The many forms of Esther

Since Purim begins on Saturday night, 11 March, it’s only right to do a post about the name Esther. Queen Esther is the shero of the Purim story, and risked her life to save her people. I chose Esther as one of my Hebrew names in her honor.

Though Esther is a very common, popular Hebrew name, it’s actually of Persian origin, possibly meaning “star.” It may also be derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian mother goddess. The Hebrew form of the name is Hadassah, which means “myrtle.”

Esther is used in English, French, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, and Hebrew. Other forms are:

1. Ester is Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Icelandic, Czech, Catalan, Persian, and Finnish. The alternate form Estèr is Jèrriais, a form of Norman (a Romance language) spoken on the islands of Jersey and Sark, part of the Channel Islands between France and England.

2. Eszter is Hungarian. The base nickname form is Eszti.

3. Yesfir is Russian. Though I’ve been a passionate Russophile for over 24 years now, this is one of those names I’m not exactly wild about!

4. Esteri is Finnish. The nickname form is Essi.

5. Estera is Polish, Slovak, Romanian, and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Estusia (Eh-STUH-shah). This name is particularly precious to me because it was the name of one of the sheroes who enabled the Sonderkommando revolt in Auschwitz on 7 October 1944. For over a year, these brave women smuggled gunpowder to the men. Sadly, four of them (Estera Wajcblum, Róża Robota, Regina Safirsztajn, and Ala Gertner) were eventually implicated, but they bravely refused to name names under torture. They were publicly hanged on 5 January 1945.

6. Hester is Latin and English.

7. Aster is Ladino (Judeo–Spanish), Judeo–Catalan, and Judeo–Latin.

8. Eistir is Medieval Irish. It was traditionally given to girls born around Easter.

9. Esiteri is Fijian.

10. Êrsta is Greenlandic.

11. Estè is Haitian Creole. This is a rare name.

12. Estere is Latvian.

13. Esthir is Greek.

14. Estir is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and a rare Greek form.

15. Etke is Yiddish.

16. Ezter is Ladino.

17. Esthera is a rare, elaborated form of Esther.

18. Esterina is an Italian and Portuguese elaboration of Ester.

19. Esfir is an alternate Russian form. I’m not wild about this one either.

20. Îsta is another Greenlandic form.

21. Eseza is Lugandan, a Bantu language spoken in Uganda.

22. Jestira is Serbian.

Names with heart

To mark the upcoming Valentine’s Day, here are some names whose meanings relate to the word “heart.”

Unisex:

Dilshad means “happy heart, cheerful” in Persian.

Kamon means “heart, mind” in Thai.

Maeum means “heart, mind” in Korean. This is a modern, not traditional, name.

Manpaul means “protector of the heart” in Punjabi.

Manprit, or Manpreet, means “near to the heart” or “love of the heart” in Punjabi.

Muretu means “light-hearted” in Estonian.

Obioma means “good heart” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Paidamoyo means “what the heart desired was granted” in Shona, a Bantu language spoken in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique.

Xinjing can mean “heart of crystal” in Chinese.

Xinyi is a Chinese name composed of the elements xin, which can mean “heart, mind, soul,” and yi, which can mean “harmony, joy.” Many other meanings are also possible.

Yollotzin means “belovèd heart” in Nahuatl.

Male:

Akzhurek means “white heart” in Kazakh.

Ardil means “fire heart” in Kurdish.

Avtandil is a Georgian name meaning “sunshine heart,” drawn from Persian. This is the legendary hero of poet Shota Rustaveli’s 12th century epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin.

Dilawar means “one who has heart” in Persian.

Dilesh means “king of hearts” in Sanskrit.

Fawad is Urdu.

Fuad is Arabic.

Hubert means “bright heart” in Ancient Germanic.

Hugh is an English name, derived from the Germanic element hug, “heart, spirit, mind.” Hugo is a common variant.

Hughard means “brave/hardy heart” in Ancient Germanic.

Hugleikr means “heart play” in Old Norse.

Kordian is a very rare Polish name, derived from the Latin word cordis/cor, “heart.”

Lev is Hebrew.

Obi is Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Obichukwu means “heart of God” in Igbo.

Obinna means “father’s heart” in Igbo.

Shinpei can mean “calm heart” in Japanese.

Shungudzemwoyo means “yearnings of the heart” in Shona.

Thaddeus is an English and Latin name of contested etymology, with one suggested etymology being that it’s derived from a word meaning “heart.”

Zhanbolat means “brave heart” in Kazakh.

Female:

Bihotz is Basque.

Chiiko can mean “thousand-heart child” in Japanese.

Corazón is Spanish.

Cordula is Latin and German.

Delara means “adorning the heart” in Persian.

Dila is Kurdish, Indonesian, and Turkish, derived from Persian.

Dilva means “from the heart” in Kurdish.

Gönül is Turkish.

Gulisa means “little heart” in Georgian.

Kamira can mean “good flower heart” in Japanese.

Kamonchat means “peaceful heart” in Thai.

Karnika means “heart of the lotus” in Sanskrit.

Koharu is a Japanese name composed of the elements ko, which can mean “heart,” and haru, which can mean “spring (the season).” There are also many other possible meanings.

Kokomi can mean “beautiful heart” in Japanese.

Kokone can mean “heart sound” in Japanese.

Kokoro can mean “heart, soul, mind” in Japanese.

Kokoru is a Japanese name composed of the elements koko, which can mean “heart, soul, mind,” and ru, which means “lapis lazuli.”

Konul is Azeri.

Libi means “my heart” in Hebrew.

Shinshin can mean “double heart” in Japanese. This meaning of the kanji shin is mostly feminine. When used as a masculine name, it has a different meaning.

Verticordia means “turner of hearts” in Latin. This was one of Venus’s epithets.

Yolotl is Nahuatl.

Yoloxochitl means “heart flower” in Nahuatl.

Yoltzin means “little heart” in Nahuatl.

Zamira means “heart, honor” in Bashkir.

October names

Names whose meanings relate to the month of October are a natural fit for Halloween-themed names. This is such a wonderful time of year, because of the Halloween season, the full swing of Autumn, and the wonderful month of back-to-back Jewish holidays which often fall out at least partly during October. This year, they all fell during October, and the closing holiday, Simchat Torah, came very “late” in relation to when it usually does on the Gregorian calendar.

Unisex:

Beryl is the historical birthstone of October. I was very surprised to discover this is widely considered a woman’s name in the modern era, since I’d been introduced to it as a male name in several Sholom Aleichem stories. I later discovered it’s a diminutive of the Yiddish name Ber, “bear.”

Brumarel is the Old Romanian word for October, and means “little white frost” in Latin. I could see this working on either sex.

October is very uncommon when it comes to months used as personal names, but it could work on the right person. Toby is a good unisex nickname.

Yorah may mean “autumn showers” or “sprinkling” in Hebrew. It refers to the seasonal rain which falls in Eretz Yisrael from the last day of October to the first of December.

Female:

Calendula is the birth flower of October.

Coral is the Hindu birthstone for October. I’ve always really liked this name.

Garnet is the planetary stone of Scorpio, which begins 22 October.

Hedra is the Cornish word for October. This is a contemporary, not traditional, name.

Oktyabrina is a feminized Russian form of October. This is one of the newly-coined Soviet names most popular in the first few decades of the USSR.

Opal is the modern, and Ayurvedic, October birthstone. Some people may think this name sounds old-fashioned, though sister gemstone name Ruby has recently gone from old-fashioned to trendy. Perhaps Opal will soon follow in Ruby’s footsteps.

Sapphire is the planetary stone of Libra, the sign which takes up most of October. I personally feel this works better as a middle name, though the right person could pull it off as a forename.

Tola is the Khmer word for October.

Tourmaline is the alternative modern birthstone for October.

Urria is the Basque word for October.

Male:

Aban is the angel of October in Persian folklore. In particular, he governs the tenth day of the month.

Ekim is the Turkish word for October.

Jasper is the mystical birthstone of October.

Oktyabr is the Russian word for October, and also was adopted and made popular during the early decades of the USSR.

Ghostly names

No collection of Halloween-themed names is complete without some names relating to ghosts!

Unisex:

Aave means “ghost” in Finnish.

Chepi means “ghost” in Algonquin. This is another name for Hobomock, the spirit of Death.

Urameshi represents the sound a ghost makes in Japanese.

Female:

Kiyo can mean “ghost” in Japanese.

Vaida can mean “to ghost/haunt/appear” in Lithuanian.

Male:

Ahkiyyini is a skeleton ghost in Inuit mythology.

Algol means “head of the ghoul” in Arabic. This is the name of a star in the constellation Perseus, and called “Demon Star” in English.

Ankou is a famous skeleton ghost in the folklore of Brittany, Normandy, and Cornwall in France.

Duchomysł roughly means “ghost thought” in Polish.

Duchosław roughly means “ghost glory” in Polish.

Herne is a ghost who made his début in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Seijūrō is a Japanese name composed of the elements sei (ghost), ju (ten) or juu (pile of boxes, heavy, pile up, fold, heap up), and rou (s0n). Many other meanings are also possible.

Wolf names

Like the raven, the wolf too is an animal many people have spooky Halloween associations regarding. There are so many lovely wolf names, though almost all of them are male. Many of these names have Old Germanic or Anglo–Saxon roots.

Female:

Adolfa is a German and Dutch name derived from the Old Germanic name Adalwolf, means “noble wolf.” While the male form of this name is obviously one of the most taboo names in the Western world, the feminine form seems slightly more acceptable. This could also be used as a middle name if you want to honor an Adolf/Adolph in your family tree, but are off-put by using it as a forename. Potential nickname are Olfie, Ollie, Dolly, and Addie.

Ylva means “wolf” in the Scandinavian languages. (I honestly don’t understand why the term “she-wolf” is still used in the 21st century! It’s akin to terms like “a lady doctor” and “authoress.”)

Male:

Aatto, or Aatu, is the Finnish form of Adolf, which would doubtless be much more palatable to the vast majority of folks who find Adolf beyond the pale of onomastic redemption. The nickname form is Atte.

Adalwolf, the original form of Adolf, means “noble wolf.” This is a great choice if you really want to name your baby after an Adolf in your family who was born before the name became taboo.

Agilulf roughly means “blade wolf” in Ancient Germanic. This was the name of a 6th century king of the Lombards, who features in one of my favoritest Decameron stories. Agilulf discovers his wife, Queen Teudelinga, was tricked into sleeping with another man (a groom), but since the queen doesn’t suspect she was tricked, he says nothing.

Agilulf shows a lot of restraint and wisdom in dealing with the situation, and when the guilty party outsmarts him at his own game, Agilulf lets the matter drop with a cryptic warning to his servants. He’s determined to not acquire great shame at the expense of trivial revenge.

Arnulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements arn (eagle) and wulf (wolf).

Athaulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements atta (father) and wulf.

Beowulf may mean “bee wolf” in Anglo–Saxon.

Conan is an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “little wolf” or “little hound.”

Conor is an Anglicized form of Conchobhar, an Irish name of Gaelic origin, which means “wolf-lover” or “dog-lover.”

Conrí means “wolf king” in Irish Gaelic.

Cuán means “little wolf” or “little hound” in Irish.

Eadwulf is an Anglo–Saxon name derived from the elements ead (fortune, wealth) and wulf (wolf). It fell out of use after the Norman invasion and occupation.

Eardwulf is an Angli–Saxon name derived from the elements eard (land) and wulf.

Faolán means “little wolf” in Irish.

Gerulf is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the elements ger (spear) and wulf.

Gurgen is an Armenian and Georgian name meaning “little wolf.”

Ingolf is a Scandinavian and German name derived from the Old Norse Ingólfr, which is composed of the elements Ing (a Germanic god) and úlfr (wolf).

Ivaylo is a Bulgarian name which may be derived from the Old Bulgar name which meant “wolf.”

Loup is the French form of the Latin name Lupus, which means “wolf.” The Spanish form is Lope.

Lowell is an English name taken from the Norman French nickname louelle, “little wolf.”

Ludolf is a German and Dutch name derived from the Ancient Germanic Hludwolf, “famous wolf.”

Lyall is an English name taken from a Scottish surname, which in turn was derived from the Old Norse Liulfr, and thus ultimately related to the word úlfr (wolf).

Lycurgus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykourgos, derived from the elements lykos (wolf) and ergon (work, deed).

Lycus is the Latinized form of the Greek Lykos (wolf).

Randolph, or Randolf, is an English name taken from the Ancient Germanic elements rand (rim [of a shield]) and wulf. The Ancient Germanic form is Randulf; the Scottish forms are Ranulf and Randulph; and the Ancient Scandinavian form is Randúlfr.

Rádúlfr roughly means “wolf counsel” in Ancient Scandinavian.

Rudolph means “famous wolf” in Ancient Germanic. (See my previous post, “All About the Name Rudolph!,” for more details.)

Sandalio is the Spanish form of the Latin Sandalius, which in turn comes from the Gothic Sandulf and means “true wolf.”

Ulf is a Scandinavian name derived from the Old Norse Úlfr, “wolf.”

Vakhtang is a Georgian name derived from the Old Persian varka-tanu, “wolf-bodied.”

Valko means “wolf” in Bulgarian.

Varg is a Norwegian name which means “wolf” in Old Norse.

Velvel means “wolf” in Yiddish, and is frequently used as a form of William. If my Samuel ever exists in reality and not just fantasy, his Hebrew name will be Shmuel Velvel.

Vuk means “wolf” in Serbian. A related name is Vukašin.

Wolf is English and German.

Wolfgang means “wolf path” in German.

Wolfram (one of my favoritest male names!) comes from the Germanic elements wulf and hramn (raven).

Wulfnod is an Anglo–Saxon name roughly meaning “daring wolf.”

Wulfric is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf power.” The Middle English form is Ulric, not to be confused with the German, Scandinavian, Czech, Slovenian, and Slovakian name Ulrich/Ulrik/Oldrich/Urh.

Wulfsige is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf victory.”

Wulfstan is an Anglo–Saxon name meaning “wolf stone.”

Zev means “wolf” in Hebrew. Other forms are Ze’ev and Zeevie.