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.

Slavic flower names

As promised, here’s a list of Slavic names primarily beginning with the roots Cvet-, Kvet-, and Tsvet-. This element means “flower” in the Slavic languages.

Female:

Cveta is Serbian.

Cvetana is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvetka is Slovenian.

Cvijeta is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvijetka, Cvita, Cvitana, and Cvitka are Croatian.

Cvjetana is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvjetislava means “flower glory” in Croatian. Another form is Cvjetoslava.

Cvjetka is Serbian and Croatian.

Květa is Czech, and Kveta is Slovak. This can either be a nickname or full name.

Květoslava means “flower glory” in Czech. The Slovak form is Kvetoslava. Květuše is a Czech diminutive.

Kvitoslava is Ukrainian.

Tsveta, Tsvetana, and Tsvetelina are Bulgarian. A nickname is Tsvetanka.

Tsvetomira means “flower peace” and “flower world” in Bulgarian, though the first element may also derive from tsvyat (colour) and thus mean “colour of peace.”

Male:

Cvetan and Cvetin are Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian.

Cvetko is Slovenian.

Cvijetko, Cvijeto, Cvitan, and Cvitko are Croatian.

Cvjetan and Cvjetko are Serbian and Croatian.

Cvjetislav is Croatian. Another form is Cvjetoslav.

Květoslav is Czech. The Slovak form is Kvetoslav.

Kvitoslav is Ukrainian.

Tsvetan and Tsvetko are Bulgarian.

Tsvetomir means “flower peace” and “flower world” in Bulgarian.

The Xes of Slavic names

Male:

Xaver (Czech, German) and Xavér (Slovak, Hungarian) are obviously forms of the Basque name Xavier, derived from place name Etxeberria (the new house). The Czech Republic has a village called Xaverov.

Female:

Xenie, Xenija (Czech) and Xénia (Slovak, Hungarian) are forms of the Greek name Xenia (hospitality). The last two letters of Xenie are pronounced separately, not as one.

The Qs of (non-native) Slavic names

Female:

Quieta is a rare Italian, Romanian, German, English, and Latin name which I could see very unusual Czech or Slovak parents choosing. It derives from the Latin word quietus (quiet). This was the name of a saint.

Male:

Quentin is a French and English name which is also, rarely, used in Czech and Slovak. The nicknames include Quentinek and Tino. It derives from the Latin name Quintinus, and ultimately Quintus (fifth). Quintus was much more popular than any other Latin birth order name.

The Bs of Medieval names

Male:

Baghatur (Khazar): “Brave warrior.”

Bazkoare (Basque): Form of Pascal, which means Easter. The feminine form was Bazkoara.

Berislav (Slavic): “To take glory,” from roots birati (to gather, take) and slava (glory). This name is still used in modern Croatian.

Bernwulf (English): “Bear wolf,” from Ancient Germanic elements bero and wulf. Other forms were Berowolf, Berowulf, and Bernwelf.

Bogumir (Slavic): “Famous/great God,” “God’s peace,” and “God’s world,” from elements Bog (God) and miru (world; peace), or meru (famous, great). Modern forms are Bogomir (Slovenian) and Bohumír (Czech and Slovak).

Bratomil (Slavic): “Gracious/dear brother,” from elements bratu (brother) and milu (dear, gracious). The modern form Bratumił is Polish.

Buyantu (Mongolian): “Good, blessed.”

Female:

Banafsaj (Moorish Arabic): “Violet.”

Baraka (Moorish Arabic): “Blessing,”

Belcolore (Italian): “Beautiful colour,” from bel and colore. This is a Decameron name, in one of the more famously raunchy stories. I love all the double entendres about the mortar and pestle!

Bonafilia (Ladino [Judeo–Spanish], Judeo–Provençal, Judeo–Catalan): “Good daughter,” from Latin roots bona (good, noble, kind) and filia, This was often used as a superstitious amuletic name, to try to trick the Angel of Death and keep him away.

Bonajoia (Judeo–French): “Good joy,” from Old French roots bone joie.

Bonajuncta (Catalan): Form of Judeo–Catalan Bona-Aunis, from Latin root bona and Catalan root aunir (to unite).

Brightwyna (English): “Bright friend,” from Ancient Germanic roots beorht (clear, bright) and win (friend),