Pearly names (including the many forms of Margaret)

Pearl used to be quite a popular name in the U.S. In 1880, it was #47, and it remained in the Top 100 until 1926. Its highest rank was #24, in 1889, 1890, and 1900. It sank lower and lower, until it fell off the charts in 1977, In 1979, it returned, but fell off again in 1987. It returned briefly in 2007, and then returned yet again in 2009. In 2016, it was #567, and has been pulling up quite a bit in rank each year.

Margaret means “pearl,” from the Greek margarites, which in turn is probably ultimately derived from the Sanskrit manyari. Historically, the name has been enormously popular. From 1880–1930 alone, it was in the Top 5, and it was Top 10 from 1931–39. It was Top 20 from 1940–51, and then gradually began sinking. In 1976, it left the Top 100, though it returned from 1982–89. In 2016, it was #139.

Here, then, are both the many forms of Margaret and names whose meanings relate to the word “pearl.”

Unisex:

Alnilam means “string of pearls” in Arabic. This is the name of one of the stars in Orion.

Dar means “mother-of-pearl” in Hawaiian.

Durdana is Arabic and Urdu.

Hae-Ju can mean “ocean pearl” in Korean.

Hyeon-Ju, or Ju-Hyeon, can mean “virtuous/worthy/able pearl” in Korean.

Poema means “pearl of the deep seas” in Tahitian.

Yao can mean “mother-of-pearl” in Chinese.

Yong-Ju can mean “dragon pearl” in Korean.

Female:

Bermet is Kyrgyz.

Bisera is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Bitxilore is Basque.

Châu is Vietnamese.

Darya means “pearl of God” in Hebrew. This isn’t to be confused with the Persian or Russian name. All three have different etymologies.

Dordana is Urdu.

Durar means “pearls” in Arabic.

Durdona is Uzbek.

Durrah is a rare Arabic name meaning “large pearl.”

Enku is Amharic.

Gohar is Persian.

Gyöngyi is Hungarian. The letter GY is sort of pronounced like a soft, quick D followed by a Y, the way people in certain parts of the English-speaking world pronounce the first syllable of “due” and “during.”

Gyöngyvér means “sister of pearl” in Hungarian.

Gyöngyvirág means “pearl flower” in Hungarian, and refers to the lily-of-the-valley.

Helmi is Finnish.

Hessa is Arabic.

Inci is Turkish.

Inju is Kazakh.

Inthurat is Thai.

Jinju is Korean.

Jua can mean “second pearl,” “apricot pearl,” or “Asia pearl” in Japanese.

Jumana is Arabic.

Krõõt is Estonian.

Leimoni means “pearl lei” or “pearl child” in Hawaiian.

Lulu is Arabic, and not to be confused with the (mostly) English and German nickname.

Maarit is Finnish.

Maighread is Scottish. The nickname is Maisie.

Mairéad is Irish. Without an accent mark, this is also a Scottish variation.

Makaleka is Hawaiian.

Mākere is Maori.

Makereta is Fijian.

Malghalara is Pashto.

Małgorzata is Polish, with the nicknames Marzena, Gosia, and Małgosia.

Marc’harid is Breton.

Maret is Estonian.

Margaid is Manx.

Margalit, or Margalita, is Hebrew.

Margareeta is Finnish.

Margareta is German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Slovenian, Dutch, Finnish, and Croatian. The variation Margaréta is Slovak and Hungarian. German nicknames include Greta, Grete, Gretchen, Gretel, and Meta; Swedish nicknames are Meta, Märta, and Greta; Norwegian nicknames are Mette, Meta, Grete, and Grethe; Danish nicknames are Merete, Mette, Meta, Grethe, and Grete; Dutch nicknames are Griet, Greet, Grietje, and Greetje; and Finnish nicknames include Reeta and Reetta.

Margarete is German.

Margaretha is Dutch and German.

Margarethe is German and Danish.

Margareto is Esperanto.

Margaretta is an English variation.

Margarida is Catalan, Portuguese, Occitan, and Galician.

Margarit, Markarid, or Margarid, is Armenian.

Margarita is Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Scandinavian, Greek, and Lithuanian.

Marged is Welsh, with the nickname Mared.

Margherita is Italian.

Margit is Hungarian, German, Estonian, and Scandinavian.

Margita is Slovak.

Margreet is Limburgish and Dutch.

Margrét is Icelandic. The nickname is Gréta.

Margrethe is Norwegian and Danish.

Margriet is Dutch.

Margrieta is Latvian and Dutch.

Margrit is German.

Marguerite is French. Nicknames include Margaux and Margot.

Marharyta is Ukrainian.

Marhata is Sorbian.

Marit, or Marita, is Norwegian and Swedish.

Marjan is Kazakh.

Marjeta is Slovenian.

MarjorieMargery, or Marjory, is Medieval English.

Markéta is Czech and Slovak.

Marketta is Finnish.

Mèrdgitte is Jèrriais.

Mererid is Welsh.

Merit is Swedish.

Momi is Hawaiian.

Momilani means “heavenly pearl,” “royal pearl,” “noble pearl,” and “spiritual pearl” in Hawaiian.

Morî is Kurdish.

Morvarid is Persian.

Mukda is Thai.

Penina is Hebrew.

Perla is Italian and Spanish.

Perle is French and Yiddish.

Perlezenn is Breton.

Poerani means “divine pearl” or “heavenly pearl” in Tahitian.

Poerava means “black pearl” in Tahitian.

Retha is Afrikaans.

Sadaf means “mother-of-pearl, seashell” in Arabic.

Sadap means “mother-of-pearl” in Turkmeni.

Shinju is Japanese.

Male:

Akinci means “white pearl” in Turkish.

Akincibay means “white pearl lord” in Turkish.

Xhevahir means “pearl, jewel, diamond, gem, precious stone” in Albanian. XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

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Ambery names

While the once-popular name Amber has been steadily plunging in popularity in the U.S. (after initially starting to make a comeback on the Top 1000 in 1945 due to the awesome bestseller Forever Amber), there are a number of other names whose meaning relates to the word “amber.” Most of these are female names, but a couple are male.

Unisex:

Kohaku is Japanese.

Female:

Ámbar is Spanish.

Ambra is Italian.

Ambre is French.

Borostyán is a rare Hungarian name meaning “amber ivy.”

Electra is the Latinized form of the Greek Elektra, which comes from elektron (amber). The Italian form is Elettra.

Hakuko can mean “amber child” in Japanese.

Inbar is Hebrew.

Kohakuyuki can mean “amber snow” in Japanese.

Ómra is Irish.

Male:

Dzintars is Latvian.

Gintaras is Lithuanian.

Hakurou can mean “amber son” and “bright/clear amber” in Japanese.

Ko can mean “amber” in Japanese, though most people are familiar with this character as meaning “child” in a name.

The many Rose names

Rose is currently more popular as a middle name than a forename in the U.S., though it is starting to edge closer to the Top 100. It’s much more popular in France (#20), Australia (#55), Belgium (#64), New Zealand (#56), Scotland (#70), Ireland (#75), and Northern Ireland (Ireland by any other name) (#62).

I’m far from the only name nerd who’s rather surprised this name hasn’t become much more popular as the generation of girls who saw Titanic over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again reached adulthood and started having kids.

Madison for a girl rose to prominence some years after that insipid movie Splash, and Jennifer remained popular well after the era of Love Story. If Rose were going to get popular because of Titanic, it would’ve happened by now.

Other forms of Rose, and names with the “rose” element, include:

1. Roza is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Georgian, Armenian. The variation Roža is Serbian and Croatian, and Róża is Polish.

2. Rosa is Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, German, and English.

3. Ruža is Serbian, Slovakian, and Croatian. The base nickname is Ružica.

4. Rózsa is Hungarian. The base nickname is Rózsi.

5. Rožė is Lithuanian.

6. Růžena is Czech. The variation Ružena is Slovak.

7. Rosalia is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. A variant Spanish and Galician form is Rosalía.

8. Rozalia is Polish. The variation Rozália is Slovak and Hungarian.

9. Rosalie is French, English, German, and Dutch.

10. Rozálie is Czech, with the final two letters pronounced separately instead of as one.

11. Rozalija is Slovenian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, and Croatian. A Slovenian nickname is Zala. The variation Rozālija is Latvian.

12. Róis is Irish. The nickname is Róisín, Anglicized as Rosheen.

13. Roos is Dutch, with the nickname Roosje.

14. RaisaRaiza, Reyza, Reysa, Raysa, or Rayza, is Yiddish. The base nickname is alternately transliterated as Rayzel, Rayzl, Raysl, Raisel, Raizel, Raisl, Raizl, Raysel, Reyzel, Reysl, and Reyzl.

15. Rosita is a Spanish diminutive.

16. Rosine is a French diminutive.

17. Roselle is another French nickname.

18. Rosette is also French.

19. Rosabel is an English name created in the 18th century.

20. Rosabella is an elaborated form of Rosabel.

21. Rosella is an Italian diminutive.

22. Rosetta is also Italian.

23. Rosina is another Italian nickname.

24. Rhosyn is a rare Welsh name.

25. Rosalba means “white rose” in Italian. I’ve always loved this name.

26. Rosalind originated as the Old Germanic name Roslindis, meaning “tender horse,” though its modern spelling was influenced by the Latin phrase rosa linda, “beautiful rose.”

27. Rosalinda is Italian.

28. Rosalina is Spanish.

29. Rosaline is Medieval English.

30. Rozenn is Breton.

31. Rosamund originated as the Old Germanic name Rosmunda, meaning “horse protection,” though it later became associated with the Latin phrase rosa munda, “pure rose.” A variation is Rosamond.

32. Rosemonde is French.

33. Rhoswen means “pure rose” in Welsh.

34. Roosi is Estonian.

35. Rós is Icelandic.

36. Rosal is Filipino, and a unisex name.

37. Rosanella is French.

38. Rosanie is French.

39. Rósar means “rose army” in Icelandic.

40. Rosaura is an Italian and Spanish name derived from the Latin rosa aurea, “golden rose.” I love this name!

41. Roseda is a Spanish name derived from the Latin rosetum, “rose garden.”

42. Rosena is Bulgarian and English.

43. Rosenwyn is a rare, modern Cornish name meaning “white rose.”

44. Rósey means “rose island” in Icelandic.

45. Rosiliria means “rose lily” in Spanish.

46. Rozuko means “child of a rose” in Japanese.

47. Ruusu is Finnish.

48. Særós means “sea rose” in Icelandic.

49. Vered is Hebrew.

50. Vardan is Armenian. This is a male name.

51. Vardo is Georgian.

52. Sirvard means “love rose” in Armenian.

53. Sarnai is Mongolian.

54. Varduhi means “rose lady” in Armenian.

55. Ruvsá is Sami, a language spoken in northwestern Russia and northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

56. Snærós means “snow rose” in Icelandic. This is a modern, invented name.

57. Vardiella means “rose of God” in Hebrew.

58. Varteni means “rose tree” in Armenian.

59. Warda, Wardah, or Wardi is Arabic.

60. Gol is Persian. The Turkish form is Gül, and the Urdu and Pashto form is Gul. This element appears in many, many names.

61. Kolab is Khmer.

62. Mawar is Indonesian and Malaysian.

63. Kulap is Thai. This name is unisex.

64. Nasrin means “wild rose” in Persian.

Steely, metallic names

I recently discovered the History Channel’s series Forged in Fire, a reality show wherein four smiths compete to make the best weapon. Smithery and metallurgy are stereotypically male pursuits, but I’ve always been really proud of being very tomboyish.

It therefore wasn’t too much of a surprise that almost all of the names I found with meanings relating to steel, metal, iron, copper, and bronze are male names. Many of these names are also Mongolian or from Turkic languages.

Female:

Aenea means “bronze” or “copper” in Latin. This was possibly also created as a feminine form of Aeneas, which means “praise.”

Aramita is a Spanish name possibly derived from the Latin aramen, and ultimately aeramen, which means “copper, bronze.”

Kaneru means “bronze” in Japanese.

Male:

Batbold means “bold steel” in Mongolian.

Berbolat is a Chechen name derived from the Turkish military title bek (or beg), which means “master, chieftain,” and the Turkic element bolat (or bulat), which means “steel,” and ultimately derives from the Persian pulad.

Bolat means “steel” in Kazakh.

Çelik means “steel” in Turkish.

Chuluunbold means “stone steel” in Mongolian.

Demir means “iron” in Turkish.

Elidur is an archaic Welsh name, the first element of unknown etymology, and the second probably derived from dur (steel). In the 19th century, the name was resurrected as Elidor.

Ferruccio means “little iron” in Italian.

Ganbaatar means “steel hero” in Mongolian.

Ganbold means “steel steel” in Mongolian.

Gansükh means “steel axe” in Mongolian.

Gantulga means “steel hearth” in Mongolian.

Ganzorig means “steel courage” in Mongolian.

Gobán possibly means “little smith” in Irish.

Goibniu means “smith” in Irish. He was a smith god, and provided weapons for the Tuatha De Danann.

Hephaestus is the Latinized form of the Greek Hephaistos, the god of fire, forging, and metallurgy. He was also a fellow limper.

Ilmarinen is a Finnish name which partly derives from ilma (air). He’s an immortal smith in Finnish mythology, and the creator of the sky and the magic mill Sampo.

Kaneki can mean “metal tree” in Japanese.

Kañ-ool means “steel boy” and “steel son” in Tuvan, a Turkic language spoken in south-central Siberia.

Khurşӑ means “steel” in Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

Nurbolat is a Kazakh name composed of the elements nur (light) and bolat (steel).

Pola means “steel” in Kurdish.

Rentarou can mean “son of thick smelt metals” in Japanese.

Shoiynbai means “made of steel” in Kazakh.

Solon possibly means “lump of iron” in Greek.

Ståle means “steel” in Norwegian. The original Old Norse version was Stáli.

Talos was a bronze-winged automaton in Greek mythology, given to Europa for protection against invaders and pirates.

Temujin means “of iron” in Mongolian.

Timur is derived from the Turkic name Temür (iron), and is used in Uzbek, Kazakh, Tatar, Chechen, and Russian.

Tömörbaatar means “iron hero” in Mongolian.

Trahaearn means “very much like iron” in Welsh.

Tunç means “bronze” in Turkish.

Tuncay means “bronze Moon” in Turkish.

Yerbolat roughly means “steel male” or “male of steel” in Kazakh.

Zhelyazko means “iron” in Bulgarian.

Names to avoid in an Anglophone country

Over the years, I’ve come across names which, let’s be honest, just wouldn’t work in a modern Anglophone country. These names might sound beautiful in their native languages, not even pronounced like they’d be in English, but the spellings or connotations still are what they are. Bullies will find a way to make fun of any name they don’t like, but these names stand out all by themselves.

No offense is intended to people who do have these names! There are plenty of English names which must look or sound funny in other cultures.

1. Semen, the most common Ukrainian form of Simon. I shouldn’t even have to explain why this name is a no-go!

2. Urinboy. I found this while researching my post on Kyrgyz names on my main blog, and at first thought it had to be a joke or vandalism. It really is a legit name.

3. Bích, a female Vietnamese name meaning “bluish-green.” It’s pronounced BEEK, but we all know how everyone will assume it’s pronounced.

4. Dong, a male Chinese name whose meanings include “beam, pillar” and “east.” It’s pronounced DOONG. However, I don’t think the Scottish name Dongal should be avoided. I honestly didn’t realize what the first four letters spell in English until it was pointed out some years after discovering the name.

5. Dũng, a male Vietnamese name meaning “brave.” It’s pronounced like the English word “yum.” If you like the meaning that much, you could use the Chinese and Korean form, Yong, or one of the Japanese forms, Yuu or Isamu.

6. Foka, the Russian form of Phocas/Phokas, which means “a seal” (the animal). I’m not sure where the stress falls, but if it’s on the A, the name would be pronounced Fah-KAH, not FOH-kah.

7. Gaylord. This poor boy would be so bullied.

8. Gay(e). This poor girl would likewise be bullied, though once upon a time, this was a lovely name. We can’t predict how the language will evolve.

9. Osama. I’ve heard this name has been outlawed in some countries, and we can all understand why.

10. Adolf/Adolph. This name is likewise outlawed in many countries with naming laws. If you want to honor a special older relative or friend who was born before the name took on its modern association, what about the original form Adalwolf?

11. Titty. There’s a reason this is no longer a nickname for Letitia!

12. Tit. Pronounced TEET (still awful in English!), this is the Russian form of Titus.

13. Arseman. This was the name of a female character on the early Nineties Nickelodeon show Fifteen, as well as the real-life name of the young lady who played her. Given what “arse” means in the U.K., Ireland, and Australia, this is a no-go!

14. Arsen, a male Armenian name derived from the Greek Arsenios. It sounds like “arson,” and it’s also only two letters shy of “arsenic.” I personally wouldn’t use this name or any of the other forms of it, particularly if I lived in a place where “arse” is the spelling for one’s rear end.

15. Hardman, the Old Germanic form of Hartmann (brave man).

16. Jerker, a Swedish form of Erik. The J is pronounced like a Y, but the spelling in English is what it is. Another form of this name is Jerk.

17. Harm, a Dutch and Frisian nickname for Herman.

18. Violâte, a Jèrriais name which seems to be a form of the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish Violante, which may in turn be derived from Yolanda. Both Violâte and Violante are too close to the word “violent,” and it’s obvious what Violâte spells in English. The similar-looking Violet, however, has never conveyed that connotation for me.

Are there any other names you’d add to this list?