The Js of Medieval Tuscan and Italian names

Since J is a very uncommon letter for Italian names, I wasn’t able to find more than a handful for today.

Female names:

Jacobella (T) is an elaborated feminine form of Jakob. Though the traditional meaning for this name (whose original Hebrew form is Ya’akov) is “heel, supplanter,” many modern linguists and Biblical scholars now believe that was a folk etymology. Instead, the name may come from Semitic roots meaning “may God protect.”

Junipera (I) means “juniper.”

Male names:

Jacobello (I) is an elaborated form of Jakob, as explained above. This was also used as a nickname.

A double warlike name

Polish writer Jadwiga Łuszczewska (pseudonym Deotyma), 1834–1908, painted by Mateusz Zarzecki ca. 1848–52

Hadewig is an Ancient Germanic name derived from roots hadu (combat, battle) and wig (war). Like many other names of Germanic origin, its meaning relates to war and battle. This is such a striking contrast to how many Slavic names have meanings related to love, peace, glory, dearness, and flowers.

Probably the form most familiar to people is the modern German form Hedwig, which hasn’t charted in Germany for decades. It was in the Top 20 from 1890–97, and again in 1901 and from 1903–08. Needless to say, it’s considered very old-fashioned for a reason!

Other forms of this name include:

1. Hedvig is Scandinavian and Hungarian. The Scandinavian nickname is Hedda, and the Hungarian nickname is Hédi. In 2019, this name was #78 in Sweden and #65 in Norway.

2. Hedviga is Slovak, Slovenian, Latvian, and Croatian.

3. Hedvika is Czech and Slovenian.

4. Hadewych is a rare Dutch name. It was much more common in the Middle Ages. The nickname is Hedy (also used in German).

5. Hedwiga is Czech, Romanian, and Medieval Polish.

6. Hedwige is French.

7. Heiðveig is Faroese. In Icelandic, this is a separate name derived from roots heiðr (honour) and veig (power, strength).

8. Hekewika is a rare Hawaiian form.

9. Heiðvík is Faroese.

10. Hedla is a Silesian–German nickname sometimes used as a full given name.

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (1759–1818), Queen of Sweden and Norway, and a prolific diarist

11. Edvige is Italian and Corsican. The nickname is Edda.

12. Edwige is French.

13. Edubige is Basque.

14. Eduvixes is Asturian and Old Galician.

15. Edviga is a rare Moldovan, Romanian, and Portuguese form.

16. Edwikke is East Prussian–German.

17. Edvija is Old Occitan.

18. Eduvigis is Medieval Spanish and Catalan.

19. Edwiga is Medieval Polish.

20. Avoise is Medieval French.

French stage and film actor Edwige Feuillère, 1907–98

21. Jadvyga is Lithuanian.

22. Jadwiga is Polish. I have two characters by this name, one a minor character who goes by Wisia, and the other a main character (in an entirely different set of books) who’s referred to by her full name in the narrative and called Wisia and Jadzia. Other nicknames include Jagusia, Jagienka, Jagna, Jagoda (which also means “berry”), Jaga, and Iga. Both of my Jadwigas were born in the 1920s.

23. Yadviga is Belarusian.

24. Heta is Finnish.

The Js of Estonian names

Male:

Jaagup is a form of Jakob (heel).

Jaroslav is borrowed from Russian name Yaroslav, and means “fierce and glorious.” This is a fairly popular name.

Joonas is the Estonian form of Jonah (dove).

Juhan is the Estonian form of John (God is gracious).

Jukk seems to be a nickname for Juhan.

Jürgo is a form of George (farmer).

Female:

Janeli is a fairly popular name I couldn’t find the etymology of.

Janika is a very popular form of Jane, also used in Finnish.

Jaune means “young.”

Jolanta is borrowed from Latvian, and derives from Yolanda, which may mean “violet.”

Julve is an Estonian form of Julia.

Juta is a form of Judith.

Cornwall’s most popular export

William Morris painting of legendary Queen Guinevere, 1858

Being the age I am, every other woman within ten years of my age either way is named Jennifer in the Anglophone world. Though my personal tastes strongly tend towards classical eccentric and classical unusual, I’ve always had fond feelings for Jennifer. I can’t think of a single bad Jennifer I’ve ever known, and I’ve encountered quite a few over forty years!

Jennifer is the Cornish form of the Welsh Gwenhwyfar (white phantom), which derives from Old Celtic roots •windos (white, fair, blessed) and *sebros (magical being, phantom). Almost everyone is familiar with Norman–French form Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Though they sound nothing alike, the Old Irish form is Findabair (Fionnabhair in modern Irish).

It’s just a coincidence that Jennifer sounds very similar to Juniper. The names have completely different etymologies.

U.S. actor Jennifer Jones (1919–2009) in 1953

Jennifer was extremely rare outside of Cornwall before the 18th century, and only began gaining in recognition and popularity in 1906, when Sir George Bernard Shaw used it as the name of the female protagonist in the play The Doctor’s Dilemma. In 1934, it entered the Top 100 in England and Wales. It attained its highest rank of #11 there in 1984, and stayed in their Top 100 till 2005.

Jennifer entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 1938, at #992. It jumped to #891 the next year, then #686, #604, #527, #397, #263, #199, #156. Its big leaps in popularity during the 1940s were likely strongly influenced by the above-pictured Jennifer Jones. The name continued gaining in popularity, and entered the Top 100 in 1956 at #97.

By 1965, Jennifer was #20, and it was #10 the next two years. It then rose to #4 and #3 before landing at #1 in 1970, a position it occupied till 1984. Jennifer stayed in the Top 10 till 1991, the Top 20 till 1998, and the Top 100 till 2008. In 2018, it was #344.

It’s common knowledge that Jennifer got its biggest boost of popularity thanks to the 1970 novel and film Love Story (with the hideous catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”).

A suggested reason it remained on the chart so long past that film is that it was the first love story with a tragic ending many young women saw, and it remained with them all those years. When they had daughters, Jennifer was the natural choice. For similar reasons, the oversaturated Madison is still hanging around the Top 100 years after 1984’s Splash!

Jennifer remained #1 in Delaware, Massachusetts, and Illinois till 1985. Tellingly, its immediate replacement on the overall chart was Jessica. Parents tired of Jennifer turned to a name with a fairly similar sound, just as Emily was replaced by Emma, Madeline overtook Madison, and Amelia replaced Emma. The original names never stopped being widely-used, but many people desired a close-enough substitute.

Italian aristocrat Ginevra de’ Benci (1457–1521), painted ca. 1474–78 by Leonardo da Vinci

Other forms of this hugely popular name include:

1. Guenièvre is French.

2. Ginevra is Italian and Portuguese.

3. Yenifer is Latin American–Spanish.

4. Jenifer is Spanish, Cornish, and English.

5. Jenefer is another Cornish variation.

6. Gwenivar is Breton.

7. Ginebra is Catalan.

8. Ginewra is Polish.

9. Gvinevra is Russian. Not a name that translates well into this language!

10. Xenebra, or Xenevra, is Galician.

U.S. socialite Ginevra King, 1898–1980

11. Gaenor, or Gaynor, is Welsh.

12. Dzsenifer is Hungarian. Also not a language that’s naturally suited to translating this name as-is.

13. Gkouinevir is Greek. What I said about Hungarian and Russian.

14. Dženifera is Latvian. Not exactly fond of this form either.

15. Gennifer is English.

16. Ginnifer, or Ginifer, is English.

17. Jeniffer is a rare Scandinavian form.

18. Jennifera is a rare English form.

19. Llénifer is a rare Spanish form.

Jasmine names

The English flower name Jasmine derives from Persian yasamin, and entered the language via Old French. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1973, at #856, and shot up the charts with alacrity. Jasmine entered the Top 100 in 1986 and rose to its highest rank of #23 in 1993 and 1994. It stayed in the Top 30 from 1989–2006, then slowly began descending. In 2018, it was #136.

The name also enjoys popularity in New Zealand (#82), England and Wales (#75), and Italy (#105).

Variants include:

1. Gelsomina is Italian.

2. Jasmina is Serbian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Jasmína is Czech; Jaśmina is Polish; and Jasmīna is Latvian.

3. Jázmin is Hungarian.

4. Jasmin is German and Finnish. Jasmîn is Norman.

5. Jessamine is a rare English form.

6. Yasmin is Arabic and Urdu.

7. Yasmina is Arabic.

8. Yasmine is Arabic and French.

9. Yasmeen is Arabic and Urdu.

10. Yasamin is Persian.

11. Yasaman is also Persian.

12. Jasmijn is Dutch.

13. Iasmina is Romanian.

14. Iasmine is Greek.

15. Jaminka is Vlach.

16. Jasmiin is Estonian.

17. Jessamy is an older English form.

18. Jessima is an archaic English form.

19. Gessamí is Catalan.

20. Yesmine is Armenian.

21. Xasmina is Galician.

22. Giasemi, or Yiasemi, is Greek.

23. Zhasmin is Kazakh.

Other names whose meanings relate to the word “jasmine” include:

Unisex:

Amane can mean “imperial jasmine hope,” “my jasmine summit,” and “affection jasmine sound” in Japanese, among many other kanji permutations. As much as I love Japanese names, sorting through all these possible meanings gives me a headache!

Hijiri can mean “holy jasmine” in Japanese.

Jumi means “jasmine” in Bengali.

Katori can mean “beautiful/good person of white jasmine” in Japanese.

Mafuyu can mean “jasmine linen friend,” “jasmine air tenderness,” and “jasmine winter” in Japanese.

Matsuki can mean “jasmine moon tree,” “jasmine moon tortoise,” “jasmine haven measure,” and “jasmine moon atmosphere” in Japanese.

Parijat derives from Sanskrit parijata, which refers to several plants including night jasmine.

Rinon can mean “jasmine warmth,” “jasmine dream,” and “jasmine hope” in Japanese.

Shima can mean “determination, ambition, aspiration, will, purpose” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Yuriya can mean “healing white jasmine night” in Japanese.

Male:

Ikuma can mean “lively jasmine” and “genuine jasmine” in Japanese.

Maya can mean “jasmine colour,” “jasmine valley,” “jasmine sunshine,” and “jasmine design” in Japanese. I obviously wouldn’t recommend this in a country where Maya/Maja is a female name.

Rihito can mean “jasmine fire person,” “jasmine light metropolis,” “jasmine history,” and “jasmine beauty” in Japanese.

Female:

Aguri can mean “Asia, come after, rank next” with “long time” and “jasmine” in Japanese. As a male or unisex name, other kanji may be used.

Airi can mean “love, affection” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Akari can mean “bright white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amari can mean “sky, heaven” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Amiri can mean “second, Asia” combined with “beautiful” and “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Bibisuman means “mother, authoritative woman, learnèd woman” combined with “jasmine” in Uzbek.

Chameli is the Hindu name for various jasmine flowers.

Gulsuman means “jasmine flower” in Uzbek.

Hasmik means “jasmine” in Armenian. Another form is Asmik.

Hima can mean “the Sun” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Himari can mean “day, sun” combined with “jasmine plant” in Japanese.

Hirari can mean “sky orchid white jasmine” in Japanese.

Hirori can mean “expand white jasmine” in Japanese.

Irodori can mean “white jasmine colour” in Japanese.

Kannika means “night jasmine” in Thai.

Kharasvara means “wild jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Kiria can mean “tree, plant” combined with “white jasmine” and “love, affection” in Japanese.

Kokori can mean “mind, soul, heart” combined with “white jasmine” in Japanese.

Luli means “dewy jasmine” in Chinese.

Maeko can mean “white jasmine glory child” in Japanese.

Mahana can mean “jasmine flower” in Japanese.

Maladee means “jasmine” in Thai.

Malati means “jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Melati means “jasmine flower” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Melur also means “jasmine” in Indonesian and Malaysian.

Ratree means “night jasmine” in Thai. Unfortunately, it might not be a good idea in an Anglophone country.

Riko can mean “white jasmine child” in Japanese.

Rina can mean “white jasmine” combined with “vegetables, greens” or a phonetic character in Japanese. This is a completely separate name from other languages’ Rinas.

Rio can mean “white jasmine thread,” “white jasmine cherry blossom,” and “white jasmine centre” in Japanese.

Sabai means “jasmine” in Burmese.

Sampaguita means “jasmine” in Filipino. Jasmine is the national flower of The Philippines.

Vasantamallika means “spring jasmine” in Sanskrit.

Xewali means “jasmine” in Assamese, the easternmost Indo–European language, spoken in India.