The various forms of Daphne and Laura (and other laurel names)

Pauline as Daphne Fleeing from Apollo, ca. 1810, Robert Lefèvre

Daphne is a naiad in Greek mythology, a female nymph presiding over bodies of water such as lakes, fountains, springs, and brooks. She’s variously cited as the daughter of river god Peneus (Peneios) and nymph Creusa, or Ladon and Gaia.

Versions of Daphne’s story vary, but they all have the crux of Apollo falling in unrequited love with her after a curse from Eros (Cupid). As Apollo chased her, Daphne begged her father to save her, and she was turned into a laurel tree in the nick of time. Laurels thus became sacred to Apollo.

Daphne is also used in English and Dutch. The variation Daphné is French. Other forms include:

1. Daphnée is French.

2. Dafni is modern Greek.

3. Dafina is Macedonian and Albanian.

4. Dafne is Italian.

5. Daffni is Welsh.

6. Dapine is Georgian.

7. Dafna is Hebrew. I chose this as the last part of my Hebrew name (Chana Esther Dafna) for numerous reasons, all of them relating to how it means “laurel.” Primary among those reasons is honouring Stan Laurel, my humble way of saying thank you for how watching Laurel and Hardy on AMC got me through one of the darkest, most depressing periods of my life.

8. Defne is Turkish.

Laura Bridgman (1829–1889), America’s first blind-deaf person to get a full education and become a celebrity, fifty years before Helen Keller

Laura, which comes from the Latin name Laurus, is English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Romanian, Finnish, German, Dutch, Estonian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian.

It’s been an English name since the 13th century, and was extremely popular in the U.S. until it began a rapid decline in the late 19th century. Laura was #17 in 1880, and stayed in the Top 100 till 1934, sinking in popularity a little bit more almost every year. It was Top 100 again from 1945–2001, attaining its highest rank of #10 in 1969. In 2017, it was #340.

Laura has greater popularity in Europe. It’s #6 in Austria; #11 in Denmark; #12 in Switzerland; #13 in Portugal; #14 in Hungary; #16 in the Czech Republic and Poland; #22 in Galicia; #31 in Spain; #37 in Belgium; #40 in Slovenia; #47 in Catalonia; #58 in Italy; #63 in Ireland; #78 in Bosnia; #101 in The Netherlands; and #104 in France.

Laura de Noves (1310–1348), Petrarch’s great muse and unrequited love, similar to Dante’s love for Beatrice

Other forms of Laura include:

1. Lára is Icelandic (and not to be confused with the Russian Lara, a nickname for Larisa).

2. Laure is French.

3. Lavra is Slovenian.

4. Lowri is Welsh.

5. Laoura is modern Greek.

6. Lâvara is Greenlandic.

7. Lora is English and Italian.

8. Loretta is English and Italian.

9. Lauretta is Italian. This is the name of one of the members of the brigata, the ten storytellers, in The Decameron.

10. Laurette is French.

American actor Loretta Young (1913–2000) with Lon Chaney, Sr.

 Other laurel-related names:

1. Kelila, or Kelilah, means “crown of laurel” in Hebrew.

2. Lalela means “laurel” in Hawaiian.

3. Lovorka means “laurel tree” in Croatian.

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Leonine names

Pope Leo XIII (1810–1903), painted by Philip de László (né Fülöp Elek László)

Leo, which means “lion” in Latin, is English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Finnish, and Croatian, and currently enjoying great popularity. In 2017, it was #61 in the U.S. (and has been jumping up the charts since 2000), after having been a Top 100 staple from 1880–1937. Its highest rank was #37 in 1903.

It’s #1 in Australia, Canada, and Finland; #7 in England and Wales (and in France as Léo); #11 in Spain, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and Catalonia; #19 in Switzerland (and #96 as Léo); #9 in Scotland; #8 in Galicia; #33 in Ireland; #22 in Austria; #58 in Norway; #91 in Belgium; and #71 in Slovenia.

As abovementioned, Léo is French. Another alternate form, Leó, is Icelandic and Hungarian.

French artist Léon Augustin Lhermitte, 1844–1925

Leon, which means “lion” in Greek, is English, German, Dutch, Polish, Slovenian, and Croatian. It was Top 100 in the U.S. in 1883, 1885, from 1887–90, and from 1892–1942. Its highest rank was #73 in 1926. In 2006, it began jumping up the charts, and had risen to #244 by 2017.

It’s also #4 in Switzerland; #11 in Austria; #15 in Belgium (and #36 as Léon); #22 in Sweden and Poland; #23 in Slovenia; #77 in Scotland; #68 in Bosnia; #98 in England and Wales; #28 in Norway; #85 in New Zealand; #53 in Ireland; #96 in Australia; and #40 in France (as Léon).

The alternative form León is Spanish, and Léon is French. Other forms of this name include:

1. Levon (LEHV-ohn) is Armenian. I can’t stand the Anglo LEE-von mangling!

2. Leoš is Czech.

3. Léonce is French.

4. Leone is Italian.

5. Leoncio is Spanish.

6. Lionel is a French diminutive.

7. Leontiy is Russian, with the nickname Lyonya.

8. Lev is also Russian, with the nickname Lyova.

9. Levan is Georgian.

10. Leonzio is Italian.

Armenian physiologist Levon Orbeli, 1882–1958

11. Leonas is Lithuanian.

12. Lew (LEF) is Polish.

13. Leão is a rare Portuguese form.

14. Lejo is Sami and a rare Finnish form.

15. Ledjo is Sami.

16. Lîu is Greenlandic.

17. Lleó is Catalan.

18. Luan is Albanian.

19. Liuni is Sicilian.

20. Liūtas is Lithuanian.

21. Leons is Latvian.

Lithuanian nobleman and politician Leonas Sapiega, 1557–1633

Feminine forms:

1. Leona is English and German.

2. Leone is English. The alternate form Léone is French, and Leonė is Lithuanian.

3. Leontina is Italian.

4. Leola is English.

5. Léontine is French.

6. Leontyne is a rare English form.

7. Leonie is Dutch and German. The alternate form Léonie is French.

8. Leonia is Latin.

9. Léonine is French and Dutch.

Leona Vicario (1789–1842), one of the most important people in Mexico’s War of Independence

Other leonine names:

Unisex:

1. Arioch means “lion-like” and “venerable,” or “a fierce lion,” in Hebrew.

2. Aset is Kazakh and Chechen. In the former language, it’s male-only; in the latter, it’s unisex.

3. Sangay is Tibetan.

5. Singye is also Tibetan.

Female:

1. Ariella means “lion of God” in Hebrew.

2. Asida means “lioness” in Abkhaz.

3. Azida means “lioness” in Circassian.

4. Kefira means “lion cub” in Hebrew.

5. Leaneira means “lion man” in Greek.

6. Lý is Vietnamese.

7. Seyha means “lion” or “August” in Khmer.

Ariel Serena Hedges Bowen, African–American temperance activist, music professor, and writer (1863–1904)

Male:

1. Ariel is the male form of Ariella.

2. Kefir is the male form of Kefira.

3. Aleeki means “brave lion” in Somali.

4. Ambesa is Ethiopian.

5. Anibesa is Amharic.

6. Aristoleon means “best lion” in Greek.

7. Arsalan is Persian, Punjabi, and Urdu.

8. Arslon is Uzbek.

9. Arstanbek means “lion master” in Kyrgyz.

10. Aryşlan is Bashkir.

Azeri politician Aslan bey Safikurdski, 1881–1937

11. Arystan is Kazakh.

12. Arystanbek means “lion master” in Kazakh.

13. Azam is Arabic.

14. Beslan means “master of lions” in Circassian, Chechen, Ingush, Abkhaz, and Abazin.

15. Demoleon means “lion of the people” in Greek.

16. Guryon means “lion cub” in Hebrew.

17. Lavoslav means “glorious lion” in Croatian. The Slovak form is Levoslav.

18. Leofred means “lion of peace/love” in Norwegian.

19. Ari is Hebrew.

20. Areli means “lion of God” in Hebrew.

Argentinean politician Leandro Alem (né Alen), 1841–96

21. Aryeh is Hebrew.

22. Asad is Arabic and Urdu.

23. Aslan is Chechen, Kazakh, Circassian, Ossetian, Azeri, and Turkish.

24. Aslanbek means “lion master” in Circassian, Ossetian, and Chechen.

25. Leandros means “lion man” in Greek. Other forms are Leandro (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese); Leander (English, Latin); and Léandre (French).

26. Haidar is Arabic.

27. Leonard means “brave lion” in German. Other forms include Leendart and Leendert (Dutch); Lennart (Scandinavian); Lenart (Slovenian); Leonardo (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese); Leonhard (German); and Léonard (French).

28. Pantaleon means “all lion” in Greek.

Diamond names

Though I personally amn’t that keen on diamonds (I prefer dark stones, and ones without long ad campaigns trying to make the masses believe they’re the be-all and end-all of stones), there are many nice names meaning “diamond.” I’ve also included the words for diamond in other languages, where they sound enough like real names.

Unisex:

Almas is Arabic and Persian.

Dorji is Tibetan.

Kaimana is Hawaiian, and alternately means “ocean/sea power.”

Pich is Khmer.

Almaz is Amharic, Arabic, Ethiopian, Kazakh, Azeri, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Russian, and Ukrainian. It obviously is a very rare name in the two lattermost languages, probably not frequently used by native-born Russians and Ukrainians.

Daiya is Japanese. As with just about all other Japanese names, it can also mean many other things, depending upon the characters used, and which writing system.

Heera is Sanskrit, and also found in the various modern Indian languages.

Timantti is Finnish.

Yahalom is modern Hebrew.

Elmaz is Albanian and Bulgarian.

Male:

Almazbek means “diamond master” in Kyrgyz.

Diamant is Albanian.

Dimants is a rare Latvian name.

Sein is Burmese.

Tserendorj can mean “diamond longevity/long life” in Mongolian.

Watchara is Thai.

Xhevahir is Albanian. The letter XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

Olmos is Uzbek.

Female:

Almast is Armenian.

Diamanto is Greek.

Intan is Malay and Indonesian.

Diamantea is Basque.

Adamantine means “diamond-like” in French.

Alimazi is Amharic.

Birlant means “like a diamond” in Chechen.

Deimantė is Lithuanian. It can also mean “intelligent goddess.”

Diamante is Judeo-Italian.

Gaukhar is Kazakh, and can also mean “precious, brilliant.”

Gewher is Kurdish.

Pharchara is Thai.

Almast is Armenian.

Almasi is Swahili.

Elmas is Turkish.

Names ending in Z

I love names with the letter Z, whether they begin with a Z, have a Z in place of S (e.g., Izabella, Zofia, Jozef, Izydor), or end in Z. Many names ending in Z are of Spanish, Persian, modern Hebrew, and Arabic origin, but some come from other languages. I’m not including Hebrew names ending in TZ or Polish names ending in SZ, since those are their own letters/sounds.

Unisex:

Shahnaz means “pride of the king” in Persian. This name is also used in Urdu and Arabic. The Turkish, exclusively feminine, form is Şahnaz.

Paz means “gold” in Hebrew. This is an entirely separate name from the Spanish Paz.

Cruz means “cross” in Spanish and Portuguese.

Female:

Aliz is the Hungarian form of Alice. This name can also be rendered as Alíz.

Beatriz is Spanish and Portuguese.

Fairuz, or Fayruz, means “turquoise” in Arabic.

Inez is an alternate English form of Agnes (chaste; lamb). It also appears as Ynez.

Luz means “light” in Spanish.

Paz means “peace” in Spanish.

Sanaz may mean “full of grace” in Persian.

Golnaz means “flower/rose pride” in Persian. The alternate form Gulnaz is Georgian, Kazakh, and Urdu. Gülnaz is Turkish.

Topaz is one of the November birthstones.

Lawahiz means “glances” in Arabic. This is a rare name.

Male:

Farhaz means “equitable, upon” in Bengali.

Boaz means “swiftness” in Hebrew.

Alojz is the Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian form of Aloysius.

Luiz is the Brazilian–Portuguese form of Louis.

Erez means “cedar” in Hebrew.

Oz means “strength” in Hebrew.

Aziz means “respected, powerful, belovèd” in Arabic, and is also used in Persian, Uzbek, Urdu, and Turkish. The Turkmeni form is Eziz.

Kambiz is the modern Persian form of Kambujiya, which is of unknown meaning.

Ramaz is the Georgian form of Ramadan.

Faraz means “elevation, ascent, height” in Persian. It’s also used in Urdu.

Alborz is a Persian name taken from the mountain range between Iran and Armenia.

Baraz means “exalted” in Persian.

Behruz, Behrooz, or Behrouz means “good day” in Persian.

Firuz, Firouz, or Firoz means “victorious” in Persian and Tajik. This name can also be rendered with a P in place of the F. The Arabic form is Faiz.

Parviz means “fortunate, happy” in Persian.

Fayiz means “victor” in Arabic.

Hafiz means “guardian, custodian” in Arabic.

Mahfuz means “safeguarded” in Arabic.

Mumtaz means “distinguished” in Arabic.

Riaz is an alternate form of Riad, which means “gardens, meadows” in Arabic.

The two names I’ve loved longest, Part I

I can’t remember what caused me to fall so in love with the names Easter and Echo when I was about six years old, but fall in love I did. Those are the two names I’ve loved longest. I made a number of picture books about twins named Easter and Echo, eventually expanding them to quads who were separated into two sets of twins (à la The Parent Trap), and at one point giving them sextuplet little sisters. Hey, I was very young!

In 2004 or 2005, I resurrected Easter and Echo for a new picture book for a final project in an early childhood education class. Perhaps someday I’ll go back to them again.

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903

Echo has the same meaning in Greek as in English. She was an Oreiad (mountain nymph) who lived on Mount Kithairon. Zeus, being Zeus, yet again couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up, and frequently sported with the Oreiads.

Hera, being Hera, got suspicious, and descended from Mt. Olympus to catch him in the act. Echo tried to protect Zeus, but instead became the latest target of Hera’s wrath. She was cursed with only being able to repeat the last few words spoken to her.

When hunter Narcisssus (Narkissos) was separated from his companions, he called, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated it, and the last few words of everything else he said, including “Enjoy my body.” She fell in instalove, but Narcissus didn’t reciprocate at all.

Narcissus wasted away before his own reflection in a pool, and after his death, Echo too wasted away. The only thing left of her was the sound of her voice.

Illustration of Echo from ballet Narcisse

Other names which mean “echo” include:

Unisex:

Heid, Heyd, or Hed (rhymes with “maid”) is Hebrew.

Heidi, Heydi, or Hedi (rhymes with “lady”) means “my echo” in Hebrew.

Hibiki is Japanese.

Kaiku is Finnish.

Naruki can mean “echo self,” “echo birth,” “echo life,” “echo princess,” “echo rejoice,” “echo hope,” “echo fundamentals,” “echo radiance,” and “echo tree” in Japanese (among many other things).

Rinon can mean “dignified echo,” “jasmine echo,” “village echo,” “refreshing echo,” and “Moon echo” in Japanese.

Ukyo can mean “right echo,” “house echo,” and “feathers echo” in Japanese.

 Female:

Dhwani is Sanskrit.

Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree echo” in Japanese.

Hikoro can mean “soul echo,” “heart echo,” and “mind echo” in Japanese.

Jehona is Albanian.

Kaja is Estonian. This isn’t to be confused with the Scandinavian nickname for Katarina, nor with the Polish and Slovenian form of Gaia or the Czech nickname for Karolína. The lattermost name is written as Kája.

Kikyo can mean “rare echo” and “echo chronicle” in Japanese.

Kyouko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Meisa can mean “echo sand,” “echo blossom,” “skillful echo,” “cherry blossom echo,” “colour echo,” “happiness echo,” “morning echo,” “echo shore,” “echo village,” and “echo assistant” in Japanese.

Noizu is Japanese.

Otoko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Otomi can mean “beautiful echo” in Japanese.

Seda is Turkish. This isn’t to be confused with the Armenian name Seda, which has an uncertain etymology.

Suna can mean “pleasing echo,” “child echo,” “water echo,” “island echo,” “sandbar echo,” “pure echo,” “green echo,” “lucidity echo,” and “whole echo” in Japanese.

Male:

Aidas is Lithuanian.

Aldonas may be derived from the Old Lithuanian aldėti (to echo, resound) and the patronymical suffix -onis.

Kyotaro can mean “eldest son’s echo,” “thick echo son,” and “thick, cheerful echo” in Japanese.

Kyouhei, or Kyohei, can mean “flat echo,” “echo warfare,” “echo soldier,” “echo design,” “echo pattern,” and “thirty-six square feet of echo” in Japanese.

Kyouki can mean “rare echo” and “echo hope” in Japanese.

Olan is Kurdish.