A quintessentially Irish name

St. Brigid of Kildare, painted by Patrick Joseph Tuohy

One needn’t be a passionate Hibernophile to be aware Bridget is one of the most quintessential of Irish names. And unlike most Celtic names, this one spread to many other languages instead of staying a primarily native product.

Brighid means “exalted one” and “power, strength, virtue, vigour.” Brighid was a goddess of fire, poetry, and wisdom.

Another beloved bearer was the abovepictured St. Brigid of Kildare, who lived in the 5th century and became one of Ireland’s patron saints. However, because this was the name of a saint, it was considered too sacred for normal use. Only in the 17th century did Brighid, or Brigid, become popular.

As Brigitta, this name has also long been popular in Scandinavia. The 14th century St. Brigitta is Europe’s patron saint.

The most common English form is Bridget, which has never been in the U.S. Top 100. Its highest rank to date was #112 in 1973.

Beata Brigida, painting of St. Birgitta of Sweden, done between ca. 1534–66 by Jerónimo Cosida

Other forms of this popular name include:

1. Bridgette is English.

2. Brigitte is French.

3. Brigita is Latvian, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Sorbian, Kashubian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Croatian. The variant Brígida is Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese.

4. Berit is Scandinavian.

5. Brygida is Polish.

6. Birita is Faroese.

7. Brigitta is German, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian.

8. Bríd is modern Irish.

9. Brìghde is Scottish.

10. Birgithe is a rare Scandinavian variant.

1924 self-portrait of U.S. miniature painter Birgitta Moran Farmer (1881–1939)

11. Birgit is Scandinavian and German.

12. Ffraid is Welsh.

13. Piritta is Finnish. Nicknames include Pirkko, Priita, Pirjo, and Riitta.

14. Breeshey is Manx.

15. Birte is Norwegian.

16. Bergit is Scandinavian.

17. Berc’hed is Breton.

18. Birgitte is Norwegian.

19. Britta is German and Scandinavian.

20. Birkide is Basque.

German actor Brigitte Helm (1908–1996)

21. Bregida is Occitan.

22. Brigyta is Lithuanian.

23. Bríxida is Galician.

24. Bedelia, or Bidelia, is an Irish diminutive.

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.

All about Arthur

Stan Laurel (né Arthur Stanley Jefferson),
16 June 1890–23 February 1965

To mark the 55th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) of dear Stan Laurel, I’m shining the spotlight on his birth forename, Arthur. I love this timeless, classic name that works on any fellow of any age, from any background. If I’d been born male, I think Arthur would’ve been the perfect name for me.

Arthur’s etymology is unknown, though there are two posited meanings, the obscure Roman family name Artorius, or Celtic roots artos (bear) and viros (man) or rigos (king). The name is used in English, French, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. It rose to popularity in the Middle Ages thanks to legends about King Arthur, who probably wasn’t a real person (though he may have been based on real people).

Arthur was #14 in the U.S. in 1880, when name records were first collected. It alternated between #14 and #15 till 1904, and remained in the Top 20 till 1926, the Top 50 till 1953, and the Top 100 till 1969. The year I was born, it was #143. In recent years, it’s been on a gradual rise. Arthur was #229 in 2018.

The name is also popular in Belgium (#1), France (#7), England and Wales (#7), Denmark (#17), Northern Ireland (#21), Switzerland (#42), Scotland (#46), New Zealand (#63), and Ireland (#73).

Tapestry of King Arthur, ca. 1385

Other forms of this lovely name include:

1. Artur is Slavic, Estonian, Catalan, Portuguese, Galician, Armenian, Albanian, Uzbek, Turkish, Ossetian, Romanian, Scandinavian, and Basque. It’s currently #40 in Portugal, #49 in Poland. The alternate form Artúr is Slovak, Hungarian, and Irish.

2. Arturo is Spanish and Italian.

3. Artturi is Finnish. Nicknames include Arttu and Arto.

4. Artair is Scottish.

5. Artūrs is Latvian.

6. Arzhur is Breton.

7. Arturi is Georgian and Albanian.

8. Arthouros is Greek.

9. Artūras is Lithuanian.

10. Arturu is Maltese.

Italian–American political activist and poet Arturo Giovannitti, 1884–1959

11. Èrthu is Norman and Jèrriais.

12. Tuur is Limburgish.

13. Artús is Occitan and Asturian.

Female forms:

1. Arturiana is Romanian.

2. Artura is a rare English, Spanish, and Italian form. The alternate form Artūra is Lithuanian.

3. Arthurine is French.

4. Arthurina is English.

5. Arthuria is English.

6. Artha is English.

7. Artūrė is Lithuanian.

All about Emanuel

U.S. actor Edward G. Robinson, né Emanuel Goldenberg, 1893–1973

Emanuel is the Romanian, Scandinavian, German, Portuguese, English, Czech, Slovak, and Croatian form of the Hebrew Imanuel (God is with us). In the Book of Isaiah, this is foretold as the name of the Messiah. Somewhat surprisingly, the name didn’t become popular in the Anglophone world till the 16th century (with the spellings Emmanuel and Immanuel). In continental Europe, it’s always been far more popular.

The variation Emánuel is Hungarian; Emanuël is Dutch; Emanúel is Icelandic; and Émanuél is Kashubian. I’ve really grown to love this name, not least because it was the birth name of one of my favourite male actors of the sound era!

Other forms include:

1. Emmanuel is French and English. The variation Emmanúel is Icelandic, and Emmanuël is Dutch.

2. Immanuel is German and English. The variation Immanúel is Icelandic, and Immanuël is Dutch.

3. Emmanuil is Russian. One of the nicknames is Emik.

4. Emmanouil is Greek.

5. Emanuil is Bulgarian. This is also a rare Croatian and Romanian variant.

6. Emanoil is Romanian.

7. Imanol is Basque.

8. Manu is Finnish.

9. Emanuele is Italian.

10. Manuel is Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, German, and English.

Greek aviation pioneer Emmanouil Argyropoulos, 1889–1913

11. Manoel is Brazilian–Portuguese.

12. Manel is Catalan.

13. Emanuels is Latvian.

14. Emaneulu is Samoan.

15. Emanuelis is Lithuanian.

16. Emmanwel is Maltese.

17. Manvel is Armenian.

18. Manyl is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

19. Amaniu is Gascon.

20. Ammanuel is Ethiopian.

Russian politician Emmanuil Aleksandrovich Vatatsi, 1856–1920

Female forms:

1. Emanuela is Italian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, and Croatian; Émanuela is Kashubian; and Emanuéla is Hungarian.

2. Emmanuelle is French.

3. Manoela is Brazilian–Portuguese.

4. Manuela is Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, German, Galician, Slovenian, and Croatian. The variation Manuéla is Hungarian.

5. Immanuelle is Filipino.

6. Emmanuella is English.

7. Enmanuela is Galician.

8. Emmanuele is French.

9. Emmanuela is a rare Italian and modern Greek form.

10. Emmanouella, or Emmanouela, is Greek.

The many forms of Martin

To mark Martin Luther King Day, I thought it’d be fitting to do a post spotlighting this incredible hero’s name.

Martin comes from the Latin Martinus, which in turn derives from Martis, the genitive case of Mars. The Roman god Mars was copied from the Greek god Ares, the god of war. Mars may derive from the Latin word mas (male). Very fitting, given that the astrological glyph for Mars is the same as the symbol for male!

St. Martin of Tours, a fourth century bishop, is France’s patron saint. One of many legends about him depicts him as ripping his cloak in half to warm a freezing beggar during winter. Because he was such a beloved saint during the Middle Ages, his name became popular across Christendom. Theologian Martin Luther later added to the name’s popularity.

Statue of Mars at Rome’s Capitoline Museums, Copyright Andrea Puggioni

Martin is used in English, French, German, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Macedonian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Estonian, and Croatian. The variant Martín is Spanish, and Martîn is Norman.

In the U.S., Martin was Top 100 from 1880–1970. To date, its highest rank was #44 in 1880. In 2018, it was #272. It also enjoys popularity in Galicia (#2), Spain (#3), the Czech Republic (#13 in 2016), France (#24), Norway (#25), Slovenia (#36), Hungary (#38), Catalonia (#41), Belgium (#73), Ireland (#79), and Switzerland (#82).

Polish historian, diplomat, and cartographer Marcin Kromer (1512–89), painted by unknown 1688–1703

Other forms of Martin include:

1. Martim is Portuguese.

2. Martyn is Welsh, Ukrainian, and Manx. This is also a Russian variation.

3. Marcin is Polish.

4. Márton is Hungarian.

5. Martti is Finnish.

6. Máirtín is Irish. Without accents, Mairtin is Scottish.

7. Martynas is Lithuanian.

8. Martino is Italian.

9. Mattin is Basque. The nickname is Matxin.

10. Morten is Danish and Norwegian.

Self-portrait (1553) of Dutch painter Maarten van Heemskerck, 1498–1574

11. Martí is Catalan.

12. Maarten is Dutch.

13. Martijn is also Dutch.

14. Mārtiņš is Latvian.

15. Mārcis is also Latvian. It started as a nickname for Mārtiņš, but is now used as a given name in its own right.

16. Mårten is Swedish. The variant Marten is Dutch.

17. Màrtainn is Scottish Gaelic.

18. Martèin is Emilian-Romagnol, a Gallo-Italic language spoken in northern Italy.

19. Martiño is Galician.

20. Martinos is a rare Greek form.

Hungarian actor Márton Rátkai, 1881–1951

21. Martinu is Corsican.

22. Marttiin is Finnish.

23. Marzhin is Breton.

24. Mātene is Maori.

25. Měrćin is Sorbian.

26. Mieta is Vilamovian.

27. Môrcën is Kashubian.

28. Martinian is an English, Russian, and Ukrainian form of Latin name Martinianus, which derives from Martinus, the original Latin form of the name. Martinus is also the official Dutch form, though almost no Dutch people use Latin forms of their names outside of legal documents.

29. Martiniano is Spanish and Italian.

30. Martinien is French.

Roman Emperor Martinian (Sextus Marcius Martinianus), ?–325

31. Martinijan is Serbian and Croatian.

32. Martynian is Polish.

Female forms:

1. Martina is English, German, Italian, Catalan, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Slovenian, Swedish, Czech, Slovak, Aragonese, Gascon, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Russian, and Croatian. The name is #2 in Catalonia, #3 in Spain, and #4 in Galicia. In Icelandic, it’s Martína.

2. Martine is French, Dutch, Danish, and Norwegian.

3. Martyna is Polish.

4. Martinha is Portuguese.

5. Martixa is Basque.

6. Martyne is Québecois.

7. Martien is Dutch. This can also be a male name.