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.


All about the names Edward, Edmund, and Edgar

King Edward VI of England (as Prince of Wales), 12 October 1537–6 July 1553

Edward, used in English and Polish (albeit with differing pronunciations), comes from the Old English elements ead (fortune, wealth) and weard (guard). It loosely translates as “rich guard.” Several Anglo–Saxon kings bore this name, the last of whom was Edward the Confessor.

Thanks to Edward the Confessor’s popularity, the English people kept using his name even under Norman occupation. It’s remained popular not only in England, but throughout Europe as well (under various forms).

Edward ranged from #11–#8 from 1880–1933. It remained in the Top 20 till 1948, was in the Top 50 till 1979, and in the Top 100 till 1997. As of 2016, it was #163. The name is more popular in England and Wales (#23), Australia (#52), New Zealand (#74), and Ireland (#95).

Edward the Confessor (ca. 1003–5 January 1066), centre, left panel of the Wilton Diptych

Other forms of Edward include:

1. Eduard is Romanian, German, Dutch, Russian, Armenian, Georgian, Czech, Slovak, Estonian, Bosnian, Ossetian, Ukrainian, Catalan, and Croatian. The Russian nickname is Edik, the Czech nicknames are Edík and Eda, and the Croatian nickname is Edi. The variant form Eduárd is Hungarian.

2. Eduardo is Spanish and Portuguese.

3. Edvard is Czech, Scandinavian, Slovenian, Finnish, Armenian, and modern Russian. The variant form Edvárd is Hungarian. Edi is a nickname form in several of these languages.

4. Édouard is French.

5. Eduards is Latvian.

6. Edoardo is Italian.

7. Eideard is Scottish.

8. Eadbhárd is Irish.

9. Edorta is Basque.

10. Ekewaka is Hawaiian.

French composer Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo, 1823–1892

11. Eetu is Finnish.

12. Duarte is Portuguese.

13. Ebardo is Aragonese.

14. Edouardos is Greek.

15. Edvardas is Lithuanian.

16. Eetvart is Finnish.

17. Yetvart is Armenian.

18. Eduarda is a Portuguese feminine form.

English poet Edmund Spenser, 1552/53–13 January 1599

Edmund, an English, German, and Polish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and mund (protection). Like Edward, it too remained in use under the Norman occupation, due to the popularity of King Edmund I (922–946).

After the 15th century, it became less common in England. Its highest rank to date in the U.S. was #130, in 1914. The name hasn’t charted since 1997, when it was #921.

Other forms of Edmund include:

1. Edmond is French. The nickname is Edmé.

2. Edmundo is Spanish.

3. Edmondo is Italian.

4. Edmao is Limburgish. The nickname is Mao.

5. Ödön is Hungarian. The nickname is Ödi.

6. Éamonn is Irish. Variant forms are Éamon and Eamon.

7. Edmundas is Lithuanian.

8. Edmunds is Latvian.

9. Edmwnt is Welsh.

10. Edmonde is a French feminine form. The nickname is Edmée.

11. Edmonda is an Italian feminine form.

12. Edmunda is a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and German feminine form.

U.S. writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Edgar, an English, French, Estonian, Portuguese, and Spanish name, comes from the Old English ead (fortune, wealth) and gar (spear). It was borne by King Edgar the Peaceful of England (ca. 943–8 July 975), but fell into disuse after the Norman occupation.

The name came back into widespread usage in the 18th century, and enjoyed an additional boost thanks to a character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel The Bride of Lammermoor. It was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1880–1925, and gradually went up and down over the ensuing decades. As of 2016, it was #342.

In Portugal, the name is #79, and is #263 in France. The variant Édgar is Spanish.

Other forms of Edgar include:

1. Edgardo is Italian and Spanish.

2. Edgaras is Lithuanian.

3. Edgard is French.

4. Edgars is Latvian.

5. Edgeir is a rare Norwegian form.

6. Edgarda is a rare Latin American–Spanish, Italian, and English feminine form.

The many forms of Paul and Paula

St. Paul, Andrea di Bartolo, early 15th century

Paul is the English, French, German, Dutch, Romanian, and Scandinavian form of the Latin family name Paulus (small; humble). Its widespread use in the Western world is of course due to St. Paul the Apostle (né Sha’ul [Saul] of Tarsus).

Paul was #60 in the U.S. in 1880, the year name popularity began being charted. It steadily rose to the Top 20 by 1895, and continued a steady rise over the ensuing decades. Its highest rank was #12 in 1930 and 1931. The name descended just as gradually, only dropping out of the Top 20 in 1969.

Paul left the Top 100 in 2001, and had sunk to #206 by 2016. The name is more popular in Austria (#6), France (#13), and Romania (#41).

St. Paula of Rome; Source

Paula is English, German, Scandinavian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, Dutch, Catalan, and Croatian. The variant form Pàula is Sardinian.

It was a Top 100 name in the U.S. from 1943–74, and currently enjoys popularity in Spain (#4), Catalonia (#8), Galicia (#9), Croatia (#31), Austria (#40), and Chile (#64). Its rank has sunk precipitously in the U.S. over the past few decades. As of 2016, it was down to #821.

Other forms of each name include:


1. Pablo is Spanish.

2. Pavel is Russian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Belarusian, and Czech. Russian nicknames include PashaPashenkaPashechka, and Pavlik.

3. Pavle is Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, Bosnian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Pavo and Pave.

4. Pavlo is Ukrainian.

5. Paweł (PAH-vew) is Polish.

6. Pal is Albanian. The variant form Pál (nickname Pali) is Hungarian. Another variant, Pàl, is Scottish, and Pål is Norwegian and Swedish.

7. Pavol is Slovak.

8. Paulo is Portuguese and Galician. The variant form Paŭlo is Esperanto, with the nickname Paĉjo.

9. Paolo is Italian.

10. Paulu is Corsican. The variant form Pàulu is Sardinian.

Pablo Picasso, 1908

11. Paol is Breton.

12. Pòl is Scottish. The variant form Pól is Irish, and Pol is Catalan.

13. Pavli is Albanian.

14. Pau is Occitan and Catalan. This also means “peace” in Catalan.

15. Poul is Danish.

16. Paavo is Estonian and Finnish.

17. Pauli is Finnish.

18. Páll is Icelandic and Faroese.

19. Pavlos is Greek.

20. Pāvils is Latvian.

Count Pavel Aleksandrovich Stroganov, 7/18 June 1772–10/22 June 1817; painted by George Dawe

21. Paulius is Lithuanian.

22. Paulin is Basque.

23. Paulose is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

24. Paal is Norwegian.

25. Pàil is Scottish.

26. Paili is Malayalam.

27. Pauls is Latvian.

28. Pawlu is Maltese.

29. Pawly is Cornish.

30. Pawoł is Sorbian.

Self-Portrait, Paolo Veronese, between 1558–63

31. Phóil is Irish.

32. Poalla is Sami.

33. Payl is Manx.

34. Phaule is Ossetian.

35. Piöel is Vilamovian.

36. Pavao is Bosnian and Croatian.

37. Boghos is Western Armenian.

38. Poghos is Eastern Armenian.

39. Boulos, or Bulus, is Arabic.

40. Paora is Maori.

Pauline Friederike Marie, Princess of Württemberg (1792–1839)


1. Paola is Italian and Spanish.

2. Pavla is Czech.

3. Paule is French. The nickname Paulette was fairly popular as a given name in its own right in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s.

4. Pauletta is English.

5. Pauline is English, German, French, and Scandinavian.

6. Paulina is English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Scandinavian, and Lithuanian. The variant form Paulīna is Latvian.

7. Pála is Icelandic.

8. Pavlina is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Greek. The variant form Pavlína is Czech.

9. Polina is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Greek. The Slavic nickname is Polya. Variant forms are Pólina (Faroese) and Poļina (Latvian).

10. Poulina is Faroese and Danish.

Paulette Goddard, née Marion Levy (3 June 1910–23 April 1990), Charles Chaplin’s third wife

11. Bávlá is Northern Sami.

12. Päälag is Skolt Sami.

13. Paulė is Lithuanian.

14. Pálína is Icelandic.

15. Paulît is Greenlandic.

Some thoughts on naming laws

Many Asian and European countries have lists of approved names, both for babies and adults changing their names. These lists aren’t set in stone, and have had new additions over time. In general, I support the concept, and don’t think it’s a cruel restriction.

A quick look at the countries with such laws and lists reveals they’re historically rather monolithic cultures, without a thriving tradition of immigration like the Anglophone world. It’s only been in recent years that we’ve seen a large uptick in the number of non-Europeans moving to places like Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.

Not only do naming laws ensure all approved names adhere to the national language’s orthography, but they also outlaw names which might be seen as ridiculous, offensive, or shameful. The best-known example is Adolf, which is illegal in many countries.

When one applies for permission to use a name not on the approved list, the name must indicate sex, conform to the language’s orthography, cannot be a surname or commercial product, and cannot have a negative effect upon the child.

Children born to foreign citizens don’t have to be given names on the approved list, but they should follow the onomastic rules of the parents’ native country.

Some countries have longer lists than others; e.g., Denmark has 18,000 female names and 15,000 males names to date, while Iceland only has about 1,800 each.

Other countries, like Italy, don’t have lists of names which must be used, but shameful, ridiculous, and offensive names are nevertheless barred.

Countries with a long tradition of being under the influence of another empire (e.g., the former republics of the Russian Empire and USSR) have taken steps to ban names from that foreign culture, or at least strongly disapprove of them. It makes sense they’d want to reclaim their native names after finally gaining their freedom.

Malaysia goes further, since their National Registration Department may refuse to register not only objectionable and vulgar names, but also names based on colours, numbers, titles, equipment, fruits, and vegetables.

Saudi Arabia has 50 banned names.

Not only has Tajikistan banned Russified names, but is also trying to ban Islamic and Arabic names on its list of 3,000 approved names. All names must be Tajik, as Arabic and Muslim names are considered too divisive (on top of a lot of other Islamophobic legislation, like banning hijabs and closing mosques). However, religious Muslims don’t want to use native Tajik names.

Naming laws might seem restrictive, old-fashioned, anti-creative, authoritarian, etc., to those of us in the Anglophone world, but they’re meant to enforce basic guidelines instead of punishing people. We’re more used to seeing a wide range of names, from many languages, due to the long tradition of being melting-pots.

It’s far different in many other countries, where the culture is relatively more closed. While there are long traditions of sizable ethnic minorities (e.g., Armenians in Iran, Germans in Hungary, Serbians in Slovenia), they’re still from within the same general Indo–European cultural heritage.

Looking at Hungary’s list from 2016, for example, reveals not only historic and popular invented Hungarian names like Imre, Kálmán, Jolán, Csilla, Piroska, and Lájos, but Magyarized forms of names from other cultures.

Under the policy of Magyarization begun in the late 19th century, there were relatively few approved Hebrew names, like Eszter and Dániel. Today, there are many more, like Jáél, Sifra, Tirza, Mika, Ezékiel, and Józsué.

We also see the obvious influence of Hungary’s Muslim minority, in names such as Aladdin, Ahmed, Szultána, Nasira, Zafira, and Abdullah. Many English and pop culture names are also represented, like Gandalf, Szkarlett, Cinderella, Dzsesszika (Jessica), Brendon, and Lennox.

If critics would actually look at these lists, or the specific types of names not allowed, they’d see most countries’ naming laws are anything but cruel, restrictive, and set in stone. They prevent ridiculous names like Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K and Moxie Crimefighter.

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:


Pascale is French. The nickname is Pascaline.

Pascuala is Spanish.

Pascualina is Italian.

Pascalina is Gascon and Sardinian.

Paškvalina is Croatian.


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.