The Ms of Medieval Tuscan and Italian names

Male names:

Maffeo, Mafeo (T), Mazzeo (I) are forms of Matthew (gift of God). This was also a Venetian name.

Mancinagross (I) means “large/great left-handed person.”

Manens (I) means “abiding, remaining, staying.”

Marculfo, Marcolfo (I) is a form of Ancient Germanic name Marculf, which derives from Celtic root mara (horse; marah in Old High German) or Ancient Germanic marka (march, fortified area along a border), and Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Marquart (I) derives from Old High German roots marka and wart (guard, ward). This name is also Medieval Czech, Medieval German, and archaic Estonian.

Martio (I) either derives from the Latin name Martius (a derivative of Mars) or the Roman surname Marcius (a derivative of Marcus, also originating from Mars). The name Mars itself possibly means “male.”

Meo (I) was a very common Medieval name.

Mercato (I) means “merchant.”

Female names:

Madolina (I) is a form of Magdalene (woman from Magdala).

Magnifica (I) means “magnificent.”

Malgarita (T) is a form of Margaret (pearl).

Maralda (I) is a form of the German name Maralde, formed from Ancient Germanic roots mari (famous) and wald (to rule, to govern).

Materia (I) means “matter, substance, material.”

Meliore (I) means “better.”

Menta (I) means “mint.”

Midonia (I)

Moresina (T)

Muscata (I) means “nutmeg.”

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.

Maximum names

German theoretical physicist Max Planck, 1858–1947 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R0116-504 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Max, as both a nickname and full given name, has been very trendy for awhile. It’s been in the Top 100 in England and Wales since at least 1998. In 2018, it was #31, and has charted as high as #18 in 2012. The name has also been in New Zealand’s Top 30 since at least 2004 (many of those years in the Top 20), and was #21 in 2019.

Sweden is another country where Max enjoys great popularity. It’s been Top 50 since at least 1998, when it was #44, and had a high of #13 in 2006. In 2019, it was #67.

Max is also popular in Switzerland (#53 in 2018), Northern Ireland (#33 in 2018), Scotland (#12), Norway (#77 in 2018), Ireland (#34), Germany (#20 in 2018), The Netherlands (#17), Catalonia (#20 in 2018), and Austria (#54 in 2018).

Surprisingly, it’s not as popular as I assumed in the U.S. Max was only #136 in 2018, and its highest position was #96 in 2011.

Russian writer Maksim Gorkiy (née Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov), 1868–1936

The name’s origin is Roman family name Maximus, which means “greatest” in Latin. In turn, it gave rise to Maximilianus, and became quite popular among the Romans. Lesser-used Roman forms are Maximinus and Maximianus.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Maximilian is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and English, though by far the most common in German. It was borne by two Holy Roman Emperors, two kings of Bavaria, and a Habsburg emperor of Mexico. The alternate form Maximilián is Slovak.

2. Maximillian is English.

3. Maxmilián is Czech.

4. Maximiliano is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Maximiliaan is Dutch.

6. Maximilien is French.

7. Maksymilian is Polish and Sorbian.

8. Maksimilian is Russian.

9. Maksimilyan is also Russian.

10. Macsen is Welsh.

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519)

11. Maxim is Czech. The alternate form Màxim is Catalan.

12. Maksim is Russian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, and Macedonian.

13. Maksym is Ukrainian and Polish.

14. Maxen is Anglicised Welsh.

15. Máximo is Spanish.

16. Maxime is French.

17. Massimo is Italian.

18. Maksimiljan is Slovenian.

19. Masimilian is Breton.

20. Massimilianu is Corsican.

Infamous French revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre, 1758–94

21. Maksimilijonas is Lithuanian.

22. Maksymilión is Kashubian.

23. Massimiljanu is Maltese.

24. Maksimilijan is Croatian.

25. Maximilià is Catalan.

26. Maximos is Greek.

27. Maximino is Portuguese and Spanish.

28. Maximiano is Spanish and Portuguese.

29. Maximian is German, English, and Dutch. The alternate form Maximián is Aragonese.

30. Maksime is Georgian.

Maximos the Greek (ca. 1475–1556), a monk, translator, writer, and scholar who served in Russia

31. Maime is Occitan.

32. Maimin is also Occitan.

33. Maksimian is Bulgarian, Russian, and Ukrainian.

34. Maksimijan is Serbian and Croatian.

35. Maksimin is Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

36. Maksymian is Polish.

37. Maksymin is also Polish.

38. Màsim is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy and San Marino.

39. Massimiano is Italian.

40. Massimianu is Sicilian.

French military commander Maxime Weygand, 1867–1965

41. Massimilianu is Corsican.

42. Massiminiano is Italian.

43. Massimino is also Italian.

44. Maximien is French.

45. Maximinian is English.

46. Maximiniano is Spanish and Portuguese.

47. Maxwell means “Mack’s stream,” from Medieval English Mack (a diminutive of Scandinavian Magnus [great]) and Old English root wella (stream).

U.S. singer Maxene Andrews (top left), 1916–95, with her sisters LaVerne (top right) and Patty

Female forms:

1. Maxine is English.

2. Maxene is an English variation. I’m not fond of this spelling, since it looks like it should be pronounced Maks-EN.

3. Maximiliana is Latin.

4. Maximilienne is French.

5. Maximiliane is German.

6. Maximilia is a rare German form, mostly used by noble families in bygone centuries.

7. Maksima is Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

8. Maksyma is Polish.

9. Massimilla is Italian.

10. Maximiana is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

Princess Maximiliane of Bavaria (embracing the lamb), 1810–21

11. Maximina is Galician, Spanish, and Portuguese.

12. Maximine is French.

13. Maximiniana is Spanish and Portuguese.

14. Massimiliana is Italian.

15. Maxime is Swedish and Norwegian.

Strength in battle

Polish–Russian prima ballerina Matilda Kschessinskaya (née Matylda Krzesińska), 1872–1971

Matilda, a name used in English, Romanian, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Estonian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Basque, and Croatian, traces its etymology back to Ancient Germanic. Its genesis, Mahthildis, derives from roots maht (strength, might) and hild (battle).

During the Middle Ages, Matilda was a quite popular name among European royalty, particularly in England. It arrived there via the Normans, one of whom was William the Conqueror’s wife.

Matilda remained popular till the 15th century, often in the form Maud. In the 19th century, both Maud and Matilda returned to widespread usage.

The variation Matildá is Sami.

Queen Matilda of England, née Princess of Boulogne (ca. 1105–1152)

Other forms of the name include:

1. Matilde is Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Scandinavian, Latvian, German, Dutch, Latvian, Estonian, Portuguese, and Italian.

2. Mathilde is German, Dutch, French, and Scandinavian. The E is silent in the French form.

3. Mechtilde is German.

4. Mechthild is also German.

5. Mathilda is German, Dutch, and Scandinavian.

6. Matylda is Polish and Ukrainian.

7. Matsilda is Belarusian.

8. Mafalda is Italian, Galician, Catalan, and Portuguese. I’m not fond of names where an F replaces a T or TH!

9. Matild is Hungarian.

10. Mallt is Welsh.

Italian opera singer Mafalda Salvatini, 1886–1971

11. Métilde is Acadian–French.

12. Matelda is Medieval Italian.

13. Maitilde is archaic Irish.

14. Mathide is Norman.

15. Mathild is Medieval Flemish and English.

16. Matthildur is Icelandic.

17. Mathila is Medieval English.

18. Emetilda is Creole.

Fighting Slavic names

While not seen nearly as frequently as roots like miru (world, peace) and slava (glory), there are nevertheless a number of Slavic names with the root borti (to fight). Though contrary to what it might look like, the name Boris has zero etymological connection. It’s not even Slavic in origin, but Turkic.

The root boji, boj also means “fight; battle,” but isn’t seen nearly that often in names. Like the almost exclusively Polish group of names with the root gniew, gnyevu (anger), I suspect these originated in an era when the Slavs were warlike tribes who took pride in their battle prowess.

These names include:

Blizbor (Polish; archaic): To fight nearby.

Bojislav(a) (Czech, Serbian, Croatian): Glorious battle.

Bojomir(a) (Polish): Battle peace; fighting for peace.

Borimir(a) (Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian): Battle peace.

Boriša (Vlach, unisex): Fighter.

Borisav (Vlach): Person who fights.

Borislav(a) (Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian): Battle glory.

Borivoj (Serbian, Croatian), Bořivoj (Czech), Borivoje (Serbian): Battle soldier.

Borjan (Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian): Battle; fight.

Borko (Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian): Battle; fight.

Borna (Croatian, unisex): Battle; fight.

Bożebor (Medieval Polish): To fight for God.

Borzygniew (Polish): To fight in anger.

Chociebor (Polish): To want to fight.

Czcibor (Polish), Cibor (Czech), Ctibor (Polish; rare): Battle honour.

Czȩstobor (Polish): To fight often.

Dalibor (Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Croatian), Dalebor (Polish), Daliborka (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian): To fight far away. I have two characters named Dalibor, one Serbian and one Macedonian.

Domabor (Polish): Battle in the house.

Lutobor (Polish): Fierce battle.

Miłobor (Polish): Gracious battle.

Mścibor (Polish): Revenge battle.

Myślibor (Polish): To think of a battle; thought of a battle.

Pomścibor (Polish): To avenge battle; to wreak battle.

Preben (Danish, Norwegian): First battle; descended from Wendish Pridbor, which in turn gave rise to Medieval Scandinavian name Pridbjørn.

Przedbor (Polish): Before battle; in front of a battle.

Ratibor (Polish): To battle in a war.

Samboja (Polish, female): To battle alone.

Sambor (Polish; archaic): To fight alone; alone in battle.

Sobiebor (Polish): To usurp battle. I personally would refrain from using this in any language, due to how it’s only one letter away from the name of the infamous camp Sóbibor!

Strogobor (Polish): Harsh battle; strict battle; severe battle.

Sulibor (Polish): Battle promise; mightier battle. I really like this name.

Svetibor (Serbian; rare): Holy battle; world battle.

Velibor (Serbian, Croatian): Great battle. I have a Russian–American character by this name, the runt of triplets. His parents originally planned to name another boy Volimir, but when he came out detached from his cord, not breathing, and only one pound, seven ounces, his father felt Velibor had a better meaning for that tiny fighter.

Wszebor(a) (Polish): Always fighting. I have a secondary character named Wszebora, who takes perverse pride in how the meaning of her name perfectly fits her cruel nature.

Żelibor (Polish): To want battle.

Zlatibor (Serbian, Croatian): Golden battle.

Żyborka (Polish): Battle prey.