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.

Yoŭnik and Yara

Copyright Natalia.sk

Yoŭnik (also called Yovnik) is an adorable farmstead creature in Belarusian mythology. He lives in a drying barn, called yoŭnya or yovnya in Belarusian. Here the sheaves of grain were dried before threshing. Yoŭnik is rather small, and perpetually blackened from smoke and soot. He’s also frequently covered in spider webs.

He’s very ashamed of his appearance, and so always hides from people. However, he’s very hardworking, and always serving his people. Yoŭnik starts the fire in the oven, airs out the sheaves, sweeps the floor, and protects the harvest from evil spirits and bad people.

Sometimes, he comes to the barn window to cough up the soot and dust. More rarely, he crosses the threshold to inspect the sheaves in the warehouse, deflect or direct the wind during winnowing, or look at the people working in the barn.

Copyright Natalia.sk

If a bad person comes into the barn, Yoŭnik waits for him or her to fall asleep, and then disturbs the person’s sleep, sends smoke, or sometimes even burns the barn down or strangles the person. Yoŭnik himself can’t burn in the fire, unless lightning strikes. If that happens, he leaves behind no dust.

A parallel figure is Ovinnik, a protective barn spirit in the shape of a black cat, as big as a standard dog, with eyes burning like coals.

Copyright Oosoom

Yara (also called Iara, Uiara, or Mãe das Águas) is a water nymph, mermaid, or siren in Brazilian mythology. Her form changes depending upon the story. Yara originated in Guarani and Tupi mythology.

Yara is described as green-haired, brown-eyed, with copper or light brown skin (either a native Brazilian or a caboclo, someone of mixed-race ancestry). She sits on a rock by the river, combing her hair or napping in the sunlight. When she feels the presence of a man, she begins to softly sing to him.

Once under Yara’s spell, a man will leave anything to join her in her underwater world forever. This was no trick, as Yara is very beautiful, and will cater to all of her lover’s needs for the rest of his life. Though Yara is immortal, her lovers eventually get old and die.

The Yara legend was one of the more common explanations behind the disappearance of those who got lost in the jungle.

Yara means “water lady,” derived from Old Tupi y (water) and îara (lady). The name is very popular in Brazil, both as Yara and Iara.

Quiritis and Quirinus

The Quirinus section of this post is edited from last year’s A to Z post, since it’s hard to find significant deities whose names start with Q. Quetzalcoatl was out of the question, since my intent was to focus on deities who aren’t super-well-known.

Juno, by Jacques Louis Dubois

Quiritis is a Sabine goddess of motherhood, often associated with protection. I can imagine many a woman praying to her in the throes of childbirth, or for help and guidance with learning how to be a mother.

Quiritis is believed to be derived from the Sabine word quiris (spear, lance). She’s often depicted holding that weapon, presumably to defend someone or something. Perhaps because of this, she came to be associated with Juno (Iuno), the Roman equivalent of Hera. Juno is also frequently depicted holding a spear or lance, something which came from the earlier Quiritis.

Roman marriages traditionally included a ritual wherein the bride’s hair was cut or parted by a spear. Some scholars believe this was the influence of Quiritis and Juno’s association with marriage.

Juno was frequently worshipped under the name Juno Quiritis or Juno Curitis, and Juno Quiritis is said to be the only deity worshipped by all thirty curiae (military and political divisions) established by Romulus. By Campus Martius, an area of great religious, political, and military training importance, there was a temple to Juno Quiritis.

The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, by Nicolas Mignard, 1654

Quirinus is an alternate name for Romulus. Together with his twin brother Remus, he founded Rome. Later on, Quirinus/Romulus was elevated to deity status. Sources differ on whether the Roman god Quirinus is or isn’t one and the same as Romulus.

There are many versions of the twins’ origins, ancestry, and childhood, but all versions have a servant who can’t bring himself to murder the babies, and instead puts them in a basket on the banks of the Tiber River. The river floods and carries the twins downstream, unhurt. Tiberinus, a river god, makes the basket catch on the roots of a fig tree, and a wolf named Lupa discovers them and serves as their wetnurse. Picus, a woodpecker, feeds them.

The twins grew up as shepherds following their discovery by Faustulus, who took them to his hut and raised them with his wife Acca Larentia. The rest is history.

Quirinus came to stand for the Divine personification of the Roman people.

Quirinus is possibly derived from the Sabine word quiris (spear, lance). Other forms include Quirino (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Quirin (German), Quirijn (Dutch), Corin (French), Kyrinos (Greek), Kvirinas (Lithuanian), Kvirinus (Faroese), Kvirin (Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Croatian), and Kwiryn (Polish). A Dutch feminine form is Quirine.

Priapus and Polyxena

Warning: If phallic images in art (beyond regular artistic nudity) offend you, this post isn’t for you.

Priapus (Priapos) is a minor fertility god, and protects livestock, fruit, gardens, bees, merchant sailors, and male genitalia. He’s routinely depicted with a permanent, oversized erection. Indeed, his very name is the origin of the English word “priapism,” an erection lasting over four hours in the absence of sexual activities.

Priapus is variantly described as the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus or Dionysus and Chione, as well as the son of Zeus, Hermes, or Pan. Other sources list him as Hermes’s father. Hera cursed him with ugliness, impotence, and foul-mindedness while he was in utero, in revenge for Prince Paris of Troy having judged Aphrodite as more beautiful than Hera.

The other deities refused to let Priapus live on Mount Olympus, and threw him earthside. He landed on a hill, and was raised by the shepherds who found him. Later, he joined Pan and the satyrs.

Priapus once tried to rape the humble, modest goddess Hestia when she was asleep, but a donkey’s braying made Priapus lose his erection, woke Hestia up, and thwarted the assault. This gave him a burning hatred of donkeys, which became his sacrificial animal.

Another time, he tried to rape the nymph Lotis when she too was asleep, but a donkey’s braying thwarted him yet again. Lotis awoke and ran away, leaving the other deities to laugh at Priapus. In some accounts, the deities turned her into a lotus tree to escape Priapus.

Worship of Priapus was more a rural phenomenon outside of his home region of Lampsakos. People in the countryside saw him as a patron of sailors, agriculture, fishers, and others in need of good luck. His presence was believed to avert the evil eye. In Bithynia (now northwestern Asian Turkey), he was viewed as a tutor to the god Ares in infancy.

People in urban areas saw him as a joke, not a serious deity. In later antiquity, his worship was seen as a cult of sophisticated pornography. Into the Middle Ages, he was invoked as a symbol of fertility and health. In the 13th century, a lay Cistercian brother erected a statue of Priapus to stop an outbreak of cattle disease.

In the 1980s, in Montréal, D.F. Cassidy founded the St. Priapus Church, a predominantly gay male community focused on worship of the phallus. During services, everyone but the priest is naked. (Warning: Link NSFW or under 18!)

Priapus is of unknown etymology. It may be pre-Greek.

The Sacrifice of Polyxena, by Nicolas Prévost

Polyxena (Polyxene) was the youngest daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and the Trojan version of Iphigenia. An oracle said Troy wouldn’t be defeated if Prince Troilos lived to age twenty. With that in mind, Athena encouraged Achilles to seek him out.

Troilos and Polyxena rode out to get water from a well in the town of Thymbra, and Achilles was overcome with lust for both of them. At this time, Achilles was still in mourning for his dear friend Patroklos, who may or may not have been his lover. Polyxena and Troilos ran away, but Achilles caught Troilos by the hair and dragged him off his horse.

Troilos escaped to a nearby temple of Apollo, but Achilles followed him and beheaded him by the altar, then mutilated Troilos’s body. Achilles continued pursuing Polyxena, and struck up a rapport with her. He found her words comforting in the wake of Patroklos’s death. Achilles trusted her so much, he told her of his only vulnerability, his heel.

Polyxena’s brothers Paris and Delphobos ambushed Achilles and shot him in his heel, with an arrow soaked in poison and guided by Apollo. In some versions, Polyxena kills herself from guilt, while in others, Achilles’s ghost demands the Greeks sacrifice her to appease the wind needed to take them home. Polyxena was eager to die as a sacrifice for such a great hero instead of as a slave. Neoptolemos, Achilles’s son, carried out the sacrifice.

Polyxena means “many foreigners,” “many guests,” or “very hospitable.” It’s derived from polys (many) and xenos (guest, foreigner), or xenia (hospitality to guests). Other forms of the name include Polyxène (French), Polyxeni (modern Greek), Poliksena (Russian and Polish), Polissena (Italian), Políxena (Spanish), Pulisena (Medieval Italian), Polikseni (Albanian), and Poleksija (Serbian). My character Alya (Aleksandra) Minina names her daughter Poliksena, Polya for short, since she’s not exactly the type to use an ordinary name like Natalya or Olga.

Nestor and Nike

Achille Donne à Nestor le Prix de la Sagesse aux Jeux Olympiques, by Joseph-Désiré Court, 1820

Nestor was the King of Pylos, assuming the throne after Hercules killed his father Neleus and all of Nestor’s siblings. He was also one of the Argonauts, fought the Centaurs, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. Artemis sent this boar to terrorize Calydon after King Oeneus forgot to include her in the annual harvest sacrifices.

Though Nestor was quite old by the time of the Trojan War, he nevertheless went to fight with the Greeks. In The Iliad, he frequently gives advice to the younger soldiers, and advices Achilles and Agamemnon to make up after their falling-out. Nestor was too old to actually serve in combat, but he led the Pylian troops in a chariot, and had a golden shield.

Nestor’s advice is always respected and taken very seriously, due to his age and experience, but there’s also always a subtext of tongue-in-cheek humour at his expense when he speaks. Nestor always prefaces this sage advice by several paragraphs bragging about his heroic past exploits in similar situations. Much of his advice is also ineffective at best and potentially disastrous at worst.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus’s son Telemachus goes to Pylos to ask Nestor for any word of his father. Nestor truly exemplifies xenia (hospitality), but can’t provide any information. Telemachus then goes to Sparta to talk with Menelaus and Helen, but they don’t know anything either.

Upon his return to Pylos, Telemachus begs Nestor’s youngest son, Peisistratos, to let him go straight home to avoid yet another overwhelming show of xenia. Peisistratos agrees to the request, though he says Nestor will probably be really pissed when he discovers Telemachus has left.

Nestor means “homecoming,” and may also be related to nostimos, “blessed.” This name is also used in Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian. Other forms include Nestore (Italian), Nestori (Finnish), Néstor (Spanish, Galician), Nèstor (Catalan), Nesta (Jamaican Patois), Nestorie (Romanian), Nestório (Portuguese), Nestorio (Spanish, Italian), Nestoriusz (Polish), Nistor (Romanian), Nestoriy (Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian), and Nestorije (Serbian and Croatian).

Copyright Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011)

Nike (Roman name Victoria) is the Greek goddess of victory, speed, and strength, and the daughter of Titan Pallas and goddess Styx. She and her siblings, Kratos (god of strength), Bia (goddess of force and raw energy), and Zelos (daimon of zeal, envy, rivalry, emulation, dedication, and jealousy), are very close with Zeus. When Zeus was preparing to go to war against the Titans, Styx brought her kids to him as allies.

Though most Greek deities were no longer depicted with wings by the Classical era, Nike continued to be shown as such. She’s also frequently depicted as a Divine charioteer, flying around battlefields and rewarding the victors with fame and glory. This symbol of victory is the famous crown of laurel leaves. One of the many reasons I chose Dafna (Laurel) as part of my Hebrew name is because of this ancient symbolism.

Statue in Potsdamer Schloßpark, Germany, Copyright Lestat (Jan Mehlich), GFDL, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

Nike is also very close to Athena, and is believed to have been the broken statue in Athena’s outstretched hand in the Parthenon. Additionally, Nike is one of the figures most often found on Ancient Greek coins.

In the modern era, the sporting company Nike takes their name from the goddess. The Rolls–Royce hood ornament, Spirit of Ecstasy, is modelled after Nike, as is the Honda motorcycle company’s logo. Finally, Nike has been minted on the obverse of every Olympic medal since the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Nike means “victory,” but could also be related to neikos (strife, quarrel) and neikein (to quarrel with). The word itself may have pre-Greek origins. Related names are Nikian, Nikanor, and Nikon (the latter two of which are also used in Russian).