The various forms of Daphne and Laura (and other laurel names)

Pauline as Daphne Fleeing from Apollo, ca. 1810, Robert Lefèvre

Daphne is a naiad in Greek mythology, a female nymph presiding over bodies of water such as lakes, fountains, springs, and brooks. She’s variously cited as the daughter of river god Peneus (Peneios) and nymph Creusa, or Ladon and Gaia.

Versions of Daphne’s story vary, but they all have the crux of Apollo falling in unrequited love with her after a curse from Eros (Cupid). As Apollo chased her, Daphne begged her father to save her, and she was turned into a laurel tree in the nick of time. Laurels thus became sacred to Apollo.

Daphne is also used in English and Dutch. The variation Daphné is French. Other forms include:

1. Daphnée is French.

2. Dafni is modern Greek.

3. Dafina is Macedonian and Albanian.

4. Dafne is Italian.

5. Daffni is Welsh.

6. Dapine is Georgian.

7. Dafna is Hebrew. I chose this as the last part of my Hebrew name (Chana Esther Dafna) for numerous reasons, all of them relating to how it means “laurel.” Primary among those reasons is honouring Stan Laurel, my humble way of saying thank you for how watching Laurel and Hardy on AMC got me through one of the darkest, most depressing periods of my life.

8. Defne is Turkish.

Laura Bridgman (1829–1889), America’s first blind-deaf person to get a full education and become a celebrity, fifty years before Helen Keller

Laura, which comes from the Latin name Laurus, is English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Romanian, Finnish, German, Dutch, Estonian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian.

It’s been an English name since the 13th century, and was extremely popular in the U.S. until it began a rapid decline in the late 19th century. Laura was #17 in 1880, and stayed in the Top 100 till 1934, sinking in popularity a little bit more almost every year. It was Top 100 again from 1945–2001, attaining its highest rank of #10 in 1969. In 2017, it was #340.

Laura has greater popularity in Europe. It’s #6 in Austria; #11 in Denmark; #12 in Switzerland; #13 in Portugal; #14 in Hungary; #16 in the Czech Republic and Poland; #22 in Galicia; #31 in Spain; #37 in Belgium; #40 in Slovenia; #47 in Catalonia; #58 in Italy; #63 in Ireland; #78 in Bosnia; #101 in The Netherlands; and #104 in France.

Laura de Noves (1310–1348), Petrarch’s great muse and unrequited love, similar to Dante’s love for Beatrice

Other forms of Laura include:

1. Lára is Icelandic (and not to be confused with the Russian Lara, a nickname for Larisa).

2. Laure is French.

3. Lavra is Slovenian.

4. Lowri is Welsh.

5. Laoura is modern Greek.

6. Lâvara is Greenlandic.

7. Lora is English and Italian.

8. Loretta is English and Italian.

9. Lauretta is Italian. This is the name of one of the members of the brigata, the ten storytellers, in The Decameron.

10. Laurette is French.

American actor Loretta Young (1913–2000) with Lon Chaney, Sr.

 Other laurel-related names:

1. Kelila, or Kelilah, means “crown of laurel” in Hebrew.

2. Lalela means “laurel” in Hawaiian.

3. Lovorka means “laurel tree” in Croatian.

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The many forms of Philip (and other horsey names)

Philip the Apostle, by Peter Paul Rubens

In spite of being considered somewhat outdated or geriatric these days, I’ve always quite liked the name Philip. It’s a solid classic that could use a comeback. Perhaps my positive opinion was influenced by having two friends named Philip in junior high, both of them great guys.

Philip means “friend/lover of horses,” from Greek philos (lover, friend) and hippos (horse). One of the Twelve Apostles, Philip was originally much more popular among Eastern Christians. In the Middle Ages, it became more common in the West.

Philip sank in popularity in the Anglophone world in the 17th century, thanks to King Felipe II of Spain launching the Armada against England. It became popular again in the 19th century.

Infante Felipe of Spain, Duke of Parma (1720–1765), by Louis-Michel van Loo

The one-L spelling was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1880–1971, and again from 1973–88. It then began a slow decline, though in recent years, it’s gradually begun moving up. Its highest rank to date was #52 in 1941.

In 2017, it was #424 in the U.S.; #414 in England and Wales; #81 in Norway; #74 in Sweden; #39 in Denmark; and #206 in The Netherlands.

The two-L variant has always been less popular than the one-L, though it was Top 200 in the U.S. from 1880–1936, and Top 100 from 1937–91. Its highest rank to date was #64 in 1950. In 2017, it was #424 (same as the one-L spelling).

King Philippe IV the Fair of France (1268–1314), by Jean du Tillet

Other forms include:

1. Felipe is Spanish and Portuguese.

2. Felip is Catalan.

3. Philippe is French.

4. Philipp is German.

5. Filip is Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Slovak, Macedonian, Hungarian, Finnish, and Croatian.

6. Filipp is Russian.

7. Pylyp is Ukrainian.

8. Pilypas is Lithuanian.

9. Filips is Latvian.

10. Filippo is Italian.

King Felipe II (1527–1598), by Tinian

11. Vilppu is Finnish.

12. Pilib is Irish.

13. Filib is Scottish.

14. Fülöp is Hungarian.

15. Filippos is Greek.

16. Piripi is Maori.

17. Filpa is Sami.

18. Phélip is Gascon.

19. Phillippus is Afrikaans.

20. Pilibbos is Armenian.

21. Pilipe is Georgian.

22. Ph’lip is Jèrriais.

Queen Filipa of Portugal (1360–1415), by António de Holanda

Feminine forms:

1. Philippa is English and German.

2. Philipa is English.

3. Phillipa is English.

4. Filipa is Portuguese.

5. Filippa is Italian, Greek, and Swedish.

6. Philippine is French.

7. Felipa is Spanish.

8. Filipina is Polish.

9. Filippina is Italian.

French poet, historian, and soldier Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné, 1552–1630

Other horse-related names:

Unisex:

1. Agrippa is a Latin name which may mean “wild horse,” from Greek roots agrios (wild) and hippos. Other forms include Agrippina (a Latin diminutive) and Agrafena (Russian, feminine only).

Female:

1. Alkippe comes from Greek alke (strength) and hippos.

2. Eowyn means “horse joy” in Old English, from eoh (horse) and wyn (friend). As most people know, this was invented for LOTR.

3. Epona means “horse” in Gaulish, from epos. She was the Celtic goddess of horses.

4. Jorunn means “horse love” in Norwegian, from Ancient Scandinavian jór (horse) and unna (love).

5. Rosalind means “tender/soft/flexible horse” in English, from Germanic hros (horse) and lind.

Rosamund Clifford, mistress of King Henry II of England (before 1150–ca. 1176), by John William Waterhouse

6. Rosamund means “horse protection” in English, from Germanic hros and mund.

7. Hippolyte means “freer of horses” in Greek, from hippos and luo (to loosen). Other forms include Hippolyta (Latin) and Ippolita (Russian).

8. Farnaspa means “horse glory” in Ancient Persian.

9. Lysippe means “she who lets loose the horses” in Greek.

10. Zeuxippe means “bridled horse” in Greek.

Hippocrates, ca. 460–370 BCE

Male: 

1. Archippos means “master of horses” in Greek, from archos and hippos.

2. Ashwin means “possessed of horses” in Hindi and several other Indian languages.

3. Eachann means “brown horse” in Gaelic, from each (horse) and donn (brown).

4. Hippocrates means “horse power” in Greek, from hippos and kratos (power).

5. Hippolytos is the male form of Hippolyta. Other forms include Ippolit (Russian), Ippolito (Italian), Hippolyte (French), Hipólito (Spanish and Portuguese), and Hipolit (Polish).

6. Tasunka means “his horse” in Sioux.

7. Xanthippos means “yellow horse” in Greek, from xanthos (yellow) and hippos.

8. Ajwad means “horses” in Arabic.

9. Alabandos means “horse victory” in Greek.

10. Aristippos means “the best horse” in Greek.

Hipólito José da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça (1774–1823), Father of the Brazilian Press

11. Chrysippos means “horse of gold” in Greek.

12. Dexippos means “horse reception” or “to receive horses” in Greek.

13. Lysippos is the male form of Lysippe.

Names starting with Pt and Ps

In addition to names starting with uncommon letters like X and Q, and uncommon letters substituting for more common ones (e.g., Ysabelle instead of Isabelle, Jozef instead of Joseph), I also love unusual letter combinations. Not very many names start with Pt or Ps, so they really stand out when encountered.

As many people probably know, most of these names are of Greek origin.

Unisex:

Psalm was one of those now-beyond-rare Virtue names the Puritans so loved.

Psophis was the name of four characters in Greek mythology, three female and one male. All are considered possible namesakes for the ancient Arcadian city of Psophis, near the modern-day village Psofida

Male:

Ptah possibly means “opener” in Ancient Egyptian. He was a demiurge, an artisan-like figure who creates, fashions, and maintains the material world. In Egyptian mythology, he thought the world into existence with his heart. Among other things, he was a god of architects, craftspeople, and the arts.

Ptolemaios means “warlike, aggressive” in Ancient Greek, from polemaios. This was the name of several Greco–Egyptian rulers of Egypt, and the famous Greco–Roman astronomer Ptolemy.

The Latinized form is Ptolemaeus; the German form is Ptolemäus; the French form is Ptolémée; the Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian form is Ptolemey; the Lithuanian form is Ptolemėjas; the Polish form is Ptolemeusz; the Romanian, Portuguese, and Catalan form is Ptolemeu; the Spanish and Galician form is Ptolomeo; and the Serbian and Croatian form is Ptolemej.

Psote was a Coptic saint from the 3rd century. His feast day is 21 December.

Psmith is a character in six P.G. Wodehouse books.

Ptahil was a Mandaean demiurge. The name possibly means “to mould God,” from Mandaic roots pth (to mould) and il (God). It may also be etymologically related to Ptah.

Pterelaos was the name of two figures in Greek mythology. The Latinized form is Pterelaus.

Ptous was a minor character in Greek mythology, as well as an epithet of Apollo and namesake of Boeotia’s Mount Ptous.

Female:

Ptolemais is the feminine form of Ptolemaios. I’ve also seen the rare form Ptolemea, which is used in English and at least a few other languages. I unfortunately couldn’t track down its etymology and linguistic usage, since it’s so rare.

Psyche means “the soul” in Ancient Greek, from psycho (to breathe). In Greek mythology, she’s a mortal whom Eros (Cupid) marries and always visits under cover of night. Eros forbids her to look upon him, but on a visit home, Psyche’s two older sisters set a lot of trouble in motion by urging her to discover her mystery husband’s identity. There’s ultimately a happy ending.

Psamathe means “sand goddess” in Ancient Greek, from roots psammos (sand) and theia (goddess). She was a Nereid, wife of the god Proteus, mother of Phokus, goddess of sandy beaches. This was also the name of the mortal mother of renowned musician Linus, who was fathered by Apollo.

Some translations of Ovid render her name as Psamanthe. The French form is Psamathée.

Psappha is the Aeolian Greek form of Sappho, which possibly means “lapis lazuli” or “sapphire,” from sappheiros. The most famous bearer was the 7th century BCE poet, who lent her name to a now largely archaic word for lesbianism.

Psekas means “rain shower” in Ancient Greek. She was one of sixty Oceanid Nymphs who formed Artemis’s core retinue.

Ptolemocratia was a Latin name meaning “aggressive/warlike power,” from Ancient Greek roots polemeios (warlike, aggressive) and kratos (power).

The Vs of Medieval names

Male:

Vauquelin (French): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Walchelin, from root walha (foreign).

Vecheslav (Slavic): “More glory,” from roots veche and slava. The familiar modern form is the Czech and Slovak Václav. Other forms are Wenceslas (Latinized), Vyacheslav (Russian and Ukrainian), Wacław and Więcesław (Polish), Ventseslav (Bulgarian), Venseslao (Italian), Venseslás (Spanish), Vencel (Hungarian), Wenzel (German), and Veaceslav (Romanian).

Velam (Swedish): Form of William, derived from Ancient Germanic name Willahelm. Its roots are wil (desire, will) and helm (protection, helmet).

Velasco (Spanish): Possibly “crow,” from a Basque word. The modern form is Vasco, a Spanish adjective meaning “Basque.”

Velimir (Slavic): “Great peace” and “great world,” from roots veli and miru. This name is still used in modern Serbian and Croatian.

Venerio (Italian): Derived from Venus (sexual desire, love).

Vesike (Baltic, Livonian): “Water,” from Livonian root •vesi.

Vigmund (Swedish): Derived from Old Norse name Vígmundr, from roots víg (battle, fight) and mund (protection).

Vimund (Swedish): Derived from Ancient Scandinavian name Vímundr, with roots  (home, sanctuary, temple) and mund (protection, hand).

Vitomir (Slavic): “Master of peace” and “master of the world,” from roots vit (lord, master) and miru. This name is still used in modern Slovenina, Serbian, and Croatian.

Volknand (German): “Brave people,” from Ancient Germanic roots folk (people) and nand (brave, daring).

Vratislav (Slavic): “To return glory,” from roots vratiti and slava. This name is still used in modern Czech and Slovak.

Female:

Valata (Baltic, Livonian): Of widely-disputed, uncertain etymology.

València (Catalan)

Värun (Swedish): Derived from Ancient Scandinavian name Vírún, from roots  (temple, home, sanctuary) and rún (secret).

Vasara (Baltic, Livonian): Possibly derived from the Latvian word for “summer,” or the Finnish word for “hammer.”

Verdiana (Italian): Feminine form of Latin name Viridianus, derived from root viridis (green).

Verildis (Dutch): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Farahild, from Langobardic root fara (family, kind, line) or Gothic faran (to travel), and Old Norse hildr (battle).

Vermilia (Italian)

Viana (Catalan)

Viçenta (Portuguese), Vicenta (Catalan): “To conquer,” from Latin root vincere.

Vivendòta (Catalan)

All about the name Gregory

Pope Gregory I (ca. 540–12 March 604), by Francisco de Zurbarán

Gregory is the English form of the Latin Gregorius, which in turn comes from the Greek Gregorios. The original roots are gregoros (alert, watchful) and gregorein (to watch). Thanks to folk etymology, the name also became associated with the Latin grex (stem form greg), which means “herd” or “flock.”

Thus, there arose an association with a shepherd carefully guarding his flock, and led to the name’s great popularity among popes and monks. To date, 16 popes have taken the name Gregory, tying it with Benedict as the next-most popular papal name after only John.

Austrian geneticist Gregor Mendel, 1822–1884

Because of the many saints, monks, and popes bearing this name, it’s been widely used through the Christian world for almost 2,000 years. In England, it’s been used since the 12th century. However, it had become much more uncommon by the late 19th century.

In 1880, it was #909 in the U.S., and was on and off the chart until it permanently came to stay in 1892. It gradually rose and fell until 1924, when it began picking up speed and moving up slowly but consistently. In 1945, it entered the Top 100 at #96.

Gregory leapt to #56 in 1946, and #33 in 1947. It entered the Top 25 in 1950, and remained there till 1967. In 1971, it again was #25. The name gradually descended, and had fallen to #361 by 2016.

The name’s rise to popularity was due to American actor Gregory Peck.

Gregory Peck, 1916–2003

Other forms of the name include:

1. Gregor is German, Icelandic, Slovak, Slovenian, and Scottish.

2. Grégoire is French.

3. Gregorio is Spanish and Italian. The alternate form Gregório is Portuguese.

4. Grigor is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Eastern Armenian, Albanian, and Welsh.

5. Krikor is Western Armenian.

6. Grigol is Georgian.

7. Gligor is Macedonian and Romanian.

8. Greger is Swedish and Norwegian.

9. Grigoriy is Russian. Nicknames include Grisha, Grishechka, and Grishenka.

10. Grigore is Romanian.

Henri Jean-Baptiste Grégoire (Abbé Grégoire), bishop, politician, reformer, abolitionist, revolutionary leader, 1750–1831

11. Gregers is Norwegian and Danish.

12. Griogair is Scottish.

13. Gréagóir is Irish.

14. Grzegorz is Polish. Nicknames include Grześ and Grzesiek.

15. Grega is Slovenian.

16. Řehoř is Czech.

17. Grigorijs is Latvian.

18. Grigalius is Lithuanian. Other Lithuanian forms are Grigorijus, Gregoras, and Gregas.

19. Hryhoriy is Ukrainian.

20. Reijo is Finnish.

Comedic Romanian actor Grigore Vasiliu Birlic, 1905–1970

21. Reko is another Finnish form.

22. Gregoor is a rare Dutch form.

23. Gergely (GER-gay) is Hungarian. The nickname is Gergő.

24. Grigorios is modern Greek.

25. Girgor is Maltese.

26. Gergori is Basque.

27. Drigo is Mordvin.

28. Grégori is Gascon. The alternate form Gregori is Catalan.

29. Gregoriu is Sardinian.

30. Gregorije is Serbian. Another Serbian form is Gligorije.

The Venerable Dr. José Gregorio Hernández (1864–1919), a Venezuelan national hero and folk figure

31. Guergorio is Aragonese.

32. Hrehary is Belarusian.

33. Kelekolio is Hawaiian.

34. Kӗrkuri is Chuvash.

35. Reigo is Estonian.

36. Grgur is Serbian and Croatian. The nickname is Grga.

37. Gërgur is Albanian.

38. Ryhor is Belarusian.

39. Grækaris is Faroese.

40. Gregors is Latvian.

Grigorios Xenopoulos (1867–1951), Greek writer and journalist

41. Grigorij is Macedonian.

42. Gregoria is an Italian, Spanish, and English feminine form.

43. Gregorie is a German feminine form. The variant Grégorie is French.