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.

Jasmine names

The English flower name Jasmine derives from Persian yasamin, and entered the language via Old French. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1973, at #856, and shot up the charts with alacrity. Jasmine entered the Top 100 in 1986 and rose to its highest rank of #23 in 1993 and 1994. It stayed in the Top 30 from 1989–2006, then slowly began descending. In 2018, it was #136.

The name also enjoys popularity in New Zealand (#82), England and Wales (#75), and Italy (#105).

Variants include:

1. Gelsomina is Italian.

2. Jasmina is Serbian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Jasmína is Czech; Jaśmina is Polish; and Jasmīna is Latvian.

3. Jázmin is Hungarian.

4. Jasmin is German and Finnish. Jasmîn is Norman.

5. Jessamine is a rare English form.

6. Yasmin is Arabic and Urdu.

7. Yasmina is Arabic.

8. Yasmine is Arabic and French.

9. Yasmeen is Arabic and Urdu.

10. Yasamin is Persian.

11. Yasaman is also Persian.

12. Jasmijn is Dutch.

13. Iasmina is Romanian.

14. Iasmine is Greek.

15. Jaminka is Vlach.

16. Jasmiin is Estonian.

17. Jessamy is an older English form.

18. Jessima is an archaic English form.

19. Gessamí is Catalan.

20. Yesmine is Armenian.

21. Xasmina is Galician.

22. Giasemi, or Yiasemi, is Greek.

23. Zhasmin is Kazakh.

Other names whose meanings relate to the word “jasmine” include:

Unisex:

Amane can mean “imperial jasmine hope,” “my jasmine summit,” and “affection jasmine sound” in Japanese, among many other kanji permutations. As much as I love Japanese names, sorting through all these possible meanings gives me a headache!

Hijiri can mean “holy jasmine” in Japanese.

Jumi means “jasmine” in Bengali.

Katori can mean “beautiful/good person of white jasmine” in Japanese.

Mafuyu can mean “jasmine linen friend,” “jasmine air tenderness,” and “jasmine winter” in Japanese.

Matsuki can mean “jasmine moon tree,” “jasmine moon tortoise,” “jasmine haven measure,” and “jasmine moon atmosphere” in Japanese.

Parijat derives from Sanskrit parijata, which refers to several plants including night jasmine.

Rinon can mean “jasmine warmth,” “jasmine dream,” and “jasmine hope” in Japanese.

Shima can mean “determination, ambition, aspiration, will, purpose” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Yuriya can mean “healing white jasmine night” in Japanese.

Male:

Ikuma can mean “lively jasmine” and “genuine jasmine” in Japanese.

Maya can mean “jasmine colour,” “jasmine valley,” “jasmine sunshine,” and “jasmine design” in Japanese. I obviously wouldn’t recommend this in a country where Maya/Maja is a female name.

Rihito can mean “jasmine fire person,” “jasmine light metropolis,” “jasmine history,” and “jasmine beauty” in Japanese.

Female:

Aguri can mean “Asia, come after, rank next” with “long time” and “jasmine” in Japanese. As a male or unisex name, other kanji may be used.

Airi can mean “love, affection” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Akari can mean “bright white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amari can mean “sky, heaven” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amiri can mean “second, Asia” combined with “beautiful” and “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Bibisuman means “mother, authoritative woman, learnèd woman” combined with “jasmine” in Uzbek.

Chameli is the Hindu name for various jasmine flowers.

Gulsuman means “jasmine flower” in Uzbek.

Hasmik means “jasmine” in Armenian. Another form is Asmik.

Hima can mean “the Sun” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Himari can mean “day, sun” combined with “jasmine plant” in Japanese.

Hirari can mean “sky orchid white jasmine” in Japanese.

Hirori can mean “expand white jasmine” in Japanese.

Irodori can mean “white jasmine colour” in Japanese.

Kannika means “night jasmine” in Thai.

Kharasvara means “wild jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Kiria can mean “tree, plant” combined with “white jasmine” and “love, affection” in Japanese.

Kokori can mean “mind, soul, heart” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Luli means “dewy jasmine” in Chinese.

Maeko can mean “white jasmine glory child” in Japanese.

Mahana can mean “jasmine flower” in Japanese.

Maladee means “jasmine” in Thai.

Malati means “jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Melati means “jasmine flower” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Melur also means “jasmine” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Ratree means “night jasmine” in Thai. Unfortunately, it might not be a good idea in an Anglophone country.

Riko can mean “white jasmine child” in Japanese.

Rina can mean “white jasmine” combined with “vegetables, greens” or a phonetic character in Japanese. This is a completely separate name from other languages’ Rinas.

Rio can mean “white jasmine thread,” “white jasmine cherry blossom,” and “white jasmine centre” in Japanese.

Sabai means “jasmine” in Burmese.

Sampaguita means “jasmine” in Filipino. Jasmine is the national flower of The Philippines.

Vasantamallika means “spring jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Xewali means “jasmine” in Assamese, the easternmost Indo–European language, spoken in India.

The many forms of Joshua

Archangel Michael appearing to Joshua, 18th century

Joshua is the very popular English form of Hebrew name Yehoshua (God is salvation). The original form of the Biblical Joshua’s name was Hoshea (salvation), from the root yasha. In its various forms, Joshua has long been common in the Jewish world, though it didn’t become common in the Anglophone world till the Protestant Reformation.

The name was #211 in the U.S. in 1880, when records began being kept, and was consistently low-ranking during the ensuing decades. Its lowest position was #729 in 1929. Then, in the Fifties, Joshua began slowly creeping up the charts, and went from #530 in 1951 to #79 in 1971. Some years it jumped more than fifty ranks. It entered the Top 10 in 1979, at #9, and stayed in the Top 10 till 2009. In 2018, it was #41, part of a slow downward drop.

Joshua is also popular in England and Wales (#15), New Zealand (#20), Scotland (#30), Ireland (#50), and The Netherlands (#91).

Self-portrait of British painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92), ca. 1748

Other forms of the name include:

1. Jozua is Dutch.

2. Józsua is Hungarian.

3. Ikoua is Hawaiian.

4. Giosuè is Italian and Sicilian.

5. Josu is Basque.

6. Josué is French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The variant Josuè is Catalan.

7. Xesús is Galician.

8. Isa is Arabic. Alternate transliterations are Essa and Issa. The variant form İsa is Turkish.

9. Yusha is also Arabic.

10. Jesús is Spanish. As odd as this name looks on a normal person in English, the J is pronounced like an H. It’s very common in the Spanish-speaking world, not considered sacrilegious like it is in English and many other languages. Most languages keep the names Jesus and Joshua separate for that very reason.

Joshua Slocum (1844–1909), first person to sail alone around the world

11. Iyassu is Ethiopian.

12. Joosua is Finnish.

13. Joschua is German.

14. Josua is also German. The alternate form Jošua is Croatian.

15. Josuo is Esperanto.

16. Josva is Danish and Norwegian.

17. Jozue is Czech and Slovak, typically only used in reference to the Biblical Joshua. This form is also Slovenian and Polish. The alternate form Jozuė is Lithuanian.

18, Xosué is Galician.

19. Isus is Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Serbian.

20. Iisus is Russian and Chuvash.

U.S. baseball player Josh Gibson (1911–1947), widely considered one of the best power hitters and catchers in history

21. Iosua is Romanian. The alternate form Iósua is Irish.

22. Yushai is Chechen.

23. Yoşua is Azeri

24. Yuşa is Turkish.

25. Yoshua is Swahili.

26. Josoa is Malagasy.

27. Isu is Georgian.

Female forms:

1. Jesusa is Spanish.

2. Josune is Basque.

3. Joshuelle is a rare English form. I strongly dislike this name! It looks and sounds like a forced feminisation of a name that already doesn’t lend itself well to feminine forms.

4. Joshuette is another rare English form. I’m not a fan of this one either.