The Bs of Slavic names

Male:

Bazilid is the Croatian form of the Greek Basileides (prince), ultimately from basileios (royal, regal).

Blagun means “pleasant, good, sweet” in Bulgarian and Macedonian. The feminine form is Blaguna.

Blizbor is an archaic Polish name derived from the elements bliz (near, close) and bor (struggle, fight).

Božidar (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian), Bozhidar (Bulgarian, Macedonian), Bożydar (Polish) means “Divine gift.” I have a character named Božidar Brinarsky, a half-Slovak, half-Slovenian former schoolteacher turned progressive home tutor. He’s one of my many left-handed characters, and teaches his lefty students proper left-handed writing methods (forming the letters, angling the paper, holding the pen). Many teachers don’t understand writing must be taught differently for lefties!

Budivoj means “to wake up the army” in Czech, Serbian, and Croatian.

Bystrík means “smart, shrewd, quick-witted, sharp, fast” in Slovak.

Female:

Biljana (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian), Bilyana (Bulgarian) may come from South Slavic root bilje (herb).

Biruta is the Belarusian, Polish, and Latvian form of the Lithuanian Birutė, which possibly derives from birti (to pour out, to scatter) and a diminutive suffix.

Bisera means “pearl” in Bulgarian and Macedonian. Its origin is Arabic.

Bistra means “clean, pure” in Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Blažena means “happy, blissful” in Czech and Slovak.

Bogdana means “given by God” in Russian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Romanian, Slovenian, Polish, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Croatian. I have a character by this name, who goes by the nickname Bogusya.

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The many forms of Leah

Dante’s Vision of Leah and Rachel, Marie Spartall Stillman, 1887

Leah probably comes from a Hebrew word meaning “weary.” It may also be related to the Akkadian littu (cow). Though I’m not keen on the English LEE-a pronunciation, I love the Hebrew and French LEY-a (i.e., like Princess Leia’s name).

Leah has always been a common Jewish name, for obvious reasons, but wasn’t common among Christians until the Protestant Reformation. It was particularly popular among Puritans.

The name has gone up and down in popularity in the U.S. for a long time, and was in the Top 100 from 1979–93, again in 1996, and then from 2000 through the present. Its highest rank to date was #24 in 2010. In 2017, it was #40.

Hungarian-born actor Lya De Putti, 1897–1931

Leah is #24 in Norway; #29 in Ireland; #30 in Sweden; #47 in Northern Ireland; #58 in Scotland; #76 in New Zealand; and #99 in England and Wales.

The variation Lea is German, Scandinavian, Finnish, Dutch, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Polish, Estonian, and Yoruba. Léa is French. This spelling is #6 (as Lea) and #65 (as Léa) in Switzerland; #8 in France; #10 in Austria; #18 in Belgium; #46 in Slovenia; #48 in Denmark; #83 in Norway; #84 in Bosnia; and #90 in Sweden.

Other forms include:

1. Lya is modern French.

2. Lia is Italian, Portuguese, Georgian, and Greek. The alternate form Lía is Galician and Spanish; Lîa is Greenlandic; and Liä is Tatar.

3. Leja is Slovenian and Croatian. The alternate form Lejá is Sami, and Lėja is Lithuanian.

4. Leia is Biblical Greek, and of course well-known from Star Wars.

5. Leya is Yiddish.

6. Laya is Arabic.

7. Liya is Amharic and Russian.

8. Leea is an uncommon Finnish form.

9. Leija is a rare Finnish and Estonian form, and modern Swedish. This is also the Finnish word for “kite.”

10. Liia is Estonian and Finnish.

11. Lija is Latvian, Dutch, Slovenian, and Serbian.

The many forms of Noah

Noah, a name which presumably 99.99999% of everyone recognises from the famous Biblical story, comes from the Hebrew root nuach (repose, rest). It became widespread in the Anglophone world during the Protestant Reformation, and was particularly popular among Puritans.

This name has been leaping up the U.S. charts since 1988. It entered the Top 100 in 1995, at exactly #100, and was #1 from 2013–16. In 2017, it was #2.

The name also enjoys great popularity around the world. It’s #1 in Switzerland; #2 in Denmark; #3 in Australia, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland; #4 in Belgium, Norway, and England and Wales; #5 in Scotland and The Netherlands; #6 in Ireland; #9 in Sweden; #17 in Austria and France; #67 in Portugal; #76 in Catalonia; #77 in Italy; and #93 in Spain.

American lexicographer Noah Webster (1758–1843), by Samuel Finley Breese Morse

Other forms of this extremely popular name include:

1. Noé is French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hungarian. The variant Noè is Italian; Nóe is Irish; Noe is Alsatian, Georgian, Romanian, Polish, Greek, and Czech; and Noë is Dutch.

2. Noach is Hebrew and Dutch.

3. Noak is Swedish.

4. Nojus is Lithuanian.

5. Nooa is Finnish.

6. Nuh is Arabic and Turkish.

7. Noa is Hawaiian, Maori, Tongan, Yoruba, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Nóa is Faroese.

8. Nói is Icelandic and Faroese. This may also be a separate name drawn from the Icelandic word nói (small vessel).

9. Noy is Armenian, Russian, and Bulgarian.

10. Noass is Latvian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this spelling in an Anglophone country!

11. Nuhu is Arabic.

Georgian journalist and politician Noe Zhordania, 1868–1953

Feminine forms:

1. Noa is Hebrew, and quite a popular name. Though it truly transliterates as Noah, most people use the spelling Noa to avoid confusion with what everyone knows as an unmistakably male name.

Contrary to what many name sites report, this is also a completely separate name from the familiar Biblical name. In the Bible, Noa is one of the five righteous daughters of Tzelofehad. The name means “motion, movement.”

2. Noja is Lithuanian.

The many forms of Tatiana

Saint Tatiana of Rome

Tatiana is a feminine form of the Sabine–Latin name Tatius, which is of unknown etymology. Titus Tatius was a legendary Sabine king who later also co-ruled Rome with Romulus. Many name books and websites claim Tatiana means “fairy queen,” which is completely false.

The name remained common throughout Ancient Rome and the first few centuries of Christianity, then fell into disuse in Western Europe. It was much more popular in the Eastern Roman Empire and Orthodox world, so much so many people believe this name is Russian in origin.

Tatiana entered the U.S. Top 1000 at #995 in 1980, and began jumping up the charts. Its highest rank to date is #213 in 1999. In 2017, it was #700, up from #735 in 2016. In addition to English and Latin, this spelling is also used in Italian, the Scandinavian languages, Greek, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian. German, Finnish, Polish, Georgian, and Slovak.

Princess Tatyana Yusupova (née Engelhardt) of Russia (1769–1841), by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1797

Other forms include:

1. Tatyana is Russian and Bulgarian, with nicknames including Tanya and Tanyechka. My character Tatyana, in my Russian historicals, was named after Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna (1897–1918). Of all my characters I’ve taken from birth to adulthood, my journey with sweet little Tatyana has been the most emotional.

2. Tatjana is German, Dutch, Serbian, Latvian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Tjaša (Slovenian), Taina (Finnish), and Tanja. The variant Tatjána is Hungarian.

3. Tat’ána is Czech. The nickname is Táňa.

4. Tatienne is French. I love this name!

5. Taziana is Italian.

6. Tatiane is Brazilian–Portuguese and an alternate Greek form.

7. Tatiani is modern Greek. There’s also a separate Greek name Tatiana, meaning “to form, to arrange, to place in order,” from root tatto.

8. Tatstsyana is Belarusian. For obvious reasons, it’s usually transliterated Tatsyana or Tatsiana.

9. Tachana is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

10. Tankka is Chuvash.

Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna (left). In her lifetime, she was the most famous and popular of the Tsar’s daughters, because of her prominent nursing work and exotic, regal beauty. Those who saw her in person said still photos didn’t do her beauty justice. In my alternative history, she gets a nursing degree after her rescue.

11. Tetyana is Ukrainian.

12. Tatianne is an English, German, and Dutch variation.

13. Tacjanna is a Polish variation based on the Belarusian form.

14. Tacjana is also Polish.

The many forms of Christopher and Christina

Saint-Christophe, by Claude Bassot, 1607

Christopher, which comes from the Greek Christophoros (Christ-bearer), has been an extremely popular name since the Middle Ages. Contemporary evidence shows the Saint Christopher of legend may have actually been the historical Saint Minas of Egypt. Though he was removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969, Christopher is still very much a saint. Decanonization isn’t a thing.

The name began rising in popularity in the U.S. in 1939, and entered the Top 100 in 1949. It continued rising, and broke the Top 10 at #9 in 1967. Christopher was #3 and #2 from 1972–95, and remained in the Top 10 till 2009. In 2017, it was #38.

Danish statesman Christoffer Gabel (1617–73), by Karel van Mander III

Other forms include:

1. Christoffer is Scandinavian.

2. Cristoforo is Italian.

3. Cristóvão is Portuguese.

4. Cristóbal is Spanish.

5. Christoffel is Dutch.

6. Christophe is French.

7. Críostóir is Irish.

8. Christoph is German.

9. Kristoffer is Scandinavian.

10. Kristóf is Hungarian. The variant Krištof is Slovenian and Slovak.

King Christopher of Scandinavia, 1416–48

11. Kristaps is Latvian.

12. Kristupas is Lithuanian.

13. Krzysztof is Polish, with nicknames including Krzyś and Krzysiek. RZ is pronounced like the Russian ZH and the other Polish letter Ż, though I’m told RZ and Ż were historically pronounced slightly differently.

14. Kristofor is Croatian.

15. Hristofor is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

16. Risto is Finnish.

17. Ħamallu is Maltese.

18. Christoli is Gascon.

19. Crìsdean is Scottish.

20. Cristofanu is Corsican.

Polish military leader and poet Krzysztof Arciszewski, 1592–1656

21. Cristofo is Aragonese.

22. Cristòfuru is Sicilian.

23. Cristoc’h is Breton.

24. Cristolu is Sardinian.

25. Cristovo is Galician.

26. Cristovam is Brazilian–Portuguese.

27. Karistorfe is Greenlandic.

28. Kilikopela is Hawaiian.

29. Kristdapor is Armenian.

30. Kristafár is Faroese.

Self-portrait of Venezuelan painter Cristóbal Rojas, 1857–90

31. Kristapor is Armenian.

32. Kristobal is Basque.

33. Kristepore is Georgian.

34. Kito is Sorbian.

35. Khristofor is Russian.

36. Khrystofor is Ukrainian.

37. Kristófer is Icelandic.

38. Kristoforas is Lithuanian.

39. Kristoffur is Faroese.

40. Kristoforid is Albanian.

Duke Christoph of Württemberg, 1515–68

41. Kristoforo is Esperanto.

42. Kristofru is Maltese.

43. Krisztofer is Hungarian.

44. Stöffu is Swiss–German.

Queen Kristina of Sweden (1626–89), by Sébastien Bourdon

Christina has its origins in the Latin name Christiana, a feminine form of Christian. It was Top 100 in the U.S. from 1964–2002, with its highest rank of #12 in 1985. By 2017, it had plummeted to #408.

The French form Christine was Top 100 in the U.S. from 1942–93, with the highest rank of #14 from 1967–70. In 2017, it was #785. The name was also hugely popular in France from 1943–83, with a high of #3 in 1960–61. Today, it’s no longer on the charts.

Kristina enjoyed somewhat more modest popularity in the U.S. during the Seventies and Eighties, with a high of #57 in 1985. This spelling is also German, Scandinavian, Russian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Czech, Serbian, Lithuanian, Faroese, and Croatian. The variant Kristína is Slovak; Kristīna is Latvian; and Kristîna is Greenlandic.

Norwegian biologist Kristine Bonnevie, Norway’s first female professor, 1872–1948

Other forms include:

1. Krystyna is Polish, and my favourite form of the name. I love how Polish names often use Y in place of I. I also love the nickname Krysia.

2. Kristine is German and Scandinavian. The variant Kristīne is Latvian.

3. Krisztina is Hungarian.

4. Kristýna is Czech.

5. Kristiina is Estonian and Finnish.

6. Kristiana is Scandinavian and Croatian. The alternate form Kristiāna is Latvian.

7. Kristjana is Icelandic. Another Icelandic form is Kristín.

8. Kistiñe is Basque.

9. Cristiana is Italian and Portuguese.

10. Cristina is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

Medieval French feminist writer Christine de Pizan, 1364–1430

11. Khrystyna is Ukrainian.

12. Kirsten is Danish and Norwegian.

13. Kjerstin is Swedish and Norwegian.

14. Kerstin is Swedish.

15. Krystiana is Polish.

16. Kilikina is Hawaiian.

17. Hristina is Serbian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian.

18. Christiane is French and German.

19. Cairistìona is Scottish.

20. Kristiane is German.

British poet Christina Rossetti (1830–94), by her brother Dante Gabriel

21. Cristíona is Irish.

22. Kristiinná is Sami.

23. Kristin is German and Scandinavian.