Angelic names

Irish–British–American actress Angela Lansbury, 1925–2022

Names derived from the Greek word angelos (angel; messenger of God) historically have been much more common outside of the Anglophone world. Only in the 20th century did names like Angela, Angelica, and Angelina start becoming popular. On the male side, the name Angel (Ahn-hell) seems to be almost exclusively used on boys from Hispanic families, and Angelo is most frequently used on boys of Italian descent.

Angela is used in English, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Greek, Slovenian, Slovakian, the Scandinavian languages, Estonian, Finnish, Luxembourgish, Flemish, Macedonian, and modern Russian. In all of those languages except English and Italian, it’s pronounced with a hard G. The variant form Angéla is Hungarian; Angèla is Occitan and Gascon; Ángela is Spanish; Àngela is Catalan; and Ângela is Portuguese.

St. Angela Merici of Italy, 1474–1540

Angela was #679 in the U.S. in 1880, the year popularity records began, and gradually rose to the Top 100. It entered that upper echelon in 1956, at #93, and continued climbing upwards very quickly. By 1963, it was already #30, and it was in the Top 10 from 1965–79, holding its highest rank of #5 from 1974–76. The name began a slow descent in popularity in 1980, interrupted a few times by a rise back upwards. In 2021, it was #234.

Angela is also popular in Mexico (#46), Spain (#60), and Italy (#87).

Self-portrait of Swiss artist Angelica Kaufman, 1741–1807

Other forms of the name include:

1. Angelica is Italian, Romanian, Gascon, Provençal, Scandinavian, Romansh, Flemish, Dutch, and German. The variant Angélica is Spanish and Portuguese, and Angèlica is Sicilian.

2. Angélique is French. Without an accent mark, this is also a Dutch name.

3. Anzhelika is the traditional Russian and Ukrainian form.

4. Anzhela is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Belarusian.

5. Angeliki is Greek.

6. Anxhela is Albanian. The sound XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

7. Angyalka is Hungarian. The sound GY is pronounced kind of like the soft, barely perceptible DY sound in due, duel, and during.

8. Ànghela is Sardinian.

9. Anhelina is Ukrainian and Belarusian.

10. Angelina is English, Italian, Greek, Armenian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian, Bulgarian, Latvian, Croatian, Scandinavian, Provençal, Slovenian, and Russian.

French midwife Angélique du Coudray, ca. 1712–1794

11. Anzhelina is Russian and Ukrainian.

12. Anđela is Serbian and Croatian. Nicknames include Anđa and Anđelka. The variant Anděla is Czech.

13. Aniela is Polish and Kashubian.

14. Angeline is French.

15. Angiola is an Italian variant.

16. Anželika is Latvian and Lithuanian.

17. Andżelika is a Polish variant.

18. Anchela is Aragonese.

19. ʻĀnela is Hawaiian.

20. Ainelag is a rare, modern Manx form.

Polish translator Aniela Zagórska, 1881–1943

21. Andżela is Kashubian.

22. Anelė is Lithuanian.

23. Aela is a modern Breton form.

24. Angele is Scandinavian.

25. Anghjula is Corsican.

26. Àngila is Sicilian.

27. Àngiula is also Sicilian.

28. Ansina is Chuukese, an Austronesian language spoken on the Chuuk islands of the Caroline Islands of Micronesia.

29. Ánxela is Gascon.

30. Ànzela is Sardinian. The variant Anžela is Estonian and Latvian.

American suffragist and mathematician Angeline Stickney (Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall), 1830–92

31. Añjela is a rare Breton form.

32. Aungèle is Norman.

33. Ancèlica is Sicilian.

34. Anchelica is Aragonese.

35. Angilica is Sicilian.

36. Anxélica is Gascon.

37. Anzhalika is Belarusian.

38. Ancilina is Sicilian.

39. Anđelina is Serbian and Croatian.

40. Aungélina is Norman.

American suffragist and abolitionist Angelina Grimké, 1805–79

41. Anghjulina is Corsican.

42. Angilín is Faroese.

43. Angilina is Sicilian.

44. Anxhelina is Albanian.

45. Anzelina is Sardinian.

46. Anxelina is a rare Gascon form.

Italian doctor, parasitologist, hygienist, and philanthropist Angelo Celli (1857–1914)

Male forms of the name include:

1. Ángel is Spanish, and quite popular in that language. The variant Àngel is Catalan, and Angèl is Lengadocian (an Occitan dialect). Without accent marks, this name is sometimes used in Bulgarian, Slovenian, and Macedonian.

2. Angelo is Italian. The variant Ângelo is Portuguese; Anĝelo is Esperanto; and Ángelo is Spanish.

3. Anghel is Romanian.

4. Angiolo is Italian.

5. Ànghelu is Sardinian.

6. Anđelko is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Anđelo is Croatian.

8. Aingeru is Basque.

9. Anxo is Galician.

10. Angelos is Greek.

Romanian historian, writer, and literary critic Anghel Demetriescu, 1847–1903

11. Ankelo is Albanian.

12. Angeoul is Gascon.

13. Angé is also Gascon.

14. Anxhelo is Albanian.

15. Angyal is Hungarian.

16. Ánxel is Asturian.

17. Ánxelu is also Asturian.

18. Àncilu is Sicilian.

19. Angelu is also Sicilian.

20. Àngilu is another Sicilian form.

Bosnian Franciscan friar Anđeo Zvizdović, who negotiated for religious freedom after the Ottoman conquest and occupation of Bosnia (ca. 1420–98)

21. Anđeo is a rare Bosnian and Croatian form.

22. Angiulu is Sicilian.

23. Anzolo is Venetian.

24. Ael is a modern Breton form.

25. Aggelos is modern Greek.

26. Agnul is Friulian.

27. Angelico is Italian and Filipino.

28. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

29. Ánchel is Aragonese.

30. Ancèlicu is Sicilian.

Italian Augustine monk, bibliophile, and scholar Angelico (né Ludovico) Aprosio, 1607–81

31. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

32. Anděl is Czech. The rare, variant form Anđel is Serbian and Croatian.

33. Angelas is Lithuanian.

34. Angèlicu is Sicilian.

35. Angelu is also Sicilian.

36. Angelusz is Hungarian.

37. Anġlu is Maltese.

38. Anzelinu is Sardinian.

39. Ànzelu is also Sardinian.

40. Anxelo is a rare Gascon form.

Unisex forms:

1. Angel is English, though predominantly feminine in that language.

2. Ange is French.

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All about Adrian and Adriana

Legendary MGM costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenburg (1903–1959), known simply as Adrian

I absolutely adore the name Adrian, whether it’s pronounced with long As in the European and Latin American style, or the more common Anglo way AY-dree-yan. It derives from the equally-awesome Latin name Hadrian, which in turn derives from the Latin term Hadrianus, “from Hadria.” Hadria was a Northern Italian town from whence the Adriatic Sea derives its name.

Adrian is used in English, Polish, Russian, Romanian, German, and the Scandinavian languages. The alternate form Adrián is Hungarian, Spanish, Slovakian, Czech, Catalan, and Galician. Adrían is Icelandic.

Pope Adrian VI (1459–1523), painted circa 1625

Though the name has been used in the Anglophone world since the Middle Ages, and was borne by the only English Pope to date, it only became popular fairly recently. It was #403 in the U.S. in 1880, the first year name popularity records were kept, and remained fluctuating among the 300s, 400s, and 500s until 1959, when it began a slow and steady rise from #354 to a respectable high of #56 in 2008, 2010, and 2019. It’s gone up and down in rank since entering the Top 100 in 1985, at #93, but hasn’t been out of the Top 100 since 1989.

Adrian is also currently popular in Spain (#13), Sweden (#24), Galicia (#25), Croatia (#37), Norway (#40), Mexico (#41), Basque County, Spain (#43), Austria (#53), Catalonia (#56), Poland (#59), Canada (#70 in 2019), the Czech Republic (#78 in 2016), Hungary (#82), Switzerland (#92), and Slovenia (#96).

German artist Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803–1884), painted 1836 by Wilhelm von Kügelgen

Other forms of the name include:

1. Adriano is Portuguese and Italian.

2. Adrians is Latvian.

3. Adriaan is Dutch.

4. Adrien is French.

5. Adrijan is Macedonian and Croatian.

6. Adrianus is the more formal Dutch form, though almost no one in The Netherlands goes by a Latin form of their name in everyday life.

7. Arjan, also spelt Arian and Ariaan, is Dutch. This started as a short form of Adriaan, but has become very popular as a given name in its own right. Originally, Arian was the most popular spelling, but now Arjan has eclipsed it.

8. Jadran is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

9. Jadranko is also Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

10. Adrià is Catalan.

Flemish composer Adriaan Willaert (circa 1490–1562)

11. Adrao is a rare Galician form.

12. Adriam is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Adrianas is Lithuanian.

14. Adrianos is Greek.

15. Adrianu is Corsican, Sicilian, and Sardinian.

16. Adrión is Kashubian.

17. Aidrian is Irish.

18. Atrianu is Sicilian.

19. Adriyan is Russian and Bulgarian.

20. Entěrian is Chuvash.

21. Adorján is Hungarian.

Italian composer Adriana Basile (circa 1580–1640), drawn by Nicolas Perrey

Adriana is probably the most common feminine form. It’s used in English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovakian, Polish, Galician, Albanian, Occitan, Ukrainian, Kashubian, Gascon, Provençal, Swedish, Dutch, and Armenian. The alternate form Adriána is Hungarian and Slovakian; Adriāna is Latvian; and Adríana is Icelandic.

The name enjoys popularity in Armenia (#18), Spain (#33), the Czech Republic (#37 in 2016), Galicia (#42), Catalonia (#68), Latvia (#77), Mexico (#82), and Portugal (#87 in 2018).

Other forms include:

1. Adrienne is French.

2. Adriene is Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Adrianna is Polish.

4. Adrijana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian.

5. Adrienn is Hungarian.

6. Hadriana is Latin.

7. Adriena is Slovakian.

8. Adriyana is Bulgarian and Russian.

9. Adriane is a rare German form.

10. Adirane is Basque.

French actor Adrienne Lecouvreur, 1692–1730

11. Adryyana is Belarusian.

12. Akaliana, or Akaliane, is Hawaiian.

13. Atriana is Sicilian.

14. Odriana is Medieval Flemish.

A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

The Ys of Medieval Scandinavian, Breton, Basque, Flemish, French, Cornish, Galician, and Spanish names

Because Italian has no names starting with Y, today is another wildcard day. I took great care not to repeat any of the Medieval Y names from my 2018 post.

Male names:

Yagu (Breton) is a form of Jakob, which derives from the Hebrew name Ya’akov. Though traditional etymology claims this name means “heel” and “supplanter,” many modern Biblical scholars believe it comes from Semitic roots meaning “may God protect.”

Yowann (Cornish) is a form of John (God is gracious).

Yrian, Yryan (Scandinavian) is a form of Jurian (i.e., George, which means “farmer”).

Ysaque (Galician) is a form of Isaac, which comes from the Hebrew name Yitzchak (he will laugh).

Ythier (French) derives from Ancient Germanic roots id (labour, work) or idhja (negotiate), and hari (warrior, army).

Yuzhael (Breton)

Female names:

Ybba (Swedish) is a form of Eyba, a diminutive of names starting with the Ancient Germanic root ebur (wild boar). The modern form is Ebba.

Yden (Flemish)

Yenega (Basque) is a form of Iñiga, a feminine form of Eneko. The name may derive from the Basque words ene (my) and ko (a diminutive suffix).

Yfame (French)

Ynes (Spanish) is a form of Agnes, which derives from the Greek word hagnos (chaste). Since St. Agnes was frequently depicted with a lamb, the name acquired the secondary meaning of “lamb,” from the Latin word agnus.

Yzabé (French) is a form of Elizabeth (my God is an oath).

The Xes of Medieval Galician, Spanish, and Basque names

Because Italian has no names starting with X, today is another wildcard day. I’ve taken care not to reuse any of the Medieval X names featured in my 2018 post.

Female names:

Xabadin (Basque) is a form of Sabina (Sabine woman).

Xixili (Basque) is a form of Cecilia (blind).

Male names:

Xabe (Spanish) may be a form of Xavier (the new house), but perhaps it just has a similar sound and appearance.

Xabiça (Spanish) may also derive from Xavier, but I don’t want to assume without any evidence.

Xacob (Galician) is a form of Jakob, which derives from the original Hebrew name Ya’akov. Though traditional etymology claims this name means “heel, supplanter,” many modern Biblical scholars now believe it truly comes from Semitic roots meaning “may God protect.”

Xácome (Galician) is a form of James, which in turn also derives from Jakob.

Xain (Spanish)

Xame (Spanish)

Xemeno (Spanish) looks like an obvious form of Simon, which derives from the Hebrew name Shimon (he has heard).

Xil (Galician) is a form of Giles, which comes from Latin name Aegidius and Greek word aigidion (young goat).