumed in the U.S. Max was only #136 in 2018, and its highest position was #96 in 2011.

Russian writer Maksim Gorkiy (née Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov), 1868–1936

The name’s origin is Roman family name Maximus, which means “greatest” in Latin. In turn, it gave rise to Maximilianus, and became quite popular among the Romans. Lesser-used Roman forms are Maximinus and Maximianus.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Maximilian is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and English, though by far the most common in German. It was borne by two Holy Roman Emperors, two kings of Bavaria, and a Habsburg emperor of Mexico. The alternate form Maximilián is Slovak.

2. Maximillian is English.

3. Maxmilián is Czech.

4. Maximiliano is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Maximiliaan is Dutch.

6. Maximilien is French.

7. Maksymilian is Polish and Sorbian.

8. Maksimilian is Russian.

9. Maksimilyan is also Russian.

10. Macsen is Welsh.

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519)

11. Maxim is Czech. The alternate form Màxim is Catalan.

12. Maksim is Russian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, and Macedonian.

13. Maksym is Ukrainian and Polish.

14. Maxen is Anglicised Welsh.

15. Máximo is Spanish.

16. Maxime is French.

17. Massimo is Italian.

18. Maksimiljan is Slovenian.

19. Masimilian is Breton.

20. Massimilianu is Corsican.

Infamous French revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre, 1758–94

21. Maksimilijonas is Lithuanian.

22. Maksymilión is Kashubian.

23. Massimiljanu is Maltese.

24. Maksimilijan is Croatian.

25. Maximilià is Catalan.

26. Maximos is Greek.

27. Maximino is Portuguese and Spanish.

28. Maximiano is Spanish and Portuguese.

29. Maximian is German, English, and Dutch. The alternate form Maximián is Aragonese.

30. Maksime is Georgian.

Maximos the Greek (ca. 1475–1556), a monk, translator, writer, and scholar who served in Russia

31. Maime is Occitan.

32. Maimin is also Occitan.

33. Maksimian is Bulgarian, Russian, and Ukrainian.

34. Maksimijan is Serbian and Croatian.

35. Maksimin is Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

36. Maksymian is Polish.

37. Maksymin is also Polish.

38. Màsim is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy and San Marino.

39. Massimiano is Italian.

40. Massimianu is Sicilian.

French military commander Maxime Weygand, 1867–1965

41. Massimilianu is Corsican.

42. Massiminiano is Italian.

43. Massimino is also Italian.

44. Maximien is French.

45. Maximinian is English.

46. Maximiniano is Spanish and Portuguese.

47. Maxwell means “Mack’s stream,” from Medieval English Mack (a diminutive of Scandinavian Magnus [great]) and Old English root wella (stream).

U.S. singer Maxene Andrews (top left), 1916–95, with her sisters LaVerne (top right) and Patty

Female forms:

1. Maxine is English.

2. Maxene is an English variation. I’m not fond of this spelling, since it looks like it should be pronounced Maks-EN.

3. Maximiliana is Latin.

4. Maximilienne is French.

5. Maximiliane is German.

6. Maximilia is a rare German form, mostly used by noble families in bygone centuries.

7. Maksima is Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

8. Maksyma is Polish.

9. Massimilla is Italian.

10. Maximiana is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

Princess Maximiliane of Bavaria (embracing the lamb), 1810–21

11. Maximina is Galician, Spanish, and Portuguese.

12. Maximine is French.

13. Maximiniana is Spanish and Portuguese.

14. Massimiliana is Italian.

15. Maxime is Swedish and Norwegian.