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.

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.

Curly names

To mark the 69th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) of the great comedian Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz) (right), here are some names meaning “curly.” There’s a long tradition of opposite nicknames, like a fat guy called Slim or a bald guy called Curly.

Male:

Caiside means “curly-haired” in Ancient Irish, from root cas. The modern unisex name Cassidy derives from the surname O’Caiside (descendant of Caiside).

Cincinnatus means “curly-haired” in Latin.

Crispus also means “curly-haired” in Latin.

Kåre means “curly, curved” in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, from Old Norse name Kári.

Kårfinn is a rare Norwegian name made of elements kárr (curly/wavy hair) and Finnr (Finn, Lapp).

Karleiv is also Norwegian, combining kárr and leif (inheritance, legacy).

Kárr means “curly-haired” and “reluctant, obstinate” in Old Norse.

Kár-Tóki means “curly-haired Thor” in Old Norse.

Óðinkárr means “curly haired inspiration/rage/frenzy” in Ancient Scandinavian.

Visa means “curly birch” in Finnish.

Female:

Buklore means “curly-haired” in Albanian.

Dada means “curly hair” in Yoruba. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this in an Anglophone country.

Fatila means “curly” in Uzbek.

Holy means “curly” in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar.

Kára means “curly, curved” in Old Norse, from root kárr. A Valkyrie had this name.

Kárhildr means “curly-haired fight” or “obstinate/reluctant fight” in Old Norse.

Khoibi means “curly-haired daughter” in Manipuri (also called Meitei), a Sino–Tibetan language spoken in northeastern India.

Olitiana is Malagasy, a combination of oly (curly, curly hair) and tiana (to be loved, to be liked).

All about Nathan and Nathaniel

18th century Russian ikon of the Biblical prophet Nathan (Natan)

The English and French name Nathan comes from the Hebrew Natan (he gave). Many people are familiar with the above-pictured Prophet Nathan, who served under King David and took him to task for cuckolding Uriah and sending him to die in battle.

Though it’s long been common in the Jewish world, this name didn’t become popular in the Christian world till the Protestant Reformation. While we think of many Biblical names as going either way today, they were once considered exclusively Jewish.

Nathan entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1972, at #79, and attained its highest rank of #20 in 2004 and 2005. In 2019, it was #55. Nathan is also popular in France (#18), Belgium (#14), Switzerland (#41), Scotland (#45), Italy (#50), Ireland (#61), New Zealand (#70), The Netherlands (#77), Northern Ireland (#83), and England and Wales (#104).

Israeli human rights activist, politician, and author Natan Sharansky (né Anatoliy Borisovich Shcharanskiy), centre, born 1948

Other forms of the name include:

1. Natan is modern Russian, Georgian, Polish, Galician, Serbian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Czech, Slovak, Scandinavian, French, Finnish, Icelandic, and Croatian. Alternate forms are Natán (Spanish), Nátan (Faroese), and Nátán (Hungarian).

2. Nafan is the traditional Russian form. I’m not exactly a big fan of Russian names where F takes the place of TH in the middle of the name!

3. Noson, or Nosson, is Yiddish. I’m also not a fan of Yiddish words and names where T is pronounced like S. Nails on a chalkboard 99% of the time! There’s a reason modern Hebrew uses Sephardic pronunciation instead of Ashkenazic.

4. Nâtat is Greenlandic.

5. Nâta is also Greenlandic.

6. Neihana is Maori.

7. Natuš is archaic Sorbian.

Nathaniel Bowditch (1773–1838), American mathematician and father of modern maritime navigation, painted by Charles Osgood

The English name Nathaniel comes from the Hebrew Netanel (God has given). The variation Nathaniël is Dutch. Like Nathan, it also was largely found in the Jewish community until the Protestant Reformation, when many Biblical names were suddenly proudly embraced by the Christian world.

Nathaniel was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1978–2015, with its highest rank of #60 in 1998.

Other forms of this name include:

1. Nathanael is an English variation. The form Nathanaël is French and Dutch.

2. Nataniel is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

3. Natanael is the more common Portuguese and Spanish form.

4. Natanail is Macedonian and Bulgarian.

5. Natanaele is Italian.

6. Natanayil is Quechan, an indigenous language spoken in the Andes Mountains in South America.

7. Nathanail is modern Greek.

8. Nafanail is Russian. Again, it’s nails on a chalkboard to see and hear an F in place of a TH in the middle of a name!

Female forms of both:

1. Nathana is English.

2. Natana is Hebrew.

3. Natanya, or Netanya, is Hebrew.

4. Nathanya is a rare English form.

5. Nathanielle is English and French.

6. Nathaniella is English.

7. Nathaniela is English.

8. Nathaniele is English. The variant Nathaniëla is Dutch.

9. Nathanaelle is English.

Fairy names

Since fairies seem to be fairly popular Halloween costumes, particularly for little girls, here’s a list of names with fairy-related meanings. Probably unsurprisingly, most of these names are female.

Ada (F) means “fairy” in Tagalog and Filipino. It derives from the Spanish word hada, which has the same meaning. This is completely unrelated to the European name Ada.

Älva (F) means “fairy” in Swedish. This is a modern name.

Aoibhann, Aoibheann, Aoibhín, or Aoibhinn (EE-van, EE-veen, EE-vin) (F) means “fairy queen” in Irish. The Anglicised form is Eavan.

Badiaperi (F) is Uzbek, formed from roots badia (artistic creation) and peri (fairy).

Ehuang (F) means “fairy radiance” in Chinese. This name comes from Far Eastern mythology and Chinese folk religion.

Fáta (F) means “fairy” in Hungarian.

Fay/Faye (F) is an English name, derived from Middle English faie (fairy), via Old French, and ultimately Latin Fata (the Fates). This has been used as a name since the 19th century.

Gulpari (F) means “rose fairy” and “flower fairy” in Uzbek.

Hada (F) means “fairy” in Spanish, from Latin fata.

Houria (F) means “fairy, nymph” in Moroccan and Algerian Arabic, derived from huriyya.

Hurpari (F) is Uzbek, formed by roots houri (“virgin of paradise” or “alluring girl”) and pari (fairy).

Jononpari (F) is Uzbek, formed from roots jonon (beautiful woman, darling, wonderful; also a type of musical melody) and pari.

Keijo (M) derives from Finnish keiju (fairy, elf).

Khanperi (F) means “Khan’s fairy, prince’s fairy” in Armenian. This is a rare name.

Mahpari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Persian.

Maminti (F) means “little green fairy” in Hungarian. This name was coined by 20th century writer Ervin Lázár.

Misen (F) can mean “beautiful fairy” in Japanese.

Mohipari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Uzbek.

Norika (F) can mean “flower fairy,” “excellent fairy,” “beautiful fairy,” “skilled fairy,” “good fairy,” “pleasing fairy,” “summer fairy,” reward fairy,” “fragrance fairy,” and “favourable fairy” in Japanese.

Nozpari (F) is Uzbek, derived from roots noz (whim, tenderness, flirtatiousness, fondness) and pari.

Oypari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Uzbek.

Pari (F) means “fairy” in Persian.

Paribanou (F) means “fairy lady” in Persian.

Parichehra (F) means “fairy face” in Uzbek.

Parigul (F) means “flower fairy” and “rose fairy” in Uzbek.

Parijahon (F) means “fairy of the world” in Uzbek.

Parineeti (F) means “fairy” in Hindi.

Parinoz (F) is the reverse of Nozpari.

Pariqush (F) means “fairy bird” in Uzbek.

Pariruh (F) means “fairy soul” in Uzbek.

Parisa (F) means “like a fairy” in Persian.

Parisima (F) means “fairy face” in Persian.

Parivash (F) means “fairy-like” in Uzbek.

Parizad (F) means “child of a fairy” in Persian.

Perihan (F) is a Turkish name derived from Persian, meaning “queen of the fairies.”

Sânziana (F) means “holy fairy” in Romanian. She was a fairy in Romanian mythology.

Seijuro (M) is a rare Japanese name which can mean “fairy pile of boxes son” and “fairy ten son” in Japanese.

Sen’ichi (M) can mean “one fairy” and “fairy town” in Japanese.

Senka (U) can mean “fairy fragrance,” “fairy reward,” “fairy joy,” and “fairy song” in Japanese.

Senki (F) can mean “fairy princess” in Japanese.

Senna (F) can mean “fairy apple tree” and “fairy vegetables” in Japanese.

Sennin (M) means “immortal mountain fairy” in Japanese.

Shaperai (F) means “fairy” in Pashto.

Shixian (F) can mean “stone fairy” in Chinese.

Sítheach (M) is a rare Irish name meaning “fairy-like, mysterious” or “peaceful.”

Soni (F) can mean “fairy princess” in Japanese.

Tiên (F) means “fairy, immortal, transcendent, celestial being” in Vietnamese.

Tünde (F) means “fairy” in Hungarian. Poet Mihály Vörösmarty coined this name in the 19th century.

Tündér (F) also means “fairy” in Hungarian.

Uriye (F) is Crimean Tatar, from Arabic huriyya (fairy).

Vila (F) means “fairy” in Serbian. This is a rare name.

Vilina (F) is a rare Russian, Bulgarian, and Croatian name derived from Slavic root vila (fairy).

Xian (F) can mean “fairy” in Chinese.

Zana (F) means “fairy” in Albanian.