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.

Masked names

Continuing the Halloween theme for October, here are some names related to the word “mask.” Almost all of them are Ancient Germanic or Old Norse in origin, and thus not so realistic for a modern, real person. Unless otherwise specified, all these names are male.

Adalgrim means “noble mask,” from Old High German adal (noble) and Old Norse grîma (mask).

Aldgrim means “old mask,” from Gothic alds and Old High German alt (old) and Old Norse grîma. This name may also be an alternate form of Adalgrim.

Alfgrim is a Middle English and German name meaning “elf mask,” from roots alf and grim.

Arngrímr comes from Old Norse ǫrn (eagle) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Ásgrímr comes from Old Norse áss (god) and grímr.

Aurgrímnir comes from Old Norse aur (clay, sand) and grímr or grimmr (grim). This is the name of a jötunn, a type of otherworldly creature in Norse mythology.

Auðgrímr comes from Old Norse auðr (riches, fortune, prosperity) and grímr.

Biligrim comes from Ancient Germanic bili (gentleness) and Old Norse grímr.

Ebergrim comes from Old High German ebur (wild boar) and Old Norse gríma (mask).

Edlgrímr comes from Old Norse eldr (fire) and gríma.

Frotgrim comes from Old High German frôd (cautious, prudent) and Old Norse gríma.

Grímr is the Anglo–Saxon, Old Swedish, Old Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish form of Grímr (mask, helmet), which was popular till the 12th century. This is also another name for the god Odin.

Grimbald comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German bald (brave, bold).

Grimbert comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German beraht (bright).

Grimburg comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German burg (fortress), or Gothic bairgan and Old High German bergan (to preserve, save, keep).

Grimfrid comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German fridu (peace).

Grimhard comes from Old Norse grîma, and Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (hardy, brave).

Grímheiður is Icelandic, derived from roots grímr (person wearing a mask) and heiðr (bright, cloudless, clear).

Grimland comes from Old Norse grîma and land (land).

Grímr means “masked person” or “shape-changer” in Old Norse, from gríma (mask, helmet). Since this was also a name for Odin, it may have been given to human boys in the hopes they’d walk through life with Odin’s protection.

Grimulf comes from Old Norse grîma and Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Grímúlfur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse grim (mask, helmet) and ulfr (wolf).

Grimward comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German wart (guard).

Grimwald derives from Ancient Germanic grim (mask) and walk (power, ruler, leader).

Hadegrim comes from Old High German hadu (battle) and Old Norse grîma.

Hafgrímr comes from Old Norse haf (ocean, sea) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hallgrímr comes from Old Norse elements hallr (rock) and grîma.

Hardgrim comes from Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (brave, hardy), and Old Norse grîma.

Hildegrim comes from Old Norse hildr (battle) and grîma.

Hildigrímr comes from Old Norse hildr and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hólmgrímr is an Icelandic name formed from holmr (small island) and grímr.

Hrafngrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse hrafn (raven) and grim (mask, helmet).

Isangrim comes from Ancient Germanic isan (iron) and Old Norse grîma.

Isgrim comes from Ancient Germanic îs (ice) and Old Norse grîma.

Járngrímur is an Icelandic name formed from jarn (iron) and grímr.

Jógrímr comes from Old Norse iór (horse) and grímr.

Kolgrímur is Icelandic and Faroese, derived from Old Norse kolr (black, coal, dark) and grim (mask, helmet).

Kriemhild (F) derives from Ancient Germanic grim and hild (battle). This name is famous as a character in the Nibelungenleid saga.

Landgrim comes from Ancient Germanic land and Old Norse grîma.

Liutgrim comes from Old High German liut (people) and Old Norse grîma.

Madalgrim comes from Gothic mathi (meeting place) and Old Norse grîma.

Margrímur is an Icelandic name derived from marr (ocean, sea, lake) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Menkao (F) can be derived from Japanese elements men (mask) and kao (face).

Moye derives from Chinese elements mo (mask) and ye (deed, job, occupation, karma).

Radgrim comes from Old High German rât (counsel) and Old Norse grîma.

Rotgrim comes from Ancient Germanic hróthi (fame) and Old Norse grîma.

Sigurgrímur is an Icelandic name formed from sigr (victory) and grímr.

Skallagrímr comes from Old Norse skalli (bald head) and grímr.

Stafngrímr derives from Ancient Germanic stafn (stern/prow of a ship) and grímr.

Steingrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse steinn (stone) and grímr.

Tegrimo may be a nickname for Teudegrimo, the Italian form of an Ancient Germanic name derived from þeud (people) and grim.

Thancgrim comes from Ancient Germanic thanc and Old High German dankjan (to think) or dank (thanks), and Old Norse grîma.

Theudegrim comes from Ancient Germanic þeud and Old Norse grîma.

Þórgrímr comes from Thor/Þórr (thunder) and grímr. The modern Norwegian form is Torgrim.

Víggrímur is a Faroese name derived from víg (battle, fight) and grímr.

Walagrim comes from Old High German walah (traveller, wanderer, foreigner) and Old Norse grîma.

Waldgrim derives from Gothic valdan (to reign) and Old Norse grîma.

Wilgrim comes from Gothic vilja (desire, will) and Old Norse grîma.

Male names of literary origin, G-M

FYI: If you’re wondering why I’ve barely mentioned any Arthurian names in this series, it’s because I’m saving them for a future post on that subject only.

Sorry I couldn’t find a bigger pool of names! The relative dearth of literary male vs. female names is evidence of how, until fairly recently, people generally have been more creative with female names.

U.S. comedic actor Buster Keaton as Hamlet, 1922

Gareth first appeared in Thomas Malory’s 15th century collection of Arthurian legends, Le Morte d’Arthur. It’s based on Gahariet, the name of a similar Knight of the Round Table in French legends. This name, like many others in those stories, may also have a Welsh origin. If so, it may be derived from gwaredd (gentleness).

Gavroche was created by Victor Hugo for a character in Les Misérables (1862). Because of the fictional Gavroche, this has become slang for “street urchin” and “mischievous child.”

Goldmund is one of two title characters of Swiss-German writer Hermann Hesse’s amazing 1930 novel Narcissus and Goldmund. It’s meant to mean “gold mouth,” from German gold and mund, but it can also mean “golden protection.” Mund means “mouth” in modern German, but “protection” in Old High German.

Hamlet is an Anglicised form of Danish name Amleth, famously created for Shakespeare’s 1600 play of the same name. For whatever reason, this name is also used in Armenian.

Hareton may have been created by Emily Brontë for a character in her 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. It may also derive from an English place name meaning “hare town.”

Heathcliff was invented for the male protagonist of Wuthering Heights, and has the self-explanatory meaning “from the heath cliff” or “from the cliff with heath.” A heath is a shrubland with low-growing, open, woody plant life, mostly in acidic soils.

Sir Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights (1939)

Indulis started as a diminutive of Latvian name Indriķis (home ruler; i.e., Henry), but is now given as a full name in its own right. Playwright and poet Rainis (a pseudonym of Jānis Pliekšāns) used it on one of the title characters of his 1911 play Indulis un Ārija.

Keimo was invented by legendary Finnish writer Aleksis Kivi in the 19th century, inspired by the village of Keimola.

Kordian is the protagonist of Polish writer Juliusz Słowacki’s famous 1833 play. I’m going to give this name to a till-now minor background character who’s soon to become an important secondary character, and also gave it as a middle name to another character. It’s derived from the Latin cordis (heart). This name is so romantic and beautiful!

Lesław was created by Polish writer Roman Zmorski for his 1847 poetic novel of the same name, derived from Lech (the legendary founder of the Polish nation) and the root sław (glory).

Lestat was created by Anne Rice for a character in her Vampire Chronicles series, which débuted in 1976. She may have intended it to look derived from Occitan or Old French l’estat (the status, state), though Lestat’s name was originally Lestan, in honour of her husband Stan. While writing the first book, she accidentally wrote the name wrong, and only noticed later.

U.S. President Andrew Johnson (left) as Mercutio, 1868 political cartoon by Alfred Waud

Malvolio means “ill will” in Italian. It was created by Shakespeare for a character in his 1602 play Twelfth Night.

Marganore was invented by Italian writer Ludovico Ariosto for his 1516 poem Orlando Furioso (published in its complete form in 1532). Fittingly, since it belongs to a tyrant, the name derives from Greek words margaino (to rage, to be mad) and anor (man). Thus, it means “madman.”

Mercutio is a diminutive of Mercury, probably ultimately from Latin mercari (to trade) or merces (wages). Shakespeare used it for a character in Romeo and Juliet (1596).

Female names of literary origin, G-M

I belatedly realised I left out three names in the first post in this series:

Daiva was created by Lithuanian writer Vydūnas and possibly based on a Sanskrit word meaning “destiny.”

Dalma was created by Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty for his 1825 epic poem Zalán Futása. Though the original Dalma was male, later writers used it for female characters.

Etelka was created by Hungarian writer András Dugonics for the protagonist of his 1788 novel of the same name. It’s derived from male name Etele, which is possibly a form of Attila (little father).

Image of Jessica, from The Graphic Gallery of Shakespeare’s Heroines, 1896, by Luke Fildes

Gloriana is the title character of Edmund Spenser’s 1590 epic poem The Faerie Queene, an allegory of Queen Elizabeth I. It’s an elaborated form of the Latin word gloria (glory).

Grażyna means “beautiful” in Lithuanian. It was created by great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz for the title character of an 1823 poem.

Gyneth is King Arthur’s daughter in Sir Walter Scott’s 1813 poem The Bridal of Triermain. It’s possibly a variation of Welsh name Gwyneth, either from Gwynedd (the name of a region in Wales, perhaps derived from Old Welsh name Cunedda) or the word gwyn (fair, blessed, white).

Haidee was created by Lord Byron for a character in the 1819 poem Don Juan, possibly derived from Greek word aidoios (reverent, modest).

Imogen is a princess in Shakespeare’s 1609 play Cymbeline, based on legendary character Innogen, which in turn is probably derived from Gaelic inghean (maiden). Her name was misprinted and never corrected.

Janice is an elaborated form of Jane created by Paul Leicester Ford for his 1899 novel Janice Meredith.

Jessica was created by Shakespeare for Shylock’s apostate daughter in The Merchant of Venice (1596), probably based on Biblical name Yiskah (to behold).

Jolánka is the protagonist of Hungarian writer András Dugonics’s 1803 novel Jólánka, Etelkának Leánya. It may have come from jóleán (good girl) or Yolanda (violet).

Juliet is an Anglicized form of respectively French and Italian nicknames Juliette and Giulietta. It was first used in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1596).

Kinscő was created by Hungarian writer Mór Jokai in 1872’s The Novel of the Next Century, derived from kincs (treasure).

Lalage is a character in one of Roman poet Horace’s odes, derived from Greek lalageo (to prattle, babble).

Lalla is the protagonist of Thomas Moore’s 1817 poem Lalla Rookh, derived from Persian laleh (tulip).

Layla means “night” in Arabic, and was used in 7th century romantic poems. The variation Leila was used in several of Lord Byron’s poems.

Loredana is a character in French writer George Sand’s 1833 novel Mattea, possibly based on Venetian surname Loredan and ultimately place name Loreo.

Lorna was created by R.D. Blackmore for his 1869 novel Lorna Doone, based on Scottish place name Lorne and possibly ultimately legendary king Loarn mac Eirc of Dál Riata.

Lucasta was created by poet Richard Lovelace for a 1649 poetry collection of the same name, dedicated to his love Lucasta, Lucy Sacheverel. He nicknamed her lux casta (pure light).

Lucinda was created by Miguel Cervantes for a character in 1605’s Don Quixote, an elaboration of Lucia, ultimately derived from Latin lux (light).

Magnhild derives from Old Norse magn (strong, mighty) and hildr (battle). This is the title character of Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s 1877 novel.

Malvina was created by 18th century poet James MacPherson for his Ossian poems, possibly intended to mean “smooth brow” in Gaelic.

Mahulena was created by Czech writer Julius Zeyer for his 1898 play Radúz and Mahulena, possibly derived from Magdalena.

Miranda, from The Graphic Gallery of Shakespeare’s Heroines

Mavis was first used as a personal name in a character in British writer Marie Corelli’s 1895 novel The Sorrows of Satan. It comes from a bird also known as a song thrush, ultimately from Old French mauvis (unknown etymology).

Melantha may be a portmanteau of Mel (from names such as Melissa and Melanie) and suffix antha, from Greek anthos (flower). John Dryden used it for a character in his 1672 play Marriage à la Mode.

Mélisande is the French form of Millicent (strong work), used in Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1893 play Pelléas et Mélisande.

Minea was created by Finnish writer Mika Waltari for his 1945 hist-fic The Egyptian, possibly based on Greek name Minos (king).

Miranda was created by Shakespeare for the protagonist of The Tempest (1611), derived from Latin mirandus (wonderful, admirable).

Mirèio is an Occitan name first used by French writer Frédéric Mistral in the 1859 poem of the same name, possibly derived from Occitan mirar (to admire).

Moema means “lies” in Tupí, an indigenous Brazilian language. Poet Santa Rita Durão used it in his 1781 poem Caramuru.

Myra was created by 17th century poet Sir Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, possibly based on Latin myrra (myrrh), or an anagram of Mary. This is also the name of an ancient city of Anatolia.