Female names of literary origin, N-Z

U.S. actor Norma Shearer, 1902–1983

Nélida was created by French writer Marie d’Agoult for her semi-autobiographical 1846 novel of the same name, which she wrote under the pseudonym Daniel Stern. It’s probably an anagram of the pen name Daniel.

Nestan-Darejan was created by great Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for the famous 12th century national epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin (lit. One with the Skin of a Tiger). He coined it from Persian phrase nist andar jahan, “unlike any other in the world.” Nestan-Darejan is a princess.

Norma is the protagonist of Italian writer Felice Romani’s 1831 opera of the same name, possibly based on Latin norma (rule). It may also have been intended as a feminine form of Ancient Germanic name Norman (northman; i.e., Viking).

Nydia is a blind flower seller in British writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii, which was later made into an Italian silent film. It may be based on Latin nidus (nest).

Ophelia as depicted inThe girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines in a series of tales, 1881

Ophelia was probably created by 15th century Italian poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem Arcadia, then later used by Shakespeare in 1600’s Hamlet. It derives from Greek ophelos (help).

Ornella was created by Italian writer Gabriele d’Annunzio for the 1904 novel La Figlia di Jorio (The Daughter of Jorio), derived from Tuscan ornello (flowering ash tree).

Pamela was created by English poet Sir Philip Sydney for the 16th century long pastoral romance poem The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, possibly intended to mean “all sweetness,” from Greek pan (all) and meli (honey). This name exploded in popularity during the 1940s and stayed on the U.S. Top 100 till 1976.

Perdita was created by Shakespeare for his 1610 play A Winter’s Tale, from Latin perditus (lost).

Pippi was created by Karin Lindgren, daughter of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, for the title character of the Pippi Longstocking series. The first book was published in 1945. Her full name is Pippilotta.

Ronja was created by Astrid Lindgren for Ronja the Robber’s Daughter (1981), derived from Juronjaure, a Swedish lake.

Sandra was introduced to the Anglophone world by English writer George Meredith, who used it on the protagonist of his 1864 novel Emilia in England, reissued in 1887 as Sandra Belloni.

Scarlett, from a surname originally bestowed upon sellers or makers of scarlet cloth, possibly derives from Persian saghrilat. Just about everyone knows Scarlett came to attention as a forename thanks to the protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s historical saga Gone with the Wind (1936).

Stella means “star” in Latin. This name was created by Sir Philip Sidney for the protagonist of his 1580s sonnet collection Astrophel and Stella.

Tímea was created by Hungarian writer Mór Jókai for his 1873 novel The Golden Man, probably derived from Greek euthymia (good spirits, cheerfulness).

Tinatin was created by aforementioned Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, possibly derived from Georgian word sinatle (light). Tinatin is the Queen of Arabia, and inherits the throne as the sole child of King Rostevan.

Titania was possibly created by Shakespeare for his 1595 play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Titania is Queen of the Fairies. It may derive from Latin name Titanius (of the Titans).

Tünde was created by Hungarian writer Mihály Vörösmarty for his 1830 play Csongor és Tünde, derived from tündér (fairy).

Undine was created by Medieval writer Paracelsus, derived from Latin unda (wave). He used it to refer to female water spirits.

Detail of The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, Joseph Noel Patton, 1849

Valmai means “like May” in Welsh. It was created by Welsh writer Allen Raine for her 1899 romance novel By Berwen Banks. Allen Raine was the understandable pseudonym of Anne Adalisa Beynon Puddicombe.

Vanessa was created by British writer Jonathan Swift for his 1726 poem Cadenus and Vanessa, derived from rearranging the first syllables of the name of his friend Esther Vanhomrigh.

Veslemøy means “little girl” in Norwegian. It was created by writer Arne Garborg for the title character of his 1895 poem Haugtussa.

Viviette was created by British writer William John Locke for the title character of his 1910 novel. It’s a diminutive of Vivienne (alive).

Wendy was created by Scottish writer J.M. Barrie for his famous 1904 play Peter Pan, derived from his nickname Fwendy (i.e., Friend). Prior to Peter Pan, it was rarely used as a possible nickname for Welsh names starting with Gwen (blessed, fair, white).

Zerbinette was created by French writer Molière for his 1671 play Les Fourberies de Scapin (The Deceits of Scapin).

Thor-inspired names

Dedicated in loving memory of Peter Tork, né Peter Halsten Thorkelson, 13 February 1942–21 February 2019, whose birth surname inspired this post.

Thor’s Fight with the Giants, Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872

I’ve wanted to do a post on Thor-inspired names for quite some time. Though many might consider the name Thor itself to be pompous and pretentious, there are quite a few other names whose meanings relate to Thor. If you wouldn’t consider the name Thor for a real child, perhaps you’d be more inclined to use one of these names.

Unless otherwise noted, all these names are male.

Thor was the Norse god of thunder, from Old Norse þórr, ultimately from Ancient Germanic *þunraz. The name was #48 in Denmark in 2017. Its modern form is Tor, and the feminine forms are Thora and Tora.

Haldor (Norwegian) means “Thor’s rock,” from Old Norse Hallþórr.

Tollak (Norwegian) means “Thor’s play/game,” from Old Norse þórleikr. The word leikr refers to a game or play involving weapons.

Torbjörn (Swedish) means “Thor’s bear,” from Old Norse þórbjörn. Variants include Torbjørn (Danish, Norwegian); Thorbjørn (Norwegian); Torben (Danish, German); Thornben (German); and þorbjörn (Icelandic).

Torgeir (Norwegian) means “Thor’s spear,” from Old Norse þórgeirr. Variants are Torger and Terje. The latter isn’t to be confused with a female Estonian name meaning “mist.”

Torgny Segerstedt (1876–1945), Swedish scholar of comparative religion, and publicist and editor-in-chief of anti-Nazi newspaper Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning

Torgny (Swedish) means “Thor’s noise/murmur/grumble,” from Old Norse þórgnýr.

Torhild (Norwegian, female) means “Thor’s battle,” from Old Norse þórhildr. Variants are Toril and Torill.

Torkel (Swedish, Norwegian) means “Thor’s cauldron,” from Old Norse þórketill. Variants include Tyge (Danish); Tyko (Finnish); Tygo (Dutch); Tycho (Dutch, Danish); Torcuil (Scottish); Torquil (Anglicized Gaelic); and Torkil (Danish, Norwegian).

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, 1546–1601

Torleif (Norwegian) means “Thor’s descendent,” from Old Norse þórleifr.

Tormod (Norwegian) means “Thor’s mind/mood,”  from Old Norse þórmóðr.

Torsten (Danish, Swedish, German) means “Thor’s stone,” from Old Norse þórsteinn. Variants include Thorsten (Swedish, Danish); Thorstein, Torstein (Norwegian); Torsti (Finnish); and Thurston (English). þorstína and þorsteina (Icelandic) are feminine forms. An elaborated Icelandic feminine form, þórsteinunn, means “Thor’s stone wave.”

Torvald (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) means “Thor’s ruler,” from Old Norse þórvaldr. Many people may recognize this as the name of the husband in Henrik Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House.

The many forms of Samuel

It’s never been a secret that Samuel is my absolute favoritest male name! If I’m ever blessed with kids before I’m too old, and I have a boy (like I’ve dreamt about constantly for many years), his name will absolutely be Samuel. First and foremost, it’s after the Prophet Samuel. Other awesome namesakes are Samuel P. Gompers, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), and Shemp Howard (Samuel Horwitz). In fact, I plan to call him Shemp for short, since I’m such a massive Stooges fans!

Since I love this name so much, and there’s no chance I’m naming my potential firstborn son anything else (particularly considering I might not have a second chance to name a boy!), its rising popularity concerns me. It’s been Top 30 in the U.S. since 1996, and doesn’t show any signs of shooting down the charts. In 2016, it was #21.

Ultimately, this name means so much to me, it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks I was just mindlessly choosing a popular name. I’ve never been a crowd-follower, and I highly doubt anyone would ever mistake me for one!

Samuel is also currently popular in Austria (#22), England and Wales (#23), Canada (#21), Australia (#15), the Czech Republic (#29), Finland (#35), Belgium (#46), New Zealand (#16), Ireland (#41), Italy (#40), Galicia (#43), The Netherlands (#64),  Northern Ireland (#47), Norway (#76), Switzerland (#8), Scotland (#39), Portugal (#48), Spain (#36), Sweden (#74), Mexico (#49), Hungary (#93), France (#48), Chile (#68), and Catalonia (#80).

As indicated above, the spelling Samuel is used in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, the Scandinavian languages, Portuguese, Czech, and Finnish. It’s also used in Slovak and Polish. The Hungarian variation is Sámuel, with the nickname Samu; the Dutch form is Samuël; and the Icelandic form is Samúel. Other forms include:

1. Sh’muel is the Hebrew original, and means “God has heard,” in reference to Chana (Hannah)’s heartfelt prayer for a child being answered. A common nickname is Shmuley, alternately spelt Shmuli.

2. Samuli is Finnish. Nicknames include Samppa (the name of a well-known body modification artist who travels to different shops to do things like ear-pointing and repairing stretched piercings people don’t want anymore), Sami, and Samu.

3. Samuil is Bulgarian and Russian. Russian nicknames include Sanya, Sanka, Samonya, Samokha, Samoshka, Samko, Samosha, Sanchik, Samunka, Sansha, Samunya, and Samukha.

4. Samoil is Macedonian.

5. Samuele is Italian.

6. Sawyl is Welsh.

7. Hāmiora is Maori.

8. Hāmuera is also Maori.

9. Kamuela is Hawaiian.

10. Saamuel is Estonian.

11. Sámal is Faroese.

12. Sameli is Finnish.

13. Samhail is Irish.

14. Samoel is Georgian.

15. Samouil is modern Greek.

16. Sämu is Swiss–German.

17. Samuelis is a rare Lithuanian and Dutch form.

18. Samuilo is a rare Serbian form.

19. Samuyil is Ukrainian.

20. Samvel is Armenian.

21. Shamil is Tatar, Chechen, Dagestani, Kazakh, Avar, Abkhaz, Azeri, and Circassian.

22. Sumayl is Moorish.

Feminine forms:

1. Samine is Norwegian.

2. Samuella is English and Dutch.

3. Samuelita is Spanish.

4. Samuelette is English.

5. Samuelle is French and English.

6. Samulina is Faroese and Medieval English.

7. Samuline is Norwegian.

Steely, metallic names

I recently discovered the History Channel’s series Forged in Fire, a reality show wherein four smiths compete to make the best weapon. Smithery and metallurgy are stereotypically male pursuits, but I’ve always been really proud of being very tomboyish.

It therefore wasn’t too much of a surprise that almost all of the names I found with meanings relating to steel, metal, iron, copper, and bronze are male names. Many of these names are also Mongolian or from Turkic languages.

Female:

Aenea means “bronze” or “copper” in Latin. This was possibly also created as a feminine form of Aeneas, which means “praise.”

Aramita is a Spanish name possibly derived from the Latin aramen, and ultimately aeramen, which means “copper, bronze.”

Kaneru means “bronze” in Japanese.

Male:

Batbold means “bold steel” in Mongolian.

Berbolat is a Chechen name derived from the Turkish military title bek (or beg), which means “master, chieftain,” and the Turkic element bolat (or bulat), which means “steel,” and ultimately derives from the Persian pulad.

Bolat means “steel” in Kazakh.

Çelik means “steel” in Turkish.

Chuluunbold means “stone steel” in Mongolian.

Demir means “iron” in Turkish.

Elidur is an archaic Welsh name, the first element of unknown etymology, and the second probably derived from dur (steel). In the 19th century, the name was resurrected as Elidor.

Ferruccio means “little iron” in Italian.

Ganbaatar means “steel hero” in Mongolian.

Ganbold means “steel steel” in Mongolian.

Gansükh means “steel axe” in Mongolian.

Gantulga means “steel hearth” in Mongolian.

Ganzorig means “steel courage” in Mongolian.

Gobán possibly means “little smith” in Irish.

Goibniu means “smith” in Irish. He was a smith god, and provided weapons for the Tuatha De Danann.

Hephaestus is the Latinized form of the Greek Hephaistos, the god of fire, forging, and metallurgy. He was also a fellow limper.

Ilmarinen is a Finnish name which partly derives from ilma (air). He’s an immortal smith in Finnish mythology, and the creator of the sky and the magic mill Sampo.

Kaneki can mean “metal tree” in Japanese.

Kañ-ool means “steel boy” and “steel son” in Tuvan, a Turkic language spoken in south-central Siberia.

Khurşӑ means “steel” in Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

Nurbolat is a Kazakh name composed of the elements nur (light) and bolat (steel).

Pola means “steel” in Kurdish.

Rentarou can mean “son of thick smelt metals” in Japanese.

Shoiynbai means “made of steel” in Kazakh.

Solon possibly means “lump of iron” in Greek.

Ståle means “steel” in Norwegian. The original Old Norse version was Stáli.

Talos was a bronze-winged automaton in Greek mythology, given to Europa for protection against invaders and pirates.

Temujin means “of iron” in Mongolian.

Timur is derived from the Turkic name Temür (iron), and is used in Uzbek, Kazakh, Tatar, Chechen, and Russian.

Tömörbaatar means “iron hero” in Mongolian.

Trahaearn means “very much like iron” in Welsh.

Tunç means “bronze” in Turkish.

Tuncay means “bronze Moon” in Turkish.

Yerbolat roughly means “steel male” or “male of steel” in Kazakh.

Zhelyazko means “iron” in Bulgarian.

Memorable names

To mark the upcoming Memorial Day, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “memory” and “remember.” Many of the names I found are Greek and Lithuanian.

Unisex:

Chikumbutso means “memory” in Chewa, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Kumbukani means “remember” in Chewa.

Oluranti, or Oluwaranti, means “God remembers” in Yoruba.

Remember was a Virtue name in the Pilgrim/Puritan era.

Male:

Algminas comes from the Lithuanian alga (reward; salary) and minėti (to remember, to commemorate; to celebrate).

Alminas comes from the Lithuanian al (everything) and minėti.

Almintas comes from the Lithuanian al and mintis (thought). The latter element is related to minti (to remember, to recall).

Arminas, as an independent Lithuanian name instead of the Lithuanian form of the German Armin, comes from ar (also) and minėti.

Darmintas comes from the Lithuanian daryti (to act, to d0, to work) and mintis.

Daugmintas comes from the Lithuanian daug (much) and mintis.

Domintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian dovis or dotas (present, gift) and mintis.

Ekiye means “remember me” in Ijaw, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Funganayi means “remember each other” in Shona, a Bantu language spoken in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Gailiminas comes from the Old Lithuanian gailas (potent, strong; remorseful, sorrowful, miserable; jagged, sharp; violent, fierce, angry), and the modern Lithuanian galia (force, might, power). The second element is minėtiMingailas is a flipped form.

Gaudminas comes from the Lithuanian gaudyti (to take, to hunt, to catch) or gaudus (sonorous, echoing, loud, ringing, resonant), and minėtiMingaudas is a flipped form.

Gedmintas comes from the Old Lithuanian gedauti (to ask) or modern Lithuanian gedėti (to grieve, to mourn, to miss, to long, to yearn, to pine), and mintisMingedas is a flipped form.

Gosminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian gosti or gostis (to crave, to desire; to seek, to strive, to pursue) and minėti.

Ituaton means “remember me” in Ijaw.

Kęsminas is derived from the Lithuanian kęsti (to cope; to suffer, to endure, to undergo) and minėti.

Kujtim means “remembrance” in Albanian.

Liaudminas comes from the Lithuanian liaudis (people, folk) and minėti.

Mantminas comes from the Lithuanian mantus (intelligent), or manta (property, estate, riches, fortune, wealth), and minėti. A flipped form is Minmantas.

Mímir means ” memory” in Old Norse, and was the name of a god with omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mimulf is an Ancient Germanic name also derived from the element mímir, coupled with the Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Minalgas comes from minėti or mintis, and alga.

Mingintas comes from mintis or minėti, and ginti (to defend, to protect).

Mingirdas comes from mintis or minėti, and girdas (rumour).

Minjotas comes from mintis or minėti, and joti (to ride horseback).

Mintautus comes from the Baltic tauta (nation, people) and minėti. The flipped form is Tautminas.

Minvaidas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaidyti (to appear, to visit). The flipped form is Vaidminas.

Minvainas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Old Lithuanian vaina (fault; cause, reason).

Minvilas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vil (hope).

Minvydas comes from mintis or minėti, and the Baltic vyd (to see). The flipped form is Vydminas.

Mnemon means “mindful” in Greek, derived from mneme (memory, remembrance), and ultimately from mnaomai (to remember, to be mindful of).

Mnesarchos is derived from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which itself is derived from mnemoneuo (to remember, to call to mind, to think of). In turn, mnemoneuo is derived from mnaomai. The second element may be either archos (leader, master) or arche (source, origin, beginning).

Mnesikles is derived from mnesios (of memory) and kleos (glory).

Mnesitheos is derived from mnesios and theos (God).

Mnesos is also derived from mnesios.

Muninn comes from the Old Norse munr (mind), and is the name of one of Odin’s two ravens. Muninn symbolizes Memory. Every day, he and the other raven, Huginn, fly all over the world to get information and news for Odin.

Normintas comes from the Lithuanian noras (desire, wish) and mintis.

Oroitz means “memory” in Basque.

Tonderai means “remember” in Shona.

Vaimintas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from the Old Lithuanian vajoti (to pursue, to chase), or vajys (courier, messenger), and mintis.

Virminas comes from the Lithuanian vyrauti (to prevail, to dominate) and minėti.

Visminas comes from the Baltic vis (all) and minėti.

Yozachar means “God remembered” in Hebrew.

Žadminas is a rare Lithuanian name derived from žadėti (to promise) and minėti.

Zechariah, or Zachariah, is the Anglicized form of the Hebrew Zecharyah, which means “God remembers.” Other forms include Zacharias (Greek), Zakariás (Hungarian), Zacharie (French), Zachariasz (Polish), Zakaria (Georgian and Arabic), Zaccharias (Latin), Zakariya and Zakariyya (Arabic), Zakhar (Russian), Zahari (Bulgarian), Zacarías (Spanish), ZacharyZachery, and Zackary (English), Sachairi (Scottish), Sakari (Finnish), Zaharija and Zakarije (Serbian and Croatian), Zakar (Armenian and Mordvin), Zakarija (Croatian), Zaccaria (Italian), Zakaría (Icelandic), and Zekeriya (Turkish).

Zichri means “remembrance” in Hebrew.

Female:

Coventina was a British Celtic goddess of springs and water. Her name derives from Proto–Celtic kom-men (memory) and ti-ni (to melt, to disappear).

Jadyrah, or Zhadyrah, is a Kazakh name possibly derived from jad/zhad (memory).

Khatereh means “memory” in Persian.

Mimigard is an Ancient Germanic name derived from the Old Norse mímir (memory) and gardan (to fence in, to hedge in, to enclose). Mímir was also the name of a god who had omniscient knowledge and wisdom.

Mneme means “memory” in Greek.

Mnemosyne means “remembrance” in Greek. She was the Muse of memory.

Mnesarete roughly means “commemorating virtue.” It comes from the Greek mnesios (of memory), which is in turn derived from mnemoneuo and mnaomai; and arete (goodness, skill, excellence, virtue).

Remembrance was a Virtue name in the Puritan/Pilgrim world.

Smriti means “memory” in Sanskrit.

Tizita means “memory” in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia.

Yeukai means “remember” in Shona.

Zacharine is a rare feminine form of Zachary, found in English, Norwegian, and German.