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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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.

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.

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.

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.