All about Ruth

U.S. anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Benedict, 1887–1948

Ruth is an English, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Scandinavian name derived from the Hebrew Re’ut (friend), which later morphed into Rut (pronounced with a long U, not like the English word “rut”). Most people are familiar with it as the title character of the Book of Ruth. She left her homeland Moab behind to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel after a famine, and became King David’s great-grandma.

On the second day of Shavuot, this short book of the Bible is read, and many conversion certificates quote the moving words Ruth tells Naomi:

“Do not entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more, if anything but death part you and me.”

Latvian lawyer, writer, and politician Ruta Šaca-Marjaša (1927–2016)

Though the name has long been common in the Jewish world, it didn’t come into widespread usage in the Christian world till the Protestant Reformation. Ruth received a big boost of popularity several centuries later, from U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s firstborn child, born in 1891. She was born between his two non-consecutive terms, and sadly died of diphtheria in 1904.

Ruth was #93 in the U.S. when name popularity records began in 1880, and it jumped from #19 to #5 after the birth of Ruth Cleveland. In 1893, it was #3. The next two years, Ruth was #6, and it remained at #5 until 1907. It then was #4 for two years, then back to #5 again till 1922.

The name remained in the Top 10 till 1930, and was Top 20 till 1937. Ruth left the Top 50 in 1951, and left the Top 100 in 1962. In 2018, it was #265.

Ruth Cleveland

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ruta is Polish, Ukrainian, and Maori. The alternate form Rūta is Latvian and Lithuanian.

2. Rute is Portuguese.

3. Ruut is Finnish and Estonian.

4. Rut is Hebrew, Spanish, Icelandic, Scandinavian, Sorbian, Italian, Maltese, Indonesian, Afrikaans, and German. The alternate form Rút is Czech and Slovak.

5. Ruf is Russian. I’ve never been a fan of Russian names where TH is replaced by F in the middle of the name. It just sounds ugly to my ears.

6. Rutt is Estonian.

7. Hrut is Armenian.

8. Hirut is Amharic.

9. Luka is Hawaiian, and not to be confused with the entirely separate name with the same spelling which is several languages’ form of Luke.

10. Luti is Nyakyusa, a language spoken in Tanzania and Malawi.

11. Rutu is Maori and Yoruba.

Glorious Slavic names

Slava is a common root in Slavic names, and means “glory, fame.” It appears fairly evenly among East, West, and South Slavic names. A few of these names are so popular, they also have equivalents in non-Slavic languages.

Some sources believe the name Gustave, with its many variants, also comes from the slava root. Though a possible etymology is “staff of the Geats,” from Old Norse gautr (Goth, Geat) and stafr (staff), the name Gautstafr isn’t well-documented in any evidence from that time and place. It may have truly come from Medieval Slavic name Gostislav (glorious guest).

As expected, the common nickname for both sexes is Slava or Sława.

Berislav(a) (Croatian): To gather glory, to take glory

Blahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Pleasant glory

Bogoslav(a) (Croatian), Bohuslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian), Bogusław(a) (Polish): Glory of God

Bojislav(a) (Czech, Croatian): Battle glory

Boleslav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian), Bolesław(a) (Polish): Greater glory; more glory

Borislav(a) (Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian): Glorious battle

Branislav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian), Bronisław(a) (Polish), Bronislav(a) (Russian, Czech, Slovak), Bronislovas (Lithuanian): Protection and glory

Břetislav(a) (Czech), Bryachislav(a) (Russian), Bretislav(a) (Slovak, Slovenian): To cry glory

Budislav(a) (Czech, Serbian, Croatian): To wake up glory

Czesław(a) (Polish): Honour and glory

Desislav(a) (Bulgarian): Tenfold glory

Dobroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Dobrosław(a) (Polish): Good glory

Domaslav(a) (Medieval Russian): Home glory

Dragoslav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian), Drahoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Precious glory

Drenislav(a) (Croatian): European cornel (a type of dogwood) glory

Fiebrosław(a) (Medieval Polish): February glory

Goroslav(a) (Croatian): Mountain glory

Hranislav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): To protect glory; to defend glory

Hrvoslav(a) (Croatian): Croatian glory

Jugoslav(a) (Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian): Southern glory

Krumislav(a) (Macedonian): Possibly “rock glory”

Krunoslav(a) (Croatian): Glorious crown

Květoslav(a) (Czech), Kvetoslav(a) (Slovak), Cvjetislav(a) (Croatian): Flower of glory

Lechosław(a) (Polish): Glory of Lech (legendary founder of Poland)

Levoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious lion

Ľuboslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious love

Mieczysław(a) (Polish), Mechislav(a) (Russian): Sword of glory

Miloslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Miłosław(a) (Polish): Gracious glory; dear glory

Miroslav(a) (Russian, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Croatian), Mirosław(a) (Polish), Myroslav(a) (Ukrainian): Peaceful glory; world glory

Mislav(a) (Croatian): “My glory” or “thought of glory”

Mstislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Mścisław(a) (Polish): Vengeance and glory

Nadislav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Hope and glory

Ninoslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian): Now glory

Novislav(a) (Bulgarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian): New glory

Pomnislav(a) (Medieval Slavic): To think of glory

Pravoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak): Justice and glory

Prvoslav(a) (Serbian): First glory

Radoslav(a) (Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian), Radosław(a) (Polish): Happy glory

Ratislav(a) (Serbian): Glorious war

Rostislav(a) (Russian, Czech), Rastislav(a) (Slovak): Growth of glory

Slavěna (Czech): Glory

Slaveya (Bulgarian): Glory

Slavogost (Medieval Slavic): Glorious guest

Slavoj (Slovenian, Czech, Slovak): Soldier of glory

Slavomir(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Slavomír(a) (Czech, Slovak), Sławomir(a) (Polish), Sławòmir(a) (Kashubian): Great glory; famous glory; glorious peace; glorious world

Sobiesław(a) (Polish), Soběslav(a) (Czech): Glory for oneself

Stanislav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian), Stanisław(a) (Polish), Stanislaǔ (Belarusian), Staņislavs (Latvian), Stanislovas (Lithuanian, male), Stanislova (Lithuanian, female): To stand in glory; to become glory

Svyatoslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Svetoslav(a) (Bulgarian), Svatoslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Świętosław(a) (Polish): Holy glory, blessed glory

Tomislav(a) (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian): Glorious torture

Velislav(a) (Bulgarian): Great glory

Věroslav(a) (Czech), Vieroslav(a) (Slovak): Faith and glory

Víťazoslav(a) (Slovak): Glorious winner; glorious champion; glorious conqueror

Vítězslav(a) (Czech): Master of glory; lord of glory

Vjekoslav(a) (Croatian): Age of glory

Vladislav(a) (Russian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian), Ladislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian), Vladyslav(a) (Ukrainian), Władysław(a) (Polish), Włodzisław(a) (Polish), Ladislao (Italian), László (Hungarian): To rule in glory

Vlastislav(a) (Czech, Slovak, Serbian): To rule in glory

Vl’koslav(a) (Russian): Great glory

Voyslav(a) (Russian): Glorious war

Vratislav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Warcisław(a) (Polish): To return in glory

Vyacheslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Václav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Vyachaslaǔ (Belarusian), Ventseslav(a) (Bulgarian), Višeslav(a) (Serbian, Croatian), Vjenceslav(a) (Croatian), Vecéslav(a) (Croatian), Věnceslav(a) (Czech), Więcesław(a) (Polish), Wacław(a) (Polish), Vencel (Hungarian), Veaceslav (Romanian), Wenzel (German), Wenzeslaus (German), Venceslás (Spanish): More glory

Witoslav(a) (Medieval Czech): To rule in glory

Yanislav(a) (Bulgarian), Janislav(a) (Slovenian, Croatian): John’s glory

Yaroslav(a) (Russian, Ukrainian), Jaroslav(a) (Czech, Slovak), Jaroslavas (Lithuanian), Jarosław(a) (Polish): Fierce and glorious

Zbysław(a) (Polish): To dispel glory

Zdislav(a) (Czech), Zdzisław(a) (Polish), Zdeslav(a) (Croatian): To build glory

Zmagoslav(a) (Slovenian): Victory and glory

The Rs of Estonian names

Male:

Rait means “colossus.”

Raivo is of unknown etymology. This is also a Latvian name.

Raoul is adopted from French, and ultimately comes from Old Norse Ráðúlfr (wolf counsel).

Remo is adopted from Italian, and is a form of Remus (of unknown etymology).

Rodion is adopted from Russian, and ultimately derives from the Greek name Heroides (song of the hero). The most familiar form of this name is Herod.

Romet, or Roomet, may be derived from the word rõõmu (joy), or be a cognate of German name Fromhold, from roots fromm (pious) and hold (sweet).

Female:

Ragne is adopted from Scandinavian name Ragna (counsel, advice).

Raissa is adopted from the Russian name Raisa, which may derive from Greek name Herais and thus ultimately Hera.

Renate, or Renata, is adopted from German, and means “born again.”

Rimma is adopted from Russian, and of uncertain etymology.

Ronja is adopted from Swedish. This name was invented by writer Astrid Lindgren.

Rosilde may derive from Germanic roots rhos (horse) and hild (battle).

Gracious and dear Slavic names

Another fairly common root in Slavic names is milu/mil (dear, gracious). In comparison to the warlike meanings of many Germanic and Old Norse names, Slavic names often invoke things like love, peace, flowers, and dearness.

As might be expected, many of the female names have the nickname Mila.

Female:

Bohumila (Czech, Slovak), Bogumiła (Polish): Favoured by God.

Jarmila is Czech and Slovak. The first half of the name comes from Slavic root yaru (energetic, fierce). One of the nicknames is Jaruška.

Krasomila (Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian): Gracious/dear beauty.

Lyudmila (Russian, Bulgarian), Ludmiła (Polish), Lyudmyla (Ukrainian, Belarusian), Ludmila (Czech), Ľudmila (Slovak), Lidmila (Czech): Favour of the people.

Milada is Czech, Slovak, and Russian.

Milava is Serbian and Croatian. This name is very rare today.

Milena is Russian, Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Polish, Slovak, Bulgarian, Czech, and Croatian.

Mileva is Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian, Czech, and Slovak.

Miljana is Serbian.

Milodarka means “precious gift” in Serbian.

Miloslava means “gracious/dear glory” in Czech and Slovak. This was also a Medieval Slavic name.

Milota is Slovak.

Radomila (Czech), Radomiła (Polish), Radmila (Czech, Serbian): Happy/willing and dear/precious. This was also a Medieval Slavic name.

Svemila means “dear to all” in Serbian and Croatian.

Vlastimila means “gracious/dear sovereignty” in Czech and Slovak.

Male:

Błogomił means “dear and blessed” in Polish.

Bogumił (Polish), Bogomil (Bulgarian, Macedonian), Bohumil (Czech, Slovak): Favoured by God.

Bratumił means “dear/gracious brother” in Polish.

Čedomil means “gracious/dear child” in Croatian.

Dalimil means “dear/gracious distance” in Czech and Slovak.

Długomił means “long and dear” in Polish. Though I love most Polish names, these seem like really strange roots to put together in the same name!

Dobromil means “good and gracious/dear” in Czech. This was also a Medieval Slavic name.

Drogomił means “precious and gracious” in Polish.

Drogomysł means “precious thought” in Polish.

Jarmil is Czech. The first half of the name comes from Slavic root yaru (energetic, fierce).

Ładzimił means “lovely and dear” in Polish.

Ludomił means “dear people” in Polish.

Milan is Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian.

Miłobor means “gracious battle” in Polish.

Miłogost means “gracious/dear guest” in Polish.

Miloje is Serbian. It was originally a nickname only, but is now given as a full name in its own right.

Miomir, or Milomir, means “gracious/dear peace” and “gracious/dear world” in Serbian. The Polish form is Miłomir.

Milorad (Serbian, Croatian), Miłorad (Polish): Gracious/dear and happy/willing.

Miloš (Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Croatian), Miłosz (Polish) was originally a nickname only, but is now given as a full name in its own right.

Miloslav means “gracious/dear glory” in Czech and Slovak. This was also a Medieval Slavic name.

Milutin is Serbian and Croatian.

Miodrag means “dear and precious” in Serbian and Croatian.

Nowomił means “dear novelty” in Polish.

Radomil (Czech), Radmilo (Serbian), Radomił (Polish): Happy/willing and dear/precious. This was also a Medieval Slavic name.

Robomił means “dear work” in Polish.

Rodomił means “dear family” in Polish.

Sławomił means “gracious glory” in Polish.

Tihomil means “quiet and gracious/dear” in Croatian.

Tugomil means “strong/mighty/potent and dear/precious” in Croatian. This is a rare name.

Vlastimil means “gracious/dear sovereignty” in Czech and Slovak.

Witomił means “dear/gracious master” in Polish.

Wszemił means “always gracious” in Polish.

Zbawimił means “to save/redeem graciously” in Polish.

Żywomił means “alive and dear” in Polish.

Masked names

Continuing the Halloween theme for October, here are some names related to the word “mask.” Almost all of them are Ancient Germanic or Old Norse in origin, and thus not so realistic for a modern, real person. Unless otherwise specified, all these names are male.

Adalgrim means “noble mask,” from Old High German adal (noble) and Old Norse grîma (mask).

Aldgrim means “old mask,” from Gothic alds and Old High German alt (old) and Old Norse grîma. This name may also be an alternate form of Adalgrim.

Alfgrim is a Middle English and German name meaning “elf mask,” from roots alf and grim.

Arngrímr comes from Old Norse ǫrn (eagle) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Ásgrímr comes from Old Norse áss (god) and grímr.

Aurgrímnir comes from Old Norse aur (clay, sand) and grímr or grimmr (grim). This is the name of a jötunn, a type of otherworldly creature in Norse mythology.

Auðgrímr comes from Old Norse auðr (riches, fortune, prosperity) and grímr.

Biligrim comes from Ancient Germanic bili (gentleness) and Old Norse grímr.

Ebergrim comes from Old High German ebur (wild boar) and Old Norse gríma (mask).

Edlgrímr comes from Old Norse eldr (fire) and gríma.

Frotgrim comes from Old High German frôd (cautious, prudent) and Old Norse gríma.

Grímr is the Anglo–Saxon, Old Swedish, Old Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish form of Grímr (mask, helmet), which was popular till the 12th century. This is also another name for the god Odin.

Grimbald comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German bald (brave, bold).

Grimbert comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German beraht (bright).

Grimburg comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German burg (fortress), or Gothic bairgan and Old High German bergan (to preserve, save, keep).

Grimfrid comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German fridu (peace).

Grimhard comes from Old Norse grîma, and Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (hardy, brave).

Grímheiður is Icelandic, derived from roots grímr (person wearing a mask) and heiðr (bright, cloudless, clear).

Grimland comes from Old Norse grîma and land (land).

Grímr means “masked person” or “shape-changer” in Old Norse, from gríma (mask, helmet). Since this was also a name for Odin, it may have been given to human boys in the hopes they’d walk through life with Odin’s protection.

Grimulf comes from Old Norse grîma and Gothic vulfs (wolf).

Grímúlfur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse grim (mask, helmet) and ulfr (wolf).

Grimward comes from Old Norse grîma and Old High German wart (guard).

Grimwald derives from Ancient Germanic grim (mask) and walk (power, ruler, leader).

Hadegrim comes from Old High German hadu (battle) and Old Norse grîma.

Hafgrímr comes from Old Norse haf (ocean, sea) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hallgrímr comes from Old Norse elements hallr (rock) and grîma.

Hardgrim comes from Gothic hardus and Old High German hart (brave, hardy), and Old Norse grîma.

Hildegrim comes from Old Norse hildr (battle) and grîma.

Hildigrímr comes from Old Norse hildr and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Hólmgrímr is an Icelandic name formed from holmr (small island) and grímr.

Hrafngrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse hrafn (raven) and grim (mask, helmet).

Isangrim comes from Ancient Germanic isan (iron) and Old Norse grîma.

Isgrim comes from Ancient Germanic îs (ice) and Old Norse grîma.

Járngrímur is an Icelandic name formed from jarn (iron) and grímr.

Jógrímr comes from Old Norse iór (horse) and grímr.

Kolgrímur is Icelandic and Faroese, derived from Old Norse kolr (black, coal, dark) and grim (mask, helmet).

Kriemhild (F) derives from Ancient Germanic grim and hild (battle). This name is famous as a character in the Nibelungenleid saga.

Landgrim comes from Ancient Germanic land and Old Norse grîma.

Liutgrim comes from Old High German liut (people) and Old Norse grîma.

Madalgrim comes from Gothic mathi (meeting place) and Old Norse grîma.

Margrímur is an Icelandic name derived from marr (ocean, sea, lake) and grímr (person wearing a mask).

Menkao (F) can be derived from Japanese elements men (mask) and kao (face).

Moye derives from Chinese elements mo (mask) and ye (deed, job, occupation, karma).

Radgrim comes from Old High German rât (counsel) and Old Norse grîma.

Rotgrim comes from Ancient Germanic hróthi (fame) and Old Norse grîma.

Sigurgrímur is an Icelandic name formed from sigr (victory) and grímr.

Skallagrímr comes from Old Norse skalli (bald head) and grímr.

Stafngrímr derives from Ancient Germanic stafn (stern/prow of a ship) and grímr.

Steingrímur is an Icelandic name derived from Old Norse steinn (stone) and grímr.

Tegrimo may be a nickname for Teudegrimo, the Italian form of an Ancient Germanic name derived from þeud (people) and grim.

Thancgrim comes from Ancient Germanic thanc and Old High German dankjan (to think) or dank (thanks), and Old Norse grîma.

Theudegrim comes from Ancient Germanic þeud and Old Norse grîma.

Þórgrímr comes from Thor/Þórr (thunder) and grímr. The modern Norwegian form is Torgrim.

Víggrímur is a Faroese name derived from víg (battle, fight) and grímr.

Walagrim comes from Old High German walah (traveller, wanderer, foreigner) and Old Norse grîma.

Waldgrim derives from Gothic valdan (to reign) and Old Norse grîma.

Wilgrim comes from Gothic vilja (desire, will) and Old Norse grîma.