The Ls of Estonian names

Male:

Leemet means “broth.”

Leino, of unknown etymology, comes from the pseudonym of Eino Leino (né Armas Einar Leopold Lönnbohm), a Finnish poet and journalist.

Lembit means “beloved.” Lembitu was the name of a heroic king who bravely fought against the conquest of his proud homeland. He was sadly killed in battle in September 1217.

Leonti is adopted from the Russian name Leontiy (lion).

Loit may mean “to cast a spell.”

Lukjan is adopted from the Russian name Lukyan (i.e., Lucian), which means “light.” This also happens to be the Estonian word for “reader.”

Female:

Lagle means “goose.”

Laine, or Laina, means “wave.”

Lauli means “song, melody.”

Leegi means “flame.”

Leelo means “folk song.”

Lehte, or Lehti, means “leaf.” The male form is Leho.

Leida means “to discover, to find.” My character Katrin changes her middle name to this, replacing Kaarelovna, the patronymic she’s carried around her entire life. Real Estonians don’t have patronymics, and there’s no love lost between her and her self-hating father.

Leija means “kite.”

Liivika means “sand.”

Luige means “cygnet.”

Lumme means “waterlily.”

Luule means “poetry.” This is the name of my character Vahur Lindmaa’s first wife, who was killed in the final bombing of Tallinn, 24 September 1944, when she was seven months pregnant with her second child. Meri was delivered in a posthumous C-section.

Bright names

Though the vast majority of such names have sharply plummeted in popularity, there’s a large quantity of Germanic-origin names formed from the root beraht (bright). Robert is far and away the best-known, with other well-known (albeit not nearly as popular) names including Albert, Gilbert, Herbert, and Hubert. Let’s take a look at this category of names.

Albert (English, French, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Catalan, Romanian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Slavic), Albèrt (Jèrriais), Alberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Alberte (Galician), Adalbert (German, Hungarian), Adalberto (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Albaer (Limburgish), Alpertti (Finnish), Aubert (French), Adelbert (German, Dutch), Albertas (Lithuanian), Albrecht (German), Ailbeart (Scottish), Alberts (Latvian), Albertu (Corsican), Alberzh (Breton), Alberta (English, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Hungarian, Polish, Galician, Kashubian, Portuguese), Albertyna (Polish), Albertina (Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Kashubian, Galician), Alberte (French), Albertine (French): Noble and bright.

Bertha (English, German), Berta (Slavic, Hungarian, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian), Berthe (French): Bright. This was my paternal grandma’s name, and she knew it was too unfashionable to merit a namesake. However, I’d love to use her middle name Violet as a middle name for a potential daughter.

Berthold, Bertold (German), Bertoldo (Italian), Bertil (Scandinavian): Bright ruler.

Bertram (English, German), Bertrand (English, French), Bertrando (Italian): Bright raven. I love this name!

Egbert (English, Dutch), Eckbert (German): Bright edge. Not a fan of this name!

Fulbert (French, German): Bright people.

Gaubert (French), Gualberto (Portuguese, Italian): Bright rule.

Gilbert (English, French, Dutch, German), Gilberto (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), Gisbert (German), Gijsbert (Dutch): Bright pledge.

Herbert (English, French, Dutch, German, Swedish), Herberto (Spanish, Portuguese), Heribert (German): Bright army.

Hilbert, Hildebert (German): Bright battle.

Hubert (English, Dutch, German, French, Polish), Uberto (Italian), Hoebaer (Limburgish): Bright mind; bright heart.

Humbert (English, German, French), Umberto (Italian), Humberto (Portuguese, Spanish): Bright warrior.

Kunibert (German): Bright family.

Lambert (English, German, Dutch, French), Lammert (Dutch), Lambaer (Limburgish), Lamberto (Italian): Bright land.

Norbert (English, German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak), Norberto (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Norbaer (Limburgish): Bright north.

Osbert (English): Bright and good.

Philibert, Philbert (French), Filibert (German), Filiberto (Italian), Filbert (East African): Much brightness.

Rambert (German): Bright raven.

Siegbert (German): Bright victory.

Wilbert (Dutch): Bright will.

Wybert (Middle English): Bright battle.

Slavic names of love

Though Slavic names formed from the root lyuby, “love,” aren’t as common as names formed from the roots milu (dear, gracious), miru (world, peace), or slava (glory), there are more than just a few of them. Though there are exceptions, like the almost exclusively Polish names formed from the root gnyevu/gnev (anger), many Slavic names have meanings invoking happy, beautiful concepts. This stands in stark contrast to how many names of Germanic and Old Norse origin invoke war and fighting.

These names include:

Female:

Liběna is Czech. The first root, libý, means “pleasant.”

Libuše is also Czech, and formed from the same roots. This was the name of the legendary founder of Prague.

Ljuba means “love” in Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Czech, and Croatian.

Ljubina is Serbian.

Ljubomira means “love of peace/the world” in Serbian and Croatian. Other forms include Ľubomíra (Slovak), Lubomíra (Czech), and Lyubomira (Bulgarian)

Lubina is Sorbian.

Lubosława means “love of glory” in Polish.

Lyuboǔ is Belarusian.

Lyubava is Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian.

Lyubov is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian. This is the name of the female protagonist of my Russian historical novels. Though most of the main characters move to America halfway through the first book, I call them my Russian novels because that’s where most of my very large ensemble cast originated. Lyuba’s name was originally Amy, and I obviously needed to change it to a real, equivalent Russian name.

Male:

Bogoljub means “love of God” in Serbian and Croatian.

Bratoljub means “love of brother” in Serbian and Croatian.

Dragoljub means “precious love” in Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian. This is also their name for the nasturtium flower.

Lubomír is Czech, and means “love of peace/the world.” Other forms include Ľubomír (Slovak), Ljubomir (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian), Lyubomir (Bulgarian), Lubomierz (Polish), and Lyubomyr (Ukrainian).

Ľubomír means “to think of love” or “thoughts of love” in Polish.

Ľuboslav is a newer Slovak name meaning “love of glory.” The Polish form is Lubosław, and the Bulgarian and Russian form is Lyuboslav.

Lyuben is Bulgarian.

Lyublen means “Love Lenin!” in Russian. This is one of the invented names which were rather popular in the early decades of the USSR.

Slavoljub means “love of glory” or “glory of love” in Serbian and Croatian.

Srboljub means “to love a Serb” in Serbian, and seems like a rather rare name.

Veroljub means “lover of faith” in Serbian.

Živoljub means “living/vivacious love” in Serbian.

All about Lydia

Dissident Russian writer Lidiya Korneyevna Chukovskaya, 1907–1996

The English, German, and Greek name Lydia means, simply, “from Lydia” in Greek. Lydia was a region on Asia Minor’s west coast, reputedly named after legendary King Lydos (of unknown etymology). Today, Lydia is in western Turkey.

The name briefly appears in the Bible, on a woman whom St. Paul converts to Christianity. It didn’t become common in the Anglophone world till the Protestant Reformation.

Lydia was #77 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and stayed in the lower Top 100 till 1899. Over the ensuing decades, it gradually dipped in popularity, but never sank lower than #329 in 1973. From lows came highs, and in 1979 it rose to #296 from #324. In each succeeding year, Lydia was steadily more popular, till it re-entered the Top 100 in 2011. In 2018, it was #89.

Other forms of Lydia include:

1. Lidia is Spanish, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Georgian, Irish, and Indonesian. The alternate form Lídia is Catalan, Portuguese, and Hungarian.

2. Lidiya is Russian and Bulgarian.

3. Lidija is Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

4. Lidziya is Belarusian.

5. Lýdia is Slovak and Faroese.

6. Lydie is Czech, with variant Lýdie. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

7. Lyydia is Finnish, with nickname Lyyti.

8. Lide is Basque.

9. Liidia is Estonian.

10. Litia is Fijian.

British suffragist Lydia Ernestine Becker (1827–1890), painted by fellow suffragist Susan Isabel Dacre

11. Livli is Sami.

12. Lutia is Greenlandic.

13. Lutsîa is also Greenlandic.

14. Lýdía is Icelandic. They also render the name as Lydía.

15. Lukia is sometimes used as a vernacular Hawaiian form. This is also their form of Lucia and a nickname for Lu’ukia (of unknown etymology).

16. Lyydi is Finnish.

17. Lydija is Sorbian and Lithuanian.

18. Lydiana is a rare Swedish, English, and Latin American–Spanish form.

19. Lydiane is a rare French and Brazilian–Portuguese form.

20. Lìddia is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy.

Italian silent actor Lidia Quaranta, 1891–1928

21. Lidiane is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese form.

22. Lydianna is a rare English and Mexican–Spanish form.

23. Lydianne is a rare Québecois, Dutch, Brazilian–Portuguese, and English form.

24. Lydielle is a rare English form.

Male forms:

1. Lidio is Spanish and Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Lydian is Scandinavian.

3. Lidiyan is a rare Russian and Bulgarian form.

Happy Halloween!—Orange names

Happy Halloween! Here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “orange” (the colour). In some languages, the word for the fruit and colour are identical, while in others they’re different. As always, some of these names might sound much better on pets, stuffed animals, dolls, or fictional characters. I obviously wouldn’t recommend using some of these word names on real people in countries where that language is spoken.

Alani is Hawaiian, and refers to the colour, fruit, and flower.

Arancia is Italian.

Aranciu is Corsican.

Kamala is Bengali.

Karaka is Maori.

Kesari is Marathi.

Lalanje is Nyanja, a Bantu language primarily spoken in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Laranja is Basque and Portuguese.

Laranxa is Galician.

Namunu is Southern Sotho.

Naranja is Spanish.

Narıncı is Azeri.

Narinja is Telugu.

Oren is Malaysian and Welsh. This has a completely different etymology from the Hebrew name meaning “pine tree.”

Orenji is Japanese. I’m 99% sure this is a very modern, unusual name inspired by the English word, not a historic, native Japanese name.

Porteqalî is Kurdish.

Portokalea, or Portokali, is Greek.

Portokhali is Georgian.

Santara is Hindi.

Satara is Punjabi.

Sienna is a modern English name meaning “orange-red,” derived from the Italian city Siena. The city’s clay is sienna in colour.

Suntala is Nepali.

Taronja is Catalan.