A name for a peaceful ruler

King Frederick the Great (Friedrich II) of Prussia, 1712–1786

I’ve long adored the name Frederick in many of its international forms. It derives from a Germanic name meaning “peaceful ruler,” from the elements fridu (peace) and rih (ruler; power; king). Though it’s historically been very common in German-speaking areas, it took a long time to catch on in the Anglophone world.

The invading Normans brought this name to England in 1066, but it soon dropped from popularity. In the 18th century, it returned by way of the German-born House of Hanover inheriting the British throne.

American abolitionist, social reformer, writer, and orator Frederick Douglass (né Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey), 1817 or 1818–1895

Frederick was #33 in the U.S. in 1880 (its highest rank to date), and remained on the Top 100 till 1957. In 2021, it was #476. The name is much more popular in England and Wales, where it was #61 in 2021, and has been on the Top 100 since 2009. It was also Top 100 in 2005 and 2006.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Friedrich is German. Nicknames are Fritz, Fred, and Fiete.

2. Frederik is Dutch, Danish, and Afrikaans. Dutch nicknames are Frits, Freek (rhymes with rake and brake), Freddy, Fred, and Rik.

3. Fredrik is Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish.

4. Frédéric is French. Without accent marks, Frederic is Catalan.

5. Fryderyk is Polish.

6. Frederico is Portuguese.

7. Federico is Spanish and Italian.

8. Federigo is old Italian.

9. Frīdrihs is Latvian.

10. Fricis is also Latvian.

Polish composer Frédéric François (né Fryderyk Franciszek) Chopin, 1810–1849

11. Friderik is Slovenian.

12. Friðrik is Icelandic.

13. Frigyes is Hungarian. It’s kind of pronounced like FREED-yesh. The Hungarian letter GY is like the soft, barely perceptible DY in due, during, and endure.

14. Fridrik is Croatian.

15. Fridrikh is Russian.

16. Federicu is Corsican and Sardinian.

17. Federich is Piedmontese.

18. Fidericu is Sardinian.

19. Frederig is Breton.

20. Frydrykh is Belarusian.

Latvian Riflemen commander and colonel Frīdrihs Briedis, 1888–1918

21. Frydrichas is Lithuanian.

22. Fridrih is Serbian.

23. Frédéris is Norman.

24. Frederikas is Lithuanian.

25. Freadaraig is Scottish.

26. Federiku is Maltese.

27. Fríðrikur is Faroese.

28. Freiderikos is Greek.

29. Feardorcha is Irish.

30. Ffredrig is Welsh.

Italian Cardinal and Archbishop Federico Borromeo, 1564–1631

31. Fadri is Romansh.

32. Fretterat, or Fretterret, is Sami.

33. Priidik is Estonian. Nicknames include Priit and Priidu.

34. Peleke is Hawaiian.

35. Bedřich is Czech.

36. Rietrikki is a rare, archaic Finnish form.

Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, later Duchess of York and Albany (1767–1820)

Female forms include:

1. Fredericka is English.

2. Frederica is Portuguese, Gascon, Provençal, Languedocian, Galician, and English.

3. Federica is Italian and Corsican.

4. Fredrika is Finnish and Swedish.

5. Fryderyka is Polish.

6. Frederikke is Danish.

7. Frédérique is French.

8. Friðrika is Icelandic.

9. Friederike is German. Nicknames include Fritzi, Rike, Friede, and Frieda.

10. Frédérika is French.

Finnish historical novelist and journalist Fredrika Runeberg, 1807–1879

11. Fridrika is Hungarian. Nicknames include Fridi and Frici.

12. Frederiek is Dutch, reflecting the French pronunciation of Frédérique.

13. Fredericke is German.

14. Frédérica is a rare Corsican form.

15. Freiderike is Greek.

16. Frideriki is also Greek.

17. Federika is a rare Hungarian form.

18. Bedřiška is Czech.

19. Perderike is Basque.


A name fit for a Divine goddess

American singer Diana Ross, born 26 March 1944

Diana is a name like Sarah—it’s found in a plethora of languages, but there aren’t a vast variety of forms like other names. The letters and sounds which make up the name are the same across numerous languages, so there’s not much need for divergent spellings. However, there are still some variations.

Diana is a derivative of diva or dia (goddess), and as such means “Divine, goddesslike.” Its ultimate root is the Indo–European *dyew- (“shine” or “sky”), which is also where the name Zeus comes from. Diana is used in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian and Slavic languages, Georgian, Armenian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Albanian, Welsh, Gascon, Sicilian, Corsican, and Galician.

Variant forms are Diána (Hungarian), Díana (Icelandic), and Diāna (Latvian). Outside of English, the name is typically pronounced Dee-ah-nah.

British writer, book reviewer, and fascist Diana Mitford, later Lady Mosley (1910–2003)

Diana was the Roman name for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Moon and hunting, and Apollo’s twin. (Artemis has a completely different etymology!) Diana came into use as a personal name during the Renaissance, and became very popular in the Anglophone world thanks to Walter Scott’s 1817 novel Rob Roy.

The name has been on the U.S. Top 1000 since records began in 1880 (apart from 1888, when it failed to chart), and slowly but steadily rose into the Top 100, which it entered in 1941 (at exactly #100). In 1942, it was already #68, and by 1945, it was #43.

Diana Churchill, daughter of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with her son Julian (1909–63)

Diana remained on the Top 100 through the 1970s, and after a few years with slightly lower ranks, it returned to the Top 100 in 1981 (for reasons probably everyone can guess!). It dropped out of the Top 100 again in 1991, then returned in 1993, dropped out again in 1995, returned in 1997, left in 1999, and briefly returned at #90 and #100 in 2004 and 2005. In 2021, it was #225.

The name also enjoys popularity in Portugal (#19 in 2018), Italy (#50 in 2020), Poland (#61), Switzerland (#63), Hungary (#75), the Czech Republic (#78 in 2016), and Spain (#81).

French noblewoman Diane de Poitiers, 1500–1566

Other forms of the name include:

1. Diane is French and English. It was on the U.S. Top 100 from 1937–1971, and in the Top 20 from 1946–59. Its highest rank was #14 in 1955. In France, the name was #90 in 2021.

2. Dijana is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

3. Dajana is Serbian and Croatian, reflecting the English pronunciation.

4. Daiena is an archaic Romani form.

5. Deana is modern Romani.

6. Deanna, or Deana, is either a possible English variation of Diana or a feminine form of Dean. If the latter, it would have a completely different etymology.

7. Dianedda is a Corsican diminutive.

8. Diviana is an ancient Italian form.

9. Diyana is Uzbek and Bulgarian.

10. Dziyana is Belarusian.

11. Kiana is Hawaiian.

All about Adrian and Adriana

Legendary MGM costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenburg (1903–1959), known simply as Adrian

I absolutely adore the name Adrian, whether it’s pronounced with long As in the European and Latin American style, or the more common Anglo way AY-dree-yan. It derives from the equally-awesome Latin name Hadrian, which in turn derives from the Latin term Hadrianus, “from Hadria.” Hadria was a Northern Italian town from whence the Adriatic Sea derives its name.

Adrian is used in English, Polish, Russian, Romanian, German, and the Scandinavian languages. The alternate form Adrián is Hungarian, Spanish, Slovakian, Czech, Catalan, and Galician. Adrían is Icelandic.

Pope Adrian VI (1459–1523), painted circa 1625

Though the name has been used in the Anglophone world since the Middle Ages, and was borne by the only English Pope to date, it only became popular fairly recently. It was #403 in the U.S. in 1880, the first year name popularity records were kept, and remained fluctuating among the 300s, 400s, and 500s until 1959, when it began a slow and steady rise from #354 to a respectable high of #56 in 2008, 2010, and 2019. It’s gone up and down in rank since entering the Top 100 in 1985, at #93, but hasn’t been out of the Top 100 since 1989.

Adrian is also currently popular in Spain (#13), Sweden (#24), Galicia (#25), Croatia (#37), Norway (#40), Mexico (#41), Basque County, Spain (#43), Austria (#53), Catalonia (#56), Poland (#59), Canada (#70 in 2019), the Czech Republic (#78 in 2016), Hungary (#82), Switzerland (#92), and Slovenia (#96).

German artist Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803–1884), painted 1836 by Wilhelm von Kügelgen

Other forms of the name include:

1. Adriano is Portuguese and Italian.

2. Adrians is Latvian.

3. Adriaan is Dutch.

4. Adrien is French.

5. Adrijan is Macedonian and Croatian.

6. Adrianus is the more formal Dutch form, though almost no one in The Netherlands goes by a Latin form of their name in everyday life.

7. Arjan, also spelt Arian and Ariaan, is Dutch. This started as a short form of Adriaan, but has become very popular as a given name in its own right. Originally, Arian was the most popular spelling, but now Arjan has eclipsed it.

8. Jadran is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

9. Jadranko is also Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

10. Adrià is Catalan.

Flemish composer Adriaan Willaert (circa 1490–1562)

11. Adrao is a rare Galician form.

12. Adriam is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Adrianas is Lithuanian.

14. Adrianos is Greek.

15. Adrianu is Corsican, Sicilian, and Sardinian.

16. Adrión is Kashubian.

17. Aidrian is Irish.

18. Atrianu is Sicilian.

19. Adriyan is Russian and Bulgarian.

20. Entěrian is Chuvash.

21. Adorján is Hungarian.

Italian composer Adriana Basile (circa 1580–1640), drawn by Nicolas Perrey

Adriana is probably the most common feminine form. It’s used in English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovakian, Polish, Galician, Albanian, Occitan, Ukrainian, Kashubian, Gascon, Provençal, Swedish, Dutch, and Armenian. The alternate form Adriána is Hungarian and Slovakian; Adriāna is Latvian; and Adríana is Icelandic.

The name enjoys popularity in Armenia (#18), Spain (#33), the Czech Republic (#37 in 2016), Galicia (#42), Catalonia (#68), Latvia (#77), Mexico (#82), and Portugal (#87 in 2018).

Other forms include:

1. Adrienne is French.

2. Adriene is Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Adrianna is Polish.

4. Adrijana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian.

5. Adrienn is Hungarian.

6. Hadriana is Latin.

7. Adriena is Slovakian.

8. Adriyana is Bulgarian and Russian.

9. Adriane is a rare German form.

10. Adirane is Basque.

French actor Adrienne Lecouvreur, 1692–1730

11. Adryyana is Belarusian.

12. Akaliana, or Akaliane, is Hawaiian.

13. Atriana is Sicilian.

14. Odriana is Medieval Flemish.

A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

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.