A tame name

Father Damien (né Jozef De Veuster), St. Damien of Molokai, 1840–89, a Belgian priest who ministered to lepers in Hawaii and later died of the disease himself

The English, Dutch, and Polish name Damian (rendered as Damián in Spanish, Czech, and Galician) derives from Greek name Damianos. Its ultimate root is the Greek verb damazo, “to tame.”

The name became popular in Christian Europe because of St. Damian of Syria, who was martyred with his twin brother Cosmas in the early fourth century. Damian and Cosmas are the patron saints of doctors. Adding to the name’s popularity was St. Peter Damian in 11th century Italy.

I don’t understand people who think this lovely, historied name is unusable because of a character in a 1977 movie.

Self-portrait of Filipino Chinese painter Damián Domingo y Gabor,
1796–1834

Other forms of Damian include:

1. Damião is Portuguese.

2. Damien is French.

3. Damiaan is Dutch.

4. Damijan is Slovenian.

5. Damjan is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

6. Damyan is Bulgarian.

7. Demyan is Russian and Ukrainian.

8. Damiano is Italian.

9. Damià is Catalan.

10. Damiane is Georgian.

Pope Damian of Alexandria, ?–605

11. Damianu is Corsican.

12. Damijonas is Lithuanian.

13. Damión is Kashubian.

14. Demian is German. I have an American character by this name, after the Hermann Hesse novel Demian. Published in 1919, it was his breakthrough novel, and the first of his books I ever read, in 1994. It was life-changing!

15. Temyan is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

Filipina writer and professor Damiana Eugenio, 1921–2014

Female forms:

1. Damiana is Italian and Polish.

2. Damjana is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

3. Damijana is Slovenian.

4. Damienne, or Damiène, is French.

5. Damia is English.

6. Damiani is Greek.

7. Damianne is English.

8. Demiana is Coptic.

A very Lordly name

Portrait of a Man, self-portrait of Greek-born painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco (1541–1614), ca. 1595–1600

The English, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, and French name Dominic comes from the Latin name Dominicus, “of the Lord.” It was traditionally bestowed upon boys born on Sunday. In the Anglophone world, it came into widespread usage in the 13th century thanks to the popularity of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order. Because of this namesake, the name is primarily used by Catholics.

Dominic entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2002, after a very long, slow rise from near the bottom of the chart. In 2018, it was #75. The name also enjoys popularity in England and Wales. It was on the Top 100 from the Nineties until 2007, fluctuated between #103 and #127 during the ensuing decade, and rose back to #100 in 2018.

Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757),
painted by Domingo Antonio Velasco

Other forms of the name include:

1. Dominik is German, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Scandinavian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Croatian, and English.

2. Domenico is Italian.

3. Domingo is Spanish.

4. Domingos is Portuguese.

5. Domonkos is Hungarian.

6. Domen is Slovenian.

7. Dominykas is Lithuanian.

8. Dominique is French.

9. Dominicus is the full, formal Dutch name, though most Dutch people only use Latinate forms of their names on official documents.

10. Domenikos is Greek.

Polish–Lithuanian noble and politician Dominik Mikołaj Radziwiłł, 1643–97

11. Domhlaic is Irish.

12. Domenge is Gascon.

13. Domènec is Catalan.

14. Daminik is Belarusian.

15. Dominico is Italian.

16. Dominiks is Latvian.

17. Dominigu is Sardinian.

18. Dominig is Breton.

19. Dumenicu is Corsican.

20. Duminku is Maltese.

Self-portrait of U.S. painter Domenic Cretara, 1946–2017

21. Dumeni is Romansh.

22. Domokos is Hungarian.

23. Domenic is English.

24. Dominick is English.

25. Kominiko is Hawaiian.

26. Txomin (Cho-meen) is Basque.

Sister Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1837–81),
founder of the Salesian Sisters

Female forms:

1. Dominika is German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, Czech, and Slovak.

2. Dominica is English.

3. Domenica is Italian.

4. Dominga is Spanish.

5. Dominique is French.

6. Domnika is Macedonian and Kashubian.

7. Dominiki is Greek.

8. Dominyka is Lithuanian.

9. Domnica is Romanian and Moldovan.

10. Domencha is Aragonese.

French–American art collector, philanthropist, and human rights advocate Dominique de Menil, 1908–97

11. Domengina is Gascon.

12. Domenja is Provençal.

13. Domìniga is Sardinian.

14. Dumenia is Romansh.

15. Dumina is also Romansh.

16. Duminka is Maltese.

17. Daminika is Belarusian.

All about Ruth

U.S. anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Benedict, 1887–1948

Ruth is an English, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Scandinavian name derived from the Hebrew Re’ut (friend), which later morphed into Rut (pronounced with a long U, not like the English word “rut”). Most people are familiar with it as the title character of the Book of Ruth. She left her homeland Moab behind to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel after a famine, and became King David’s great-grandma.

On the second day of Shavuot, this short book of the Bible is read, and many conversion certificates quote the moving words Ruth tells Naomi:

“Do not entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more, if anything but death part you and me.”

Latvian lawyer, writer, and politician Ruta Šaca-Marjaša (1927–2016)

Though the name has long been common in the Jewish world, it didn’t come into widespread usage in the Christian world till the Protestant Reformation. Ruth received a big boost of popularity several centuries later, from U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s firstborn child, born in 1891. She was born between his two non-consecutive terms, and sadly died of diphtheria in 1904.

Ruth was #93 in the U.S. when name popularity records began in 1880, and it jumped from #19 to #5 after the birth of Ruth Cleveland. In 1893, it was #3. The next two years, Ruth was #6, and it remained at #5 until 1907. It then was #4 for two years, then back to #5 again till 1922.

The name remained in the Top 10 till 1930, and was Top 20 till 1937. Ruth left the Top 50 in 1951, and left the Top 100 in 1962. In 2018, it was #265.

Ruth Cleveland

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ruta is Polish, Ukrainian, and Maori. The alternate form Rūta is Latvian and Lithuanian.

2. Rute is Portuguese.

3. Ruut is Finnish and Estonian.

4. Rut is Hebrew, Spanish, Icelandic, Scandinavian, Sorbian, Italian, Maltese, Indonesian, Afrikaans, and German. The alternate form Rút is Czech and Slovak.

5. Ruf is Russian. I’ve never been a fan of Russian names where TH is replaced by F in the middle of the name. It just sounds ugly to my ears.

6. Rutt is Estonian.

7. Hrut is Armenian.

8. Hirut is Amharic.

9. Luka is Hawaiian, and not to be confused with the entirely separate name with the same spelling which is several languages’ form of Luke.

10. Luti is Nyakyusa, a language spoken in Tanzania and Malawi.

11. Rutu is Maori and Yoruba.

Glorious Slavic names

Slava is a common root in Slavic names, and means “glory, fame.” It appears fairly evenly among East, West, and South Slavic names. A few of these names are so popular, they also have equivalents in non-Slavic languages.

Some sources believe the name Gustave, with its many variants, also comes from the slava root. Though a possible etymology is “staff of the Geats,” from Old Norse gautr (Goth, Geat) and stafr (staff), the name Gautstafr isn’t well-documented in any evidence from that time and place. It may have truly come from Medieval Slavic name Gostislav (glorious guest).

As expected, the common nickname for both sexes is Slava or Sława.

Berislav(a) (Croatian): To gather glory, to take glory

Blahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Pleasant glory

Bogoslav(a) (Croatian), Bohuslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian), Bogusław(a) (Polish): Glory of God

Bojislav(a) (Czech, Croatian): Battle glory

Boleslav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian), Bolesław(a) (Polish): Greater glory; more glory

Borislav(a) (Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian): Glorious battle

Branislav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian), Bronisław(a) (Polish), Bronislav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak), Bronislovas (Lithuanian): Protection and glory

Břetislav(a) (Czech), Bryachislav(a) (Russian), Bretislav(a) (Slovak, Slovenian): To cry glory

Budislav(a) (Czech, Serbian, Croatian): To wake up glory

Czesław(a) (Polish): Honour and glory

Desislav(a) (Bulgarian): Tenfold glory

Dobroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Dobrosław(a) (Polish): Good glory

Domaslav(a) (Medieval Russian): Home glory

Dragoslav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian), Drahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Precious glory

Drenislav(a) (Croatian): European cornel (a type of dogwood) glory

Fiebrosław(a) (Medieval Polish): February glory

Goroslav(a) (Croatian): Mountain glory

Hranislav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): To protect glory; to defend glory

Hrvoslav(a) (Croatian): Croatian glory

Jugoslav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): Southern glory

Krumislav(a) (Macedonian): Possibly “rock glory”

Krunoslav(a) (Croatian): Glorious crown

Květoslav(a) (Czech), Kvetoslav(a) (Slovak), Cvjetislav(a) (Croatian): Flower of glory

Lechosław(a) (Polish): Glory of Lech (legendary founder of Poland)

Levoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious lion

Ľuboslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious love

Mieczysław(a) (Polish), Mechislav(a) (Russian): Sword of glory

Miloslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Miłosław(a) (Polish): Gracious glory; dear glory

Miroslav(a) (Russian, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Croatian), Mirosław(a) (Polish), Myroslav(a) (Ukrainian): Peaceful glory; world glory

Mislav(a) (Croatian): “My glory” or “thought of glory”

Mstislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Mścisław(a) (Polish): Vengeance and glory

Nadislav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Hope and glory

Ninoslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Now glory

Novislav(a) (Bulgarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian): New glory

Pomnislav(a) (Medieval Slavic): To think of glory

Pravoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Justice and glory

Prvoslav(a) (Serbian): First glory

Radoslav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian), Radosław(a) (Polish): Happy glory

Ratislav(a) (Serbian): Glorious war

Rostislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Rastislav(a) (Slovak): Growth of glory

Slavěna (Czech): Glory

Slaveya (Bulgarian): Glory

Slavogost (Medieval Slavic): Glorious guest

Slavoj (Slovenian, Czech, Slovak): Soldier of glory

Slavomir(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Slavomír(a) (Czech, Slovak), Sławomir(a) (Polish), Sławòmir(a) (Kashubian): Great glory; famous glory; glorious peace; glorious world

Sobiesław(a) (Polish), Soběslav(a) (Czech): Glory for oneself

Stanislav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian), Stanisław(a) (Polish), Stanislaǔ (Belarusian), Staņislavs (Latvian), Stanislovas (Lithuanian, male), Stanislova (Lithuanian, female): To stand in glory; to become glory

Svyatoslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Svetoslav(a) (Bulgarian), Svatoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Świętosław(a) (Polish): Holy glory, blessed glory

Tomislav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian): Glorious torture

Velislav(a) (Bulgarian): Great glory

Věroslav(a) (Czech), Vieroslav(a) (Slovak): Faith and glory

Víťazoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious winner; glorious champion; glorious conqueror

Vítězslav(a) (Czech): Master of glory; lord of glory

Vjekoslav(a) (Croatian): Age of glory

Vladislav(a) (Russian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Ladislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian), Vladyslav(a) (Ukrainian), Władysław(a) (Polish), Włodzisław(a) (Polish), Ladislao (Italian), László (Hungarian): To rule in glory

Vlastislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian): To rule in glory

Vl’koslav(a) (Russian): Great glory

Voyslav(a) (Russian): Glorious war

Vratislav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Warcisław(a) (Polish): To return in glory

Vyacheslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Václav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Vyachaslaǔ (Belarusian), Ventseslav(a) (Bulgarian), Višeslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Vjenceslav(a) (Croatian), Vecéslav(a) (Croatian), Věnceslav(a) (Czech), Więcesław(a) (Polish), Wacław(a) (Polish), Vencel (Hungarian), Veaceslav (Romanian), Wenzel (German), Wenzeslaus (German), Venceslás (Spanish): More glory

Witoslav(a) (Medieval Czech): To rule in glory

Yanislav(a) (Bulgarian), Janislav(a) (Slovenian, Croatian): John’s glory

Yaroslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Jaroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Jaroslavas (Lithuanian), Jarosław(a) (Polish): Fierce and glorious

Zbysław(a) (Polish): To dispel glory

Zdislav(a) (Czech), Zdzisław(a) (Polish), Zdeslav(a) (Croatian): To build glory

Zmagoslav(a) (Slovenian): Victory and glory

All about Constantine and Constance

Detail of Roman Emperor Constantine I (274–337) in Piero della Francesca’s Vision of Constantine, 1458

Though the name Constantine has never been particularly common in the Anglophone world, it’s long enjoyed great popularity in various other forms in Orthodox Christian countries. It derives from the Latin name Constantinus, which in turn derives from Constans (steadfast, constant).

The name became popular in the Orthodox world because of the above-pictured Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus), who ruled from 306–337. He was the first emperor to stop the persecution of Christians, following his religious conversion.

Some historians, however, believe he privately continued worshipping the Roman deities and only converted to Christianity because it was politically expedient.

King Konstantinos I of Greece, 1868–1923

Other forms of this name include:

1. Konstantin is Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, German, Finnish, and Hungarian. Nicknames include Kostya (Russian), Konsta (Finnish), and Kosta (Bulgarian and Macedonian). The variation Konštantín is Slovak.

2. Kostadin is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

3. Kostyantyn is Ukrainian.

4. Konstantine is Georgian.

5. Kostandin is Albanian and Vlach.

6. Konstantinos is Greek. Nicknames include Kostas and Kostis.

7. Kanstantsin is Belarusian.

8. Konstantyn is Polish.

9. Konstanty is also Polish.

10. Konstantinas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Kostas.

Konstantin Päts (1874–1956), first president of Estonia

11. Konstantīns is Latvian.

12. Constantin is Romanian and French. Romanian nicknames include Dinu, Costin, Costel, and Costicǎ. The variation Constantín is Aragonese.

13. Cystennin is Welsh.

14. Costache is a Romanian variation.

15. Costantino is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

16. Constantijn is Dutch. Nicknames include Stijn, Tijn, and Stan.

17. Considine is Irish.

18. Còiseam is Scottish.

19. Causantín is Pictish.

20. Constantí is Catalan.

Georgian writer Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, 1893–1975

21. Constaintín is Irish.

22. Costantìnu is Sicilian. Without an accent mark, this spelling is also Sardinian.

23. Custantinu is also Sicilian.

24. Kĕştentině is Chuvash.

25. Kuonstantėns is Samogitian, a language spoken in Lithuania.

26. Kostoku is Evenki, a Tungusic language spoken in Russia and China.

27. Kystynchi is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

28. Kushchta is Khanty and Mansi, which are also Uralic languages in Russia.

29. Konstandinos is a variant Greek form.

30. Kojadin is a rare Serbian form.

Irish politician and activist Countess Constance Markievicz, 1868–1927

The female name Constance is much more common in the Anglophone world. It’s the Medieval form of the Latin Constantia, and was introduced to England by the Norman occupiers. An early bearer was a daughter of William the Conqueror.

In the U.S., the name was in the Top 100 from 1946–53, with its highest rank to date, #83, in 1949. Its final year in the Top 1000 was 1999, when it was at the very bottom of the chart. Constance is currently much more popular in France, where it was #94 in 2018. In England and Wales in the same year, it was #275.

Other forms of Constance include:

1. Konstancia is Hungarian and Swedish.

2. Konstantina is Georgian.

3. Konstancja is Polish. The variation Kónstancja is Kashubian.

4. Konstanze is German.

5. Konstantze is Basque.

6. Konstancie is Czech. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

7. Konstanca is Sorbian.

8. Kûnstânse is Greenlandic.

9. Kostanze is Basque.

10. Konstance is Latvian.

Austrian musician Constanze Mozart (née Maria Constanze Cäcilia Josepha Johanna Aloysia Weber), 1762–1842

11. Konstanse is Norwegian and Swedish.

12. Constantine is French.

13. Constanze is German.

14. Constanza is Spanish, Galician, and Italian.

15. Costanza is Italian.

16. Constanţa is Romanian.

17. Constança is Portuguese.

18. Constância is also Portuguese.

19. Konstancija is Serbian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

20. Konstantsiya is Russian.

21. Konstantia is Swedish.