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 many forms of Raymond

Saint Maximilian (né Rajmund) Kolbe, 8 January 1894–14 August 1941, a Polish Catholic priest and friar who volunteered to die in place of another Auschwitz prisoner. The man he saved, Franciszek Gajowniczek, lived to 93.

Raymond is a French and English name which originates in Ancient Germanic Raginmund. Its roots are ragin (advice) and mund (protector). It arrived in England via the Norman occupiers, as Reimund. Several Medieval saints had this name, such as St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron saint of midwives and expectant mothers.

In the U.S., Raymond was #87 when name popularity records began in 1880, and steadily rose into the Top 20. It was in the Top 20 from 1908–38, with a highest rank of #14 in 1919. Raymond remained in the Top 50 till 1970, and the Top 100 till 1991. In 2018, it was #299.

Ramón Novarro (né José Ramón Gil Samaniego), 1899–1969, my next-fave male actor of the silent era

Other forms of the name include:

1. Raimundo is Spanish and Portuguese.

2. Ramón is Spanish. The alternate form Ramon is Catalan.

3. Raymundo is Latin American–Spanish and Brazilian–Portuguese.

4. Raimondas is Lithuanian.

5. Rajmund is Hungarian, Polish, Slovenian, Czech, and Croatian. The alternate form Rajmùnd is Kashubian.

6. Remao is Limburgish.

7. Raymund is an English variation.

8. Raimon is Catalan.

9. Reimo is Finnish.

10. Reima is also Finnish.

American actor, vaudevillian, and stage performer Raymond Wallace Bolger (1904–87), known as Ray

11. Rajmond is Albanian and Slovenian.

12. Raimonds is Latvian.

13. Raimondo is Italian.

14. Réamann is Irish. It’s Anglicised as Redmund and Redmond.

15. Reimund is German.

16. Raymand is Belarusian.

17. Reymond is Bulgarian.

18. Ramund is Danish.

19. Raimund is Estonian and German.

20. Rejmond is Macedonian and Serbian.

Italian inventor, writer, soldier, nobleman, and scientist Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero (1710–71), painted by Francesco de Mura

21. Raimondu is Corsican.

22. Rådmund is Norwegian.

23. Råmund is also Norwegian.

24. Reimond is Romanian.

25. Ramunder is Swedish.

26. Remondi is Yoruba.

27. Raimundas is Lithuanian.

28. Remundu is Sardinian.

29. Raymondos is Greek.

30. Raimond is Dutch and Estonian.

German businessman, art collector, and Imperial Count Raymund Fugger (1489–1535), painted by VIncenzo Catena

31. Erramun is Basque.

32. Arrammundu is Sicilian.

33. Arramon is Gascon.

Female forms:

1. Ramona is Spanish, Romanian, Galician, Italian, and English. The alternate form Ramóna is Hungarian.

2. Reymonde is French.

3. Raimonda is Italian.

4. Raimunde is German.

5. Raymonda is Dutch and English.

6. Raimunda is Lithuanian, Galician, Portuguese–Brazilian, and Medieval Catalan.

7. Raimonde is French.

8. Rajmonda is Albanian

9. Erramona is Basque.

Strength in battle

Polish–Russian prima ballerina Matilda Kschessinskaya (née Matylda Krzesińska), 1872–1971

Matilda, a name used in English, Romanian, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Estonian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Basque, and Croatian, traces its etymology back to Ancient Germanic. Its genesis, Mahthildis, derives from roots maht (strength, might) and hild (battle).

During the Middle Ages, Matilda was a quite popular name among European royalty, particularly in England. It arrived there via the Normans, one of whom was William the Conqueror’s wife.

Matilda remained popular till the 15th century, often in the form Maud. In the 19th century, both Maud and Matilda returned to widespread usage.

The variation Matildá is Sami.

Queen Matilda of England, née Princess of Boulogne (ca. 1105–1152)

Other forms of the name include:

1. Matilde is Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Scandinavian, Latvian, German, Dutch, Latvian, Estonian, Portuguese, and Italian.

2. Mathilde is German, Dutch, French, and Scandinavian. The E is silent in the French form.

3. Mechtilde is German.

4. Mechthild is also German.

5. Mathilda is German, Dutch, and Scandinavian.

6. Matylda is Polish and Ukrainian.

7. Matsilda is Belarusian.

8. Mafalda is Italian, Galician, Catalan, and Portuguese. I’m not fond of names where an F replaces a T or TH!

9. Matild is Hungarian.

10. Mallt is Welsh.

Italian opera singer Mafalda Salvatini, 1886–1971

11. Métilde is Acadian–French.

12. Matelda is Medieval Italian.

13. Maitilde is archaic Irish.

14. Mathide is Norman.

15. Mathild is Medieval Flemish and English.

16. Matthildur is Icelandic.

17. Mathila is Medieval English.

18. Emetilda is Creole.

An Egyptian lotus and a Hebrew rose

U.S. suffragist and political activist Susan B. Anthony, 1820–1906

Susan, a name most popular from the 1940s–1960s, traces its etymology back to a rather unexpected source—Ancient Egypt. This is one Indo–European name that didn’t originate among the Vikings, Anglo–Saxons, Normans, Goths, Romans, or Greeks.

Sšn means “lotus” in Egyptian, and later morphed into the Ancient Hebrew word shoshan, “lily.” In Modern Hebrew, shoshan means “rose.” It gave rise to the name Shoshanah, and then was adopted by the Greeks as Sousanna.

Over time, it appeared in many European languages in various forms. In the Medieval Anglophone world, Susannah was sometimes used in honour of a woman falsely accused of adultery in the Book of Daniel, and another Biblical woman who ministers to Jesus. Only after the Protestant Reformation did it become more common, in the form of Susan.

French painter Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) with her son Maurice

Susan was #80 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and left the Top 100 in 1885. It briefly returned in 1887, then dropped out again and gradually sank in popularity. During the 1930s, it slowly made its way back up the chart, and re-entered the Top 100 in 1937 at #97.

In 1945, it was #10, and entered the Top 5 in 1948. Apart from 1951 and 1966, when it was #6, Susan was in the Top 5 until 1968. Its all-time highest rank was #2, from 1957–60. In 1972, it fell off the Top 20, and left the Top 100 in 1985.

Susan’s last year on the Top 1000 was 2017, when it was #957.

Austrian-born painter Soshana Afroyim (née Susanne Schüller),
1927–2015

Other forms of the name include:

1. Suzanne is French, Dutch, and English.

2. Susanna is English, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Catalan, Swedish, Estonian, and Finnish. The alternate form Súsanna is Icelandic, Faroese, and Irish; Susánna and Susánná are Sami.

3. Susannah is English.

4. Susana is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Suzana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Brazilian–Portuguese, Romanian, and Croatian.

6. Susanne is German and Scandinavian.

7. Syuzanna is old-fashioned Russian.

8. Suzanna is English.

9. Shoshana, or Shoshanah, is Hebrew.

10. Sawsan is Arabic.

Hungarian Princess Zsuzsanna Lorántffy (1602–1660), who founded and sponsored several schools, including schools offering girls a modern, equal education

11. Savsan is Tajik.

12. Sosamma is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

13. Zsuzsanna is Hungarian.

14. Zuzanna is Polish and Latvian.

15. Zuzana is Czech and Slovak.

16. Huhana is Maori.

17. Zusana is Sorbian.

18. Syzana is Albanian.

19. Siùsan is Scottish.

20. Sósanna is a rare Irish form.

Polish poet Zuzanna Ginczanka, 1917–1945

21. Susaina is a Catalan variant, usually used on Mallorca.

22. Suzannah is English.

23. Suzonne is Norman.

24. Jujen is Marshallese.

25. Siwsan is Welsh.

26. Susane is English.

27. Suusan is Inuit.

28. Suzette is a French diminutive, also used in English as a full name.

29. Suzzanna is a rare English form.

30. Shushan is Armenian.

31. Susano is a male Filipino form.

All about Ruth

U.S. anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Benedict, 1887–1948

Ruth is an English, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Scandinavian name derived from the Hebrew Re’ut (friend), which later morphed into Rut (pronounced with a long U, not like the English word “rut”). Most people are familiar with it as the title character of the Book of Ruth. She left her homeland Moab behind to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel after a famine, and became King David’s great-grandma.

On the second day of Shavuot, this short book of the Bible is read, and many conversion certificates quote the moving words Ruth tells Naomi:

“Do not entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more, if anything but death part you and me.”

Latvian lawyer, writer, and politician Ruta Šaca-Marjaša (1927–2016)

Though the name has long been common in the Jewish world, it didn’t come into widespread usage in the Christian world till the Protestant Reformation. Ruth received a big boost of popularity several centuries later, from U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s firstborn child, born in 1891. She was born between his two non-consecutive terms, and sadly died of diphtheria in 1904.

Ruth was #93 in the U.S. when name popularity records began in 1880, and it jumped from #19 to #5 after the birth of Ruth Cleveland. In 1893, it was #3. The next two years, Ruth was #6, and it remained at #5 until 1907. It then was #4 for two years, then back to #5 again till 1922.

The name remained in the Top 10 till 1930, and was Top 20 till 1937. Ruth left the Top 50 in 1951, and left the Top 100 in 1962. In 2018, it was #265.

Ruth Cleveland

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ruta is Polish, Ukrainian, and Maori. The alternate form Rūta is Latvian and Lithuanian.

2. Rute is Portuguese.

3. Ruut is Finnish and Estonian.

4. Rut is Hebrew, Spanish, Icelandic, Scandinavian, Sorbian, Italian, Maltese, Indonesian, Afrikaans, and German. The alternate form Rút is Czech and Slovak.

5. Ruf is Russian. I’ve never been a fan of Russian names where TH is replaced by F in the middle of the name. It just sounds ugly to my ears.

6. Rutt is Estonian.

7. Hrut is Armenian.

8. Hirut is Amharic.

9. Luka is Hawaiian, and not to be confused with the entirely separate name with the same spelling which is several languages’ form of Luke.

10. Luti is Nyakyusa, a language spoken in Tanzania and Malawi.

11. Rutu is Maori and Yoruba.