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 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).

The Qs of Medieval Mongolian, Arabic, Dutch, English, and Scandinavian names

Since there are no Medieval Italian or Medieval Tuscan names starting with Q, today is a wildcard. I made sure not to repeat any of the Medieval Q names I used in my 2018 post.

Unisex names:

Qaliyun (Mongolian) means “otter.”

Male names:

Qongqor (Mongolian) means “chestnut” (the horse colour).

Quant (Scandinavian) derives from the Middle High and Middle Low German word quant (trickster, imp, rogue, prankster, smart-aleck).

Quiryn (Dutch) is a form of Quirinus, which possibly derives from the Sabine word quiris (spear).

Female names:

Qasmuna (Moorish Arabic) means “to divide, to distribute.”

Quenylda (English) is a form of the Anglo–Saxon name Cwénhild, derived from Old English roots cwén (woman, wife) and hild (battle, war). My 2018 post on Medieval names included the forms Quenilla and Quenilda.

The many forms of Sebastian

Italian explorer Sebastiano Caboto (ca. 1474–ca. December 1557), engraved 1824 by Samuel Rawle

Sebastian is an English, German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Polish, and Finnish name descended from the Latin Sebastianus (from Sebastia). A town in Asia Minor, Sebastia (now Sivas, Turkey) took its name from the Greek word sebastos (venerable). In turn, sebastos derives from sebas (dread, awe, reverence), and sebas comes from the verb sebomai (to feel awe, to be ashamed, to feel scruples).

As a title, Sebastos became the Greek form of Augustus, the Romans’ name for their emperors.

The name Sebastian, in all its many forms, became very popular in Medieval Europe on account of Saint Sebastian, a third century martyr. The name was particularly popular in France and Spain.

In recent years, Sebastian has become quite popular again. It’s been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2000, when it entered at #81, and it was #18, its highest rank to date, in 2018 and 2019. The name is also #22 in Austria, #34 in England and Wales, #34 in Norway, #51 in Poland, #70 in New Zealand, and #79 in Italy.

The alternate form Sebastián is Spanish and Czech, and Sebastían is Icelandic.

French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633–1707), painted 1834 by Charles-Philippe Larivière

Other forms of the name include:

1. Sebastiano is Italian.

2. Sebastião is Portuguese.

3. Sébastien is French.

4. Sebastiaan is Dutch.

5. Sebestyén is Hungarian.

6. Szebasztián is an alternate Hungarian form.

7. Sebastià is Catalan.

8. Sebastianu is Corsican and Sicilian.

9. Sebastión is Kashubian.

10. Sebastijonas is Lithuanian.

Portuguese politican and diplomat Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782)

11. Sebastijan is Slovenian and Croatian.

12. Sebastiaen is an older Dutch form.

13. Sebustianu is Sardinian.

14. Sevastianos is modern Greek.

15. Sibistianu is Sicilian.

16. Sipastiât is Greenlandic.

17. Sevastyan is Russian.

18. Subustianu is Sardinian.

19. Savas’jan is Veps, a Finnic language spoken in Russia.

20. Savaş is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

Flemish artist Sebastiaen Vrancx (1573–1647)

21. Sebastiani is Swahili.

22. Siöeba is Vilamovian, an endangered Germanic language spoken by about twenty people in Poland.

23. Sivaslı is Turkish.

24. Bościj is Sorbian.

25. Bas’cian is Istriot, an endangered Romance language spoken in Croatia.

26. Baścik is Silesian.

27. Bastjan is Maltese.

Female forms:

1. Sebastiana is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Polish, Kashubian, and Slovenian.

2. Sébastienne is French. The alternate form Sebastiënne is Dutch (and quite rare).

3. Sebastiane is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese, German, and English form.

4. Sevastiana is modern Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

5. Sibastjana is Albanian.

6. Sebastianna is a rare English and Italian form.

7. Austitza is a Basque name which many believe to be their form of Sebastiana.

All about Martha

Martha Washington, first First Lady of the U.S., 1731–1802

Martha is one of those names which hasn’t very many variants, but there are more than just a handful. This name is English, Scandinavian, Greek, German, and Dutch. The alternate form Märtha is is Swedish.

The name means “the lady, the mistress,” from Aramaic marta (feminine form of mar, master). Despite being the name of a prominent Biblical woman, it didn’t become widespread in England till the Protestant Reformation.

Martha used to be hugely popular in the U.S., at #16 when records began being kept in 1880. Its highest rank was #14 in 1882, and it remained in the Top 20 till 1888, the Top 30 till 1945 (except for 1905 at #32, 1907 at #31, and 1908 at #32), the Top 50 till 1954, and the Top 100 till 1965.

The name gradually sank down the charts, frequently losing 20+ ranks each year. In 2019, it was #795.

Martha is currently much more popular in England and Wales. It’s been on the Top 100 since 2006, and was #95 in 2019.

Princess Marthe Bibesco (née Marta Lucia Lahovary), Romanian–French writer and socialite, 1886–1973

Other forms of the name include:

1. Marta is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Latvian, modern Russian, Icelandic, Slovenian, Romanian, Georgian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, Catalan, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Swedish, and Croatian. This name is #33 in Spain, #62 in Sweden, #52 in Portugal, #43 in Galicia, #31 in Italy, #81 in Catalonia, and #61 in Poland.

Variants include Márta (Hungarian), Mártá (Sami), and Märta (Swedish).

2. Morta is Lithuanian.

3. Maata is Maori.

4. Martta is Finnish.

5. Marthese is Maltese.

6. Marte is Norwegian.

7. Marthe is French and Norwegian. The French pronunciation has one syllable, and the Norwegian has two. This is the name of the wonderful plastic surgeon who removed my second-degree burn scars.

8. Moireach is Scottish.

9. Marfa is traditional Russian and Ukrainian. As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of names where F replaces TH in the middle! It doesn’t bug me as the first letter (e.g., Fyodor), but it sounds ugly in most other instances.

10. Maleka is Hawaiian.

Finnish painter Martta Wendelin, 1893–1986

11. Mareta is Gilbertese, a Micronesian language.

12. Markva is Mordvin, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

13. Marpa is Mansi and Khanty, Uralic languages spoken in Russia.

14. Marthey is Manx.

15. Marthi is a rare Greek form.

16. Mathiri is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

17. Zujenia is Caló–Romani, spoken in Spain, Portugal, Southern France, and Brazil. This form makes more sense when you know the Caló word zhulyi means “lady, woman,” and thus has the same meaning as Martha.