Theodora in reverse

U.S. social reformer Dorothea Dix (1802–87), painted 1868 by Samuel Bell Waugh

Dorothea is a palindrome of sorts of Theodora. They both have the same meaning, “gift of God,” and are formed from the same Greek roots, doron (gift) and Theos (God). The only difference is that each name puts the roots in a different order.

Dorothea is used in Greek, English, the Scandinavian languages, German, and Dutch. It gained popularity thanks to two early saints, particularly fourth century martyr Dorothea of Caesarea. This was also the name of Prussia’s patron saint, the 14th century Dorothea of Montau.

U.S. actor Dorothy Gish (1898–1968), younger sister of legendary Lillian Gish

Much more common in the Anglophone world is Dorothy, which was coined in the 16th century. Probably everyone associates this name with the protagonist of The Wizard of Oz. The name entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1890, at #93, and leapt up the chart till entering the Top 10 at #10 in 1904.

Dorothy entered the Top 5 in 1909, and peaked at #2 in 1920, a position it held till 1927. It remained in the Top 10 till 1939, and in the Top 20 till 1945. Dorothy’s final year in the Top 100 was 1961. In 2018, it was #586.

Other forms of this once-ubiquitous name include:

1. Dorotea is Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Galician, and Croatian.

2. Doroteja is Slovenian, Macedonian, Serbian, Latvian, Sorbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Dorotėja is Lithuanian. Nicknames include Dora, Tea, and Teja.

3. Dorottya is Hungarian. Nicknames include Dora, Dorka, and Dorina.

4. Dorothée is French. The nickname is Théa.

5. Doroteia is Portuguese. The Brazilian–Portuguese variant is Dorotéia.

6. Dārta is Latvian.

7. Dörthe is Low German.

8. Darafeya is Belarusian.

9. Dorofeya is Russian.

10. Darata is Lithuanian.

French aristocrat Dorothée de Talleyrand-Périgord (1862–1948), painted 1905 by Philip de László

11. Dorota is Polish, Czech, Slovak, Kashubian, and Lithuanian.

12. Dorote is Georgian.

13. Doroteya is Russian and Bulgarian.

14. Dóróthea, also rendered as Dórothea, is Icelandic.

15. Tiia is Estonian and Finnish.

16. Kōleka is Hawaiian.

17. Dorata is Albanian.

Male forms:

1. Dorotheos is Greek.

2. Dorofey is Russian.

3. Dorotheus is Latin.

4. Doroteo is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

5. Darafey is Belarusian.

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.

All about Elizabeth

Though I’ve had prior posts about my favourite forms of the name Elizabeth, and its many nicknames, I’ve never had a post devoted to the name in its entirety. This post will also only focus on derivatives of the standard form Elizabeth, not related names Isabel and Lillian (unless those are a language’s only forms of Elizabeth). Despite their origins, they’ve for all intents and purposes developed into their own independent names.

Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 1560s, artist unknown

The English name Elizabeth comes from the Hebrew Elisheva, “my God is an oath.” Its historic popularity stems in large part from the fact that this was the name of John the Baptist’s mother. Traditionally, it was much more common in Eastern Europe (in its variety of forms) until another famous bearer (pictured above) appeared in the 16th century and made the name popular in Western Europe too.

Since the U.S. began keeping data on names in 1880, the name has never fallen below #26 (in 1948). It was in the Top 10 from 1880–1923, in 1925, from 1980–2001, in 2003 and 2004, in 2007 and 2008, and in 2012 and 2013. In 2018, it was #13.

The name enjoys more modest popularity in Scotland (#75), New Zealand (#81), Ireland (#60), and England and Wales (#44). The alternate spelling Elisabeth, used in German, English, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages, was only #788 in the U.S. in 2018, and has never charted higher than #302 in 1984.

Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, later Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna of Russia, now Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr (1864–1918)

Other forms include:

1. Elisabet is Scandinavian, Catalan, Finnish, and sometimes Spanish. The alternate form Elísabet is Icelandic.

2. Élisabeth is French.

3. Elisabete is modern Portuguese.

4. Elizabeta is Slovenian and Croatian.

5. Elikapeka is Hawaiian.

6. Elixabete is Basque.

7. Elisabeta is Romanian.

8. Elisabetta is Italian.

9. Elisavet is modern Greek.

10. Eliisabet is Estonian.

Princess Elisabeta of Romania, later Queen of Greece (1894–1956)

11. Elisabed is Georgian.

12. Erzsébet is Hungarian.

13. Elizabete is Latvian.

14. Eilís is Irish.

15. Elżbieta is Polish. The alternate form Elžbieta is Lithuanian.

16. Ealisaid is Manx.

17. Ealasaid is Scottish.

18. Elisaveta is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

19. Yelizaveta is Russian.

20. Yelyzaveta is Ukrainian.

Georgian actor Elisabed Cherkezishvili (1864–1948)

21. Alžbeta is Slovak. The alternate form Alžběta is Czech.

22. Jelisaveta is Serbian.

23. Bethan is Welsh.

24. Lizaveta is Russian.

25. Zabel is Armenian.

26. Sabela is Galician.

27. Elspeth, or Elspet, is Scottish.

28. Eisabèu is Provençal.

29. Élîzabé is Jèrriais.

30. Elizabeto is Esperanto.

Polish poet Elżbieta Drużbacka (1695/98–1765)

31. Elisabette is a rare French and English form.

32. Elisapeci, or Ilisapeci, is Fijian.

33. Elisapie is Inuit.

34. Elizabet is Belarusian and Bulgarian.

35. Eliżabetta is Maltese.

36. Elizete is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese form.

37. Elzabé is Namibian.

38. Elžbjeta is Sorbian.

39. Erihapeti, or Irihapeti, is Maori.

40. Il-shvai is Amharic.

Happy Halloween!—Orange names

Happy Halloween! Here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “orange” (the colour). In some languages, the word for the fruit and colour are identical, while in others they’re different. As always, some of these names might sound much better on pets, stuffed animals, dolls, or fictional characters. I obviously wouldn’t recommend using some of these word names on real people in countries where that language is spoken.

Alani is Hawaiian, and refers to the colour, fruit, and flower.

Arancia is Italian.

Aranciu is Corsican.

Kamala is Bengali.

Karaka is Maori.

Kesari is Marathi.

Lalanje is Nyanja, a Bantu language primarily spoken in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Laranja is Basque and Portuguese.

Laranxa is Galician.

Namunu is Southern Sotho.

Naranja is Spanish.

Narıncı is Azeri.

Narinja is Telugu.

Oren is Malaysian and Welsh. This has a completely different etymology from the Hebrew name meaning “pine tree.”

Orenji is Japanese. I’m 99% sure this is a very modern, unusual name inspired by the English word, not a historic, native Japanese name.

Porteqalî is Kurdish.

Portokalea, or Portokali, is Greek.

Portokhali is Georgian.

Santara is Hindi.

Satara is Punjabi.

Sienna is a modern English name meaning “orange-red,” derived from the Italian city Siena. The city’s clay is sienna in colour.

Suntala is Nepali.

Taronja is Catalan.