All about Lydia

Dissident Russian writer Lidiya Korneyevna Chukovskaya, 1907–1996

The English, German, and Greek name Lydia means, simply, “from Lydia” in Greek. Lydia was a region on Asia Minor’s west coast, reputedly named after legendary King Lydos (of unknown etymology). Today, Lydia is in western Turkey.

The name briefly appears in the Bible, on a woman whom St. Paul converts to Christianity. It didn’t become common in the Anglophone world till the Protestant Reformation.

Lydia was #77 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and stayed in the lower Top 100 till 1899. Over the ensuing decades, it gradually dipped in popularity, but never sank lower than #329 in 1973. From lows came highs, and in 1979 it rose to #296 from #324. In each succeeding year, Lydia was steadily more popular, till it re-entered the Top 100 in 2011. In 2018, it was #89.

Other forms of Lydia include:

1. Lidia is Spanish, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Georgian, Irish, and Indonesian. The alternate form Lídia is Catalan, Portuguese, and Hungarian.

2. Lidiya is Russian and Bulgarian.

3. Lidija is Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

4. Lidziya is Belarusian.

5. Lýdia is Slovak and Faroese.

6. Lydie is Czech, with variant Lýdie. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

7. Lyydia is Finnish, with nickname Lyyti.

8. Lide is Basque.

9. Liidia is Estonian.

10. Litia is Fijian.

British suffragist Lydia Ernestine Becker (1827–1890), painted by fellow suffragist Susan Isabel Dacre

11. Livli is Sami.

12. Lutia is Greenlandic.

13. Lutsîa is also Greenlandic.

14. Lýdía is Icelandic. They also render the name as Lydía.

15. Lukia is sometimes used as a vernacular Hawaiian form. This is also their form of Lucia and a nickname for Lu’ukia (of unknown etymology).

16. Lyydi is Finnish.

17. Lydija is Sorbian and Lithuanian.

18. Lydiana is a rare Swedish, English, and Latin American–Spanish form.

19. Lydiane is a rare French and Brazilian–Portuguese form.

20. Lìddia is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy.

Italian silent actor Lidia Quaranta, 1891–1928

21. Lidiane is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese form.

22. Lydianna is a rare English and Mexican–Spanish form.

23. Lydianne is a rare Québecois, Dutch, Brazilian–Portuguese, and English form.

24. Lydielle is a rare English form.

Male forms:

1. Lidio is Spanish and Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Lydian is Scandinavian.

3. Lidiyan is a rare Russian and Bulgarian form.

All about Elizabeth

Though I’ve had prior posts about my favourite forms of the name Elizabeth, and its many nicknames, I’ve never had a post devoted to the name in its entirety. This post will also only focus on derivatives of the standard form Elizabeth, not related names Isabel and Lillian (unless those are a language’s only forms of Elizabeth). Despite their origins, they’ve for all intents and purposes developed into their own independent names.

Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 1560s, artist unknown

The English name Elizabeth comes from the Hebrew Elisheva, “my God is an oath.” Its historic popularity stems in large part from the fact that this was the name of John the Baptist’s mother. Traditionally, it was much more common in Eastern Europe (in its variety of forms) until another famous bearer (pictured above) appeared in the 16th century and made the name popular in Western Europe too.

Since the U.S. began keeping data on names in 1880, the name has never fallen below #26 (in 1948). It was in the Top 10 from 1880–1923, in 1925, from 1980–2001, in 2003 and 2004, in 2007 and 2008, and in 2012 and 2013. In 2018, it was #13.

The name enjoys more modest popularity in Scotland (#75), New Zealand (#81), Ireland (#60), and England and Wales (#44). The alternate spelling Elisabeth, used in German, English, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages, was only #788 in the U.S. in 2018, and has never charted higher than #302 in 1984.

Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, later Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna of Russia, now Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr (1864–1918)

Other forms include:

1. Elisabet is Scandinavian, Catalan, Finnish, and sometimes Spanish. The alternate form Elísabet is Icelandic.

2. Élisabeth is French.

3. Elisabete is modern Portuguese.

4. Elizabeta is Slovenian and Croatian.

5. Elikapeka is Hawaiian.

6. Elixabete is Basque.

7. Elisabeta is Romanian.

8. Elisabetta is Italian.

9. Elisavet is modern Greek.

10. Eliisabet is Estonian.

Princess Elisabeta of Romania, later Queen of Greece (1894–1956)

11. Elisabed is Georgian.

12. Erzsébet is Hungarian.

13. Elizabete is Latvian.

14. Eilís is Irish.

15. Elżbieta is Polish. The alternate form Elžbieta is Lithuanian.

16. Ealisaid is Manx.

17. Ealasaid is Scottish.

18. Elisaveta is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

19. Yelizaveta is Russian.

20. Yelyzaveta is Ukrainian.

Georgian actor Elisabed Cherkezishvili (1864–1948)

21. Alžbeta is Slovak. The alternate form Alžběta is Czech.

22. Jelisaveta is Serbian.

23. Bethan is Welsh.

24. Lizaveta is Russian.

25. Zabel is Armenian.

26. Sabela is Galician.

27. Elspeth, or Elspet, is Scottish.

28. Eisabèu is Provençal.

29. Élîzabé is Jèrriais.

30. Elizabeto is Esperanto.

Polish poet Elżbieta Drużbacka (1695/98–1765)

31. Elisabette is a rare French and English form.

32. Elisapeci, or Ilisapeci, is Fijian.

33. Elisapie is Inuit.

34. Elizabet is Belarusian and Bulgarian.

35. Eliżabetta is Maltese.

36. Elizete is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese form.

37. Elzabé is Namibian.

38. Elžbjeta is Sorbian.

39. Erihapeti, or Irihapeti, is Maori.

40. Il-shvai is Amharic.

A name that arose from the earth

Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855), one of Poland’s great national poets, painted 1828 by Józef Oleszkiewicz

Adam means “man” in Hebrew, and may ultimately derive from the Akkadian word adamu (to make), the Hebrew word adamah (earth), or the almost-identical Hebrew word ‘adam (to be red; i.e., a reference to a ruddy complexion). All these etymologies obviously are very symbolic, given Adam is the name of the first man in the Biblical creation story.

The name is also used in English, German, French, Dutch, Georgian, Arabic, Catalan, Romanian, and the Scandinavian and Slavic languages. The variation Ádám is Hungarian; Ádam is Faroese; and Âdam is Jèrriais.

Adam has long been common in the Jewish world, but it didn’t become popular in Christendom till the Middle Ages. After the Protestant Reformation, it became even more popular. The name has been in the U.S. Top 500 since 1880, and began vaulting up the charts in the 1950s. It went from #428 in 1954 to #71 in 1970. Adam attained its highest rank of #18 in 1983 and 1984.

The name has remained in the Top 100 since. In 2018, it was #78. Adam is also #2 in Belgium, #3 in the Czech Republic (as of 2016), #5 in Hungary and France, #6 in Sweden, #9 in Ireland, #11 in Poland, #16 in Catalonia (as of 2016), #17 in The Netherlands, #18 in Northern Ireland (which hopefully soon will be reunified with the rest of Ireland), #24 in Scotland, #25 in Denmark, #36 in England and Wales, #39 in Israel (as of 2016), #40 in Norway, #41 in Spain, #43 in NSW, Australia, #44 in Slovenia, #50 in Switzerland and Austria, #51 in British Columbia, Canada, #55 in Italy, and #96 in New Zealand.

Adam was the name of one of my great-great-grandfathers, the father of the only great-grandfather I have memories of. Judging from the vintage newspaper stories I’ve found about him, he was quite the local character!

Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723–1790), author of one of the most boring books ever written, The Wealth of Nations

Other forms include:

1. Adamo is Italian.

2. Adán is Spanish.

3. Adão is Portuguese.

4. Ádhamh is Irish.

5. Aatami is Finnish.

6. Adomas is Lithuanian.

7. Akamu is Hawaiian.

8. Aadam is Estonian.

9. Aaden is Somali.

10. Adami is Greenlandic and old-fashioned Georgian.

11. Ādams is Latvian.

12. Adamu is Swahili, Amharic, and Hausa.

13. Adda is Welsh, though I’d avoid this in an Anglophone area. Unfortunately, many boys with names ending in A are teased, and there’s no saving grace of this being a widely-known male name like Nikita or Ilya.

14. Aden is Romansh.

15. Ārama is Maori.

16. Âtame is Greenlandic.

17. Áttán is Sami.

18. Hadam is Sorbian.

19. Jadóm is Kashubian.

20. Odam is Uzbek.

21. Adem is Turkish.

22. Y-adam is a rare Vietnamese form.

Feminine forms:

1. Adamina is English, Polish, and Romani.

2. Adama is Hebrew and English.

3. Adamella is a rare, modern English form. I’m really not keen on this name! Some names don’t naturally lend themselves to feminine versions, and look forced.

4. Adamia is English.

The many forms of Christopher and Christina

Saint-Christophe, by Claude Bassot, 1607

Christopher, which comes from the Greek Christophoros (Christ-bearer), has been an extremely popular name since the Middle Ages. Contemporary evidence shows the Saint Christopher of legend may have actually been the historical Saint Minas of Egypt. Though he was removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969, Christopher is still very much a saint. Decanonization isn’t a thing.

The name began rising in popularity in the U.S. in 1939, and entered the Top 100 in 1949. It continued rising, and broke the Top 10 at #9 in 1967. Christopher was #3 and #2 from 1972–95, and remained in the Top 10 till 2009. In 2017, it was #38.

Danish statesman Christoffer Gabel (1617–73), by Karel van Mander III

Other forms include:

1. Christoffer is Scandinavian.

2. Cristoforo is Italian.

3. Cristóvão is Portuguese.

4. Cristóbal is Spanish.

5. Christoffel is Dutch.

6. Christophe is French.

7. Críostóir is Irish.

8. Christoph is German.

9. Kristoffer is Scandinavian.

10. Kristóf is Hungarian. The variant Krištof is Slovenian and Slovak.

King Christopher of Scandinavia, 1416–48

11. Kristaps is Latvian.

12. Kristupas is Lithuanian.

13. Krzysztof is Polish, with nicknames including Krzyś and Krzysiek. RZ is pronounced like the Russian ZH and the other Polish letter Ż, though I’m told RZ and Ż were historically pronounced slightly differently.

14. Kristofor is Croatian.

15. Hristofor is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

16. Risto is Finnish.

17. Ħamallu is Maltese.

18. Christoli is Gascon.

19. Crìsdean is Scottish.

20. Cristofanu is Corsican.

Polish military leader and poet Krzysztof Arciszewski, 1592–1656

21. Cristofo is Aragonese.

22. Cristòfuru is Sicilian.

23. Cristoc’h is Breton.

24. Cristolu is Sardinian.

25. Cristovo is Galician.

26. Cristovam is Brazilian–Portuguese.

27. Karistorfe is Greenlandic.

28. Kilikopela is Hawaiian.

29. Kristdapor is Armenian.

30. Kristafár is Faroese.

Self-portrait of Venezuelan painter Cristóbal Rojas, 1857–90

31. Kristapor is Armenian.

32. Kristobal is Basque.

33. Kristepore is Georgian.

34. Kito is Sorbian.

35. Khristofor is Russian.

36. Khrystofor is Ukrainian.

37. Kristófer is Icelandic.

38. Kristoforas is Lithuanian.

39. Kristoffur is Faroese.

40. Kristoforid is Albanian.

Duke Christoph of Württemberg, 1515–68

41. Kristoforo is Esperanto.

42. Kristofru is Maltese.

43. Krisztofer is Hungarian.

44. Stöffu is Swiss–German.

Queen Kristina of Sweden (1626–89), by Sébastien Bourdon

Christina has its origins in the Latin name Christiana, a feminine form of Christian. It was Top 100 in the U.S. from 1964–2002, with its highest rank of #12 in 1985. By 2017, it had plummeted to #408.

The French form Christine was Top 100 in the U.S. from 1942–93, with the highest rank of #14 from 1967–70. In 2017, it was #785. The name was also hugely popular in France from 1943–83, with a high of #3 in 1960–61. Today, it’s no longer on the charts.

Kristina enjoyed somewhat more modest popularity in the U.S. during the Seventies and Eighties, with a high of #57 in 1985. This spelling is also German, Scandinavian, Russian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Czech, Serbian, Lithuanian, Faroese, and Croatian. The variant Kristína is Slovak; Kristīna is Latvian; and Kristîna is Greenlandic.

Norwegian biologist Kristine Bonnevie, Norway’s first female professor, 1872–1948

Other forms include:

1. Krystyna is Polish, and my favourite form of the name. I love how Polish names often use Y in place of I. I also love the nickname Krysia.

2. Kristine is German and Scandinavian. The variant Kristīne is Latvian.

3. Krisztina is Hungarian.

4. Kristýna is Czech.

5. Kristiina is Estonian and Finnish.

6. Kristiana is Scandinavian and Croatian. The alternate form Kristiāna is Latvian.

7. Kristjana is Icelandic. Another Icelandic form is Kristín.

8. Kistiñe is Basque.

9. Cristiana is Italian and Portuguese.

10. Cristina is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

Medieval French feminist writer Christine de Pizan, 1364–1430

11. Khrystyna is Ukrainian.

12. Kirsten is Danish and Norwegian.

13. Kjerstin is Swedish and Norwegian.

14. Kerstin is Swedish.

15. Krystiana is Polish.

16. Kilikina is Hawaiian.

17. Hristina is Serbian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian.

18. Christiane is French and German.

19. Cairistìona is Scottish.

20. Kristiane is German.

British poet Christina Rossetti (1830–94), by her brother Dante Gabriel

21. Cristíona is Irish.

22. Kristiinná is Sami.

23. Kristin is German and Scandinavian.

The many forms of Magdalena

The Repentant Magdalen, Philippe de Champaigne, 1648

Some people express surprise the name Magdalena, so popular for so long in Europe and parts of Latin America, isn’t particularly common in the Anglophone world. It is, but the onomastic connection may not be so immediately obvious. English-speakers know this name as Madeline.

Magdalena, used in German, Dutch, Romanian, Spanish, Catalan, the Scandinavian languages, Occitan, the Southern Slavic languages, Polish, and English; Czech, Slovak, Hungarian (as Magdaléna); Latvian (as Magdalēna); and Icelandic (as Magðalena), comes from the Latin Magdalene. That in turn derives from a title meaning “of Magdala.” Magdala is a village on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kineret), meaning “tower” in Hebrew.

Though nothing in the Bible calls Mary Magdalene a prostitute, she’s historically been conflated with Mary of Bethany and an unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. Since the Middle Ages, this apocryphal story has snowballed, and many people still think she was a prostitute, decades after this misinformation was officially corrected.

Painted ca. 1520–40, by a group of Flemish artists retroactively named Master with the Parrot

Magdalena is #20 in Austria; #31 in Poland; and #65 in the Czech Republic (#33 as Magdaléna). The English form, Madeline, was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1994–2016. Its highest rank to date was #50 in 1998.

It’s rather depressing to see the kreatyv spylyng Madelyn is much more popular, Top 100 since 2008. In 2017, it was #63. If you’ve been paying attention to name popularity charts over the last 20 years, it’s obvious this name has become so trendy because it sounds similar to the massively overused Madison, and still produces the overused nickname Maddie. It’s like how Jessica replaced Jennifer, and Emma, Amelia, and Amalia have successively replaced Emily.

Danish artist Magdalene Bärens, 1737–1808

Other forms of the name include:

1. Madeleine is French, and used to be extraordinarily popular. It was Top 10 from 1900–27, with the highest rank of #3 from 1914–24. It remained in the Top 20 till 1938, was in the Top 50 till 1947, and in the Top 100 till 1955. This name is also #78 in Australia.

2. Magdalina is Russian and Bulgarian.

3. Magdolna is Hungarian. It’s unreal how many times this name pops up in the interviews from the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive! If the witness isn’t named Magda herself, her testimony includes at least one friend or relative named Magda. Lili is also a hugely oversaturated name in these interviews. The name is still Top 20 in modern Hungary.

4. Maddalena is Italian.

5. Mădălina is Romanian.

6. Matleena is Finnish.

7. Madailéin is Irish.

8. Maialen is Basque.

9. Magdalini is modern Greek.

10. Magali is Occitan.

Titanic survivor Madeleine Astor, 1893–1940

11. Madalena is Portuguese.

12. Magdaleena is Finnish.

13. Madli is Estonian.

14. Maguelone is Provençal and a rare French variant.

15. Malane is Manx.

16. Matxalen is Basque.

17. Maclaina is Romansh.

18. Madalen is Breton and Basque.

19. Madlena is Sorbian, as well as a Georgian, Bulgarian, German, and Croatian variant.

20. Madlaina is Swiss–German and Romansh.

Madeleine Brès (1842–1921), first Frenchwoman to earn a medical degree

21. Madelena is Medieval Spanish and Portuguese.

22. Magdalin is Medieval German.

23. Magdaline is Creole. Another Creole form is Magdaleine.

24. Matale is Basque.

25. Mátalîna is Greenlandic.