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 Nathan and Nathaniel

18th century Russian ikon of the Biblical prophet Nathan (Natan)

The English and French name Nathan comes from the Hebrew Natan (he gave). Many people are familiar with the above-pictured Prophet Nathan, who served under King David and took him to task for cuckolding Uriah and sending him to die in battle.

Though it’s long been common in the Jewish world, this name didn’t become popular in the Christian world till the Protestant Reformation. While we think of many Biblical names as going either way today, they were once considered exclusively Jewish.

Nathan entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1972, at #79, and attained its highest rank of #20 in 2004 and 2005. In 2019, it was #55. Nathan is also popular in France (#18), Belgium (#14), Switzerland (#41), Scotland (#45), Italy (#50), Ireland (#61), New Zealand (#70), The Netherlands (#77), Northern Ireland (#83), and England and Wales (#104).

Israeli human rights activist, politician, and author Natan Sharansky (né Anatoliy Borisovich Shcharanskiy), centre, born 1948

Other forms of the name include:

1. Natan is modern Russian, Georgian, Polish, Galician, Serbian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Czech, Slovak, Scandinavian, French, Finnish, Icelandic, and Croatian. Alternate forms are Natán (Spanish), Nátan (Faroese), and Nátán (Hungarian).

2. Nafan is the traditional Russian form. I’m not exactly a big fan of Russian names where F takes the place of TH in the middle of the name!

3. Noson, or Nosson, is Yiddish. I’m also not a fan of Yiddish words and names where T is pronounced like S. Nails on a chalkboard 99% of the time! There’s a reason modern Hebrew uses Sephardic pronunciation instead of Ashkenazic.

4. Nâtat is Greenlandic.

5. Nâta is also Greenlandic.

6. Neihana is Maori.

7. Natuš is archaic Sorbian.

Nathaniel Bowditch (1773–1838), American mathematician and father of modern maritime navigation, painted by Charles Osgood

The English name Nathaniel comes from the Hebrew Netanel (God has given). The variation Nathaniël is Dutch. Like Nathan, it also was largely found in the Jewish community until the Protestant Reformation, when many Biblical names were suddenly proudly embraced by the Christian world.

Nathaniel was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1978–2015, with its highest rank of #60 in 1998.

Other forms of this name include:

1. Nathanael is an English variation. The form Nathanaël is French and Dutch.

2. Nataniel is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

3. Natanael is the more common Portuguese and Spanish form.

4. Natanail is Macedonian and Bulgarian.

5. Natanaele is Italian.

6. Natanayil is Quechan, an indigenous language spoken in the Andes Mountains in South America.

7. Nathanail is modern Greek.

8. Nafanail is Russian. Again, it’s nails on a chalkboard to see and hear an F in place of a TH in the middle of a name!

Female forms of both:

1. Nathana is English.

2. Natana is Hebrew.

3. Natanya, or Netanya, is Hebrew.

4. Nathanya is a rare English form.

5. Nathanielle is English and French.

6. Nathaniella is English.

7. Nathaniela is English.

8. Nathaniele is English. The variant Nathaniëla is Dutch.

9. Nathanaelle is English.

The many forms of Raphael

Rudolph Valentino, né Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi, 6 May 1895–23 August 1926

The German and English name Raphael comes from Hebrew Rafael, “God heals.” Most people are familiar with Archangel Raphael, whose primary role is as a healer. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all recognise him and hold him as one of the most important archangels. He’s also a saint in Christianity.

Though the name has never been particularly popular in the Anglophone world, it’s a different story in other countries. Raphael was #20 in Austria in 2018, and has been in the Top 40 since at least 1990.

In Belgium, Raphael was #19 in 2018, and has been in the Top 100 since at least 2004. In Switzerland, it’s been Top 100 since at least 1998 (when it was #22), and was #84 in 2018. In France, as Raphaël, it was in the Top 100 almost every year from 1900–28, and rejoined the Top 100 in 1966. In 2018, it was #2.

Self-portrait of Italian artist Raphael (né Raffaello Sanzio), 1483–1520,
ca. 1504–06

Other forms of this name include:

1. Rafael is Hebrew, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Galician, Romanian, Catalan, Czech, Slovak, Azeri, Belarusian, Cebuano, Finnish, Macedonian, Scandinavian, Tagalog, and Croatian. The alternate form Rafaël is Dutch.

2. Raffael is German.

3. Rafail is Russian, Montenegrin, Persian, Arabic, and Greek.

4. Raffaello is Italian.

5. Raffaele is also Italian.

6. Rafel is Catalan, Aragonese, and Maltese. The alternate form Rafèl is Occitan.

7. Rafayil is Ukrainian.

8. Rafał is Polish.

9. Rafaelo is Esperanto.

10. Rapolas is Lithuanian.

1835 self-portrait of Polish artist Rafał Hadziewicz (1803–83)

11. Rafailo is Montenegrin and Serbian.

12. Rafôł is Kashubian.

13. Raiféal is Irish.

14. Rafiele is Sardinian.

15. Refoel, or Rifoel, is Yiddish.

16. Rapiel is a rare Georgian form.

17. Räffu is Swiss–German.

18. Raffaellu is Corsican.

19. Rafèu is Provinçal.

20. Rafayel is Armenian.

Russian painter and photographer Rafail Sergeyevich Levitskiy (1847–1940), painted 1878 by Ilya Repin

21. Rafaels is Latvian.

22. Rafaelis is Lithuanian.

23. Rafaäl’ is Tatar.

24. Raafael is Finnish.

25. Îsrafîl is Kurdish.

26. Arrafieli is Sardinian.

27. Arrafiele is also Sardinian.

28. Ráffo is Sami.

29. Râvfaile is Greenlandic.

30. Rafajlo is a rare Serbian form.

Italian actor Rafaela Ottiano, 1888–1942

Female forms:

1. Raphaela is German and English.

2. Rafaela is Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Galician, Polish, Kashubian, Czech, Greek, and Croatian.

3. Raffaela is German.

4. Raphaele is French.

5. Raphaella is English and Brazilian–Portuguese.

6. Raphiela is a rare Latin American–Spanish form.

7. Rapolė is Lithuanian.

8. Rafaella is Brazilian–Portuguese, Latin American–Spanish, and Hungarian.

9. Rafaëlle is a rare French form.

10. Raphaëlle is the more common French form.

11. Raffaella is Italian.

All about Constantine and Constance

Detail of Roman Emperor Constantine I (274–337) in Piero della Francesca’s Vision of Constantine, 1458

Though the name Constantine has never been particularly common in the Anglophone world, it’s long enjoyed great popularity in various other forms in Orthodox Christian countries. It derives from the Latin name Constantinus, which in turn derives from Constans (steadfast, constant).

The name became popular in the Orthodox world because of the above-pictured Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus), who ruled from 306–337. He was the first emperor to stop the persecution of Christians, following his religious conversion.

Some historians, however, believe he privately continued worshipping the Roman deities and only converted to Christianity because it was politically expedient.

King Konstantinos I of Greece, 1868–1923

Other forms of this name include:

1. Konstantin is Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, German, Finnish, and Hungarian. Nicknames include Kostya (Russian), Konsta (Finnish), and Kosta (Bulgarian and Macedonian). The variation Konštantín is Slovak.

2. Kostadin is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

3. Kostyantyn is Ukrainian.

4. Konstantine is Georgian.

5. Kostandin is Albanian and Vlach.

6. Konstantinos is Greek. Nicknames include Kostas and Kostis.

7. Kanstantsin is Belarusian.

8. Konstantyn is Polish.

9. Konstanty is also Polish.

10. Konstantinas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Kostas.

Konstantin Päts (1874–1956), first president of Estonia

11. Konstantīns is Latvian.

12. Constantin is Romanian and French. Romanian nicknames include Dinu, Costin, Costel, and Costicǎ. The variation Constantín is Aragonese.

13. Cystennin is Welsh.

14. Costache is a Romanian variation.

15. Costantino is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

16. Constantijn is Dutch. Nicknames include Stijn, Tijn, and Stan.

17. Considine is Irish.

18. Còiseam is Scottish.

19. Causantín is Pictish.

20. Constantí is Catalan.

Georgian writer Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, 1893–1975

21. Constaintín is Irish.

22. Costantìnu is Sicilian. Without an accent mark, this spelling is also Sardinian.

23. Custantinu is also Sicilian.

24. Kĕştentině is Chuvash.

25. Kuonstantėns is Samogitian, a language spoken in Lithuania.

26. Kostoku is Evenki, a Tungusic language spoken in Russia and China.

27. Kystynchi is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

28. Kushchta is Khanty and Mansi, which are also Uralic languages in Russia.

29. Konstandinos is a variant Greek form.

30. Kojadin is a rare Serbian form.

Irish politician and activist Countess Constance Markievicz, 1868–1927

The female name Constance is much more common in the Anglophone world. It’s the Medieval form of the Latin Constantia, and was introduced to England by the Norman occupiers. An early bearer was a daughter of William the Conqueror.

In the U.S., the name was in the Top 100 from 1946–53, with its highest rank to date, #83, in 1949. Its final year in the Top 1000 was 1999, when it was at the very bottom of the chart. Constance is currently much more popular in France, where it was #94 in 2018. In England and Wales in the same year, it was #275.

Other forms of Constance include:

1. Konstancia is Hungarian and Swedish.

2. Konstantina is Georgian.

3. Konstancja is Polish. The variation Kónstancja is Kashubian.

4. Konstanze is German.

5. Konstantze is Basque.

6. Konstancie is Czech. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

7. Konstanca is Sorbian.

8. Kûnstânse is Greenlandic.

9. Kostanze is Basque.

10. Konstance is Latvian.

Austrian musician Constanze Mozart (née Maria Constanze Cäcilia Josepha Johanna Aloysia Weber), 1762–1842

11. Konstanse is Norwegian and Swedish.

12. Constantine is French.

13. Constanze is German.

14. Constanza is Spanish, Galician, and Italian.

15. Costanza is Italian.

16. Constanţa is Romanian.

17. Constança is Portuguese.

18. Constância is also Portuguese.

19. Konstancija is Serbian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

20. Konstantsiya is Russian.

21. Konstantia is Swedish.

Wildcard Q names

Because there are no Q names in Estonian, today features Q names from a variety of other languages.


Qarasa means “turtledove” in Abkhaz.

Qershore means “green apple” in Albanian. The letter Q is pronounced like the CH in “cheek.”

Quetzalli means “precious thing; feather” in Nahuatl.

Qoqa means “dove” in Chechen.

Quispe means “free” in Quechuan.

Qumru (Gum-ru) means “turtledove” in Azeri.


Qanik means “snowflake” in Greenlandic.

Qarasaq means “brain” in Greenlandic.

Qillaq means “seal hide” in Greenlandic.

Qorxmaz (Gorch-maz, CH as in loch or Chanukah) means “intrepid, fearless, brave” in Azeri.

Quamdeen means “pillar of the faith” in Yoruba.

Quidel means “burning torch” in Mapuche.