The many forms of Paul and Paula

St. Paul, Andrea di Bartolo, early 15th century

Paul is the English, French, German, Dutch, Romanian, and Scandinavian form of the Latin family name Paulus (small; humble). Its widespread use in the Western world is of course due to St. Paul the Apostle (né Sha’ul [Saul] of Tarsus).

Paul was #60 in the U.S. in 1880, the year name popularity began being charted. It steadily rose to the Top 20 by 1895, and continued a steady rise over the ensuing decades. Its highest rank was #12 in 1930 and 1931. The name descended just as gradually, only dropping out of the Top 20 in 1969.

Paul left the Top 100 in 2001, and had sunk to #206 by 2016. The name is more popular in Austria (#6), France (#13), and Romania (#41).

St. Paula of Rome; Source

Paula is English, German, Scandinavian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, Dutch, Catalan, and Croatian. The variant form Pàula is Sardinian.

It was a Top 100 name in the U.S. from 1943–74, and currently enjoys popularity in Spain (#4), Catalonia (#8), Galicia (#9), Croatia (#31), Austria (#40), and Chile (#64). Its rank has sunk precipitously in the U.S. over the past few decades. As of 2016, it was down to #821.

Other forms of each name include:


1. Pablo is Spanish.

2. Pavel is Russian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Belarusian, and Czech. Russian nicknames include PashaPashenkaPashechka, and Pavlik.

3. Pavle is Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, Bosnian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Pavo and Pave.

4. Pavlo is Ukrainian.

5. Paweł (PAH-vew) is Polish.

6. Pal is Albanian. The variant form Pál (nickname Pali) is Hungarian. Another variant, Pàl, is Scottish, and Pål is Norwegian and Swedish.

7. Pavol is Slovak.

8. Paulo is Portuguese and Galician. The variant form Paŭlo is Esperanto, with the nickname Paĉjo.

9. Paolo is Italian.

10. Paulu is Corsican. The variant form Pàulu is Sardinian.

Pablo Picasso, 1908

11. Paol is Breton.

12. Pòl is Scottish. The variant form Pól is Irish, and Pol is Catalan.

13. Pavli is Albanian.

14. Pau is Occitan and Catalan. This also means “peace” in Catalan.

15. Poul is Danish.

16. Paavo is Estonian and Finnish.

17. Pauli is Finnish.

18. Páll is Icelandic and Faroese.

19. Pavlos is Greek.

20. Pāvils is Latvian.

Count Pavel Aleksandrovich Stroganov, 7/18 June 1772–10/22 June 1817; painted by George Dawe

21. Paulius is Lithuanian.

22. Paulin is Basque.

23. Paulose is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

24. Paal is Norwegian.

25. Pàil is Scottish.

26. Paili is Malayalam.

27. Pauls is Latvian.

28. Pawlu is Maltese.

29. Pawly is Cornish.

30. Pawoł is Sorbian.

Self-Portrait, Paolo Veronese, between 1558–63

31. Phóil is Irish.

32. Poalla is Sami.

33. Payl is Manx.

34. Phaule is Ossetian.

35. Piöel is Vilamovian.

36. Pavao is Bosnian and Croatian.

37. Boghos is Western Armenian.

38. Poghos is Eastern Armenian.

39. Boulos, or Bulus, is Arabic.

40. Paora is Maori.

Pauline Friederike Marie, Princess of Württemberg (1792–1839)


1. Paola is Italian and Spanish.

2. Pavla is Czech.

3. Paule is French. The nickname Paulette was fairly popular as a given name in its own right in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s.

4. Pauletta is English.

5. Pauline is English, German, French, and Scandinavian.

6. Paulina is English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Scandinavian, and Lithuanian. The variant form Paulīna is Latvian.

7. Pála is Icelandic.

8. Pavlina is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Greek. The variant form Pavlína is Czech.

9. Polina is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Greek. The Slavic nickname is Polya. Variant forms are Pólina (Faroese) and Poļina (Latvian).

10. Poulina is Faroese and Danish.

Paulette Goddard, née Marion Levy (3 June 1910–23 April 1990), Charles Chaplin’s third wife

11. Bávlá is Northern Sami.

12. Päälag is Skolt Sami.

13. Paulė is Lithuanian.

14. Pálína is Icelandic.

15. Paulît is Greenlandic.


The many Emil- names

Armenian–Austrian mathematician Emil Artin

The Roman family name Aemilius, derived from the Latin word aemulus (rival), has given rise to a number of both feminine and masculine names commonly used in the Indo–European and Finno–Ugric languages. While researching this post, I discovered far more forms of these names than I’d expected to.


1. Emily is English. It only came into widespread use after Germany’s House of Hanover rose to the British throne in the 18th century. Princess Amelia Sophia was usually called Emily in English, though Amelia is etymologically unrelated. The name was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1880–99, ducked back in from 1901–02 and 1913–16, and then began sinking in popularity.

During the Sixties, it began jumping up the charts, and landed at #1 in 1996. It was dethroned by Emma in 2008, though it’s still in the Top 10. It’s #1 in Ireland and Northern Ireland; #2 in Scotland; #3 in Canada and England and Wales; and #7 in Australia and New Zealand. The name has also become popular in countries where it’s not a traditional name in the national language, such as Chile, The Netherlands, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

U.S. poet Emily Dickinson

2. Emilia is Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Finnish, Romanian, Polish, and English. It’s #102 in the U.S., and rising fast as the next replacement for Emily and Emma. The alternate form Emília is Hungarian, Slovak, and Portuguese. Emilía is Icelandic.

3. Emilie is German and Scandinavian. This was the name of Oskar Schindler’s wife. The alternate form Émilie is French, and Emílie is Czech.

4. Emilija is Slovenian, Macedonian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Emīlija is Latvian.

5. Emiliya is Russian and Bulgarian.

6. Emiliana is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. The alternate form Emilíana is Icelandic.

7. Émilienne is French.

8. Eimíle is Irish.

9. Aimel is Manx.

10. Emere is Maori.

11. Emilinia is Filipino.

12. Emilene is Basque.

13. Emilijana is Serbian and Croatian.

14. Emille is a rare Basque form.

15. Imîlia is Greenlandic.

16. Aimilia is Greek.

Polish soldier and national shero Emilia Gierczak, 25 February 1925–17 March 1945


1. Emil is German, Scandinavian, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Romanian, Czech, Bulgarian, Slovak, Hungarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Icelandic, English, Arabic, Azeri,  and Croatian. The name is #5 in Norway, and #4 in Denmark.

2. Émile is French.

3. Emīls is Latvian.

4. Emilis is Lithuanian.

5. Emilio is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

6. Emiel is Dutch.

7. Emilios is Greek.

8. Aimilios is also Greek.

9. Eemil is Finnish.

10. Eemili is also Finnish.

11. Emilli is Basque.

12. Emili is Catalan.

13. Émilien is French.

14. Emiliano is Italian and Spanish.

15. Emilian is Romanian.

French writer Émile Zola

16. Yemelyan is Russian.

17. Omelyan is Ukrainian.

18. Emilijus is Lithuanian.

19. Emilius is the official Dutch form.

20. Emiliy is Russian.

21. Emeliane is Georgian.

22. Emilianus is another official Dutch form.

23. Emilijan is Serbian and Croatian.

24. Emiliyan is Bulgarian.

25. Emiljano is Albanian.

All about the name John

In honour of John Lennon’s 37th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I felt it would be fitting to do a post about this most historically common of all male names, in just about every single language.

John comes from the Hebrew Yochanan, which means “God is gracious.” Its massive popularity over the ages originated thanks to John the Baptist and John the Apostle (traditionally-attributed author of the fourth Gospel and Book of Revelations).

Initially, the name was more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it took off like wildfire in the West after the First Crusade. It was particularly popular in England, where roughly a fifth of all boys received this name during the Late Middle Ages.

U.S. President John Quincy Adams, 11 July 1767–23 February 1848

Over the centuries, the name John, in all its linguistic variations, has been borne by countless writers, musicians, artists, scientists, philosophers, emperors, kings, popes, military leaders, politicians, and countless other types of people.

John was #1 in the U.S. from 1880–1923, and remained in the Top 5 until 1972. It was in the Top 10 until 1986, and the Top 20 until 2008. As of 2016, it was #28, a rank it previously held in 2012. The name has never charted any lower than this, though it feels like a breath of fresh air and original choice these days.

English poet John Keats, as painted by William Hilton, Halloween 1795–23 February 1821

Though it’s been a good many years since John was as common and popular as it once was, its continued presence in the Top 30 is a credit to its enduring appeal. It also still enjoys respectable popularity in Ireland (#28), Northern Ireland (#44), Scotland (#56), Canada (also #56), New Zealand (#85), Sweden (#87), Australia (#97), and England and Wales (#120).

John also used to be very popular in Norway, with a high rank of #10 in 1947. It fluctuated in popularity over the years, fell off the Top 100 in 2003, came back the next year, and then fell off again.

King John of England, 24 December 1166–19 October 1216, painted by Matthew Paris

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ivan is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, Belarusian, Bosnian, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. The variation Iván is Spanish and Hungarian. The proper pronunciation, Ee-VAHN, is so beautiful, but the Anglo EYE-vinn just throws this gorgeous name away.

Nicknames include Vanya, Vanyechka, Vanyushka, Vanyusha, Vanyushechka, and Ivanko (Russian); Ivo, Vancho, Yanko (Bulgarian); Ivica, Ivo (Serbian and Croatian); and Vančo, Ivo (Macedonian).

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, my fourth-favourite writer, 28 October/9 November 1818–3 September 1883

2. Ioann is the older Russian form.

3. Iwan is Polish and Welsh. The Polish one pronounces the W like a V.

4. Ivane is Georgian. The nickname is Vano.

5. Ioane is the older Georgian form.

6. Giannis is modern Greek.

7. Giovanni is Italian. Nicknames include Gianni, Gian, Vanni, and Giannino.

8. Gjon is Albanian.

9. Ion is Romanian and Basque. Romanian nicknames include Iancu, Ionuţ, Ionel, and Nelu.

10. Jon is Basque and Scandinavian. The variation Jón is Icelandic and Faroese. This is #4 in Iceland.

11. Ioan is Welsh and Romanian.

12. Joan is Catalan and Occitan.

13. Ganix is Basque.

14. João is Portuguese. This name is #2 in Portugal.

15. Yoan is Bulgarian.

Giovanni Boccaccio, author of The Decameron, 16 June 1313–21 December 1375, engraved 1822 by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen in the style of Vincenzo Gozzini

16. Jowan is Cornish.

17. Yahya is Persian, Arabic, and Turkish.

18. Janusz is Polish. One of the nicknames is Janek.

19. Johan is Dutch and Scandinavian. Nicknames include Hans, Hannes, Janne (Swedish); Hanke, Hanne, Hannes, Hans, Joop, Jo (Dutch); Jannik, Jannick, Hans (Danish); and Hans (Norwegian).

20. Jens is Scandinavian.

21. Jan is Scandinavian, Dutch, Catalan, Czech, Slovenian, German, and Polish. The variation Ján is Slovak, with the nickname Janko.

22. Yann is Breton, with the nickname Yannig.

23. Johann is German, with the familiar nickname Hans. The variation Jóhann is Icelandic.

24. Johannes is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Estonian, and Finnish. The variant Jóhannes is Icelandic and Faroese.

25. Juhan is Estonian. The alternate form Juhán is Northern Sami.

German scientist and mathematician Johannes Kepler, 27 December 1571–15 November 1630

26. Juanne is Sardinian.

27. Giuanne is also Sardinian.

28. Yohanes is Indonesian.

29. Hovhannes is Armenian. Nicknames include Hovik and Hovo.

30. Ohannes is also Armenian.

31. Ghjuvan is Corsican.

32. Ean is Manx.

33. Juan is Spanish and Manx, with different pronunciations.

34. Xuan is Asturian.

35. Jaan is Estonian.

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, 21/31 March 1685–28 July 1750, painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

36. Jean is French.

37. János is Hungarian, with nicknames including Jani and Jancsi.

38. Juhana is Finnish, with nicknames including Juho, Juha, Jussi, Jukka, Hannes, and Hannu.

39. Janne is also Finnish.

40. Joni is Finnish and Fijian.

41. Jani is also Finnish.

42. Juhani is another Finnish form.

43. Jouni is also Finnish.

44. Johano is Esperanto, with the nickname Joĉjo.

45. Yan is Belarusian.

French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 28 June 1712–2 July 1778, painted by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

46. Yann is Breton and French.

47. Jovan is Macedonian and Serbian.

48. Xoán is Galician.

49. Jóannes is Faroese.

50. Keoni is Hawaiian.

51. Jānis is Latvian.

52. Jonas is Lithuanian.

53. Sjang is Limburgish.

54. Sjeng is also Limburgish.

55. Chuan is Aragonese.

Spanish artist Joan Miró, 20 April 1893–25 December 1983

56. Gensch is Sorbian.

57. Ghjuvanni is Corsican.

58. Gian is Romansh and Swiss–German.

59. Gioann is Piedmontese.

60. Ġwann is Maltese.

61. Hoani is Maori.

62. Hone is also Maori.

63. Jardani is Caló Romany.

64. Jeian is Filipino.

65. Sione is Tongan.

Romanian writer Ion Creangă, 1837/39–31 December 1889

66. Tihoti is Tahitian.

67. Xán is Galician.

68. Yehya is Uyghur.

69. Yohana is Swahili.

70. Yohannes is Amharic.

71. Jaqiya is Kazakh.

72. Iefan is Welsh. The more familiar Anglicization is Evan.

73. Ifan is also Welsh, with the nickname Ianto.

74. Ioannis is modern Greek.

75. Eoin is Scottish and Irish.

Polish sci-fi writer Janusz Andrzej Zajgel, 15 August 1938–19 July 1985

76. Seán is Irish.

77. Iain is Scottish.

78. Ian is also Scottish.

79. Siôn is Welsh.

80. Yoann is Breton and French.

81. Giuàn is Lombard.

82. Giuvanni is Sicilian.

83. Yovaan is Tamil.

84. Hankin is a Medieval English nickname.

85. Jankin is another Medieval English nickname.

86. Jackin is a variation of Jankin, and the origin of the nickname Jack.

How Heimirich became Harry became Henry, and how Harrison ties in

In loving memory of George Harrison on his 16th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to do a post about the etymology of his surname. Like many other English names, it has Old Germanic origins, and has undergone a drastic evolution of form.

Harrison, which is also commonly used as a forename, means “son of Harry.” It’s been on the Top 1000 in the U.S. since 1880. It doesn’t take any in-depth research to figure out why it jumped from #129 in 1887 to #52 in 1888, and was a respectable #68 in 1889 and #107 in 1890. Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888.

The name has fluctuated up and down the Top 1000 ever since, rising respectably some years and falling the next year, or holding relatively steady in other years. In 2009, it began an uninterrupted climb, going from #241 to its current rank of #107.

The name is also currently popular in Australia (#16), England and Wales (#32), Scotland (also #32), New Zealand (#40), Northern Ireland (#84), and Canada (#94).

The first Harrison Ford, 16 March 1884–2 December 1957, a huge star of the silent era

Harry, in turn, is the Medieval English form of Henry. In the modern era, it’s used as a name in its own right, and as a nickname for both Henry and Harold. Harry was quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and only fell out of the Top 20 in 1920. Its highest rank was #8 in 1889.

Its final year in the Top 100 was 1957. The name sharply fell down the charts after that. In 2016, it was #679, up from #781 in 2015. Harry is more popular in England and Wales (#2), Scotland (#7), Northern Ireland (#8), Ireland (#14), Australia (#27), Sweden (#23), and New Zealand (#45).

President Harry S. Truman, 8 May 1884–26 December 1972

Henry is the modern English form of the Old Germanic Heimirich, which means “home ruler.” It’s derived from the elements heim (home) and ric (ruler, power). The spelling later morphed into Heinrich, influenced by similar Germanic names such as Haganrich.

Henry stood at #9 in 1880, and remained Top 10 for most of the ensuing years until 1911. When it was out of the Top 10, it was only #11. The name stayed in the Top 20 until 1927, and in the Top 50 until 1952. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1969.

Henry never dropped out of the Top 200, and was still the respectable rank of #146 at its lowest position in 1994. The name became popular again in the late Nineties, and has steadily been climbing the charts ever since. In 2016, it was #22.

The name also enjoys great popularity in England and Wales (#15), Australia (#18), New Zealand (#26), Canada (#32), Sweden (#52), Northern Ireland (#64), Ireland (#83), and Scotland (#92).

King Henry VIII of England, 28 June 1491–28 January 1547

Other forms of this name include:

1. Henri is French and Finnish. I also love this as a nickname for the female name Henrietta, though it obviously would be pronounced like the Finnish male name instead of the French form.

2. Henrique is Portuguese.

3. Heinrich is German. Nicknames include Heinz, Heiner, and Henning.

4. Henrik is Scandinavian, German, Hungarian, Slovenian, Armenian, and Croatian.

5. Henryk is Polish.

6. Henrich is Slovak.

7. Hinrik is Icelandic.

8. Henrikas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Herkus.

9. Hendrik is Dutch and Estonian. Dutch nicknames include Heike, Heiko, Henk, Hein, Henny, Hennie, and Rik.

10. Heinere is Tahitian.

11. Hēnare is Maori.

12. Henric is Gascon.

13. Henrijs is Latvian.

14. Henrikh is Georgian and Armenian.

15. Henriko is Esperanto.

16. Indrek is Estonian.

17. Enrique is Spanish.

18. Jindřich is Czech. One of the nicknames is Hynek.

19. Anri is Georgian.

20. Eanraig is Scottish.

21. Hendry is also Scottish.

22. Anraí is Irish.

23. Einrí is also Irish.

24. Endika is Basque.

25. Henrikki is Finnish. One of the nicknames is Heikki.

26. Harri is Welsh and Finnish.

27. Enrico is Italian.

28. Arrigo is also Italian. Diminutive forms include Arrighetto, Arriguccio, and Arrighino.

29. Errikos is Greek.

30. Enricu is a rare Romanian form.

31. Hallet is a Medieval English nickname.

32. Halkin is also a Medieval English nickname.

33. Hawkin too is a Medieval English diminutive.

Feminine forms:

1. Henrika is Swedish. One of the nicknames is Rika.

2. Henrike is German and Scandinavian. One of the German nicknames is Rike, and one of the Scandinavian nicknames is Rika.

3. Hendrika is Dutch, with nicknames including Drika, Heike, Ina, Rika, and Heintje. One of my secondary characters is called Drika.

4. Hendrikje is also Dutch.

5. Hendrina is Dutch too.

6. Henryka is Polish. Nicknames include Henia and Henusia.

7. Henriikka is Finnish. Nicknames include Riika, Henna, and Riikka.

8. Henrietta is English, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, and Swedish. Traditional English nicknames are Hettie, Etta, Ettie, Hattie, Hatty, and Hallie, though I’ve always been quite partial to the boyish-sounding Henri. Dutch nicknames include Jet, Jetje, Jette, and Jetta. The J is pronounced like an English Y.

9. Henriette is French, Dutch, Danish, German, and Norwegian. A Dutch alternate form is Henriëtte.

10. Harriet is English.

11. Enrica is Italian.

12. Henrieta is Slovak.

The many forms of Jonathan

Jonathan is a timeless classic, a name which doesn’t belong to any one particular era or type of fellow. It’s been on the Top 1000 since 1880, though only began its slow but steady rise to greater popularity in 1927. It went from #596 to the Top 20 in the 1980s. To date, its highest rank has been #15 in 1988. In 2016, it was #56.

The name is also fairly popular in Mexico (#27), Austria (#39), Denmark (#47), Switzerland (#59), Norway (#63), Sweden (#76), Canada (#98), and Australia (also #98).

The original form of the name was the Hebrew Yehonatan, later contracted to the modern form Yonatan. It means “God has given.” Most people are familiar with the story of David and Jonathan’s deep friendship in the Bible, and the persistent rumour that they may have been more than just friends.

In the Anglophone world, Jonathan didn’t become widely used till the Protestant Reformation. This spelling is also used in German, the Scandinavian languages, French, and Dutch.

Other forms include:

1. Jonatan is Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Czech. The variant form Jónatan is Icelandic, and Jonatán is Hungarian and a rare Czech variant.

2. Gionata is Italian.

3. Jônatas is Portuguese. The alternate form Jonatás is Spanish, and Jónatas is another Portuguese form.

4. Ionatán is Irish. The alternate form Ionatan is Romanian.

5. Joonatan is Finnish.

6. Gionatan is Italian.

7. Hovnatan is Armenian.

8. Ionafan is Russian. As much as I adore Russian names, I’ve never been a fan of the ones where the English TH sound is replaced by F, nor of names where the English J is replaced by IO or IYO. It just has an unflattering sound to my ears.

9. Ionatani is Georgian.

10. Ionathan is Greek.

11. Ionakana is Hawaiian.

12. Jonatanas is Lithuanian.

13. Honatana is Maori.

14. Joatan is Portuguese.

15. Jonatã is also Portuguese.

16. Jonatão is Portuguese too.

17. Ionatana is Samoan.

18. Sonatane is Tongan.

19. Jonty is a British nickname.

20. Yoni is a very common, popular Hebrew nickname.