Angelic names

Irish–British–American actress Angela Lansbury, 1925–2022

Names derived from the Greek word angelos (angel; messenger of God) historically have been much more common outside of the Anglophone world. Only in the 20th century did names like Angela, Angelica, and Angelina start becoming popular. On the male side, the name Angel (Ahn-hell) seems to be almost exclusively used on boys from Hispanic families, and Angelo is most frequently used on boys of Italian descent.

Angela is used in English, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Greek, Slovenian, Slovakian, the Scandinavian languages, Estonian, Finnish, Luxembourgish, Flemish, Macedonian, and modern Russian. In all of those languages except English and Italian, it’s pronounced with a hard G. The variant form Angéla is Hungarian; Angèla is Occitan and Gascon; Ángela is Spanish; Àngela is Catalan; and Ângela is Portuguese.

St. Angela Merici of Italy, 1474–1540

Angela was #679 in the U.S. in 1880, the year popularity records began, and gradually rose to the Top 100. It entered that upper echelon in 1956, at #93, and continued climbing upwards very quickly. By 1963, it was already #30, and it was in the Top 10 from 1965–79, holding its highest rank of #5 from 1974–76. The name began a slow descent in popularity in 1980, interrupted a few times by a rise back upwards. In 2021, it was #234.

Angela is also popular in Mexico (#46), Spain (#60), and Italy (#87).

Self-portrait of Swiss artist Angelica Kaufman, 1741–1807

Other forms of the name include:

1. Angelica is Italian, Romanian, Gascon, Provençal, Scandinavian, Romansh, Flemish, Dutch, and German. The variant Angélica is Spanish and Portuguese, and Angèlica is Sicilian.

2. Angélique is French. Without an accent mark, this is also a Dutch name.

3. Anzhelika is the traditional Russian and Ukrainian form.

4. Anzhela is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Belarusian.

5. Angeliki is Greek.

6. Anxhela is Albanian. The sound XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

7. Angyalka is Hungarian. The sound GY is pronounced kind of like the soft, barely perceptible DY sound in due, duel, and during.

8. Ànghela is Sardinian.

9. Anhelina is Ukrainian and Belarusian.

10. Angelina is English, Italian, Greek, Armenian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian, Bulgarian, Latvian, Croatian, Scandinavian, Provençal, Slovenian, and Russian.

French midwife Angélique du Coudray, ca. 1712–1794

11. Anzhelina is Russian and Ukrainian.

12. Anđela is Serbian and Croatian. Nicknames include Anđa and Anđelka. The variant Anděla is Czech.

13. Aniela is Polish and Kashubian.

14. Angeline is French.

15. Angiola is an Italian variant.

16. Anželika is Latvian and Lithuanian.

17. Andżelika is a Polish variant.

18. Anchela is Aragonese.

19. ʻĀnela is Hawaiian.

20. Ainelag is a rare, modern Manx form.

Polish translator Aniela Zagórska, 1881–1943

21. Andżela is Kashubian.

22. Anelė is Lithuanian.

23. Aela is a modern Breton form.

24. Angele is Scandinavian.

25. Anghjula is Corsican.

26. Àngila is Sicilian.

27. Àngiula is also Sicilian.

28. Ansina is Chuukese, an Austronesian language spoken on the Chuuk islands of the Caroline Islands of Micronesia.

29. Ánxela is Gascon.

30. Ànzela is Sardinian. The variant Anžela is Estonian and Latvian.

American suffragist and mathematician Angeline Stickney (Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall), 1830–92

31. Añjela is a rare Breton form.

32. Aungèle is Norman.

33. Ancèlica is Sicilian.

34. Anchelica is Aragonese.

35. Angilica is Sicilian.

36. Anxélica is Gascon.

37. Anzhalika is Belarusian.

38. Ancilina is Sicilian.

39. Anđelina is Serbian and Croatian.

40. Aungélina is Norman.

American suffragist and abolitionist Angelina Grimké, 1805–79

41. Anghjulina is Corsican.

42. Angilín is Faroese.

43. Angilina is Sicilian.

44. Anxhelina is Albanian.

45. Anzelina is Sardinian.

46. Anxelina is a rare Gascon form.

Italian doctor, parasitologist, hygienist, and philanthropist Angelo Celli (1857–1914)

Male forms of the name include:

1. Ángel is Spanish, and quite popular in that language. The variant Àngel is Catalan, and Angèl is Lengadocian (an Occitan dialect). Without accent marks, this name is sometimes used in Bulgarian, Slovenian, and Macedonian.

2. Angelo is Italian. The variant Ângelo is Portuguese; Anĝelo is Esperanto; and Ángelo is Spanish.

3. Anghel is Romanian.

4. Angiolo is Italian.

5. Ànghelu is Sardinian.

6. Anđelko is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Anđelo is Croatian.

8. Aingeru is Basque.

9. Anxo is Galician.

10. Angelos is Greek.

Romanian historian, writer, and literary critic Anghel Demetriescu, 1847–1903

11. Ankelo is Albanian.

12. Angeoul is Gascon.

13. Angé is also Gascon.

14. Anxhelo is Albanian.

15. Angyal is Hungarian.

16. Ánxel is Asturian.

17. Ánxelu is also Asturian.

18. Àncilu is Sicilian.

19. Angelu is also Sicilian.

20. Àngilu is another Sicilian form.

Bosnian Franciscan friar Anđeo Zvizdović, who negotiated for religious freedom after the Ottoman conquest and occupation of Bosnia (ca. 1420–98)

21. Anđeo is a rare Bosnian and Croatian form.

22. Angiulu is Sicilian.

23. Anzolo is Venetian.

24. Ael is a modern Breton form.

25. Aggelos is modern Greek.

26. Agnul is Friulian.

27. Angelico is Italian and Filipino.

28. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

29. Ánchel is Aragonese.

30. Ancèlicu is Sicilian.

Italian Augustine monk, bibliophile, and scholar Angelico (né Ludovico) Aprosio, 1607–81

31. Ancilinu is Sicilian.

32. Anděl is Czech. The rare, variant form Anđel is Serbian and Croatian.

33. Angelas is Lithuanian.

34. Angèlicu is Sicilian.

35. Angelu is also Sicilian.

36. Angelusz is Hungarian.

37. Anġlu is Maltese.

38. Anzelinu is Sardinian.

39. Ànzelu is also Sardinian.

40. Anxelo is a rare Gascon form.

Unisex forms:

1. Angel is English, though predominantly feminine in that language.

2. Ange is French.

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All about Adrian and Adriana

Legendary MGM costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenburg (1903–1959), known simply as Adrian

I absolutely adore the name Adrian, whether it’s pronounced with long As in the European and Latin American style, or the more common Anglo way AY-dree-yan. It derives from the equally-awesome Latin name Hadrian, which in turn derives from the Latin term Hadrianus, “from Hadria.” Hadria was a Northern Italian town from whence the Adriatic Sea derives its name.

Adrian is used in English, Polish, Russian, Romanian, German, and the Scandinavian languages. The alternate form Adrián is Hungarian, Spanish, Slovakian, Czech, Catalan, and Galician. Adrían is Icelandic.

Pope Adrian VI (1459–1523), painted circa 1625

Though the name has been used in the Anglophone world since the Middle Ages, and was borne by the only English Pope to date, it only became popular fairly recently. It was #403 in the U.S. in 1880, the first year name popularity records were kept, and remained fluctuating among the 300s, 400s, and 500s until 1959, when it began a slow and steady rise from #354 to a respectable high of #56 in 2008, 2010, and 2019. It’s gone up and down in rank since entering the Top 100 in 1985, at #93, but hasn’t been out of the Top 100 since 1989.

Adrian is also currently popular in Spain (#13), Sweden (#24), Galicia (#25), Croatia (#37), Norway (#40), Mexico (#41), Basque County, Spain (#43), Austria (#53), Catalonia (#56), Poland (#59), Canada (#70 in 2019), the Czech Republic (#78 in 2016), Hungary (#82), Switzerland (#92), and Slovenia (#96).

German artist Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803–1884), painted 1836 by Wilhelm von Kügelgen

Other forms of the name include:

1. Adriano is Portuguese and Italian.

2. Adrians is Latvian.

3. Adriaan is Dutch.

4. Adrien is French.

5. Adrijan is Macedonian and Croatian.

6. Adrianus is the more formal Dutch form, though almost no one in The Netherlands goes by a Latin form of their name in everyday life.

7. Arjan, also spelt Arian and Ariaan, is Dutch. This started as a short form of Adriaan, but has become very popular as a given name in its own right. Originally, Arian was the most popular spelling, but now Arjan has eclipsed it.

8. Jadran is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

9. Jadranko is also Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

10. Adrià is Catalan.

Flemish composer Adriaan Willaert (circa 1490–1562)

11. Adrao is a rare Galician form.

12. Adriam is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Adrianas is Lithuanian.

14. Adrianos is Greek.

15. Adrianu is Corsican, Sicilian, and Sardinian.

16. Adrión is Kashubian.

17. Aidrian is Irish.

18. Atrianu is Sicilian.

19. Adriyan is Russian and Bulgarian.

20. Entěrian is Chuvash.

21. Adorján is Hungarian.

Italian composer Adriana Basile (circa 1580–1640), drawn by Nicolas Perrey

Adriana is probably the most common feminine form. It’s used in English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovakian, Polish, Galician, Albanian, Occitan, Ukrainian, Kashubian, Gascon, Provençal, Swedish, Dutch, and Armenian. The alternate form Adriána is Hungarian and Slovakian; Adriāna is Latvian; and Adríana is Icelandic.

The name enjoys popularity in Armenia (#18), Spain (#33), the Czech Republic (#37 in 2016), Galicia (#42), Catalonia (#68), Latvia (#77), Mexico (#82), and Portugal (#87 in 2018).

Other forms include:

1. Adrienne is French.

2. Adriene is Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Adrianna is Polish.

4. Adrijana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian.

5. Adrienn is Hungarian.

6. Hadriana is Latin.

7. Adriena is Slovakian.

8. Adriyana is Bulgarian and Russian.

9. Adriane is a rare German form.

10. Adirane is Basque.

French actor Adrienne Lecouvreur, 1692–1730

11. Adryyana is Belarusian.

12. Akaliana, or Akaliane, is Hawaiian.

13. Atriana is Sicilian.

14. Odriana is Medieval Flemish.

A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

The many forms of Sebastian

Italian explorer Sebastiano Caboto (ca. 1474–ca. December 1557), engraved 1824 by Samuel Rawle

Sebastian is an English, German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Polish, and Finnish name descended from the Latin Sebastianus (from Sebastia). A town in Asia Minor, Sebastia (now Sivas, Turkey) took its name from the Greek word sebastos (venerable). In turn, sebastos derives from sebas (dread, awe, reverence), and sebas comes from the verb sebomai (to feel awe, to be ashamed, to feel scruples).

As a title, Sebastos became the Greek form of Augustus, the Romans’ name for their emperors.

The name Sebastian, in all its many forms, became very popular in Medieval Europe on account of Saint Sebastian, a third century martyr. The name was particularly popular in France and Spain.

In recent years, Sebastian has become quite popular again. It’s been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2000, when it entered at #81, and it was #18, its highest rank to date, in 2018 and 2019. The name is also #22 in Austria, #34 in England and Wales, #34 in Norway, #51 in Poland, #70 in New Zealand, and #79 in Italy.

The alternate form Sebastián is Spanish and Czech, and Sebastían is Icelandic.

French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633–1707), painted 1834 by Charles-Philippe Larivière

Other forms of the name include:

1. Sebastiano is Italian.

2. Sebastião is Portuguese.

3. Sébastien is French.

4. Sebastiaan is Dutch.

5. Sebestyén is Hungarian.

6. Szebasztián is an alternate Hungarian form.

7. Sebastià is Catalan.

8. Sebastianu is Corsican and Sicilian.

9. Sebastión is Kashubian.

10. Sebastijonas is Lithuanian.

Portuguese politican and diplomat Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782)

11. Sebastijan is Slovenian and Croatian.

12. Sebastiaen is an older Dutch form.

13. Sebustianu is Sardinian.

14. Sevastianos is modern Greek.

15. Sibistianu is Sicilian.

16. Sipastiât is Greenlandic.

17. Sevastyan is Russian.

18. Subustianu is Sardinian.

19. Savas’jan is Veps, a Finnic language spoken in Russia.

20. Savaş is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

Flemish artist Sebastiaen Vrancx (1573–1647)

21. Sebastiani is Swahili.

22. Siöeba is Vilamovian, an endangered Germanic language spoken by about twenty people in Poland.

23. Sivaslı is Turkish.

24. Bościj is Sorbian.

25. Bas’cian is Istriot, an endangered Romance language spoken in Croatia.

26. Baścik is Silesian.

27. Bastjan is Maltese.

Female forms:

1. Sebastiana is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Polish, Kashubian, and Slovenian.

2. Sébastienne is French. The alternate form Sebastiënne is Dutch (and quite rare).

3. Sebastiane is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese, German, and English form.

4. Sevastiana is modern Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

5. Sibastjana is Albanian.

6. Sebastianna is a rare English and Italian form.

7. Austitza is a Basque name which many believe to be their form of Sebastiana.

All about Martha

Martha Washington, first First Lady of the U.S., 1731–1802

Martha is one of those names which hasn’t very many variants, but there are more than just a handful. This name is English, Scandinavian, Greek, German, and Dutch. The alternate form Märtha is is Swedish.

The name means “the lady, the mistress,” from Aramaic marta (feminine form of mar, master). Despite being the name of a prominent Biblical woman, it didn’t become widespread in England till the Protestant Reformation.

Martha used to be hugely popular in the U.S., at #16 when records began being kept in 1880. Its highest rank was #14 in 1882, and it remained in the Top 20 till 1888, the Top 30 till 1945 (except for 1905 at #32, 1907 at #31, and 1908 at #32), the Top 50 till 1954, and the Top 100 till 1965.

The name gradually sank down the charts, frequently losing 20+ ranks each year. In 2019, it was #795.

Martha is currently much more popular in England and Wales. It’s been on the Top 100 since 2006, and was #95 in 2019.

Princess Marthe Bibesco (née Marta Lucia Lahovary), Romanian–French writer and socialite, 1886–1973

Other forms of the name include:

1. Marta is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Latvian, modern Russian, Icelandic, Slovenian, Romanian, Georgian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, Catalan, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Swedish, and Croatian. This name is #33 in Spain, #62 in Sweden, #52 in Portugal, #43 in Galicia, #31 in Italy, #81 in Catalonia, and #61 in Poland.

Variants include Márta (Hungarian), Mártá (Sami), and Märta (Swedish).

2. Morta is Lithuanian.

3. Maata is Maori.

4. Martta is Finnish.

5. Marthese is Maltese.

6. Marte is Norwegian.

7. Marthe is French and Norwegian. The French pronunciation has one syllable, and the Norwegian has two. This is the name of the wonderful plastic surgeon who removed my second-degree burn scars.

8. Moireach is Scottish.

9. Marfa is traditional Russian and Ukrainian. As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of names where F replaces TH in the middle! It doesn’t bug me as the first letter (e.g., Fyodor), but it sounds ugly in most other instances.

10. Maleka is Hawaiian.

Finnish painter Martta Wendelin, 1893–1986

11. Mareta is Gilbertese, a Micronesian language.

12. Markva is Mordvin, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

13. Marpa is Mansi and Khanty, Uralic languages spoken in Russia.

14. Marthey is Manx.

15. Marthi is a rare Greek form.

16. Mathiri is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

17. Zujenia is Caló–Romani, spoken in Spain, Portugal, Southern France, and Brazil. This form makes more sense when you know the Caló word zhulyi means “lady, woman,” and thus has the same meaning as Martha.