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.

The many forms of Raphael

Rudolph Valentino, né Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi, 6 May 1895–23 August 1926

The German and English name Raphael comes from Hebrew Rafael, “God heals.” Most people are familiar with Archangel Raphael, whose primary role is as a healer. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all recognise him and hold him as one of the most important archangels. He’s also a saint in Christianity.

Though the name has never been particularly popular in the Anglophone world, it’s a different story in other countries. Raphael was #20 in Austria in 2018, and has been in the Top 40 since at least 1990.

In Belgium, Raphael was #19 in 2018, and has been in the Top 100 since at least 2004. In Switzerland, it’s been Top 100 since at least 1998 (when it was #22), and was #84 in 2018. In France, as Raphaël, it was in the Top 100 almost every year from 1900–28, and rejoined the Top 100 in 1966. In 2018, it was #2.

Self-portrait of Italian artist Raphael (né Raffaello Sanzio), 1483–1520,
ca. 1504–06

Other forms of this name include:

1. Rafael is Hebrew, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Galician, Romanian, Catalan, Czech, Slovak, Azeri, Belarusian, Cebuano, Finnish, Macedonian, Scandinavian, Tagalog, and Croatian. The alternate form Rafaël is Dutch.

2. Raffael is German.

3. Rafail is Russian, Montenegrin, Persian, Arabic, and Greek.

4. Raffaello is Italian.

5. Raffaele is also Italian.

6. Rafel is Catalan, Aragonese, and Maltese. The alternate form Rafèl is Occitan.

7. Rafayil is Ukrainian.

8. Rafał is Polish.

9. Rafaelo is Esperanto.

10. Rapolas is Lithuanian.

1835 self-portrait of Polish artist Rafał Hadziewicz (1803–83)

11. Rafailo is Montenegrin and Serbian.

12. Rafôł is Kashubian.

13. Raiféal is Irish.

14. Rafiele is Sardinian.

15. Refoel, or Rifoel, is Yiddish.

16. Rapiel is a rare Georgian form.

17. Räffu is Swiss–German.

18. Raffaellu is Corsican.

19. Rafèu is Provinçal.

20. Rafayel is Armenian.

Russian painter and photographer Rafail Sergeyevich Levitskiy (1847–1940), painted 1878 by Ilya Repin

21. Rafaels is Latvian.

22. Rafaelis is Lithuanian.

23. Rafaäl’ is Tatar.

24. Raafael is Finnish.

25. Îsrafîl is Kurdish.

26. Arrafieli is Sardinian.

27. Arrafiele is also Sardinian.

28. Ráffo is Sami.

29. Râvfaile is Greenlandic.

30. Rafajlo is a rare Serbian form.

Italian actor Rafaela Ottiano, 1888–1942

Female forms:

1. Raphaela is German and English.

2. Rafaela is Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Galician, Polish, Kashubian, Czech, Greek, and Croatian.

3. Raffaela is German.

4. Raphaele is French.

5. Raphaella is English and Brazilian–Portuguese.

6. Raphiela is a rare Latin American–Spanish form.

7. Rapolė is Lithuanian.

8. Rafaella is Brazilian–Portuguese, Latin American–Spanish, and Hungarian.

9. Rafaëlle is a rare French form.

10. Raphaëlle is the more common French form.

11. Raffaella is Italian.

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.

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.