How Heimirich became Harry became Henry, and how Harrison ties in

In loving memory of George Harrison on his 16th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to do a post about the etymology of his surname. Like many other English names, it has Old Germanic origins, and has undergone a drastic evolution of form.

Harrison, which is also commonly used as a forename, means “son of Harry.” It’s been on the Top 1000 in the U.S. since 1880. It doesn’t take any in-depth research to figure out why it jumped from #129 in 1887 to #52 in 1888, and was a respectable #68 in 1889 and #107 in 1890. Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888.

The name has fluctuated up and down the Top 1000 ever since, rising respectably some years and falling the next year, or holding relatively steady in other years. In 2009, it began an uninterrupted climb, going from #241 to its current rank of #107.

The name is also currently popular in Australia (#16), England and Wales (#32), Scotland (also #32), New Zealand (#40), Northern Ireland (#84), and Canada (#94).

The first Harrison Ford, 16 March 1884–2 December 1957, a huge star of the silent era

Harry, in turn, is the Medieval English form of Henry. In the modern era, it’s used as a name in its own right, and as a nickname for both Henry and Harold. Harry was quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and only fell out of the Top 20 in 1920. Its highest rank was #8 in 1889.

Its final year in the Top 100 was 1957. The name sharply fell down the charts after that. In 2016, it was #679, up from #781 in 2015. Harry is more popular in England and Wales (#2), Scotland (#7), Northern Ireland (#8), Ireland (#14), Australia (#27), Sweden (#23), and New Zealand (#45).

President Harry S. Truman, 8 May 1884–26 December 1972

Henry is the modern English form of the Old Germanic Heimirich, which means “home ruler.” It’s derived from the elements heim (home) and ric (ruler, power). The spelling later morphed into Heinrich, influenced by similar Germanic names such as Haganrich.

Henry stood at #9 in 1880, and remained Top 10 for most of the ensuing years until 1911. When it was out of the Top 10, it was only #11. The name stayed in the Top 20 until 1927, and in the Top 50 until 1952. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1969.

Henry never dropped out of the Top 200, and was still the respectable rank of #146 at its lowest position in 1994. The name became popular again in the late Nineties, and has steadily been climbing the charts ever since. In 2016, it was #22.

The name also enjoys great popularity in England and Wales (#15), Australia (#18), New Zealand (#26), Canada (#32), Sweden (#52), Northern Ireland (#64), Ireland (#83), and Scotland (#92).

King Henry VIII of England, 28 June 1491–28 January 1547

Other forms of this name include:

1. Henri is French and Finnish. I also love this as a nickname for the female name Henrietta, though it obviously would be pronounced like the Finnish male name instead of the French form.

2. Henrique is Portuguese.

3. Heinrich is German. Nicknames include Heinz, Heiner, and Henning.

4. Henrik is Scandinavian, German, Hungarian, Slovenian, Armenian, and Croatian.

5. Henryk is Polish.

6. Henrich is Slovak.

7. Hinrik is Icelandic.

8. Henrikas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Herkus.

9. Hendrik is Dutch and Estonian. Dutch nicknames include Heike, Heiko, Henk, Hein, Henny, Hennie, and Rik.

10. Heinere is Tahitian.

11. Hēnare is Maori.

12. Henric is Gascon.

13. Henrijs is Latvian.

14. Henrikh is Georgian and Armenian.

15. Henriko is Esperanto.

16. Indrek is Estonian.

17. Enrique is Spanish.

18. Jindřich is Czech. One of the nicknames is Hynek.

19. Anri is Georgian.

20. Eanraig is Scottish.

21. Hendry is also Scottish.

22. Anraí is Irish.

23. Einrí is also Irish.

24. Endika is Basque.

25. Henrikki is Finnish. One of the nicknames is Heikki.

26. Harri is Welsh and Finnish.

27. Enrico is Italian.

28. Arrigo is also Italian. Diminutive forms include Arrighetto, Arriguccio, and Arrighino.

29. Errikos is Greek.

30. Enricu is a rare Romanian form.

31. Hallet is a Medieval English nickname.

32. Halkin is also a Medieval English nickname.

33. Hawkin too is a Medieval English diminutive.

Feminine forms:

1. Henrika is Swedish. One of the nicknames is Rika.

2. Henrike is German and Scandinavian. One of the German nicknames is Rike, and one of the Scandinavian nicknames is Rika.

3. Hendrika is Dutch, with nicknames including Drika, Heike, Ina, Rika, and Heintje. One of my secondary characters is called Drika.

4. Hendrikje is also Dutch.

5. Hendrina is Dutch too.

6. Henryka is Polish. Nicknames include Henia and Henusia.

7. Henriikka is Finnish. Nicknames include Riika, Henna, and Riikka.

8. Henrietta is English, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, and Swedish. Traditional English nicknames are Hettie, Etta, Ettie, Hattie, Hatty, and Hallie, though I’ve always been quite partial to the boyish-sounding Henri. Dutch nicknames include Jet, Jetje, Jette, and Jetta. The J is pronounced like an English Y.

9. Henriette is French, Dutch, Danish, German, and Norwegian. A Dutch alternate form is Henriëtte.

10. Harriet is English.

11. Enrica is Italian.

12. Henrieta is Slovak.


The many forms of Jonathan

Jonathan is a timeless classic, a name which doesn’t belong to any one particular era or type of fellow. It’s been on the Top 1000 since 1880, though only began its slow but steady rise to greater popularity in 1927. It went from #596 to the Top 20 in the 1980s. To date, its highest rank has been #15 in 1988. In 2016, it was #56.

The name is also fairly popular in Mexico (#27), Austria (#39), Denmark (#47), Switzerland (#59), Norway (#63), Sweden (#76), Canada (#98), and Australia (also #98).

The original form of the name was the Hebrew Yehonatan, later contracted to the modern form Yonatan. It means “God has given.” Most people are familiar with the story of David and Jonathan’s deep friendship in the Bible, and the persistent rumour that they may have been more than just friends.

In the Anglophone world, Jonathan didn’t become widely used till the Protestant Reformation. This spelling is also used in German, the Scandinavian languages, French, and Dutch.

Other forms include:

1. Jonatan is Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Czech. The variant form Jónatan is Icelandic, and Jonatán is Hungarian and a rare Czech variant.

2. Gionata is Italian.

3. Jônatas is Portuguese. The alternate form Jonatás is Spanish, and Jónatas is another Portuguese form.

4. Ionatán is Irish. The alternate form Ionatan is Romanian.

5. Joonatan is Finnish.

6. Gionatan is Italian.

7. Hovnatan is Armenian.

8. Ionafan is Russian. As much as I adore Russian names, I’ve never been a fan of the ones where the English TH sound is replaced by F, nor of names where the English J is replaced by IO or IYO. It just has an unflattering sound to my ears.

9. Ionatani is Georgian.

10. Ionathan is Greek.

11. Ionakana is Hawaiian.

12. Jonatanas is Lithuanian.

13. Honatana is Maori.

14. Joatan is Portuguese.

15. Jonatã is also Portuguese.

16. Jonatão is Portuguese too.

17. Ionatana is Samoan.

18. Sonatane is Tongan.

19. Jonty is a British nickname.

20. Yoni is a very common, popular Hebrew nickname.

When Z replaces S

I love the flair and extra personality brought to a name when Z is used in place of S. Whereas names using K instead of C tend to be from a wider range of languages, switching out S for Z seems to be mostly a feature of Slavic languages, Hungarian, Armenian, Lithuanian, and Latvian.

Elizabeth seems about evenly split. A Z is used in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian, while S is used in most other languages’ versions.  Over time, I’ve grown to far prefer the spelling Elisabeth, and love variants such as Eliisabet, Elisabeta, and Elisabetta.

Names using Z in place of the S expected in the Anglophone world include:


Anastazija, Anastazie, Anastázia, Anasztázia

Izabella, Izabela, Izabelė


Izida (most Slavic languages’ form of Isis), Izīda (Latvian form), Izidė (Lithuanian form), Izyda (Polish form)


Izydora, Izidóra


Jozefa, Jožefa, Józefa

Jozefina, Józefina, Jozefína, Jozefien, Jozefine


Jozina, Jozine, Jozien

Kazimiera, Kazimira

Luiza, Louiza

Roza, Róža, Róża, Ruža, Róza, Rožė, Růžena

Rozalia, Rozalija, Rozalie, Rozália, Rozālija, Rozálie

Tereza, Terezie, Teréz, Terézia, Terezija

Zabel (Armenian form of Isabella)

Zofia, Zsófia, Žofia, Žofie

Zsuzsanna, Zuzana, Zuzanna, Zane


Ambroży, Ambrož, Ambrozije


Izaak, Izsák, Izaäk, Izák, Izak, Izaokas

Izaiaš, Izaija

Izydor, Izidorius

Jozef, Józef, Jožef, József, Jozefo


Jozue (Czech and Slovak form of Joshua), Jozuė (Lithuanian form)

Kazimir, Kazimierz, Kázmér, Kazimír, Kazimieras


Zurab (Georgian form of Sohrab, which means “shining” or “red water” in Persian)


Zygmunt, Zikmund, Zsigmond, Žigmund, Žiga

The many forms of Louis and Louisa

Louis was a Top 100 name in the U.S. from 1880–1959, with a peak of #18 in 1882. It gradually began falling in popularity during the 1920s, and fell out of the Top 50 in 1942. In 2009, it reached its lowest rank of #353. In 2016, it was #289.

Louis is the French form of Ludovicus, which in turn is the Latinized form of the German Ludwig. Its ultimate origin is the Old Germanic Chlodovech, which is composed of the elements hlud (famous) and wig (battle, war).

Louisa likewise has seen much more popular days, though it was never close to as popular as Louis. Its highest rank was #119 in 1881, and its final year in the Top 1000 was 1969, when it was #954. It only re-entered in 2014, at #971. By 2016, it was #825.

The French and English variant form Louise has historically been more popular than Louisa. It was in the Top 100 from 1880–1948, with the highest rank of #17, from 1912–14. Like its counterparts, it gradually began sinking, and fell out of the Top 1000 in 1988. It re-entered in 1990, fell out again in 1992, and had another re-entrance in 2016, at #895.

Louise is much more popular in France (#1) and Belgium (#2). It’s also fairly popular in Norway (#75), Switzerland (#73), and The Netherlands (#101). Louis also enjoys more popularity outside the U.S. It’s #1 in Belgium, #4 in France, #12 in Switzerland, #59 in Australia, #71 in England and Wales, and #82 in New Zealand.

Other forms of these names include:


1. Ludwik is Polish.

2. Ludwig is German.

3. Ludvig is Scandinavian, with the nickname Ludde.

4. Ludoviko is Esperanto, with the nickname Lučjo.

5. Lodewijk is Dutch, with nicknames including Ludo and Lowie.

6. Loïc is Breton and French.

7. Ludovico is Italian.

8. Lodovico is an Italian variant.

9. Ludis is Latvian.

10. Ludvigs is also Latvian.

11. Liudvikas is Lithuanian.

12. Lluís is Catalan.

13. Luis is Spanish, with the nickname Lucho. The variant Luís is Portuguese.

14. Lúðvík is Icelandic. The alternate form Ludvík is Czech, with the nickname Luděk.

15. Loís is Occitan. The variant Lois is Galician.

16. Ludovic is French.

17. Luigi is Italian, with nicknames including Gino and Luigino.

18. Luiz is Brazilian–Portuguese.

19. Lodosis is Aragonese.

20. Loeiz is Breton.

21. Loudovikos is a rare Greek form.

22. Loys is Gascon.

23. Lûíse is Greenlandic.

24. Lujo is Croatian.

25. Luui is Greenlandic.

26. Lüwi is Alsatian.

27. Koldobika is Basque, with the nickname Koldo.

28. Alajos is Hungarian.

29. Alojz is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian. The Slovenian nickname is Lojze.

30. Alojzij is Slovenian.

31. Alojzije is Croatian.

32. Aloysius is the Latinized form of Aloys, an archaic Occitan form of Louis.

33. Alois is German and Czech.

34. Alojzy is Polish.

35. Aloisio is Italian.

36. Alvise is Venetian.

37. Aloísio is Portuguese.

38. Alaois is Irish.

39. Aloxi is Basque.

40. Rewi is Maori.

41. Ruihi is also Maori.

42. Lajos is Hungarian.


1. Luisa is Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, German, Dutch, and Croatian. The variant Luísa is Portuguese.

2. Luiza is Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Lujza is Hungarian and Slovak.

4. Louiza is Greek.

5. Liudvika is Lithuanian.

6. Loviise is Estonian.

7. Lovise is Norwegian and Danish.

8. Lovisa is Swedish.

9. Lluïsa is Catalan.

10. Ludwika is Polish.

11. Loviisa is Finnish.

12. Ludovica is Italian.

13. Luigia is also Italian, with nicknames including Gina and Luigina.

14. Luise is German.

15. Alojzia is Slovak.

16. Aloiziya is Bulgarian.

17. Alojzija is Slovenian and Croatian.

18. Lavīze is a rare Latvian form.

19. Loeiza is Breton.

20. Loïsa is Occitan.

21. Loisa is Galician.

22. Ludovique is a rare French form.

23. Luīze is Latvian.

24. Lüwiss is Alsatian.

25. Ruiha is Maori.

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:


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.


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.