A double warlike name

Polish writer Jadwiga Łuszczewska (pseudonym Deotyma), 1834–1908, painted by Mateusz Zarzecki ca. 1848–52

Hadewig is an Ancient Germanic name derived from roots hadu (combat, battle) and wig (war). Like many other names of Germanic origin, its meaning relates to war and battle. This is such a striking contrast to how many Slavic names have meanings related to love, peace, glory, dearness, and flowers.

Probably the form most familiar to people is the modern German form Hedwig, which hasn’t charted in Germany for decades. It was in the Top 20 from 1890–97, and again in 1901 and from 1903–08. Needless to say, it’s considered very old-fashioned for a reason!

Other forms of this name include:

1. Hedvig is Scandinavian and Hungarian. The Scandinavian nickname is Hedda, and the Hungarian nickname is Hédi. In 2019, this name was #78 in Sweden and #65 in Norway.

2. Hedviga is Slovak, Slovenian, Latvian, and Croatian.

3. Hedvika is Czech and Slovenian.

4. Hadewych is a rare Dutch name. It was much more common in the Middle Ages. The nickname is Hedy (also used in German).

5. Hedwiga is Czech, Romanian, and Medieval Polish.

6. Hedwige is French.

7. Heiðveig is Faroese. In Icelandic, this is a separate name derived from roots heiðr (honour) and veig (power, strength).

8. Hekewika is a rare Hawaiian form.

9. Heiðvík is Faroese.

10. Hedla is a Silesian–German nickname sometimes used as a full given name.

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (1759–1818), Queen of Sweden and Norway, and a prolific diarist

11. Edvige is Italian and Corsican. The nickname is Edda.

12. Edwige is French.

13. Edubige is Basque.

14. Eduvixes is Asturian and Old Galician.

15. Edviga is a rare Moldovan, Romanian, and Portuguese form.

16. Edwikke is East Prussian–German.

17. Edvija is Old Occitan.

18. Eduvigis is Medieval Spanish and Catalan.

19. Edwiga is Medieval Polish.

20. Avoise is Medieval French.

French stage and film actor Edwige Feuillère, 1907–98

21. Jadvyga is Lithuanian.

22. Jadwiga is Polish. I have two characters by this name, one a minor character who goes by Wisia, and the other a main character (in an entirely different set of books) who’s referred to by her full name in the narrative and called Wisia and Jadzia. Other nicknames include Jagusia, Jagienka, Jagna, Jagoda (which also means “berry”), Jaga, and Iga. Both of my Jadwigas were born in the 1920s.

23. Yadviga is Belarusian.

24. Heta is Finnish.

The many forms of Raphael

Rudolph Valentino, né Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi, 6 May 1895–23 August 1926

The German and English name Raphael comes from Hebrew Rafael, “God heals.” Most people are familiar with Archangel Raphael, whose primary role is as a healer. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all recognise him and hold him as one of the most important archangels. He’s also a saint in Christianity.

Though the name has never been particularly popular in the Anglophone world, it’s a different story in other countries. Raphael was #20 in Austria in 2018, and has been in the Top 40 since at least 1990.

In Belgium, Raphael was #19 in 2018, and has been in the Top 100 since at least 2004. In Switzerland, it’s been Top 100 since at least 1998 (when it was #22), and was #84 in 2018. In France, as Raphaël, it was in the Top 100 almost every year from 1900–28, and rejoined the Top 100 in 1966. In 2018, it was #2.

Self-portrait of Italian artist Raphael (né Raffaello Sanzio), 1483–1520,
ca. 1504–06

Other forms of this name include:

1. Rafael is Hebrew, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Galician, Romanian, Catalan, Czech, Slovak, Azeri, Belarusian, Cebuano, Finnish, Macedonian, Scandinavian, Tagalog, and Croatian. The alternate form Rafaël is Dutch.

2. Raffael is German.

3. Rafail is Russian, Montenegrin, Persian, Arabic, and Greek.

4. Raffaello is Italian.

5. Raffaele is also Italian.

6. Rafel is Catalan, Aragonese, and Maltese. The alternate form Rafèl is Occitan.

7. Rafayil is Ukrainian.

8. Rafał is Polish.

9. Rafaelo is Esperanto.

10. Rapolas is Lithuanian.

1835 self-portrait of Polish artist Rafał Hadziewicz (1803–83)

11. Rafailo is Montenegrin and Serbian.

12. Rafôł is Kashubian.

13. Raiféal is Irish.

14. Rafiele is Sardinian.

15. Refoel, or Rifoel, is Yiddish.

16. Rapiel is a rare Georgian form.

17. Räffu is Swiss–German.

18. Raffaellu is Corsican.

19. Rafèu is Provinçal.

20. Rafayel is Armenian.

Russian painter and photographer Rafail Sergeyevich Levitskiy (1847–1940), painted 1878 by Ilya Repin

21. Rafaels is Latvian.

22. Rafaelis is Lithuanian.

23. Rafaäl’ is Tatar.

24. Raafael is Finnish.

25. Îsrafîl is Kurdish.

26. Arrafieli is Sardinian.

27. Arrafiele is also Sardinian.

28. Ráffo is Sami.

29. Râvfaile is Greenlandic.

30. Rafajlo is a rare Serbian form.

Italian actor Rafaela Ottiano, 1888–1942

Female forms:

1. Raphaela is German and English.

2. Rafaela is Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Galician, Polish, Kashubian, Czech, Greek, and Croatian.

3. Raffaela is German.

4. Raphaele is French.

5. Raphaella is English and Brazilian–Portuguese.

6. Raphiela is a rare Latin American–Spanish form.

7. Rapolė is Lithuanian.

8. Rafaella is Brazilian–Portuguese, Latin American–Spanish, and Hungarian.

9. Rafaëlle is a rare French form.

10. Raphaëlle is the more common French form.

11. Raffaella is Italian.

The many forms of Raymond

Saint Maximilian (né Rajmund) Kolbe, 8 January 1894–14 August 1941, a Polish Catholic priest and friar who volunteered to die in place of another Auschwitz prisoner. The man he saved, Franciszek Gajowniczek, lived to 93.

Raymond is a French and English name which originates in Ancient Germanic Raginmund. Its roots are ragin (advice) and mund (protector). It arrived in England via the Norman occupiers, as Reimund. Several Medieval saints had this name, such as St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron saint of midwives and expectant mothers.

In the U.S., Raymond was #87 when name popularity records began in 1880, and steadily rose into the Top 20. It was in the Top 20 from 1908–38, with a highest rank of #14 in 1919. Raymond remained in the Top 50 till 1970, and the Top 100 till 1991. In 2018, it was #299.

Ramón Novarro (né José Ramón Gil Samaniego), 1899–1969, my next-fave male actor of the silent era

Other forms of the name include:

1. Raimundo is Spanish and Portuguese.

2. Ramón is Spanish. The alternate form Ramon is Catalan.

3. Raymundo is Latin American–Spanish and Brazilian–Portuguese.

4. Raimondas is Lithuanian.

5. Rajmund is Hungarian, Polish, Slovenian, Czech, and Croatian. The alternate form Rajmùnd is Kashubian.

6. Remao is Limburgish.

7. Raymund is an English variation.

8. Raimon is Catalan.

9. Reimo is Finnish.

10. Reima is also Finnish.

American actor, vaudevillian, and stage performer Raymond Wallace Bolger (1904–87), known as Ray

11. Rajmond is Albanian and Slovenian.

12. Raimonds is Latvian.

13. Raimondo is Italian.

14. Réamann is Irish. It’s Anglicised as Redmund and Redmond.

15. Reimund is German.

16. Raymand is Belarusian.

17. Reymond is Bulgarian.

18. Ramund is Danish.

19. Raimund is Estonian and German.

20. Rejmond is Macedonian and Serbian.

Italian inventor, writer, soldier, nobleman, and scientist Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero (1710–71), painted by Francesco de Mura

21. Raimondu is Corsican.

22. Rådmund is Norwegian.

23. Råmund is also Norwegian.

24. Reimond is Romanian.

25. Ramunder is Swedish.

26. Remondi is Yoruba.

27. Raimundas is Lithuanian.

28. Remundu is Sardinian.

29. Raymondos is Greek.

30. Raimond is Dutch and Estonian.

German businessman, art collector, and Imperial Count Raymund Fugger (1489–1535), painted by VIncenzo Catena

31. Erramun is Basque.

32. Arrammundu is Sicilian.

33. Arramon is Gascon.

Female forms:

1. Ramona is Spanish, Romanian, Galician, Italian, and English. The alternate form Ramóna is Hungarian.

2. Reymonde is French.

3. Raimonda is Italian.

4. Raimunde is German.

5. Raymonda is Dutch and English.

6. Raimunda is Lithuanian, Galician, Portuguese–Brazilian, and Medieval Catalan.

7. Raimonde is French.

8. Rajmonda is Albanian

9. Erramona is Basque.

All about Alexis

His Imperial Highness Sovereign Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Prince Aleksey Nikolayevich of Russia, now Holy Royal Martyr Saint Aleksey,
30 July/12 August 1904–17 July 1918

Alexis is a Greek name, also used in English, French, and German, derived from the verb alexo (to help, to defend). An Ancient Greek comic poet bore this name, as well as a few saints. The name Alexios (Alexius in Latin) is derived from Alexis.

Though most people today think of this as a female name, it’s always felt solidly male to me because it’s the traditional “translation” of the Russian name Aleksey, my fave male Russian name. I also think of French diplomat, historian, and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville, and Alexis St. Martin, a medical curiosity with a permanent hole in his stomach.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59), painted 1850 by Théodore Chassériau

In the U.S., this name entered the female Top 1000 in 1943, at #828. From 1960 through the present, it’s also been in the male Top 1000. Despite its greater popularity for girls, it hasn’t been anywhere near the bottom of the chart in all those years. In 2018, it was #445 for boys, #179 for girls.

Alexis was in the female Top 100 from 1982–84, and again from 1988–2015. It was Top 10 from 1996–2003, with the top rank of #3 in 1999.

In France, Alexis has been in the male Top 100 since 1974, and in the Top 20 from 1992–2006, with a top rank of #10 in 1997. In 2018, it was #79. Alexis is also very popular in Belgium, in the Top 100 since at least 2000 (with the sole exception of 2007), and #88 in 2018.

The S is silent in the French pronunciation, making it sound a bit like the Russian name Aleksey.

Byzantine statesman and military officer Alexios Apokaukos,
late 13th century–1345

Other forms of this name include:

1. Alessio is Italian.

2. Alejo is Spanish. This can also be a nickname for Alejandro.

3. Aleixo is Portuguese and Galician.

4. Alexej is Czech and Slovak. A common nickname is Aleš.

5. Aleix is Catalan.

6. Aleksi is Finnish and Georgian. One Finnish nickname is Ale.

7. Alyaksey is Belarusian.

8. Aleksy is Polish.

9. Oleksiy is Ukrainian. Nicknames include Oles and Olek.

10. Aleksej is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

1912 self-portrait of Russian–German painter Alexej von Jawlensky, né Aleksey Yavlenskiy (1864–1941)

11. Aleksey is Russian. I adore this name in large part because of Tsesarevich Aleksey, whom I’ve felt a suprarational soul connection to since learning about him at fifteen. I was compelled to write an alternative history where he’s rescued from the firing squad and becomes the greatest Tsar in history. His greatest act comes in Part IV, when he and his wife Arkadiya rescue nine million people from the Nazis during WWII, including the entire Jewish community of Hungary.

12. Elek is Hungarian.

13. Oleksa is Ukrainian.

14. Aleksije is Serbian.

15. Aleksejs is Latvian.

16. Aleksis is Lithuanian and Finnish.

17. Aleki is Samoan.

18. Aleksio is Albanian.

19. Aleksiy is Bulgarian.

20. Alesiu is Corsican.

Hungarian politician and activist Elek Köblös (1887–1938), a victim of the USSR’s Great Terror

21. Alexie is Romanian.

22. Aleksejus is Lithuanian.

Female forms:

1. Alessia is Italian.

2. Alèxia is Catalan. Other forms are Alexía (Icelandic) and Alexia (French and English). I’ve never been fond of this name, since alexia is an acquired form of dyslexia. It’s the same reason I’m not wild about the name Addison, with its association with Addison’s disease.

3. Alesia is Albanian.

4. Aleksiya is Russian and Bulgarian. This seems like a rather rare name.

5. Aleksia is Albanian and Scandinavian.

6. Aleksija is Serbian and Croatian.

Maximum names

German theoretical physicist Max Planck, 1858–1947 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R0116-504 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Max, as both a nickname and full given name, has been very trendy for awhile. It’s been in the Top 100 in England and Wales since at least 1998. In 2018, it was #31, and has charted as high as #18 in 2012. The name has also been in New Zealand’s Top 30 since at least 2004 (many of those years in the Top 20), and was #21 in 2019.

Sweden is another country where Max enjoys great popularity. It’s been Top 50 since at least 1998, when it was #44, and had a high of #13 in 2006. In 2019, it was #67.

Max is also popular in Switzerland (#53 in 2018), Northern Ireland (#33 in 2018), Scotland (#12), Norway (#77 in 2018), Ireland (#34), Germany (#20 in 2018), The Netherlands (#17), Catalonia (#20 in 2018), and Austria (#54 in 2018).

Surprisingly, it’s not as popular as I assumed in the U.S. Max was only #136 in 2018, and its highest position was #96 in 2011.

Russian writer Maksim Gorkiy (née Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov), 1868–1936

The name’s origin is Roman family name Maximus, which means “greatest” in Latin. In turn, it gave rise to Maximilianus, and became quite popular among the Romans. Lesser-used Roman forms are Maximinus and Maximianus.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Maximilian is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and English, though by far the most common in German. It was borne by two Holy Roman Emperors, two kings of Bavaria, and a Habsburg emperor of Mexico. The alternate form Maximilián is Slovak.

2. Maximillian is English.

3. Maxmilián is Czech.

4. Maximiliano is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Maximiliaan is Dutch.

6. Maximilien is French.

7. Maksymilian is Polish and Sorbian.

8. Maksimilian is Russian.

9. Maksimilyan is also Russian.

10. Macsen is Welsh.

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519)

11. Maxim is Czech. The alternate form Màxim is Catalan.

12. Maksim is Russian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, and Macedonian.

13. Maksym is Ukrainian and Polish.

14. Maxen is Anglicised Welsh.

15. Máximo is Spanish.

16. Maxime is French.

17. Massimo is Italian.

18. Maksimiljan is Slovenian.

19. Masimilian is Breton.

20. Massimilianu is Corsican.

Infamous French revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre, 1758–94

21. Maksimilijonas is Lithuanian.

22. Maksymilión is Kashubian.

23. Massimiljanu is Maltese.

24. Maksimilijan is Croatian.

25. Maximilià is Catalan.

26. Maximos is Greek.

27. Maximino is Portuguese and Spanish.

28. Maximiano is Spanish and Portuguese.

29. Maximian is German, English, and Dutch. The alternate form Maximián is Aragonese.

30. Maksime is Georgian.

Maximos the Greek (ca. 1475–1556), a monk, translator, writer, and scholar who served in Russia

31. Maime is Occitan.

32. Maimin is also Occitan.

33. Maksimian is Bulgarian, Russian, and Ukrainian.

34. Maksimijan is Serbian and Croatian.

35. Maksimin is Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

36. Maksymian is Polish.

37. Maksymin is also Polish.

38. Màsim is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy and San Marino.

39. Massimiano is Italian.

40. Massimianu is Sicilian.

French military commander Maxime Weygand, 1867–1965

41. Massimilianu is Corsican.

42. Massiminiano is Italian.

43. Massimino is also Italian.

44. Maximien is French.

45. Maximinian is English.

46. Maximiniano is Spanish and Portuguese.

47. Maxwell means “Mack’s stream,” from Medieval English Mack (a diminutive of Scandinavian Magnus [great]) and Old English root wella (stream).

U.S. singer Maxene Andrews (top left), 1916–95, with her sisters LaVerne (top right) and Patty

Female forms:

1. Maxine is English.

2. Maxene is an English variation. I’m not fond of this spelling, since it looks like it should be pronounced Maks-EN.

3. Maximiliana is Latin.

4. Maximilienne is French.

5. Maximiliane is German.

6. Maximilia is a rare German form, mostly used by noble families in bygone centuries.

7. Maksima is Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

8. Maksyma is Polish.

9. Massimilla is Italian.

10. Maximiana is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

Princess Maximiliane of Bavaria (embracing the lamb), 1810–21

11. Maximina is Galician, Spanish, and Portuguese.

12. Maximine is French.

13. Maximiniana is Spanish and Portuguese.

14. Massimiliana is Italian.

15. Maxime is Swedish and Norwegian.