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.

How an Ancient Germanic name became a French classic

French scholar, intellectual, writer, and nun Héloïse d’Argenteuil
(ca. 1090–16 May 1164)

Helewidis is an Ancient Germanic name derived from roots heil (healthy, hale) and wid (wide). In Proto–Germanic, the name was Hailawidis, “holy wood.” Due to cultural osmosis, it eventually was adopted into Old French as Héloïse. Probably the most famous bearer was the above-pictured Héloïse d’Argenteuil, one of the most educated and intelligent women of the Middle Ages. She was famous in her own right long before Pierre Abélard came along!

Other forms of this lovely name include:

1. Éloïse is modern French. This is my character Adicia’s middle name. Though her dad cares less about any of his nine kids, he nevertheless made sure they all got at least one French name, because he’s so proud of having 100% French blood. Without the diacritical marks, as they both say several times, the name would look like it’s pronounced El-WAZ.

As simply Eloise, the name is English. Many people are familiar with the 1950s Eloise series about a girl who lives in Manhattan’s glamourous Plaza Hotel. “Dear Eloise” is also a 1966 Hollies’ song, after which I named my tenth journal.

Dr. Eloísa Díaz Insunza (1866–1950), first woman to attend the University of Chile’s medical school, and South America’s first female doctor

2. Eloísa is Spanish, Catalan, and Galician. The variant Eloisa is Italian. Eloïsa is also Catalan.

3. Heloísa is Portuguese. The variant Heloïsa is a rare Catalan form. Heloisa is German, Slovak, and Czech.

4. Elouise is English. I’m not a fan of this spelling!

5. Helouise is also English. I have a character by this name, who goes by Hellie, but if I’d created her at a much older age, I probably would’ve used the more traditional spelling.

6. Heloiza is Polish and Slovenian.

7. Eloiza is Russian, Azeri, and Brazilian–Portuguese. The variant Eloīza is Latvian.

8. Elouisa is English.

9. Eloisia is Italian.

A tame name

Father Damien (né Jozef De Veuster), St. Damien of Molokai, 1840–89, a Belgian priest who ministered to lepers in Hawaii and later died of the disease himself

The English, Dutch, and Polish name Damian (rendered as Damián in Spanish, Czech, and Galician) derives from Greek name Damianos. Its ultimate root is the Greek verb damazo, “to tame.”

The name became popular in Christian Europe because of St. Damian of Syria, who was martyred with his twin brother Cosmas in the early fourth century. Damian and Cosmas are the patron saints of doctors. Adding to the name’s popularity was St. Peter Damian in 11th century Italy.

I don’t understand people who think this lovely, historied name is unusable because of a character in a 1977 movie.

Self-portrait of Filipino Chinese painter Damián Domingo y Gabor,
1796–1834

Other forms of Damian include:

1. Damião is Portuguese.

2. Damien is French.

3. Damiaan is Dutch.

4. Damijan is Slovenian.

5. Damjan is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

6. Damyan is Bulgarian.

7. Demyan is Russian and Ukrainian.

8. Damiano is Italian.

9. Damià is Catalan.

10. Damiane is Georgian.

Pope Damian of Alexandria, ?–605

11. Damianu is Corsican.

12. Damijonas is Lithuanian.

13. Damión is Kashubian.

14. Demian is German. I have an American character by this name, after the Hermann Hesse novel Demian. Published in 1919, it was his breakthrough novel, and the first of his books I ever read, in 1994. It was life-changing!

15. Temyan is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

Filipina writer and professor Damiana Eugenio, 1921–2014

Female forms:

1. Damiana is Italian and Polish.

2. Damjana is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

3. Damijana is Slovenian.

4. Damienne, or Damiène, is French.

5. Damia is English.

6. Damiani is Greek.

7. Damianne is English.

8. Demiana is Coptic.

A very Lordly name

Portrait of a Man, self-portrait of Greek-born painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco (1541–1614), ca. 1595–1600

The English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, and French name Dominic comes from the Latin name Dominicus, “of the Lord.” It was traditionally bestowed upon boys born on Sunday. In the Anglophone world, it came into widespread usage in the 13th century thanks to the popularity of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order. Because of this namesake, the name is primarily used by Catholics.

Dominic entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2002, after a very long, slow rise from near the bottom of the chart. In 2018, it was #75. The name also enjoys popularity in England and Wales. It was on the Top 100 from the Nineties until 2007, fluctuated between #103 and #127 during the ensuing decade, and rose back to #100 in 2018.

Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757),
painted by Domingo Antonio Velasco

Other forms of the name include:

1. Dominik is German, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Scandinavian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Croatian, and English.

2. Domenico is Italian.

3. Domingo is Spanish.

4. Domingos is Portuguese.

5. Domonkos is Hungarian.

6. Domen is Slovenian.

7. Dominykas is Lithuanian.

8. Dominique is French.

9. Dominicus is the full, formal Dutch name, though most Dutch people only use Latinate forms of their names on official documents.

10. Domenikos is Greek.

Polish–Lithuanian noble and politician Dominik Mikołaj Radziwiłł, 1643–97

11. Domhlaic is Irish.

12. Domenge is Gascon.

13. Domènec is Catalan.

14. Daminik is Belarusian.

15. Dominico is Italian.

16. Dominiks is Latvian.

17. Dominigu is Sardinian.

18. Dominig is Breton.

19. Dumenicu is Corsican.

20. Duminku is Maltese.

Self-portrait of U.S. painter Domenic Cretara, 1946–2017

21. Dumeni is Romansh.

22. Domokos is Hungarian.

23. Domenic is English.

24. Dominick is English.

25. Kominiko is Hawaiian.

26. Txomin (Cho-meen) is Basque.

Sister Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1837–81),
founder of the Salesian Sisters

Female forms:

1. Dominika is German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, Czech, and Slovak.

2. Dominica is English.

3. Domenica is Italian.

4. Dominga is Spanish.

5. Dominique is French.

6. Domnika is Macedonian and Kashubian.

7. Dominiki is Greek.

8. Dominyka is Lithuanian.

9. Domnica is Romanian and Moldovan.

10. Domencha is Aragonese.

French–American art collector, philanthropist, and human rights advocate Dominique de Menil, 1908–97

11. Domengina is Gascon.

12. Domenja is Provençal.

13. Domìniga is Sardinian.

14. Dumenia is Romansh.

15. Dumina is also Romansh.

16. Duminka is Maltese.

17. Daminika is Belarusian.

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.