The Ms of Medieval names

Female:

Madiana (Italian)

Madolina (Italian): Probably a form of Magdalena.

Madore (Italian)

Madrona (Spanish, Catalan): “Lady,” from Latin word matrona.

Magnifica (Italian): “Magnificent, excellent, splendid.”

Malmfred (Scandinavian)

Malore (Italian)

Marquessa (Spanish): “Marquise,” from Old French marchis and markis. The ultimate root is the Old High German word marka (fortified area along a border; march).

Marsibilia (Italian)

Mascarose (Occitan)

Massaria (Italian)

Massipa (Judeo–Catalan): Derived from Christian Catalan surname Massip/Macip, from Latin word mancipium (learner, servant, younger).

Maymuna (Moorish Arabic): “Blessed, prosperous, thriving.”

Melior (English): “Better,” from a Latin word with that meaning. The modern form is Meliora.

Melisende (French): Form of Millicent, derived from Ancient Germanic name Amalasuintha. Its roots are amal (labour, work) and swinth (strong).

Memorantia (English and Dutch): “Remembering,” from the Latin word.

Merewen, Merwenn, Merewynn (English): “Famous joy,” from Old English name Mærwynn. Its roots are mær (famous) and wynn (joy).

Merilda (English): Form of Old English name Mærhild.

Midonia (Italian)

Militsa (Slavic): “Gracious,” from root milu. It was originally a nickname for names beginning in Mil-. Its modern form is Milica (Slovenian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian).

Mirea (Judeo–Catalan): “Myrrh,” from Ladino (Judeo–Spanish) mira; a variation of popular Catalan name Mira (notable); or a nickname for Miriam,

Mireti (Moorish Arabic)

Miriana (English)

Munisa (Arabic): This is also a modern Uzbek, Bosnian, and Tajik name.

Muscata (Italian): “Nutmeg.”

Mutayyam (Moorish Arabic): “Captive of love.”

Muzna (Moorish Arabic): “Cloud, rain.”

Male:

Mechislav (Slavic): “Sword of glory,” from roots mechi and slava. The modern form is Mieczysław (Polish). The original form is a rare modern Russian name. Like all names ending in -slav, -mir, and -mil, it can become a female name by adding an A to the end.

Merkel (Silesian–German): Nickname for Markward, which ultimately descends from Ancient Germanic name Marcaward. Its roots are Celtic marca and Old High German marah (horse), or marka (border), and Old High German wart (guard).

Metfried (German): From roots maht (strength, might) and frid (peace).

Mezamir (Slavic): “Great boundary,” “Boundary of peace,” or “Boundary of the world,” from a Proto–Slavic root meaning “limit, boundary, landmark” (which evolved into Old Church Slavonic mežda), and mer (famous, great) or mir (peace, world).

Milogost (Slavic): “Gracious guest,” from roots milu (dear, gracioius) and gosti. The modern form is Miłogost (Polish).

Miqueu (Occitan): Form of Michael (Who is like God?). This is also the modern Gascon form.

Mundi (Swedish and Norman): Nickname for Old Norse Agmundr, derived from elements ag (edge of a sword) or agi (terror, awe), and mundr (protection).

Mundir (Moorish Arabic): “Cautioner, warner.”

Munio (Basque): The feminine form was Munia.

Mundzuk (Turkic): Possibly “bead, jewel,” from root mončuq.

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The As of Medieval names

Due to a number of unwanted, extenuating circumstances, the great theme I’d planned for this year’s A to Z has to be pushed off till next year. If I’d gone ahead with it, without ample prep time, the resulting posts wouldn’t have been my best work. Instead, this year’s theme is Medieval names, from a variety of languages.

I’m featuring names with interesting etymologies, names which look intriguing, and names I like. I’ll also focus on names which were mostly exclusive to the Middle Ages, instead of Medieval names which are still regularly used today.

Let’s get started!

Female:

Abluna (Swedish): Form of Apollonia, which of course comes from Apollo. It may derive from the Indo–European *apelo (strength), the Greek verb apollymi (to destroy), or the Anatolian god Appaliunas (father light or father lion). The alternate form Ablunia was Finnish.

Adalsinda (German): “Noble path,” from Old High German adal (noble) and Gothic sinths (way, path).

Adélaïse (French): A shortened form of the Ancient Germanic Adalheidis, with roots adal and heid (sort, kind, type). Other forms included Adelasia (Italian, Sardinian); Adelissa (Dutch); and Adeliza (English, Swedish). This name eventually morphed into more familiar forms such as Alice, Alicia, Adelaide, Adeline, Adele, and Adela.

Alamanda (Occitan, Gascon): From Alemannia, the Latin word for Germany.

Alara (Turkic): A beautiful water fairy in Turkic mythology, who lives in rivers and lakes of the Caspian basin. She grants wishes she deems worthy, and heals broken hearts and makes them able to love again. Al ara also means “red ornament” in the Turkic languages.

Amice (English): From Latin amicus (friend). The male form was Amis. These were very popular names in Medieval England.

Male:

Aberycusgentylis (English): This was used as a namesake for Oxford professor Albericus Gentilis (né Alberico Gentili). The first part of the name derives from the Ancient Germanic Alberich (elf power), with roots alf (elf) and ric (power). The second part of the name comes from a Latin adjective meaning “of the same family.”

Adalrik (Swedish): From the Ancient Germanic Athalric, with roots adal (noble) and rīhhi (rich, noble, distinguished).

Aleksandru (Slavic): From the Greek Alexandros, “helper of man,” with roots alexo (to help, defend) and aner (genitive andros) (man). This name soared to popularity all around the Indo–European world because of Alexander the Great.

Andriü (Occitan): Form of Andrew, which comes from the Greek Andreas, with root andreios (masculine, manly).

Arlotto (Italian): Possibly from Old French herlot (tramp, vagabond).

Astralabius (French): The name of the son of the infamous Héloïse and Abélard. It means “one who reaches the stars,” after the word “astrolabe.”

All about the name Gregory

Pope Gregory I (ca. 540–12 March 604), by Francisco de Zurbarán

Gregory is the English form of the Latin Gregorius, which in turn comes from the Greek Gregorios. The original roots are gregoros (alert, watchful) and gregorein (to watch). Thanks to folk etymology, the name also became associated with the Latin grex (stem form greg), which means “herd” or “flock.”

Thus, there arose an association with a shepherd carefully guarding his flock, and led to the name’s great popularity among popes and monks. To date, 16 popes have taken the name Gregory, tying it with Benedict as the next-most popular papal name after only John.

Austrian geneticist Gregor Mendel, 1822–1884

Because of the many saints, monks, and popes bearing this name, it’s been widely used through the Christian world for almost 2,000 years. In England, it’s been used since the 12th century. However, it had become much more uncommon by the late 19th century.

In 1880, it was #909 in the U.S., and was on and off the chart until it permanently came to stay in 1892. It gradually rose and fell until 1924, when it began picking up speed and moving up slowly but consistently. In 1945, it entered the Top 100 at #96.

Gregory leapt to #56 in 1946, and #33 in 1947. It entered the Top 25 in 1950, and remained there till 1967. In 1971, it again was #25. The name gradually descended, and had fallen to #361 by 2016.

The name’s rise to popularity was due to American actor Gregory Peck.

Gregory Peck, 1916–2003

Other forms of the name include:

1. Gregor is German, Icelandic, Slovak, Slovenian, and Scottish.

2. Grégoire is French.

3. Gregorio is Spanish and Italian. The alternate form Gregório is Portuguese.

4. Grigor is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Eastern Armenian, Albanian, and Welsh.

5. Krikor is Western Armenian.

6. Grigol is Georgian.

7. Gligor is Macedonian and Romanian.

8. Greger is Swedish and Norwegian.

9. Grigoriy is Russian. Nicknames include Grisha, Grishechka, and Grishenka.

10. Grigore is Romanian.

Henri Jean-Baptiste Grégoire (Abbé Grégoire), bishop, politician, reformer, abolitionist, revolutionary leader, 1750–1831

11. Gregers is Norwegian and Danish.

12. Griogair is Scottish.

13. Gréagóir is Irish.

14. Grzegorz is Polish. Nicknames include Grześ and Grzesiek.

15. Grega is Slovenian.

16. Řehoř is Czech.

17. Grigorijs is Latvian.

18. Grigalius is Lithuanian. Other Lithuanian forms are Grigorijus, Gregoras, and Gregas.

19. Hryhoriy is Ukrainian.

20. Reijo is Finnish.

Comedic Romanian actor Grigore Vasiliu Birlic, 1905–1970

21. Reko is another Finnish form.

22. Gregoor is a rare Dutch form.

23. Gergely (GER-gay) is Hungarian. The nickname is Gergő.

24. Grigorios is modern Greek.

25. Girgor is Maltese.

26. Gergori is Basque.

27. Drigo is Mordvin.

28. Grégori is Gascon. The alternate form Gregori is Catalan.

29. Gregoriu is Sardinian.

30. Gregorije is Serbian. Another Serbian form is Gligorije.

The Venerable Dr. José Gregorio Hernández (1864–1919), a Venezuelan national hero and folk figure

31. Guergorio is Aragonese.

32. Hrehary is Belarusian.

33. Kelekolio is Hawaiian.

34. Kӗrkuri is Chuvash.

35. Reigo is Estonian.

36. Grgur is Serbian and Croatian. The nickname is Grga.

37. Gërgur is Albanian.

38. Ryhor is Belarusian.

39. Grækaris is Faroese.

40. Gregors is Latvian.

Grigorios Xenopoulos (1867–1951), Greek writer and journalist

41. Grigorij is Macedonian.

42. Gregoria is an Italian, Spanish, and English feminine form.

43. Gregorie is a German feminine form. The variant Grégorie is French.

The two names I’ve loved longest, Part II

As mentioned in my last post, the two names I’ve loved longest are Easter and Echo. I’ve no idea why I fell so deeply in love with them, but I’ve remained firmly captivated by them all these years. While I’d like to use Echo as a middle name for a future daughter (paired with Cecilia), Easter is off-limits for the obvious reason that I’m not Christian.

However, I’m of the camp that feels one need not be a member of a certain religion to find great beauty in some of its names, music, stories, etc. Liking a name, song, ikon, teaching, etc., doesn’t automatically mean you’re having a crisis of faith and converting!

The English name Easter comes from Eostre (alternately called Ostara), the Ancient Germanic dawn goddess. As such, her name is etymologically linked to Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn (whose name fittingly means “dawn”). Every morning, her rosy fingers open the gates of heaven for the Sun to rise.

The Ancient Germanic name, like the Greek name, derives from the Proto–Germanic *Austrǭ. In turn, that name ultimately derives from the Proto–Indo–European *h2ews- (to shine). The modern English word “east” also descends from this ancient root.

Many other dawn goddesses from Indo–European language-speaking cultures share this cognate, leading to the theory of a Proto–Indo–European dawn goddess from whence they all came.

Over time, Eostre became associated with fertility and the dawning of spring, hence why the Christian spring holiday took on an updated form of her name.

Though it’s no longer very common for girls born around Easter to be given this name, the Latin word for Easter, Pascha, forms the basis for a number of names which are a fair bit more common. These include:

Female:

Pascale is French. The nickname is Pascaline.

Pascuala is Spanish.

Pascualina is Italian.

Pascalina is Gascon and Sardinian.

Paškvalina is Croatian.

Male:

Pascal is French, Dutch, and German.

Pasquale is Italian.

Pascual is Spanish.

Paskal is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Pascoe, or Pasco, is Cornish.

Paschalis is Greek.

Paškal is Croatian. The nickname is Paško.

Pascau is Gascon.

Paskalis is Lithuanian.

Paszkál is Hungarian.

Paxkal is Basque.

Päscu is Swiss–German.

Pasqual is Catalan.

Pascoal is Portuguese.

The reason I see Easter as a workable (if rather uncommon) name is because I’m used to seeing and hearing it as a human’s name. It’s become rather unusual, but it’s not completely unheard-of. Christmas was a fairly common given name in the Middle Ages, but it doesn’t sound like a name, and is even rarer to encounter on a real person.

As with many names, it’s all about perception and associations.

How Heimirich became Harry became Henry, and how Harrison ties in

In loving memory of George Harrison on his 16th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to do a post about the etymology of his surname. Like many other English names, it has Old Germanic origins, and has undergone a drastic evolution of form.

Harrison, which is also commonly used as a forename, means “son of Harry.” It’s been on the Top 1000 in the U.S. since 1880. It doesn’t take any in-depth research to figure out why it jumped from #129 in 1887 to #52 in 1888, and was a respectable #68 in 1889 and #107 in 1890. Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888.

The name has fluctuated up and down the Top 1000 ever since, rising respectably some years and falling the next year, or holding relatively steady in other years. In 2009, it began an uninterrupted climb, going from #241 to its current rank of #107.

The name is also currently popular in Australia (#16), England and Wales (#32), Scotland (also #32), New Zealand (#40), Northern Ireland (#84), and Canada (#94).

The first Harrison Ford, 16 March 1884–2 December 1957, a huge star of the silent era

Harry, in turn, is the Medieval English form of Henry. In the modern era, it’s used as a name in its own right, and as a nickname for both Henry and Harold. Harry was quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and only fell out of the Top 20 in 1920. Its highest rank was #8 in 1889.

Its final year in the Top 100 was 1957. The name sharply fell down the charts after that. In 2016, it was #679, up from #781 in 2015. Harry is more popular in England and Wales (#2), Scotland (#7), Northern Ireland (#8), Ireland (#14), Australia (#27), Sweden (#23), and New Zealand (#45).

President Harry S. Truman, 8 May 1884–26 December 1972

Henry is the modern English form of the Old Germanic Heimirich, which means “home ruler.” It’s derived from the elements heim (home) and ric (ruler, power). The spelling later morphed into Heinrich, influenced by similar Germanic names such as Haganrich.

Henry stood at #9 in 1880, and remained Top 10 for most of the ensuing years until 1911. When it was out of the Top 10, it was only #11. The name stayed in the Top 20 until 1927, and in the Top 50 until 1952. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1969.

Henry never dropped out of the Top 200, and was still the respectable rank of #146 at its lowest position in 1994. The name became popular again in the late Nineties, and has steadily been climbing the charts ever since. In 2016, it was #22.

The name also enjoys great popularity in England and Wales (#15), Australia (#18), New Zealand (#26), Canada (#32), Sweden (#52), Northern Ireland (#64), Ireland (#83), and Scotland (#92).

King Henry VIII of England, 28 June 1491–28 January 1547

Other forms of this name include:

1. Henri is French and Finnish. I also love this as a nickname for the female name Henrietta, though it obviously would be pronounced like the Finnish male name instead of the French form.

2. Henrique is Portuguese.

3. Heinrich is German. Nicknames include Heinz, Heiner, and Henning.

4. Henrik is Scandinavian, German, Hungarian, Slovenian, Armenian, and Croatian.

5. Henryk is Polish.

6. Henrich is Slovak.

7. Hinrik is Icelandic.

8. Henrikas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Herkus.

9. Hendrik is Dutch and Estonian. Dutch nicknames include Heike, Heiko, Henk, Hein, Henny, Hennie, and Rik.

10. Heinere is Tahitian.

11. Hēnare is Maori.

12. Henric is Gascon.

13. Henrijs is Latvian.

14. Henrikh is Georgian and Armenian.

15. Henriko is Esperanto.

16. Indrek is Estonian.

17. Enrique is Spanish.

18. Jindřich is Czech. One of the nicknames is Hynek.

19. Anri is Georgian.

20. Eanraig is Scottish.

21. Hendry is also Scottish.

22. Anraí is Irish.

23. Einrí is also Irish.

24. Endika is Basque.

25. Henrikki is Finnish. One of the nicknames is Heikki.

26. Harri is Welsh and Finnish.

27. Enrico is Italian.

28. Arrigo is also Italian. Diminutive forms include Arrighetto, Arriguccio, and Arrighino.

29. Errikos is Greek.

30. Enricu is a rare Romanian form.

31. Hallet is a Medieval English nickname.

32. Halkin is also a Medieval English nickname.

33. Hawkin too is a Medieval English diminutive.

Feminine forms:

1. Henrika is Swedish. One of the nicknames is Rika.

2. Henrike is German and Scandinavian. One of the German nicknames is Rike, and one of the Scandinavian nicknames is Rika.

3. Hendrika is Dutch, with nicknames including Drika, Heike, Ina, Rika, and Heintje. One of my secondary characters is called Drika.

4. Hendrikje is also Dutch.

5. Hendrina is Dutch too.

6. Henryka is Polish. Nicknames include Henia and Henusia.

7. Henriikka is Finnish. Nicknames include Riika, Henna, and Riikka.

8. Henrietta is English, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, and Swedish. Traditional English nicknames are Hettie, Etta, Ettie, Hattie, Hatty, and Hallie, though I’ve always been quite partial to the boyish-sounding Henri. Dutch nicknames include Jet, Jetje, Jette, and Jetta. The J is pronounced like an English Y.

9. Henriette is French, Dutch, Danish, German, and Norwegian. A Dutch alternate form is Henriëtte.

10. Harriet is English.

11. Enrica is Italian.

12. Henrieta is Slovak.