The two names I’ve loved longest, Part II

As mentioned in my last post, the two names I’ve loved longest are Easter and Echo. I’ve no idea why I fell so deeply in love with them, but I’ve remained firmly captivated by them all these years. While I’d like to use Echo as a middle name for a future daughter (paired with Cecilia), Easter is off-limits for the obvious reason that I’m not Christian.

However, I’m of the camp that feels one need not be a member of a certain religion to find great beauty in some of its names, music, stories, etc. Liking a name, song, ikon, teaching, etc., doesn’t automatically mean you’re having a crisis of faith and converting!

The English name Easter comes from Eostre (alternately called Ostara), the Ancient Germanic dawn goddess. As such, her name is etymologically linked to Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn (whose name fittingly means “dawn”). Every morning, her rosy fingers open the gates of heaven for the Sun to rise.

The Ancient Germanic name, like the Greek name, derives from the Proto–Germanic *Austrǭ. In turn, that name ultimately derives from the Proto–Indo–European *h2ews- (to shine). The modern English word “east” also descends from this ancient root.

Many other dawn goddesses from Indo–European language-speaking cultures share this cognate, leading to the theory of a Proto–Indo–European dawn goddess from whence they all came.

Over time, Eostre became associated with fertility and the dawning of spring, hence why the Christian spring holiday took on an updated form of her name.

Though it’s no longer very common for girls born around Easter to be given this name, the Latin word for Easter, Pascha, forms the basis for a number of names which are a fair bit more common. These include:

Female:

Pascale is French. The nickname is Pascaline.

Pascuala is Spanish.

Pascualina is Italian.

Pascalina is Gascon and Sardinian.

Paškvalina is Croatian.

Male:

Pascal is French, Dutch, and German.

Pasquale is Italian.

Pascual is Spanish.

Paskal is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Pascoe, or Pasco, is Cornish.

Paschalis is Greek.

Paškal is Croatian. The nickname is Paško.

Pascau is Gascon.

Paskalis is Lithuanian.

Paszkál is Hungarian.

Paxkal is Basque.

Päscu is Swiss–German.

Pasqual is Catalan.

Pascoal is Portuguese.

The reason I see Easter as a workable (if rather uncommon) name is because I’m used to seeing and hearing it as a human’s name. It’s become rather unusual, but it’s not completely unheard-of. Christmas was a fairly common given name in the Middle Ages, but it doesn’t sound like a name, and is even rarer to encounter on a real person.

As with many names, it’s all about perception and associations.

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The two names I’ve loved longest, Part I

I can’t remember what caused me to fall so in love with the names Easter and Echo when I was about six years old, but fall in love I did. Those are the two names I’ve loved longest. I made a number of picture books about twins named Easter and Echo, eventually expanding them to quads who were separated into two sets of twins (à la The Parent Trap), and at one point giving them sextuplet little sisters. Hey, I was very young!

In 2004 or 2005, I resurrected Easter and Echo for a new picture book for a final project in an early childhood education class. Perhaps someday I’ll go back to them again.

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903

Echo has the same meaning in Greek as in English. She was an Oreiad (mountain nymph) who lived on Mount Kithairon. Zeus, being Zeus, yet again couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up, and frequently sported with the Oreiads.

Hera, being Hera, got suspicious, and descended from Mt. Olympus to catch him in the act. Echo tried to protect Zeus, but instead became the latest target of Hera’s wrath. She was cursed with only being able to repeat the last few words spoken to her.

When hunter Narcisssus (Narkissos) was separated from his companions, he called, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated it, and the last few words of everything else he said, including “Enjoy my body.” She fell in instalove, but Narcissus didn’t reciprocate at all.

Narcissus wasted away before his own reflection in a pool, and after his death, Echo too wasted away. The only thing left of her was the sound of her voice.

Illustration of Echo from ballet Narcisse

Other names which mean “echo” include:

Unisex:

Heid, Heyd, or Hed (rhymes with “maid”) is Hebrew.

Heidi, Heydi, or Hedi (rhymes with “lady”) means “my echo” in Hebrew.

Hibiki is Japanese.

Kaiku is Finnish.

Naruki can mean “echo self,” “echo birth,” “echo life,” “echo princess,” “echo rejoice,” “echo hope,” “echo fundamentals,” “echo radiance,” and “echo tree” in Japanese (among many other things).

Rinon can mean “dignified echo,” “jasmine echo,” “village echo,” “refreshing echo,” and “Moon echo” in Japanese.

Ukyo can mean “right echo,” “house echo,” and “feathers echo” in Japanese.

 Female:

Dhwani is Sanskrit.

Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree echo” in Japanese.

Hikoro can mean “soul echo,” “heart echo,” and “mind echo” in Japanese.

Jehona is Albanian.

Kaja is Estonian. This isn’t to be confused with the Scandinavian nickname for Katarina, nor with the Polish and Slovenian form of Gaia or the Czech nickname for Karolína. The lattermost name is written as Kája.

Kikyo can mean “rare echo” and “echo chronicle” in Japanese.

Kyouko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Meisa can mean “echo sand,” “echo blossom,” “skillful echo,” “cherry blossom echo,” “colour echo,” “happiness echo,” “morning echo,” “echo shore,” “echo village,” and “echo assistant” in Japanese.

Noizu is Japanese.

Otoko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Otomi can mean “beautiful echo” in Japanese.

Seda is Turkish. This isn’t to be confused with the Armenian name Seda, which has an uncertain etymology.

Suna can mean “pleasing echo,” “child echo,” “water echo,” “island echo,” “sandbar echo,” “pure echo,” “green echo,” “lucidity echo,” and “whole echo” in Japanese.

Male:

Aidas is Lithuanian.

Aldonas may be derived from the Old Lithuanian aldėti (to echo, resound) and the patronymical suffix -onis.

Kyotaro can mean “eldest son’s echo,” “thick echo son,” and “thick, cheerful echo” in Japanese.

Kyouhei, or Kyohei, can mean “flat echo,” “echo warfare,” “echo soldier,” “echo design,” “echo pattern,” and “thirty-six square feet of echo” in Japanese.

Kyouki can mean “rare echo” and “echo hope” in Japanese.

Olan is Kurdish.

Violet names

Violet Jessop (1887–1971), survivor of the sinking of the Titanic and Brittanic, and a collision of the Olympic, the oldest of the three sister ships

Violet is one of many formerly unfashionable names which has seen a stunning vault up the charts in recent years. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1901, at #91, and attained its highest rank of #74 in 1919. It slowly descended the chart, and fell out in 1972. In 1973, it returned at #926, but fell out again in 1975. Violet came back in 1981–82, and didn’t enter again till 1998.

In 2016, it had jumped quite a bit to become #47. The name seems to still be rising. It’s even more popular in Canada (#32), New Zealand (#44), and Australia (#43). It’s also popular in England and Wales (#65) and Scotland (#94).

Other forms of the name, and names whose meanings relate to the word “violet,” include:

1. Violette is French.

2. Violetta is Russian, Italian, and Hungarian. The alternate form Víóletta is Icelandic.

3. Violeta is Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Macedonian.

4. Wioletta is Polish.

5. Wioleta is an alternate Polish form.

6. Ibolya (EE-bo-yah) is Hungarian.

7. Vjollca is Albanian.

8. Violetë is also Albanian.

9. Viola is English, Italian, German, Czech, Hungarian, and Scandinavian. The alternate form Víóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

10. Wiola is Polish.

U.S. artist Violet Oakley (1874–1961)

11. Iole is Greek.

12. Violante is Italian.

13. Yolande is French, and may be derived from Violante.

14. Yolanda is Spanish and English.

15. Jolanda is Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Croatian.

16. Jolana is Czech and Slovak.

17. Iolanda is Romanian, Italian, and Portuguese.

18. Jolanta is Polish and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Jola.

19. Ljubica can mean “little violet” in Serbian and Croatian, in addition to “little love.”

20. Ione means “violet flower” in Greek.

French ballerina and choreographer Violette Verdy, née Nelly Armande-Guillerm (1933–2016)

21. Sigalit means “violet flower” in Hebrew.

22. Sigal means “violet, purple” in Hebrew.

23. Iolanthe is Greek and English, and means “violet flower.” Given the spelling and sound, its creation was doubtless influenced by Yolanda.

24. Ianthe means “violet flower” in Greek.

25. Calfuray is Mapuche, an indigenous language spoken in Argentina and Chile.

26. Banafsha, or Benafsha. is Persian.

27. Banovsha is Azeri.

28. Fioled is Welsh.

29. Fjóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

30. Ia is Greek and Georgian.

U.S. silent actor Viola Dana (1897–1987)

31. Kalili is a type of Hawaiian violet.

32. Manishag is Armenian.

33. Manoushag is also Armenian.

34. Manushaqe is Albanian.

35. Menekşe is Turkish.

36. Shouka can mean “violet sun fragrance” in Japanese.

37. Sumika can mean “violet summer,” “violet poetry,” “violet song,” “violet mist,” “violet river,” “violet air,” and “violet sky” in Japanese.

The many forms of Mary, and its plethora of nicknames

The Umileniye (Tenderness) ikon, believed to show Mary at the moment of the Annunciation, before which the popular St. Serafim of Sarov, Russia was fond of praying

Mary, the #1 female name in the U.S. from 1880–1946, #2 from 1947–52, #1 again from 1953–61, #2 again from 1962–65, in the Top 10 until 1971, and in the Top 20 until 1975, now positively feels like a breath of fresh air and an original choice after falling to #127.

This historically most common of all female names, across many languages, likewise was #1 for many years in Canada and other parts of the Anglophone world, but has now either fallen off the charts or diminished greatly in popularity.

Mary is to older generations what Jennifer is to my generation—you’ve known too many to count, since the name was so ubiquitous. (On a side note, I honestly can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known or known of. I have universally good associations with the name.)

This name has such a sweet simplicity, works well on all ages, and isn’t associated with just one type of girl or woman. It’s a truly timeless classic, borne by so many incredible women throughout history. Though I’m not Christian, I also find the image of Mary as a loving, universal mother figure very touching.

Mary Pickford, one of my favourite female actors of the silent era, and one of the most powerful women in Hollywood in her day

Other forms of this venerable name include:

1. Maria is German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Catalan, Occitan, Dutch, Faroese, Basque, Sardinian, Corsican, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, Greek, Frisian, and English. Nicknames include Mitzi, Mia, Ria, Marita, Maja, Mariele, Meike, Mareike (German); Mariella, Marietta, Mimi (Italian); Mariona, Ona (Catalan); Mariazinha (Portuguese); Marzena, Maja, Marylka, Marika, Mania, Marysia, Marynia (Polish); Majken, Mia, My, Maja, Maiken (Scandinavian); Maike, Mareike (Frisian); Miep, Mies, Mieke, Ria, Mia, Meike, Marita, Mariska, Marike, Maaike, Marieke, Marijke, Mariëlle, Mariëtte (Dutch); Marietta, Marika (Greek); Marjatta, Maritta, Marika, Marita, Maarika, Marjukka, Marjut (Finnish); and Maia (Basque).

The alternate form María is Icelandic (nickname Mæja), Spanish (nicknames Marita, Maritza), and Galician (nickname Maruxa). Mária is Hungarian (nicknames Mariska, Marika, Marietta, Mari, Marica) and Slovak (nicknames Maja, Marika).

2. Marie is French and Czech. The Czech name pronounces the last two letters separately instead of as one. Nicknames include Marise, Manon, Marielle, Mariette, Marion (French) and Maja, Marika, Madlenka, Maruška, Mařenka, Majka, Máňa, Mánička, Márinka (Czech).

The awesome Queen Marie of Romania

3. Mariya is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian. Nicknames include Manya, Masha, Marusya, Manyechka, Manyenka, Marusha, and Mashenka.

4. Mari is Breton, Welsh, Finnish, Estonian, and Scandinavian. Estonian nicknames include Maarika, Marika, and Mare.

5. Miriam is the original Hebrew form.

6. Mirjam is Hungarian, Dutch, German, Slovenian, Estonian, and Finnish. Nicknames include Miri (Hungarian) and Jaana, Mirja (Finnish).

7. Mariam is Armenian and Georgian.

8. Maryam is Arabic and Persian.

9. Mariami is Georgian.

10. Maryya is Belarusian.

Empress Maria Theresa

11, Meryem is Uyghur and Turkish.

12. Maryamu is Hausa, a Chadic language spoken in much of Western Africa.

13. Marja is Sorbian, Finnish, and Dutch. The alternate form Márjá is Sami.

14. Marija is Latvian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Mojca, Marica, Maja, Maša, and Mare.

15. Mele is Hawaiian and Samoan.

16. Mere is Maori.

17. Moirrey is Manx.

18. Màiri is Scottish.

19. Mair is Welsh.

20. Máire is Irish. Nicknames include Máirin and Mairenn.

Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna of Russia, third daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Aleksandra

21. Miren is Basque.

22. Maarja is Estonian.

23. Malia is Hawaiian.

24. Mirjami is Finnish.

25. Marij is West Frisian and Dutch.

26. Miriama is Fijian and Maori.

27. Mareia is Romansh.

28. Mariamu is Swahili.

29. Maryat is Chechen.

30. Maryja is Vilamovian.

Birth-related names

Seeing as today is my English birthday (my Hebrew birthday was the fifth night of Chanukah, 16–17 December),  here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “birth” and “born.” Many of them are of African origin, particularly from the Akan language.

Unisex:

Abimbola means “born wealthy” in Yoruba.

Abiodun means “born on a festival” in Yoruba.

Abiola means “born in honour” in Yoruba.

Abiona means “born during a journey” in Yoruba.

Anan means “fourth-born child” in Akan, a Central Tano language spoken in Ghana, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Awotwi means “eighth-born child” in Akan.

Baako means “firstborn child” in Akan.

Dubaku means “eleventh-born child” in Akan.

Enu means “fifth-born child” in Akan.

Idowu means “born after twins” in Yoruba.

Nkruma means “ninth-born child” in Akan.

Nsia means “sixth-born child” in Akan.

Nsonowa means “seventh-born child” in Akan.

Female:

Abena means “born on Tuesday” in Akan.

Abra means “born on Tuesday” in Ewe, a Niger–Congo language spoken in Ghana.

Adwoa means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Afua means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Akinyi means “born in the morning” in Luo, a language spoken in Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

Akosua means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Akua means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Ama means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Antigone is composed of the Greek elements anti (against, compared to, like) and gone (birth). Most people are familiar with this as the name of Oedipus’s firstborn daughter by his mother Jocasta.

Bosede means “born on Sunday” in Yoruba.

Chausiku means “born at night” in Swahili.

Esi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Portuguese and Brazilian stage actor Eugénia Câmara, 9 April 1837–28 May 1874

Eugenia is the female form of Eugene, the English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Polish form of the Latin Eugenius, which in turn comes from the Greek Eugenios (well-born).

Other forms of the name include Yevgeniya (Russian), with nicknames including Zhenya, GenyaZhenyushka, and GenyushkaEugènie (French); Eugènia (Catalan); Eugénia (Hungarian and Slovak); Eugênia (Portuguese); Uxía (Galician); Evgenia (Greek); Eukene (Basque); Evgenija (Macedonian); Yevheniya (Ukrainian); Jevgeņija, Jevgēņija, Eiženija (Latvian); Evgeniya (Bulgarian); Eugenija (Lithuanian and Croatian); Evženie (Czech); and Yaŭheniya (Belarusian).

Iphigeneia means “strong-born” in Greek. Most people are familiar with this as the name of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra’s oldest daughter, who in some versions of the story was sacrificed to appease Artemis before the Trojan War, and in others became a priestess who rescued her brother Orestes and their cousin Pylades from being sacrificed to Artemis.

Other forms of the name include Iphigenia (Latin), Efigénia (Portuguese), Efigênia (Brazilian–Portuguese), Iphigénie (French), Ifigeniya (Russian), Ifigénia (Portuguese), Ifigenia (modern Greek), and Efigenia (Italian).

Lindita means “the day is born” in Albanian.

Lumusi means “born face-down” in Ewe.

Muirgen means “born of the sea” in Irish.

Mwanajuma means “born on Friday” in Swahili.

Naliaka means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya.

Oni may mean “born in sacred abode” in Yoruba.

Renata is the feminine Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian form of the Latin Renatus (born again). Other forms include Renáta (Slovak, Czech, Hungarian), Renée (French), Renate (German, Dutch, Norwegian), and Rena (English).

Yaa means “born on Thursday” in Akan.

Silent actor Renée Adorée, 30 September 1898–5 October 1933

Male:

Abidemi means “born during father’s absence” in Yoruba.

Abioye means “born into royalty” in Yoruba.

Afolabi means “born into wealth” in Yoruba.

Akpan means “firstborn son” in Ibibio, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Amadi means “seemed destined to die at birth” in Yoruba.

Anuj means “born later, younger” in Sanskrit. This name is traditionally given to a younger brother.

Cináed (KIN-ahj) is a Scottish and Irish name meaning “born of fire.” It’s typically Anglicized as Kenneth, which is also the Anglicization of Coinneach (handsome).

Comhghán (COV-an) means “born together” in Irish.

Diogenes means “born of Zeus” in Greek.

Eoghan may mean “born from the yew tree” in Irish.

Eugene is the male form of Eugenia. Other forms include Eugène (French), Eugen (German, Romanian, Slovak, Czech, Croatian), Eugenio (Spanish) and Italian, Eugeniusz (Polish), Eugenijus (Lithuanian), Ugène (Norman), Yevgeniy (Russian), Evžen (Czech), Eižens, Jevgeņijs, Jevgēņijs (Latvian), Uxío (Galician), Yevhen, Yevheniy (Ukrainian), Owain, Owen (Welsh), Evgeni (Bulgarian), Eugeni (Catalan), and Üschén (Alsatian).

South African writer Eugène Marais, 3 January 1871–29 March 1936

Gwydion means “born of trees” in Welsh.

Jumaane means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kevin is the Anglicized form of the Irish Caoimhín, which in turn is derived from the Old Irish Cóemgein, “kind/gentle/handsome birth.”

Khamisi means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kofi means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Kwabena means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwadwo means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Kwaku means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Kwame means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwasi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Manoja means “born of the mind” in Sanskrit.

Niraj means “water-born” in Sanskrit.

Nyongesa means “born on Saturday” in Luhya.

Ochieng means “born when the Sun shines” in Luo.

Odhiambo means “born on Afor [a day of the week]” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Okeke means “born on Eke [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okonkwo means “born on Nkwo [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okorie means ” born on Orie [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Omondi means “born early in the morning” in Luo.

Otieno means “born at night” in Luo.

Pankaja means “born of mud” in Sanskrit.

French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes, 31 March 1596–11 February 1650

Renato is the male Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Croatian form of Renata. Other forms include Renat (Russian), Renátó (Hungarian), Rinat (Tatar and Bashkir), and René (French, German, Spanish, Czech, Slovak).

Simiyu means “born during the dry season” in Luhya.

Sosigenes means “born safely” in Greek.

Suchart means “born into a good life” in Thai.

Taner means “born at dawn” in Turkish.

Urien means “privileged birth” in Welsh. Unfortunately, this is one of those names which I wouldn’t recommend in the Anglophone world, due to its similarity to the word “urine.”

Wafula means “born during the rainy season” in Luhya.

Wamalwa means “born during the brewing season” in Luhya.

Wanjala means “born during famine” in Luhya.

Wanyonyi means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya.

Wekesa means “born during harvest” in Luhya.

Yao means “born on Thursday” in Ewe.

Yaw means “born on Thursday” in Akan.