The many forms of Gabriel and Gabriella

Gabriel entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1976, at #81, and stayed near the lower reaches of the chart till falling out in 1988. It re-entered at #82 in 1991, and began steadily climbing up the charts. Its highest position to date has been #21, in 2010. As of 2016, it was #25.

The name is also rather popular in France (#1), Switzerland (#4), Romania (#4), Belgium (#11), Portugal (#11), Croatia (#19), Chile (#19), Galicia (#25), Canada (#27), Italy (#27), Mexico (#35), Iceland (#37), Austria (#38), Spain (#39), Sweden (#42), Poland (#46), Norway (#47), Catalonia (#55), Slovenia (#66), England and Wales (#67), Australia (#78), New Zealand (#89), and the Czech Republic (#92).

This spelling is used in English, French, Finnish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, German, Georgian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The alternate form Gabriël is Dutch, Gábriel is Hungarian, and Gabríel is Icelandic.

Gabrielle, one of the feminine forms, is English and French. In France, it’s #74, and in the U.S., it’s fallen to #225, after peaking at #46 in 1999. The alternate form Gabriëlle is Dutch.

Gabriella is English, Hungarian, Swedish, and Italian. In the U.S., it’s #61, down from a peak of #33 from 2009–11. The alternate form Gabriëlla is Dutch, and Gabríella is Icelandic.

Gabriela is Polish, Bulgarian, Slovak, Czech, German, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Croatian. It’s #8 in Romania, #19 in Poland, #29 in Portugal, #30 in the Czech Republic, #36 in Croatia, #50 in Mexico, #56 in Chile, #73 in Spain, and #252 in the U.S. The alternate form Gabríela is Icelandic.

Other forms include:

Male:

1. Gabriels is Latvian.

2. Gabrielius is Lithuanian.

3. Gavriel is the original Hebrew. It means “God is my strong man.”

4. Gavrel is Yiddish.

5. Gavriil is Russian.

6. Gavril is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

7. Gavrail is Bulgarian.

8. Gábor is Hungarian.

9. Gavrilo is Serbian. This form was famously borne by Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First World War.

10. Gabrijel is Slovenian and Croatian.

11. Havryyil is Ukrainian.

12. Kaapo is Finnish. An alternate form is Kaappo.

13. Kaapro is also Finnish.

14. Gabriele is Italian.

15. Jabril is Arabic.

16. Jibril is also Arabic.

17. Dzhabrail is Chechen.

18. Cabbrieli is Sicilian.

19. Djibril is Western African.

20. Džibril is Bosnian.

21. Cebraîl is Kurdish.

22. Cəbrayil is Azeri.

23. Crabiele is Sardinian.

24. Gabirel is Basque.

25. Gabrielo is Esperanto.

26. Gābriyēl is Telugu.

27. Kapriel is Armenian.

28. Gabriyel is also Armenian.

29. Gaibrial is Irish.

30. Gavrylo is Ukrainian.

31. Gēbriyal is Kannadan.

32. Gēbriyala is Hindi and Gujarati.

33. Habryyel is Belarusian.

34. Haŭryil is also Belarusian.

35. Jebreil is Persian.

36. Jiboraeel is Bengali.

37. Jibriil is Somali.

38. Kapeliela is Hawaiian.

39. Kâpriale is Greenlandic.

40. Kēpriyal is Tamil.

41. Xhebraili is Albanian. The XH sound is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

42. Zibrail is Sylheti.

43. Cebrail is Turkish.

Female:

1. Gavriela, or Gavriella, is Hebrew.

2. Gavrilla is an alternate Hebrew form.

3. Gavrela is Yiddish.

4. Havyryyila is Ukrainian.

5. Kaapriella is Finnish.

6. Gabrielė is Lithuanian.

7. Gabriele is German.

8. Gabrijela is Croatian.

9. Gavrila is Romanian. An alternate form is Gavrilă.

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Happy Halloween!—Monstrous names

Happy Halloween! Here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “monster,” and names of monsters from mythology and folklore.

Male:

Enenra can mean “smoky, smoky lightweight fabric” in Japanese. This is a mythological monster composed of smoke. He lives in bonfires and takes human form when he emerges. It’s said an enenra can only be seen by the pure of heart.

Grendel is the monster in the Old English epic Beowulf.

Ikuchi is a legendary Japanese sea monster.

Isonade is a huge, shark-like sea monster said to live off the western Japanese coast.

Kaibutsu means “monster” in Japanese.

Leviathan is a Biblical sea monster. The name derives from the Hebrew livyatan (coiled, twisted).

Lyngbakr is a massive, whale-like sea monster in Norse mythology.

Tseeveyo is a Hopi monster.

Typhon, a giant, monstrous snake, is the deadliest creature in Greek mythology. He tried to overthrow Zeus, and was cast into Tartarus, or buried under Mount Etna or on the island of Ischia. The etymology is disputed.

Female:

Amanozako is a monstrous Japanese goddess.

Charybdis is a sea monster in Greek mythology. She lives under a small rock on one side of a narrow channel, and swallowed and belched out huge quantities of water thrice a day. This created whirlpools large enough to drag ships underwater.

Echidna is a monster in Greek mythology, half-woman and half-snake, who lives alone in a cave.

Keto means “sea monster” in Greek. She personifies the sea’s dangers, and is the daughter of Gaia and Pontos, and the mother of Scylla, Echidna, and the Gorgons.

Lamia may mean “throat” in Greek. She was a Queen of Libya who had an affair with Zeus, and Hera, being Hera, killed Lamia’s children in revenge. Lamia went mad and transmogrified into a child-hunting monster.

Scylla, or Skylla, lives under a large rock opposite Charybdis.

Corny, wheaten names

To continue with October’s theme of names relating to the symbols of Halloween, here’s a list of names related to the words “wheat” and “corn.”

Unisex:

Cinteotl, also known as Centeotl and Centeocihuatl, was the Aztec god of maize (i.e., corn). On some occasions, this deity had both male and female attributes The name means “corn deity.” Shortened forms of the name include Centli and Cintli, meaning “corn.”

Female:

Annonaria means “she who supplies corn” in Latin, derived primarily from annona (yearly produce; corn, grain; crop, harvest) and ultimately from annus (year). As an aspect of the goddes Fortuna, she brought luck to the harvest, particularly that of corn.

Arista means “ear of corn” in Latin. This is also the name of a star in the constellation Virgo.

Başak means “ear of wheat” in Turkish. This is also their name for the constellation Virgo.

Fortuna was the Roman goddess who protected corn supplies. The name means “fortune.”

Himugi can mean “day wheat” and “sun wheat” in Japanese.

Onatah is one of the Three Sisters in Iroquois mythology. She represents the spirit of corn, and her two sisters represent beans and squash.

Shala was a Mesopotamian corn goddess.

Sunbul means “ear of corn” or “ear of wheat” in Arabic.

Taraa means “wheat” in Tuvan.

Xilonen was the Aztec maize goddess.

Male:

Byggvir means “seed corn” in Old Norse.

Eustachys means “fruitful” in Greek, derived from eu (good) and stachus (ear of corn).

Gari is a rare Basque name meaning “wheat.”

Hokoleskwa means “corn stalk” in Shawnee.

Kaiyatahee means “corn tassel” in Cherokee.

Omer means “sheaf of wheat” in Hebrew.

Pitirim is the Russian form of the Greek Pithyrion, which primarily derives from pituron or pityron (husks of corn, bran), and ultimately derives from pitura or pityra (bran). It’s also possible Pithyrion derives from a Coptic name or word.

Stachys means “an ear of corn, a head of grain” in Greek.

Suddhodana means “pure/true corn” and “pure/true rice” in Sanskrit.

Dusty, screaming, shrieking names

Continuing with the theme of Halloween-type names, here are some names whose meanings relate to the words “dust,” “scream,” and “shriek.”

Unisex:

Kiran means “dust,” “sunbeam,” and “thread” in Sanskrit.

Male:

Aldonas is a rare Lithuanian name possibly derived from the Old Lithuanian ver aldoti (to scream, to shout, to make noise), combined with the patronymical suffix onis.

Emathion means “sandy” in Greek, derived from emathoeis, which in turn is derived from amathos (dust, sand, sandy soil).

Galarr means “screamer” in Old Norse.

Gillingr roughly means “son of a scream” or “belonging to a scream” in Old Norse.

Hawar means “to scream” in Sorani, a Kurdish language.

Kanzou can mean “three screams,” “storehouse of screams,” “to hide a scream,” “to own a scream,” “scream structure,” “scream physique,” and “to make a scream” in Japanese.

Kekrops means “screaming voice” in Greek.

Kyousei can mean, roughly, “to scream at a star” or “star scream” in Japanese.

Female:

Agasaya may mean “shrieker.” She was an early Semitic goddess of war, who later merged into Ishtar as the warrior of the sky.

Aphra, or Aphrah, is both a variation of a Latin nickname for an African woman and a variation of Afrah, a Biblical place name meaning “dust.” Aphrah is the common Anglicization of the Hebrew Afrah.

Himei can mean “scream” and “shriek” in Japanese.

Some thoughts on name-changing after immigration

(Note: I’ll be further discussing some of these issues on my main blog in upcoming posts, “A Primer on Anglicizing Names” and “A Primer on De-Judaizing Names.” I also previously discussed the issue of Hebraizing names on my main blog.)

Though most immigrants in the modern era proudly retain their birth names, that wasn’t always the case. Many people felt they had to change their names (first, last, or both) to become “real” Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, Israelis, French, etc. By and large, no one questioned this.

Now we know there’s no one “right” way to be a proud, patriotic member of one’s adopted homeland. By trying to whitewash themselves and pretend they never had any other names and ways of life, people lost vital parts of their heritage and identity.

Changing spelling to reflect pronunciation:

I understand why people would want to do this. Certain letters make different sounds in, e.g., English than they do in the native language. For example, the Hungarian surname Kovács might become Kovach, or the Polish surname Adamczak became Adamchak.

Many Hungarian women named Sára (nickname Sári) have likewise changed their names to Shara or Shari, since most non-Magyarphiles don’t know the Hungarian S is pronounced SH.

Many people gave up the idea of anyone properly pronouncing, e.g., W as V, and accepted a linguistically incorrect pronunciation of a name like Janowski or Korošec.

Removing diacritical marks:

This was extraordinarily common, esp. since many people would’ve had no idea how to pronounce characters like Ń, Ž, Č, Ł, Ę, Ñ, Ü, Ø, or Ő. Even if the diacritical mark makes the difference in correct vs. incorrect pronunciation, most people even now see them as a hindrance or annoyance.

Pedant I am, I like seeing diacritical marks in names of foreign origin. It sets the bearer apart, sends the message that s/he cares about his or her ethnic heritage and doesn’t believe in taking the easy way out. A name like Ramón, Yaël, Léa, Gwenaël, Kálmán, or Irène looks so distinctive.

Changing spelling to conform to host nation’s “norms”:

Examples would include the Hungarian Jakab becoming Jacob, Izabella becoming Isabella, the Estonian Eliisabet becoming Elizabeth, or the Polish Zofia becoming Sophia. Before people were used to seeing certain letters or sounds in names, they would’ve stood out like a sore thumb. But today, those native spellings really stand out beautifully from the crowd.

Many Russians and Ukrainians with -skiy names also changed that suffix to -sky, to simplify the spelling. Sometimes, Poles changed -ski to -sky. If they lived in a region with a lot of people of Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, or Slovak descent, it helped them to blend in better.

Dropping sex-based endings of surnames:

Many names in the Slavic languages denote the sex of the bearer. Russian women’s names end in -a after -ov, -(y)ev, or -in, and -skiy becomes -skaya. Likewise, Polish women’s names end in -ska instead of -ski, and Czech women’s names tack on -ová. In Slovak and Czech, -ský becomes -ská.

It just looks wrong to me to see a beautiful Russian or Polish surname without the feminine ending when the bearer is a woman. It’s grammatically incorrect for a woman to have a name like Jaskolski, Kuznetsov, or Borodin.

“Translating” names to that of the host culture:

It wasn’t uncommon for, e.g., Pavlos or Pavel to become Paul, Katarina or Katarzyna to become Catherine, or Ryszard to become Richard. Even a name like Caterina or Nikolay was considered “too foreign” once upon a time.

Surnames could be “translated” too, such as Schmidt becoming Smith or Molnár becoming Miller. Anything suggesting foreign origin was seen as undesirable and suspect.

This frequently happened when people made aliyah (moved to Israel), as discussed in the above-hyperlinked “A Primer on Hebraizing Names.” Many common Jewish surnames were translated into Hebrew, such as Bergman becoming Harari and Rosen becoming Vardi. Those birth surnames smacked of a people without their own country and language.

Choosing entirely new names:

The name Irving was once quite popular among the Jewish community, as an “American” substitute for Isaac, Israel, and Isaiah. Many of the new names chosen have dated rather poorly, though at the time, they were seen as “all-American” and a part of the mainstream onomastic culture.

Shortening names or putting Anglo twists on them:

This happened both for Anglicization in general and de-Judaization in particular. For example, Garfinkel became Garfield, Rosenkrantz became Rose, Nielsen became Nelson, Feuerstein became Firestone, de Jong became DeYoung, Eisenhauer became Eisenhower.

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I’m glad more people now see the beauty in names from a wide variety of cultures, instead of seeing them as an ugly, embarrassing, foreign burden to be shed. Not everyone needs to have names like John and Mary Smith, just as not everyone has to abandon native cuisine, culture, language (as long as one learns the host language), and religion.