The two names I’ve loved longest, Part I

I can’t remember what caused me to fall so in love with the names Easter and Echo when I was about six years old, but fall in love I did. Those are the two names I’ve loved longest. I made a number of picture books about twins named Easter and Echo, eventually expanding them to quads who were separated into two sets of twins (à la The Parent Trap), and at one point giving them sextuplet little sisters. Hey, I was very young!

In 2004 or 2005, I resurrected Easter and Echo for a new picture book for a final project in an early childhood education class. Perhaps someday I’ll go back to them again.

Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903

Echo has the same meaning in Greek as in English. She was an Oreiad (mountain nymph) who lived on Mount Kithairon. Zeus, being Zeus, yet again couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up, and frequently sported with the Oreiads.

Hera, being Hera, got suspicious, and descended from Mt. Olympus to catch him in the act. Echo tried to protect Zeus, but instead became the latest target of Hera’s wrath. She was cursed with only being able to repeat the last few words spoken to her.

When hunter Narcisssus (Narkissos) was separated from his companions, he called, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated it, and the last few words of everything else he said, including “Enjoy my body.” She fell in instalove, but Narcissus didn’t reciprocate at all.

Narcissus wasted away before his own reflection in a pool, and after his death, Echo too wasted away. The only thing left of her was the sound of her voice.

Illustration of Echo from ballet Narcisse

Other names which mean “echo” include:

Unisex:

Heid, Heyd, or Hed (rhymes with “maid”) is Hebrew.

Heidi, Heydi, or Hedi (rhymes with “lady”) means “my echo” in Hebrew.

Hibiki is Japanese.

Kaiku is Finnish.

Naruki can mean “echo self,” “echo birth,” “echo life,” “echo princess,” “echo rejoice,” “echo hope,” “echo fundamentals,” “echo radiance,” and “echo tree” in Japanese (among many other things).

Rinon can mean “dignified echo,” “jasmine echo,” “village echo,” “refreshing echo,” and “Moon echo” in Japanese.

Ukyo can mean “right echo,” “house echo,” and “feathers echo” in Japanese.

 Female:

Dhwani is Sanskrit.

Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree echo” in Japanese.

Hikoro can mean “soul echo,” “heart echo,” and “mind echo” in Japanese.

Jehona is Albanian.

Kaja is Estonian. This isn’t to be confused with the Scandinavian nickname for Katarina, nor with the Polish and Slovenian form of Gaia or the Czech nickname for Karolína. The lattermost name is written as Kája.

Kikyo can mean “rare echo” and “echo chronicle” in Japanese.

Kyouko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Meisa can mean “echo sand,” “echo blossom,” “skillful echo,” “cherry blossom echo,” “colour echo,” “happiness echo,” “morning echo,” “echo shore,” “echo village,” and “echo assistant” in Japanese.

Noizu is Japanese.

Otoko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.

Otomi can mean “beautiful echo” in Japanese.

Seda is Turkish. This isn’t to be confused with the Armenian name Seda, which has an uncertain etymology.

Suna can mean “pleasing echo,” “child echo,” “water echo,” “island echo,” “sandbar echo,” “pure echo,” “green echo,” “lucidity echo,” and “whole echo” in Japanese.

Male:

Aidas is Lithuanian.

Aldonas may be derived from the Old Lithuanian aldėti (to echo, resound) and the patronymical suffix -onis.

Kyotaro can mean “eldest son’s echo,” “thick echo son,” and “thick, cheerful echo” in Japanese.

Kyouhei, or Kyohei, can mean “flat echo,” “echo warfare,” “echo soldier,” “echo design,” “echo pattern,” and “thirty-six square feet of echo” in Japanese.

Kyouki can mean “rare echo” and “echo hope” in Japanese.

Olan is Kurdish.

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Violet names

Violet Jessop (1887–1971), survivor of the sinking of the Titanic and Brittanic, and a collision of the Olympic, the oldest of the three sister ships

Violet is one of many formerly unfashionable names which has seen a stunning vault up the charts in recent years. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1901, at #91, and attained its highest rank of #74 in 1919. It slowly descended the chart, and fell out in 1972. In 1973, it returned at #926, but fell out again in 1975. Violet came back in 1981–82, and didn’t enter again till 1998.

In 2016, it had jumped quite a bit to become #47. The name seems to still be rising. It’s even more popular in Canada (#32), New Zealand (#44), and Australia (#43). It’s also popular in England and Wales (#65) and Scotland (#94).

Other forms of the name, and names whose meanings relate to the word “violet,” include:

1. Violette is French.

2. Violetta is Russian, Italian, and Hungarian. The alternate form Víóletta is Icelandic.

3. Violeta is Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Macedonian.

4. Wioletta is Polish.

5. Wioleta is an alternate Polish form.

6. Ibolya (EE-bo-yah) is Hungarian.

7. Vjollca is Albanian.

8. Violetë is also Albanian.

9. Viola is English, Italian, German, Czech, Hungarian, and Scandinavian. The alternate form Víóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

10. Wiola is Polish.

U.S. artist Violet Oakley (1874–1961)

11. Iole is Greek.

12. Violante is Italian.

13. Yolande is French, and may be derived from Violante.

14. Yolanda is Spanish and English.

15. Jolanda is Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Croatian.

16. Jolana is Czech and Slovak.

17. Iolanda is Romanian, Italian, and Portuguese.

18. Jolanta is Polish and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Jola.

19. Ljubica can mean “little violet” in Serbian and Croatian, in addition to “little love.”

20. Ione means “violet flower” in Greek.

French ballerina and choreographer Violette Verdy, née Nelly Armande-Guillerm (1933–2016)

21. Sigalit means “violet flower” in Hebrew.

22. Sigal means “violet, purple” in Hebrew.

23. Iolanthe is Greek and English, and means “violet flower.” Given the spelling and sound, its creation was doubtless influenced by Yolanda.

24. Ianthe means “violet flower” in Greek.

25. Calfuray is Mapuche, an indigenous language spoken in Argentina and Chile.

26. Banafsha, or Benafsha. is Persian.

27. Banovsha is Azeri.

28. Fioled is Welsh.

29. Fjóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

30. Ia is Greek and Georgian.

U.S. silent actor Viola Dana (1897–1987)

31. Kalili is a type of Hawaiian violet.

32. Manishag is Armenian.

33. Manoushag is also Armenian.

34. Manushaqe is Albanian.

35. Menekşe is Turkish.

36. Shouka can mean “violet sun fragrance” in Japanese.

37. Sumika can mean “violet summer,” “violet poetry,” “violet song,” “violet mist,” “violet river,” “violet air,” and “violet sky” in Japanese.

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.

Owl names

Continuing with the theme of names related to Halloween, here are some names whose meaning relates to the word “owl.”

Male:

Jarli means “barn owl” in Jiwarli, an indigenous Australian language.

Kamuy was the god of owls and the land in Ainu (Ancient Japanese) mythology. He’s depicted as a great owl. This is a very rare name in modern Japan.

Mupitsukupʉ means “old owl” in Comanche.

Otos means “horned owl” in Greek.

Ruru means “owl” in Maori.

Tokori means “screech owl” in Hopi.

Female:

Mis-stan-stur means “owl woman” in Cheyenne.

Ugla means “owl” in Icelandic. This is a modern, not traditional name.

Ugluspegill means “owl mirror” in Icelandic. This is a rare modern name.

Apple names

Continuing with this month’s theme of names related to the symbols of Halloween and/or October, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “apple.” Almost all of the names I discovered are Japanese. I tried to leave out most of the Japanese names which are names in other cultures but completely unrelated etymologically, like Marianna, Moana, Mona, and Anna.

Unless otherwise noted, all the names are Japanese.

Unisex:

Chamomile, though a herb used for tea, literally means “earth apple” in Greek.

Hinami can mean, among many other things, “beautiful apple tree fruit.”

Izana can mean, roughly, “thin silk clothing of the apple tree.”

Kanaru can mean, roughly, “poetry/song of the lapis lazuli apple tree.”

Naiki can mean “apple tree queen/princess,” “apple tree radiance,” “rare apple tree,” “genuine apple tree,” “apple tree longevity,” and “apple tree shine.”

Omena means “apple” in Finnish.

Pomaikalani may mean “apple of the heavens” in Hawaiian.

Ringo can mean “apple” and “peace be with you.” Given the strong association with Ringo Starr in the Anglophone world, I’d recommend this more for a pet’s name.

Senna can mean “deep red apple tree,” “a thousand apple trees,” “immortal apple tree,” “transcendent apple tree,” “fairy apple tree,” and “celestial being apple tree.”

Female:

Abhlach means “of the apples” or “plain of apples” in Irish.

Aeracura was a Roman goddess of Celtic origin, associated with Proserpina and Dis Pater. As a Celtic goddess, she may have been an earth goddess whose symbols included an apple basket and cornucopia. The name may mean “copper/bronze/wealth/money mistress.”

Akana can mean “deep red apple tree,” “crimson apple tree,” and “vermillion apple tree.”

Almabikä is a Bashkir name, whose first element, alma, means “apple.”

Almila means “red apple” in Turkish.

Amena can mean “candy apple tree.”

Ana can mean “second apple tree,” “quiet apple tree,” and “apple tree peace.”

Annamomoka can mean “apple tree flower.”

Atsuna can mean “second apple tree.”

Ayuna can mean, among many other things, “scarlet evening apple tree,” “peaceful apple tree friend,” and “second apple tree dream.”

Erena can mean “beautiful apple tree poem,” “beautiful apple tree blessing,” and “picture of a beautiful apple tree.”

Fumina can mean “apple tree sentence.”

Fuuna can mean “apple tree wind.”

Gurina can mean “apple tree and pear shrine.”

Harukana can mean “distant/remote apple tree.”

Harunako can mean “spring apple tree child.”

Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree sound.”

Hinako, among many other things, can mean “scarlet apple tree child,” “queen/princess apple tree rainbow,” and “beauty of the apple tree happiness.”

Honami can mean “to protect the apple tree.”

Isana can mean “brave apple tree.”

Izuna is a very rare name which can mean “fountain of wild apples.”

Joanna can mean “to seem like an apple tree.”

Jurina can mean “apple tree profit.”

Kaena can mean “summer apple tree benefit,” “to increase the benefit of the apple tree,” and “summer painting of the apple tree.”

Kamina can mean “birch reality of the apple tree.”

Kanasa can mean “beautiful apple tree blossom.”

Kanata can mean “beautiful, numerous wild apples.” Depending upon the kanji, it can also be unisex or masculine.

Karena can mean “beautiful tinkling of jade apple tree” and “fragrant tinkling of jade apple tree.”

Karina can mean “beautiful village apple tree,” “beautiful summer apple tree,” and “song of the lovely apple tree.”

Keina can mean “apple tree view” and “beautiful apple tree.”

Kenna can mean “intelligent apple tree” and “silk apple tree.”

Kiena can mean “century apple tree.”

Kikuna can mean “chrysanthemum apple tree.”

Kimina can mean “apple tree noble.”

Kiyona can mean “rejoice at generations of apple trees.”

Kona can mean “yellow apple tree,” “apple tree fragrance,” and “small apple tree.”

Konami can mean “beautiful apple tree lake,” “beautiful apple tree fruit,” and “beautiful apple tree ocean.”

Kurena can mean “crimson apple tree” and “summer crimson apple tree.”

Kyona can mean “red apple.”

Madona can mean “round apple tree.”

Mahina can mean “genuine apple tree empress.”

Manaka can mean “true flower of the apple tree” and “ten thousand wild apples’ fruit.”

Manamina can mean, roughly, “love of a beautiful apple tree.”

Marina can mean “true village apple tree.”

Miana can mean “soul of a second apple tree.”

Mikina can mean “tree trunk of an apple tree,” “fruit of a beautiful apple tree,” and “soul of a majestic apple tree.”

Mikuna can mean “beautiful nine apple trees.”

Monaka can mean “apple tree sprout fragrance.”

Monami can mean “luxuriant wild apple fruit.”

Na can mean “apple tree.”

Nabi can mean “beautiful apple tree.”

Nadzuna can mean “to pluck greens from an apple tree.”

Nagiha can mean “apple tree shrub leaf.”

Naia can mean “apple tree compared to Asia.”

Naira can mean “lightweight fabric clothing of an apple tree.”

Nairo can mean “apple tree colour.”

Nakoto can mean “apple tree koto [harp-like instrument].”

Namimi can mean “apple tree seed’s seed.”

Namino can mean “my apple tree harvest” and “beautiful apple tree field.”

Nanagi can mean “calm apple tree.”

Nanana can mean “apple tree vegetable apple tree.”

Nanaru can mean “apple tree’s apple tree stays.”

Natari can mean “gentle, glassy apple tree.”

Natsuno can mean “my apple tree moon” and “apple tree haven field.”

Nau can mean “apple tree poetry.”

Nazuna can mean “apple tree sand” and “apple tree metropolis apple tree.”

Nichina can mean “to know kindness of the apple tree.”

Nina can mean “two apple trees.”

Olma means “apple” in Uzbek.

Paannsee means “apple” in Burmese.

Pomellina means “little apple” in Medieval Italian.

Pommeline means “little apple” in French.

Reana can mean “beautiful colour of the apple tree.”

Renami can mean “beautiful tinkling of jade apple tree.”

Renona can mean “my apple tree command.”

Riena can mean “painting of a village apple tree.”

Rinako can mean “glassy apple tree child.”

Riona can mean “plum, cherry blossom, apple tree.”

Ririna can mean ” plum, pear, apple tree.”

Ritsuna can mean “chestnut tree, apple tree.”

Rubina can mean “to flow by a beautiful apple tree.”

Rumina can mean “water flows by apple tree.”

Runa can mean “apple tree moon.”

Sakuna can mean “apple tree blossom.”

Senako can mean “holy apple tree child” and “world apple tree soul.”

Serina can mean “west village apple tree.”

Shinna can mean “genuine apple tree.”

Shizuna can mean “apple tree’s aspiration to long life.”

Sorana can mean “sky apple tree.”

Sukina can mean “long life apple tree princess.”

Suna can mean “pleasing apple tree.”

Tekina can mean “suitable apple tree.”

Tsudzuna can mean “moon’s moon apple tree.”

Wawana can mean “apple tree peace flower.”

Yanako can mean “long time apple tree child.”

Yoshina can mean “virtuous apple tree.”

Yumina can mean “apple tree archery.”

Yuzuna can mean “grapefruit, apple tree.”