The Gs of Medieval Tuscan and Italian names

Female names:

Gaita (I)

Gaitelgrima (I)

Galiana (I) is the feminine form of the Latin name Galianus.

Gherardesca (I) is the feminine form of Gherardo, an archaic form of Gerard (brave spear).

Giletta (I) is a feminine form of the English name Giles, which derives from Latin name Aegidius and Greek word aigidion (young goat), via Old French Gidie and Gilles. A very gutsy woman in The Decameron has this name.

Ginevera, Ginevria (I) is a form of Guinevere (white phantom).

Girolama (I) is a feminine form of Jerome (sacred name).

Male names:

Galasso (I) is a form of Galahad, which is of unknown etymology.

Galeotto (I) is a form of Galehaut, an Arthurian name also of unknown etymology. Though it’s very similar to Galahad, the names are unrelated.

Galileo (I) comes from the Medieval Latin word Galilaeus, which in turn derives from Greek Galilaios (from Galilee). The ultimate root is the Hebrew word galal (roll), referring to the rolling of the Sea of Galilee (called Lake Kineret in Hebrew).

Gesualdo (I) may derive from Ancient Germanic name Giswald. The first element may derive from Gallo–Celtic root gaiso (spear) or be a short form of gisel (pledge, hostage), and the second element comes from Gothic root valdan (to reign). This name may also be a combination of Gesù (Jesus) and Ancient Germanic root wald (rule).

Grifone (I) means “griffin,” a legendary creature with the wings and head of an eagle and the tail, body, and back legs of a lion.

Gualfredo (T), Galfrido (I) is a form of Ancient Germanic names Walahfrid, derived from roots walha (stranger) and frid (peace), and Waldfrid, from Gothic root valdan (to reign) and Old High German fridu (peace).

Guilelmo (T) is a form of Guglielmo, the Italian form of William (will helmet).

Mirror names

Since mirrors are often used in horror movies, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “mirror.”

Aaina (F) is Urdu and Hindi.

Aina (F) is Kazakh, from Persian ayneh.

Ainash (F) is Kazakh.

Amira (F) can mean “love mirror” in Japanese. This is a completely different name from the Arabic Amira, which means “princess.”

Aýna (F) is Turkmeni.

Aynagözel (F) means “beautiful mirror” in Turkmeni.

Gulyona (F) means “rose mirror, flower mirror” in Uzbek.

Gyuzgyush (F) is Lezgian, a Northeast Caucasian language primarily spoken in Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan.

Kyouhei (M) can mean “peace mirror,” “36 square foot mirror,” “mirror army,” “mirror soldier,” “mirror design,” and “mirror pattern” in Japanese.

Oyna (F) is Uzbek.

Oynaband (F) means “decorated with mirrors” in Uzbek.

Oynagul (F) means “flower mirror, rose mirror” in Uzbek.

Oynajamol (F) means “mirror beauty” in Uzbek.

Oynaxol (F) means “mirror beauty mark” in Uzbek. X is pronounced like the guttural CH in loch and Chanukah.

Tezcatlipoca (M) means “smoking mirror” in Nahuatl. This was the name of a major Aztec god, who ruled winds, the night sky, the north, and war. He was also one of the creator gods.

Ugluspegill (M) means “owl mirror” in Icelandic. This is a rare, modern name.

Yayauhqui (U) means “black smoking mirror” in Nahuatl.

The Gs of Estonian names

Female:

Gaidi means “wait.” The similar name Gaida means “waiting.”

Gerda is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and means “enclosure.” Gerd was a fertility goddess.

Gertrud is borrowed from German, and means “spear of strength.”

Gertu may be a nickname for Margit (pearl), now used as an independent name.

Gisela is borrowed from German, and means “pledge, hostage.”

Gita is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and originated as a nickname for Birgitta, which is either a form of Bridget (exalted one) or female form of Birger (help, rescue, save).

Male:

Gennadi is borrowed from the Russian name Gennadiy, and ultimately derives from Greek name Gennadios (generous, noble). It was #98 in Estonia as of 2018.

German (pronounced with a hard G) is borrowed from Russian, and derives from Latin name Germanus (brother).

Gleb is borrowed from Russian and in turn derives from Old Norse Guðleifr (God’s heir).

Grigori is borrowed from the Russian name Grigoriy and ultimately derives from the Greek name Gregorios (alert, watchful).

Gunnar is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages, and means “war warrior.” This is a cognate of Günther.

Gustav is borrowed from the Scandinavian languages and German. It either comes from Old Norse name Gautstafr (staff of the Goths) or Slavic name Gostislav (glorious guest).

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.

Cornwall’s most popular export

William Morris painting of legendary Queen Guinevere, 1858

Being the age I am, every other woman within ten years of my age either way is named Jennifer in the Anglophone world. Though my personal tastes strongly tend towards classical eccentric and classical unusual, I’ve always had fond feelings for Jennifer. I can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known, and I’ve encountered quite a few over forty years!

Jennifer is the Cornish form of the Welsh Gwenhwyfar (white phantom), which derives from Old Celtic roots •windos (white, fair, blessed) and *sebros (magical being, phantom). Almost everyone is familiar with Norman–French form Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Though they sound nothing alike, the Old Irish form is Findabair (Fionnabhair in modern Irish).

It’s just a coincidence that Jennifer sounds very similar to Juniper. The names have completely different etymologies.

U.S. actor Jennifer Jones (1919–2009) in 1953

Jennifer was extremely rare outside of Cornwall before the 18th century, and only began gaining in recognition and popularity in 1906, when Sir George Bernard Shaw used it as the name of the female protagonist in the play The Doctor’s Dilemma. In 1934, it entered the Top 100 in England and Wales. It attained its highest rank of #11 there in 1984, and stayed in their Top 100 till 2005.

Jennifer entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 1938, at #992. It jumped to #891 the next year, then #686, #604, #527, #397, #263, #199, #156. Its big leaps in popularity during the 1940s were likely strongly influenced by the above-pictured Jennifer Jones. The name continued gaining in popularity, and entered the Top 100 in 1956 at #97.

By 1965, Jennifer was #20, and it was #10 the next two years. It then rose to #4 and #3 before landing at #1 in 1970, a position it occupied till 1984. Jennifer stayed in the Top 10 till 1991, the Top 20 till 1998, and the Top 100 till 2008. In 2018, it was #344.

It’s common knowledge that Jennifer got its biggest boost of popularity thanks to the 1970 novel and film Love Story (with the hideous catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”).

A suggested reason it remained on the chart so long past that film is that it was the first love story with a tragic ending many young women saw, and it remained with them all those years. When they had daughters, Jennifer was the natural choice. For similar reasons, the oversaturated Madison is still hanging around the Top 100 years after 1984’s Splash!

Jennifer remained #1 in Delaware, Massachusetts, and Illinois till 1985. Tellingly, its immediate replacement on the overall chart was Jessica. Parents tired of Jennifer turned to a name with a fairly similar sound, just as Emily was replaced by Emma, Madeline overtook Madison, and Amelia replaced Emma. The original names never stopped being widely-used, but many people desired a close-enough substitute.

Italian aristocrat Ginevra de’ Benci (1457–1521), painted ca. 1474–78 by Leonardo da Vinci

Other forms of this hugely popular name include:

1. Guenièvre is French.

2. Ginevra is Italian and Portuguese.

3. Yenifer is Latin American–Spanish.

4. Jenifer is Spanish, Cornish, and English.

5. Jenefer is another Cornish variation.

6. Gwenivar is Breton.

7. Ginebra is Catalan.

8. Ginewra is Polish.

9. Gvinevra is Russian. Not a name that translates well into this language!

10. Xenebra, or Xenevra, is Galician.

U.S. socialite Ginevra King, 1898–1980

11. Gaenor, or Gaynor, is Welsh.

12. Dzsenifer is Hungarian. Also not a language that’s naturally suited to translating this name as-is.

13. Gkouinevir is Greek. What I said about Hungarian and Russian.

14. Dženifera is Latvian. Not exactly fond of this form either.

15. Gennifer is English.

16. Ginnifer, or Ginifer, is English.

17. Jeniffer is a rare Scandinavian form.

18. Jennifera is a rare English form.

19. Llénifer is a rare Spanish form.