The Es of Estonian names

Female:

Egle is borrowed from Latvian Eglė (spruce tree).

Eha means “dusk.”

Elve means “principle.”

Endla is the name of a lake which prominently features in folk poetry. It derives from Medieval names Ent and Endo, which may be diminutives of Hendrik or Andres. The male version is Endel.

Eneli may come from a Medieval nickname for Hendrika combined with the -li- syllable from Eliisabet.

Ere means “bright.”

Male:

Einar is adopted from Old Norse, and means “one warrior” or “warrior alone.”

Eino is also a Finnish name, and derives from Germanic roots agin (point/edge of a weapon) and wald (rule). It came back into vogue in the 19th century.

Elar, or Elari, has an etymology I couldn’t find.

Elmar is adopted from German, and means “famous blade.”

Erko is a form of Erik (ever ruler).

Evald is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and means “law/custom and rule.”

The As of Estonian names

This year, my A to Z theme is Estonian names, with a focus on names unique to the language instead of Estonian forms of well-known names like Katherine, John, Mary, and Thomas. Because Estonian is a Finno–Ugric language, its uniqueness really shows in its native names. They’re far different from the Indo–European names they adopted into their own language.

Those familiar with Finnish will notice a fair amount of onomastic overlap, since the two languages are very similar. However, Estonian also has a lot of cognates with German and Russian, owing to the centuries of occupation under their hands. While Estonian is in the same language family as Hungarian, there’s little to no similarity between the Finnic and Ugric linguistic branches.

Female:

Aasa means “meadow.”

Aave means “ghost.” This is also sometimes used as a male name.

Ainu, or Aine, means “the only one.” The Finnish forms are Aino and Aini. A very similar Estonian name, Aina, means “always.”

Aita means “to help.”

Alati means “always.”

Asta is a short form of Astrid (beautiful goddess). It’s the most popular name among women over age 85, and the average age of an Asta is 77.

Male:

Aare means “treasure.”

Aigar is of unknown origin, first appearing in the early 20th century.

Aimur means “generous amount.” The Finnish form is Aimo.

Alev means “burrow.”

Alvar means “elf warrior.” This name was adopted from Swedish and Old Norse.

Armas means “cute; lovely.” This is also a Finnish name.

All about Tobias

Scottish writer Tobias Smollett (1721–71), painted ca. 1770

Tobias is the Greek form of Hebrew names Toviyahu and Toviyah (God is good). Besides Greek, this form of the name is also used in English, German, Slovak, Portuguese, and the Scandinavian languages. The alternate form Tobiáš (To-bee-AHSH) is Czech; Tóbiás (same pronunciation) is Hungarian; Tobías is Spanish, Catalan, and Galician; and Tóbías is Icelandic.

Though the name only enjoys modest popularity in the U.S. (#275 in 2018, with a high of #246 in 2016), it’s much more popular in Austria (#10), Norway (#17), the Czech Republic (#24 as of 2016), The Netherlands (#50), England and Wales (#98).

Tobias enjoys the most sustained popularity of all in Austria. It started at #39 in 1990 and jumped into the Top 10 in 2000, at #9. The name was #3 from 2002–04, #2 from 2005–09, #4 from 2010–12, and #1 in 2013. It’s been in the Top 10 for almost twenty years.

Brazilian poet, philosopher, literary critic, and jurist Tobias Barreto de Meneses, 1839–89

Other forms of this lovely name include:

1. Tobiasz is Polish.

2. Topias is Finnish. One of the nicknames is Topi.

3. Tobia is Italian.

4. Tobiah is an alternative, old-fashioned Hebrew transliteration.

5. Tuviyah, Tuviah, Tuvya, or Tuvia is modern Hebrew.

6. Tevye is Yiddish. Probably everyone knows this name as the protagonist of Fiddler on the Roof!

7. Tobie is French.

8. Tobies is a rare Catalan form.

9. Tobit is Amharic. This is also the title character of a book of the Bible.

10. Tobejas is Sami.

Polish-Belarusian partisan hero Tuvia Bielski, who together with his three brothers saved over 1,200 people from the Nazis (1906–87); image used to illustrate subject under fair use rationale

11. Thobias is a Scandinavian variant.

12. Tobiasi is Kven, a Finnic language spoken in northern Norway.

13. Tobiôsz is Kashubian.

14. Tobyś is Vilamovian.

15. Tovias is a rare modern Greek form.

16. Toviya is Russian.

17. Tovija is Serbian.

18. Tobija is Slovenian.

19. Toby is English. This is also sometimes used as a female name.

20. Toviy is Russian.

Polish-Israeli Nazi-hunter Tuviah Friedman, 1922–2011

Female forms:

1. Tobina is a rare Swedish form.

2. Tobia is also a rare Swedish form.

A quintessentially Irish name

St. Brigid of Kildare, painted by Patrick Joseph Tuohy

One needn’t be a passionate Hibernophile to be aware Bridget is one of the most quintessential of Irish names. And unlike most Celtic names, this one spread to many other languages instead of staying a primarily native product.

Brighid means “exalted one” and “power, strength, virtue, vigour.” Brighid was a goddess of fire, poetry, and wisdom.

Another beloved bearer was the abovepictured St. Brigid of Kildare, who lived in the 5th century and became one of Ireland’s patron saints. However, because this was the name of a saint, it was considered too sacred for normal use. Only in the 17th century did Brighid, or Brigid, become popular.

As Brigitta, this name has also long been popular in Scandinavia. The 14th century St. Brigitta is Europe’s patron saint.

The most common English form is Bridget, which has never been in the U.S. Top 100. Its highest rank to date was #112 in 1973.

Beata Brigida, painting of St. Birgitta of Sweden, done between ca. 1534–66 by Jerónimo Cosida

Other forms of this popular name include:

1. Bridgette is English.

2. Brigitte is French.

3. Brigita is Latvian, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Sorbian, Kashubian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Croatian. The variant Brígida is Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese.

4. Berit is Scandinavian.

5. Brygida is Polish.

6. Birita is Faroese.

7. Brigitta is German, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian.

8. Bríd is modern Irish.

9. Brìghde is Scottish.

10. Birgithe is a rare Scandinavian variant.

1924 self-portrait of U.S. miniature painter Birgitta Moran Farmer (1881–1939)

11. Birgit is Scandinavian and German.

12. Ffraid is Welsh.

13. Piritta is Finnish. Nicknames include Pirkko, Priita, Pirjo, and Riitta.

14. Breeshey is Manx.

15. Birte is Norwegian.

16. Bergit is Scandinavian.

17. Berc’hed is Breton.

18. Birgitte is Norwegian.

19. Britta is German and Scandinavian.

20. Birkide is Basque.

German actor Brigitte Helm (1908–1996)

21. Bregida is Occitan.

22. Brigyta is Lithuanian.

23. Bríxida is Galician.

24. Bedelia, or Bidelia, is an Irish diminutive.

Bright names

Though the vast majority of such names have sharply plummeted in popularity, there’s a large quantity of Germanic-origin names formed from the root beraht (bright). Robert is far and away the best-known, with other well-known (albeit not nearly as popular) names including Albert, Gilbert, Herbert, and Hubert. Let’s take a look at this category of names.

Albert (English, French, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Catalan, Romanian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Slavic), Albèrt (Jèrriais), Alberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Alberte (Galician), Adalbert (German, Hungarian), Adalberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Albaer (Limburgish), Alpertti (Finnish), Aubert (French), Adelbert (German, Dutch), Albertas (Lithuanian), Albrecht (German), Ailbeart (Scottish), Alberts (Latvian), Albertu (Corsican), Alberzh (Breton), Alberta (English, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Hungarian, Polish, Galician, Kashubian, Portuguese), Albertyna (Polish), Albertina (Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Kashubian, Galician), Alberte (French), Albertine (French): Noble and bright.

Bertha (English, German), Berta (Slavic, Hungarian, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian), Berthe (French): Bright. This was my paternal grandma’s name, and she knew it was too unfashionable to merit a namesake. However, I’d love to use her middle name Violet as a middle name for a potential daughter.

Berthold, Bertold (German), Bertoldo (Italian), Bertil (Scandinavian): Bright ruler.

Bertram (English, German), Bertrand (English, French), Bertrando (Italian): Bright raven. I love this name!

Egbert (English, Dutch), Eckbert (German): Bright edge. Not a fan of this name!

Fulbert (French, German): Bright people.

Gaubert (French), Gualberto (Portuguese, Italian): Bright rule.

Gilbert (English, French, Dutch, German), Gilberto (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), Gisbert (German), Gijsbert (Dutch): Bright pledge.

Herbert (English, French, Dutch, German, Swedish), Herberto (Spanish, Portuguese), Heribert (German): Bright army.

Hilbert, Hildebert (German): Bright battle.

Hubert (English, Dutch, German, French, Polish), Uberto (Italian), Hoebaer (Limburgish): Bright mind; bright heart.

Humbert (English, German, French), Umberto (Italian), Humberto (Portuguese, Spanish): Bright warrior.

Kunibert (German): Bright family.

Lambert (English, German, Dutch, French), Lammert (Dutch), Lambaer (Limburgish), Lamberto (Italian): Bright land.

Norbert (English, German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak), Norberto (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Norbaer (Limburgish): Bright north.

Osbert (English): Bright and good.

Philibert, Philbert (French), Filibert (German), Filiberto (Italian), Filbert (East African): Much brightness.

Rambert (German): Bright raven.

Siegbert (German): Bright victory.

Wilbert (Dutch): Bright will.

Wybert (Middle English): Bright battle.