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).

The many forms of Sebastian

Italian explorer Sebastiano Caboto (ca. 1474–ca. December 1557), engraved 1824 by Samuel Rawle

Sebastian is an English, German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Polish, and Finnish name descended from the Latin Sebastianus (from Sebastia). A town in Asia Minor, Sebastia (now Sivas, Turkey) took its name from the Greek word sebastos (venerable). In turn, sebastos derives from sebas (dread, awe, reverence), and sebas comes from the verb sebomai (to feel awe, to be ashamed, to feel scruples).

As a title, Sebastos became the Greek form of Augustus, the Romans’ name for their emperors.

The name Sebastian, in all its many forms, became very popular in Medieval Europe on account of Saint Sebastian, a third century martyr. The name was particularly popular in France and Spain.

In recent years, Sebastian has become quite popular again. It’s been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2000, when it entered at #81, and it was #18, its highest rank to date, in 2018 and 2019. The name is also #22 in Austria, #34 in England and Wales, #34 in Norway, #51 in Poland, #70 in New Zealand, and #79 in Italy.

The alternate form Sebastián is Spanish and Czech, and Sebastían is Icelandic.

French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633–1707), painted 1834 by Charles-Philippe Larivière

Other forms of the name include:

1. Sebastiano is Italian.

2. Sebastião is Portuguese.

3. Sébastien is French.

4. Sebastiaan is Dutch.

5. Sebestyén is Hungarian.

6. Szebasztián is an alternate Hungarian form.

7. Sebastià is Catalan.

8. Sebastianu is Corsican and Sicilian.

9. Sebastión is Kashubian.

10. Sebastijonas is Lithuanian.

Portuguese politican and diplomat Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782)

11. Sebastijan is Slovenian and Croatian.

12. Sebastiaen is an older Dutch form.

13. Sebustianu is Sardinian.

14. Sevastianos is modern Greek.

15. Sibistianu is Sicilian.

16. Sipastiât is Greenlandic.

17. Sevastyan is Russian.

18. Subustianu is Sardinian.

19. Savas’jan is Veps, a Finnic language spoken in Russia.

20. Savaş is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

Flemish artist Sebastiaen Vrancx (1573–1647)

21. Sebastiani is Swahili.

22. Siöeba is Vilamovian, an endangered Germanic language spoken by about twenty people in Poland.

23. Sivaslı is Turkish.

24. Bościj is Sorbian.

25. Bas’cian is Istriot, an endangered Romance language spoken in Croatia.

26. Baścik is Silesian.

27. Bastjan is Maltese.

Female forms:

1. Sebastiana is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Polish, Kashubian, and Slovenian.

2. Sébastienne is French. The alternate form Sebastiënne is Dutch (and quite rare).

3. Sebastiane is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese, German, and English form.

4. Sevastiana is modern Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

5. Sibastjana is Albanian.

6. Sebastianna is a rare English and Italian form.

7. Austitza is a Basque name which many believe to be their form of Sebastiana.

All about Cyprian

Polish writer and artist Cyprian Norwid, 1821–1883

Cyprian is a Polish and English name which originated with Roman family name Cyprianus (from Cyprus). The variant Cyprián is Slovak. I’ve always found this a really cool, fun, quirky, distinctive name.

Other forms include:

1. Cipriano is Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

2. Ciprian is Romanian. The variation Ciprián is Hungarian and Aragonese.

3. Cyprien is French.

4. Cebrián is Spanish.

5. Cibrán is Galician. The variation Cíbran is Occitan.

6. Cebrià is Catalan.

7. Ciprià is a rare Catalan form.

8. Çipriani is Albanian.

9. Ciprianu is Corsican.

10. Cypriaan is Dutch.

Romanian–American mathematician Ciprian Foias, 1933–2020

11. Ciprijan is Croatian. The variant Ćiprijan is Serbian.

12. Cyprión is Kashubian.

13. Cypryjan is Medieval Polish.

14. Kipiren is Basque.

15. Kiprian is Russian.

16. Kiprijonas is Lithuanian.

17. Kvipriane is Georgian.

18. Kyprian is Ukrainian.

19. Kyprianos is Greek.

20. Sybryan is Arabic.

Filipino politician Cipriano Primicias, Sr., 1901–1965

21. Zipriano is Basque.

22. Zipiro is also Basque.

23. Zyprian is a very rare German form.

Female forms:

1. Cypriana is Dutch, English, German, and Latin.

2. Cipriana is Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

3. Cyprienne is French.

4. Cypriane is also French.

5. Cyprianne is Medieval French.

French arts patron and philanthropist Cyprienne Dubernet (1857–1945), painted 1891 by Théobald Chartran