All about the name Valentino

In honour of Rudy Valentino’s 91st Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I present a post celebrating his adopted surname and all its various forms. Though most Anglophones think of Valentino as a surname, and don’t typically encounter forenames like Valentine or Valentin, this is very much a common, established name in many other languages. It also comes in both male and female forms.

The originating form is the Latin cognomen (surname) Valentinus, which in turn derived from Valens (strong, healthy, vigourous). A related cognomen was Valentinianus. It later morphed into Valentine, the name of several Roman Catholic saints, most notably the third century martyr after whom Valentine’s Day is named.

Because the most famous St. Valentine’s feast day fell out on 14 February, coinciding with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, an association between St. Valentine and love was forged.

Valentine began to be used as an English name in the 12th century, almost always for boys. The name was in the male U.S. Top 1000 from 1880–1944, again from 1947–53, and finally in 1955. It hasn’t charted since. On the girls’ side, Valentine has only charted in 1885 and 1917.

In France, Valentine is an exclusively female name. It was in the Top 100 from 1900–14, and stayed in the Top 500 until 1972, after which it dropped off the charts. In 1975, it returned, and slowly began moving up the charts. To date, its highest position has been #44, in 1997, In 2016, it was #64.

In Belgium, where the name is also feminine-only, it was in the Top 100 from at least 2000–06, and again in 2008.

Other forms of the name include:

Male:

1. Valentin is Russian, Romanian, Czech, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, French, Macedonian, German, and Croatian. The variant form Valentín is Slovak and Spanish. Nicknames include Tine and Tinek (Slovenian), Valya, Valyusha, Valyushka, Valyechka, and Valentulya (Russian), Vali (Romanian), and Valent and Tin (Croatian).

2. Valentino is Italian.

3. Valentijn is Dutch.

4. Walenty is Polish.

5. Walentyn is also Polish.

6. Bálint is Hungarian.

7. Folant is Welsh.

8. Ualan is Scottish.

9. Valentyn is Ukrainian.

10. Balendin is Basque.

11. Valantín is Aragonese.

12. Valentinas is Lithuanian.

13. Valentīns is Latvian.

14. Valyantsin is Belarusian.

15. Valentí is Catalan.

16. Valentim is Portuguese.

17. Valentinià is Catalan.

18. Valentinian is Russian, Bulgarian, German, and English.

19. Valentynian is Ukrainian.

20. Valentiniano is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

21. Valentinianos is the modern Greek form of Oualentinianos.

22. Valentinien is French.

23. Valentinos is modern Greek.

24. Valentinijan is Croatian.

25. Valentínus is Icelandic.

26. Valentýn is Czech.

27. Valintinianu is Sicilian.

28. Walentynian is Polish.

29. Valente is Italian and Portuguese.

Female:

1. Valentina is Russian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Italian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Croatian. The variant Valentína is Slovak and Icelandic, and Valentīna is Latvian.

2. Valentyna is Ukrainian.

3. Walentyna is Polish.

4. Valentine is French and English.

5. Balentina is Basque and Latin American–Spanish.

6. Valantina is Aragonese.

7. Valantine is Picard.

8. Valentini is an alternate Greek form.

9. Walenekina is Hawaiian.

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Faunus and Frigg

Faunus is the horned Roman god of the forest, fields, and plains. He was called Inuus when he committed bestiality with cows. Though many people over the ages have considered him the Roman equivalent of Pan, many others have viewed them separately. The great poet Virgil, for instance, independently mentioned both Pan and Faunus in The Aeneid.

Faunus is the son of Picus, first King of Latium, and Canens, a nymph and the Divine personification of song. His paternal grandpap is Saturn (Kronos), and his maternal grandparents are Venilia (a goddess of the winds and sea) and Janus. Just like Pan was accompanied by many Paniskoi (little Pans), so too was Faunus accompanied by many Fauni. Hellenized Romans viewed these fauns as equivalent to the Greek satyrs, though the satyrs were followers of Dionysus, not Pan.

According to Virgil, Faunus came to Latium from Arcadia, bringing his people, and became a great king. His shade was called Fatuus, and consulted as a god of prophecy, complete with oracles, in the sacred grove of Tibur, on Aventine Hill in Rome, and around the well Albunea.

Scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro depicted these oracles in Saturnian verse when they were given orally. Other times, Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices transmitted to those who came to sleep within his precincts, on the fleeces of sacrificial lambs.

Faunus comes from the Proto–Indo–European word dhau-no, “the strangler,” which refers to the wolf, and the Daunians, an Iapygian  tribe who lived in pre-Rome Italy. Daunos in turn traces its linguistic origins to dhau, “to strangle.” This was an epithet for the wolf.

Frigg is the Norse goddess of wisdom and foreknowledge, and the wife of Odin. One of her children is Baldr, frequently viewed as a god of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, light, and purity. Frigg’s dwelling-place is Fensalir, a wetland. Even after Scandinavia was Christianised, Frigg continued to show up in folklore.

Frigg’s name is alternately recorded as Frea, Frige, and Frija. Some scholars believe she’s either one and the same as, or an aspect of, Fulla, a goddess traditionally considered to be Frigg’s sister. Additionally, a number of scholars also feel Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess.

Frigg is mentioned or featured in a number of Old Norse and Germanic poems, myths, folktales, and incantations. Among them are Lokasenna, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda cycle, in which Frigg gets into quite a fight with Loki after he accuses almost every woman by the feast of slutting it up; and Gylfaginning, another of the Poetic Edda. In the latter, Frigg plays perhaps her most important role.

Odin and Frigga, by Harry George Theaker

Baldr began having terrible dreams about his life being in danger, and told the other Æsir (the Old Norse pantheon of deities). They held a meeting and decided to “request immunity for Baldr from all kinds of danger.” Frigg got the elements (diseases, animals, the environment, stones, et al) to leave Baldr alone, but the Æsir began making fun of Baldr on account of his newborn invincibility.

Loki was particularly pissed, and, being a master trickster, went to Frigg in the form of a woman. Upon learning the other Æsir were shooting at Baldr, and that Baldr’s one weakness was mistletoe, Loki set off to kill him. He tricked Baldr’s blind brother Höðr into shooting Baldr. Everyone is overcome with grief, and Frigg’s son Hermóðr accepts her plea to go to Hel and bring Baldr back to Asgard. Sadly, Loki sabotages this rescue mission.

Frigg means “belovèd” in Old Norse, derived from the Proto–Indo–European pri, “to love.” The name of Friday comes from her name, since it means “Frigg’s day.” Today, the name Frigg is extremely rare in Scandinavia. Though it appears on the approved names list for Iceland, it’s not currently very popular there either.

“New” names

To mark the approaching New Year, here are some names whose meanings relate to the word “new.”

Unisex:

Addis means “new” in Amharic.

İlkay means “new Moon” in Turkish.

Nukartaava means “his/her new little sibling” in Greenlandic.

Male:

Abhinav means “very new, nascent” in Sanskrit.

Arata can mean “new, fresh” in Japanese.

Navendu means “new Moon” in Sanskrit.

Navin means “new” in Sanskrit.

Neophytos means “newly planted” in Greek.

Neville means “new town” in Norman French.

Newton means “new town” in Old English.

Novak means “new” in Serbian. This is also a surname.

Novomir means “new world” and “new peace” in Russian. This was one of those invented names most popular in the early decades of the USSR.

Nowomił means “new and gracious” or “new and dear” in Polish.

Nowomysł means “new thought” in Polish,

Nýr means “new, young” in Old Norse.

Nýrádr means “new advice/counsel” in Old Norse.

Nývard means “new guard” in Icelandic.

Tan means “new” in Vietnamese.

Tazen is a contemporary Turkish name meaning “new, fresh.”

Toyotoshi can mean “abundant new year” in Japanese.

Xavier is an English, French, Catalan, Old Spanish, and Portuguese name derived from Etxaberri, a Basque place name meaning “the new house.” The Catalan nickname is XaviJavier is the modern Spanish form, Xabier (Xabi) is Basque and Galician, Xaver is German, Saveriu is Corsican, Saverio is Italian, Ksawery is Polish, Ksaver is Slovenian, Serbian, and Croatian, Ksaveriy is Russian and Bulgarian, Ksaveras is Lithuanian, Saver is Maltese, Xaveriu is Romanian, and Xaverius is Dutch and Indonesian.

Female:

Alený means “new elf” in Old Norse.

Árný means “new year” in Icelandic. The Norwegian form is Årny.

Ásný means “new god” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Ayça means “new Moon” in Turkish.

Dagny is a Scandinavian name which means “new day” in Old Norse. The Icelandic (and original Old Norse) variant is Dagný, and the Latvian version is Dagnija. One of my favoritest secondary characters is named Dagnija.

Eirný means “new peace” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Eiðný means “new oath” in Icelandic.

Friðný means “new love” and “new peace” in Icelandic.

Fróðný means “clever/wise new Moon” in Icelandic.

Gestný means “new guest” in Icelandic.

Gíslný means “new pledge” or “new hostage” in Icelandic.

Guðný means “new gods” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Hagný means “new pasture/enclosure” in Old Norse.

Hallný means “new rock” in Icelandic.

Hatsune can mean “new sound” in Japanese.

Hatsuyuki can mean “new snow” in Japanese.

Heiðný means “new and clear” in Icelandic.

Helny is a modern Swedish name meaning “holy and new.”

Hjörný means “new sword” in Icelandic. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t use this in an Anglophone country.

Hróðný means “new Moon fame” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Ijeoma means “a new beginning” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. This is also the salutation used to wish someone safe travels.

Leikny means “new game” in Norwegian.

Lingný is a contemporary Icelandic name meaning “new heather.”

Magný means “new Moon strength” in Icelandic.

Neaira means “new rising” in Greek. The Latinized form is Neaera.

Newbihar means “new spring” in Kurdish.

Nova is an English name derived from the Latin word nova, “new.” It was first recorded as a name in the 19th century. Besides being a nickname for the below-mentioned Novomira, it can also be a nickname for the Russian name Zinoviya and its Greek forms Zenovia and Zinovia.

Novomira is the feminine form of Novomir. Nicknames can be Nova and Mira.

Nûber means “new sprout/shoot” in Kurdish.

Nutan means “new” in Sanskrit.

Nýbjörg means “new help/deliverance” in Icelandic.

Nyfrid means “new love” in Norwegian.

Sæný means “new sea” in Icelandic.

Signý means “new victory” in Old Norse. The modern Scandinavian forms are Signe and Signy.

Unni is a Scandinavian name which may mean “new wave.”

Vårny means “new spring” in Swedish.

Xaviera is the English feminine form of Xavier. Saviera is Italian, Xavière and Xavérie are French, Ksavera is Lithuanian, and Ksawera is Polish.

Peace names

“Peace” is such a beautiful meaning for a name, and there are numerous names meaning “peace” in all sorts of languages. While the English name Peace might strike some as too hippyish or Pilgrimy, those same people might like other names with the same meaning. A lot of what appeals or doesn’t appeal to us in a name often comes down to what we’re used to. One era or culture’s outlandish name is another culture or era’s normal or beautiful.

For the sake of brevity, I won’t be including all the Slavic names with the -mir(a) element, since there are so many of them. Those merit their own post. Since mir also means “world,” their meanings can be read multiple ways.

Unisex:

Kagiso is Tswana, a Bantu language spoken in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia.

Aştî is Kurdish.

Udo is Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and parts of Equatorial Guinea.

Mtendere is Chewa, another Bantu language. It’s spoken in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Emem is Ibibio, a language spoken in southern Nigeria.

Ning and Ping are Chinese.

Ufuoma is Urhobo, an Edoid language spoken in southern Nigeria.

Yasu is Japanese.

An is Vietnamese and Chinese.

Akpofure means “life is peaceful” in Urhobo.

Male:

Shalom is Hebrew.

Avshalom, Abshalom, or Absalom means “my father is peace” in Hebrew.

Barış is Turkish.

Dietfried means “peace of the people” in German.

Fredenand means “brave peace” or “daring peace” in Ancient Germanic.

Frederick (one of my favoritest names!) is the English form of Friduric, a name meaning “peaceful ruler” in Germanic. Other forms of the name include Friedrich (German), Fryderyk (Polish), Frigyes (Hungarian), Frederik (Danish and Dutch), Frédéric (French), Fredrik (Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish), Friderik (Slovenian), Federigo (Italian), Federico (Spanish), Frederico (Portuguese), Fricis (Latvian), and Friðrik (Icelandic). The German name Friedhold has the same meaning.

Fridenot is Ancient Germanic for “need peace.”

Fridumar is Ancient Germanic for “famous peace.”

Manfred is a German, Dutch, and Polish name composed of the elements “strength” and “peace.”

Wilfred is an English name meaning “desiring peace,” from Old English origins.

Xolani is Zulu.

Female:

Enkhtuya means “ray of peace” in Mongolian.

Enkhjargal means “peace blessing” in Mongolian.

Irene is an English name which comes from the original Greek Eirene, the goddess of peace. Other forms are Irène (French), Irén (Hungarian), Irena (Polish, Croatian, Lithuanian, Czech, Dutch, Serbian, Slovenian), Irina (Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Macedonian, Romanian, Finnish), and Iryna (Ukrainian). While I know this name was most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I’ve never considered it dated like some people do. It’s consistently been in the Top 1000, and has never gone lower than #695 in 2010.

Mirembe is Luganda, a language spoken in Uganda.

Pacífica means “peacemaker” in Spanish.

Pax is Latin, after the goddess of peace.

Paz is Spanish.

Rauha is Finnish.

Sakina means both “calmness” and “peace” in Arabic.

Salome is an English name derived from the Hebrew word shalom. Other forms are Salomé (French, Portuguese, Spanish) and Salomea (Polish). Though many people associate this name with the daughter of King Herod who asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, no name is actually given in the Bible itself. It was the historian Josephus who named her as Salome, and many modern-day scholars believe much of Josephus’s writings were politically motivated instead of entirely factually accurate.

Shanti is Sanskrit.

Shlomit and Shulamit mean “peaceful” in Hebrew.

Yên means “calm” and “peaceful” in Vietnamese.

Francesca and Frederick

F

Francesca da Rimini, by William Dyce

Francesca da Rimini (1255–85) appears in Canto V of The Divine Comedy, as she tells Dante her tragic story. She and her lover Paolo Malatesta are condemned to the Second Circle of Hell, for carnal sinners.

Francesca was the daughter of Guido I da Polenta of Ravenna, who forced her to marry Giovanni Malatesta for political reasons. Their families had been at war, and Guido felt this marriage would solidify the peace which had recently been negotiated. After Francesca moved to Rimini upon marriage, she fell in love with Giovanni’s younger brother Paolo, who was also married.

Francesca and Paolo carried on a love affair for ten years, until Giovanni discovered what was going on somewhere between 1283–86, though probably about 1285. Giovanni surprised the couple in Francesca’s bedroom and murdered them both. Over the years, many legends about them sprung up. In Dante’s imagining of Hell, they’re trapped in an eternal whirlwind, symbolic of the passion they were swept away by. Dante is so moved by their story, he faints.

Francesca is the Italian and Catalan feminine form of the Late Latin name Franciscus (Francis), which means “Frenchman.”

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (26 December 1194–13 December 1250)

Three Emperor Fredericks feature in The Divine Comedy—Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick Barbarossa) (1122–10 June 1190); Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor; and King Frederick III of Sicily (13 December 1272–25 June 1337).

Frederick is the English version of a Germanic name meaning “peaceful ruler,” from the elements frid (peace) and ric (ruler; power). I’ve always absolutely loved this name, and all the foreign versions—Friedrich, Frederik, Frédéric, Fredrik, Federigo, Frigyes, Fredrikh, Fryderyk, Friderik. I’m particularly fond of the nicknames Fritz and Freddie, though the nickname Fred feels kind of dated.

There have been so many awesome Fredericks through history (with the name’s various forms), from all sort of fields—politics, philosophy, music, kings, emperors, science. As a classic rock lover, there’s also the association with Freddie Mercury, who still sang like a god as he was dying. (And yes, I know his real name was Farrokh, not Frederick!)