Birth-related names

Seeing as today is my English birthday (my Hebrew birthday was the fifth night of Chanukah, 16–17 December),  here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the words “birth” and “born.” Many of them are of African origin, particularly from the Akan language.

Unisex:

Abimbola means “born wealthy” in Yoruba.

Abiodun means “born on a festival” in Yoruba.

Abiola means “born in honour” in Yoruba.

Abiona means “born during a journey” in Yoruba.

Anan means “fourth-born child” in Akan, a Central Tano language spoken in Ghana, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Awotwi means “eighth-born child” in Akan.

Baako means “firstborn child” in Akan.

Dubaku means “eleventh-born child” in Akan.

Enu means “fifth-born child” in Akan.

Idowu means “born after twins” in Yoruba.

Nkruma means “ninth-born child” in Akan.

Nsia means “sixth-born child” in Akan.

Nsonowa means “seventh-born child” in Akan.

Female:

Abena means “born on Tuesday” in Akan.

Abra means “born on Tuesday” in Ewe, a Niger–Congo language spoken in Ghana.

Adwoa means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Afua means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Akinyi means “born in the morning” in Luo, a language spoken in Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

Akosua means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Akua means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Ama means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Antigone is composed of the Greek elements anti (against, compared to, like) and gone (birth). Most people are familiar with this as the name of Oedipus’s firstborn daughter by his mother Jocasta.

Bosede means “born on Sunday” in Yoruba.

Chausiku means “born at night” in Swahili.

Esi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Portuguese and Brazilian stage actor Eugénia Câmara, 9 April 1837–28 May 1874

Eugenia is the female form of Eugene, the English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Polish form of the Latin Eugenius, which in turn comes from the Greek Eugenios (well-born).

Other forms of the name include Yevgeniya (Russian), with nicknames including Zhenya, GenyaZhenyushka, and GenyushkaEugènie (French); Eugènia (Catalan); Eugénia (Hungarian and Slovak); Eugênia (Portuguese); Uxía (Galician); Evgenia (Greek); Eukene (Basque); Evgenija (Macedonian); Yevheniya (Ukrainian); Jevgeņija, Jevgēņija, Eiženija (Latvian); Evgeniya (Bulgarian); Eugenija (Lithuanian and Croatian); Evženie (Czech); and Yaŭheniya (Belarusian).

Iphigeneia means “strong-born” in Greek. Most people are familiar with this as the name of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra’s oldest daughter, who in some versions of the story was sacrificed to appease Artemis before the Trojan War, and in others became a priestess who rescued her brother Orestes and their cousin Pylades from being sacrificed to Artemis.

Other forms of the name include Iphigenia (Latin), Efigénia (Portuguese), Efigênia (Brazilian–Portuguese), Iphigénie (French), Ifigeniya (Russian), Ifigénia (Portuguese), Ifigenia (modern Greek), and Efigenia (Italian).

Lindita means “the day is born” in Albanian.

Lumusi means “born face-down” in Ewe.

Muirgen means “born of the sea” in Irish.

Mwanajuma means “born on Friday” in Swahili.

Naliaka means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya.

Oni may mean “born in sacred abode” in Yoruba.

Renata is the feminine Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian form of the Latin Renatus (born again). Other forms include Renáta (Slovak, Czech, Hungarian), Renée (French), Renate (German, Dutch, Norwegian), and Rena (English).

Yaa means “born on Thursday” in Akan.

Silent actor Renée Adorée, 30 September 1898–5 October 1933

Male:

Abidemi means “born during father’s absence” in Yoruba.

Abioye means “born into royalty” in Yoruba.

Afolabi means “born into wealth” in Yoruba.

Akpan means “firstborn son” in Ibibio, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Amadi means “seemed destined to die at birth” in Yoruba.

Anuj means “born later, younger” in Sanskrit. This name is traditionally given to a younger brother.

Cináed (KIN-ahj) is a Scottish and Irish name meaning “born of fire.” It’s typically Anglicized as Kenneth, which is also the Anglicization of Coinneach (handsome).

Comhghán (COV-an) means “born together” in Irish.

Diogenes means “born of Zeus” in Greek.

Eoghan may mean “born from the yew tree” in Irish.

Eugene is the male form of Eugenia. Other forms include Eugène (French), Eugen (German, Romanian, Slovak, Czech, Croatian), Eugenio (Spanish) and Italian, Eugeniusz (Polish), Eugenijus (Lithuanian), Ugène (Norman), Yevgeniy (Russian), Evžen (Czech), Eižens, Jevgeņijs, Jevgēņijs (Latvian), Uxío (Galician), Yevhen, Yevheniy (Ukrainian), Owain, Owen (Welsh), Evgeni (Bulgarian), Eugeni (Catalan), and Üschén (Alsatian).

South African writer Eugène Marais, 3 January 1871–29 March 1936

Gwydion means “born of trees” in Welsh.

Jumaane means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kevin is the Anglicized form of the Irish Caoimhín, which in turn is derived from the Old Irish Cóemgein, “kind/gentle/handsome birth.”

Khamisi means “born on Thursday” in Swahili.

Kofi means “born on Friday” in Akan.

Kwabena means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwadwo means “born on Monday” in Akan.

Kwaku means “born on Wednesday” in Akan.

Kwame means “born on Saturday” in Akan.

Kwasi means “born on Sunday” in Akan.

Manoja means “born of the mind” in Sanskrit.

Niraj means “water-born” in Sanskrit.

Nyongesa means “born on Saturday” in Luhya.

Ochieng means “born when the Sun shines” in Luo.

Odhiambo means “born on Afor [a day of the week]” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Okeke means “born on Eke [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okonkwo means “born on Nkwo [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Okorie means ” born on Orie [a day of the week]” in Igbo.

Omondi means “born early in the morning” in Luo.

Otieno means “born at night” in Luo.

Pankaja means “born of mud” in Sanskrit.

French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes, 31 March 1596–11 February 1650

Renato is the male Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Croatian form of Renata. Other forms include Renat (Russian), Renátó (Hungarian), Rinat (Tatar and Bashkir), and René (French, German, Spanish, Czech, Slovak).

Simiyu means “born during the dry season” in Luhya.

Sosigenes means “born safely” in Greek.

Suchart means “born into a good life” in Thai.

Taner means “born at dawn” in Turkish.

Urien means “privileged birth” in Welsh. Unfortunately, this is one of those names which I wouldn’t recommend in the Anglophone world, due to its similarity to the word “urine.”

Wafula means “born during the rainy season” in Luhya.

Wamalwa means “born during the brewing season” in Luhya.

Wanjala means “born during famine” in Luhya.

Wanyonyi means “born during the weeding season” in Luhya.

Wekesa means “born during harvest” in Luhya.

Yao means “born on Thursday” in Ewe.

Yaw means “born on Thursday” in Akan.

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The many forms of Jakob

Regular readers of both this blog and my main blog may have noticed I consistently use the spelling Jakob instead of the more common Jacob. While I personally think the K makes it stand out and gives it an added boost of personality (particularly considering how super-popular it’s been for so long), my main reason is that the first Jacob I knew was a terrible bully. Even after meeting wonderful Jacobs who were nothing like the first, that association stayed. Using the K spelling takes the sting out of the name for me. It doesn’t make me think of him.

The conventional English spelling Jacob has been in the Top 10 in the U.S. since 1993. From 1999–2012, it was #1. As of 2015, it was #4, and also enjoying high popularity in Canada (#6), Australia (#11), New Zealand (#10), Northern Ireland (#12), England and Wales (#5), and Scotland (#11). My spelling, Jakob, was #3 in Austria, #15 in Norway, and #6 in Slovenia.

The spelling Jacob is used in English and Dutch. Other variants, starting with the one I prefer, are:

1. Jakob is German, Scandinavian, Slovenian, and Icelandic, as well as an alternate Dutch spelling. It still rankles when I remember one of the know-it-all agents who dogpiled me in a pitchfest some years back, insisting (based on something like three lines of a pitch!) I hadn’t done my research and didn’t know jack due to my usage of the spelling Jakob on a Dutch character. Um, no, it’s a legit Dutch spelling variation, and the reason for it is explained in the story. Odd how everyone else has praised my attention to historical accuracy and detail, including the names I choose. Yet another reason why I went indie.

Jockel is the German nickname; Jaša and Jaka are Slovenian; Jeppe and Ib are Danish; and Jaap, Jaapje, Jaapetje, Jop, Koos, Kobus, Kobe, Coos, and Cobus are Dutch.

The slight variation Jákob is a lesser-used Hungarian form, though the more widely-used Hungarian form is…

2. Jakab. Nicknames for both include Jaksi, Jákó, Jaksa, Jaki, and Koba.

3. Jakub is Polish, Czech, and Slovak, with the cute Polish nickname Kuba. Slovak and Czech nicknames include Jašek, Kuba, Kubík, Kubíček, Jakoubek, and Jakes.

4. Jakov is Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The Serbian and Croatian nickname is Jakša.

5. Japik is Frisian.

6. Jokūbas is Lithuanian.

7. Jēkabs is Latvian.

8. Jakes is Basque.

9. Jaakko is Finnish.

10. Jaakoppi is also Finnish.

11. Jaakob is a third Finnish form, and Estonian. The nickname for all three is Jaska.

12. Jaagup is Estonian. The nickname is Jaak.

13. Jákup is Faroese.

14. Jacobo is Spanish.

15. Jago is Cornish.

16. Jaume is Catalan. The nickname is Jaumet.

17. Jacques is French.

18. Jaques is Jèrriais. Nicknames include Jacot and Jaquinot. An alternate Jèrriais form is Jâcob.

19. Iago is Galician and Welsh, and of course the familiar name of the antagonist of Othello.

20. Jacó is Portuguese.

21. Iakob is Georgian, with the nickname Koba.

22. Yakov is Russian and Bulgarian, with the nickname Yasha. This is one of the irregular patronymics, with the male form Yakovlevich and the feminine Yakovlevna.

23. Yakiv is Ukrainian and Belarusian.

24. Yakub is an alternate Belarusian form, as well as Arabic. The Belarusian and Ukrainian nickname for both Yakiv and Yakub is Yakush.

25. Ya’akov is Hebrew.

26. Akiva is a variant Hebrew form. Rabbi Akiva was a famous First Century scholar who was an illiterate shepherd till he was 40. His wife Rachel saw something special in him, and pushed him to start learning and go off to study. He became a great sage, in spite of having no formal Jewish background or even the ability to read and write.

27. Yankel is Yiddish.

28. Kapel is also Yiddish.

29. Koppel is a third Yiddish form.

30. Jacopo is Italian.

31. Giacobbe is an alternate Italian form.

32. Iacopo is also Italian. The nickname for all three is Lapo.

33. Yaqub is a variant Arabic transliteration.

34. Hagop is Armenian.

35. Hakob is an alternate Armenian form. Eastern and Western Armenian pronounce certain letters differently, and have other significant linguistic differences.

36. Yakup is Turkish.

37. Seumas is Scottish.

38. Iakopa is Hawaiian.

39. Hemi is Maori.

40. Yago is an alternate Spanish form.

41. Iacob is Romanian.

42. Iacov is also Romanian.

43. Iakovos is Greek.

44. Jaimé is Filipino.

45. Yakaŭ is an alternate Belarusian form.

46. Jakobo is Esperanto.

47. Jappe is West Frisian.

48. Jeikobu is Japanese.

49. Küba is Vilamovian, a Germanic language spoken in Poland.

50. Ukba is Aramaic.

51. Xacobe is Galician.

52. Yaghoub is Persian.

53. Yakobo is Swahili.

54. Yaqup is Bashkir, a Turkic language spoken in Russia.

55. Yoqub is Uzbek.

56. Séamus is Irish.

57. Séamas is also Irish.

Soulful, spirited names

Continuing with the October theme of Halloween-related names, these are some names whose meanings contain the element “soul” or “spirit.” Before Halloween became all about costumes, ghost stories, and trick-or-treating, it was All Souls’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve. I do believe the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest on that day, with the souls of the departed closer to us than at any other time.

Unisex:

Jing can mean “spirit, essence” in Chinese.

Ling can mean “soul/spirit” in Chinese.

Xinyi is a Chinese name which can be composed of the elements xin (soul, heart, mind) and yi (harmony, joy).

Male:

Akhenaton possibly means “spirit of Aton” in Ancient Egyptian. Aton, which means “solar disc,” was an Egyptian sun god. Pharaoh Akhenaton believed Aton was the only god, and changed his name from Amenhotop IV to honor Aton.

Chetan means “soul, conscious, visible” in Sanskrit.

Chí means “spirit, will” in Vietnamese.

Dušan means “spirit, soul” in Czech, Slovakian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian. The base nickname form is Duško.

Ercan is a Turkish name derived from the elements er (brave man) and can (soul, life).

Euthymius is the Latinized form of the Greek Euthymios, which means “in good spirits.”

Hugh is an English name derived from the Old Germanic word hug, “heart, mind, spirit.”

Hugleikr is an Old Norse name derived from the elements hugr (heart, mind, spirit) and leikr (play).

Imamu means “spiritual leader” in Swahili.

Nurzhan means “light soul” in Kazakh.

Raijin means “thunder spirit” or “thunder god” in Japanese. He was the god of storms and thunder. A variant spelling is Raiden.

Ruh means “spirit” in Arabic.

Spyridon, or Spiridon, is a Greek and Slavic name which either means “spirit” (from the Latin word spiritus) or “basket” (from the Greek word spyridion). Greek diminutives are Spiros, Spiro, Spyro, and Spyros. The Spanish form is Espiridión. One of my favoritest secondary characters in my Russian historicals is a priest named Father Spiridon.

Female:

Alma means “soul” in Spanish. The name is also used in Italian and English. It was rarely used before the 1854 Battle of Alma during the Crimean War. In spite of the Spanish meaning, it’s believed the name was more inspired by the Latin word almus, “nourishing.”

Anima means “spirit, soul” in Latin. This is also the name of the feminine aspect of one’s true inner self in Jungian psychology.

Aruzhan means “beautiful soul” in Kazakh.

Cansu is a Turkish name composed of the elements can (life, soul) and su (water).

Dušana is the feminine form of Dušan. Nickname forms include Dušanka and Dušica.

Enid means “soul” or “life” in Welsh.

Janan means “soul” or “heart” in Arabic.

Kokoro can mean “soul, heart, mind” in Japanese.

Linh means “soul, spirit” in Vietnamese.

Neshama means “soul” in Hebrew.

Psyche means “the soul” in Greek, derived from psycho, “to breathe.”

Spyridoula is the feminine form of Spyridon.

Tímea is a Hungarian name which was created by famous novelist Mór Jókai in his 1873 book The Golden Man. It was based on the Greek word euthymia, “good spirits, cheerfulness.” I have a secondary character by this name.

Nocturnal names

Since I absolutely adore Halloween and everything about it, I’m going to be posting some lists of names with a Halloween feel. Let’s start with names whose meanings relate to night.

Male:

Erebus is the Latinized form of Erebos, which means “nether darkness” in Greek.

Nishant means “night’s end, dawn” in Sanskrit.

Orpheus may mean “the darkness of night” in Greek, derived from orphne (night).

Otieno means “born at night” in Luo, a Nilotic language spoken in Kenya and Tanzania.

Rajnish means “lord of the night” in Sanskrit.

Female:

Asra means “travel at night” in Arabic.

Avital means “my father is the night dew” in Hebrew.

Chausiku means “born at night” in Swahili.

Isra means “nocturnal journey” in Arabic.

Layla means “night” in Arabic. Spelling variations are Laila and Leila. The name also appears in Persian (LeylaLeila), Bosnian (Lejla), Azeri (Leyla), Georgian (Leila), and Turkish (Leyla).

Lilith means “of the night,” derived from the Akkadian lilitu. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the apocryphal tales of Adam’s first wife Lilith, who was banished because she refused to be a meek, submissive woman.

Midnight

Miyako can mean “beautiful night child” in Japanese.

Nisha means “night” in Sanskrit.

Nyx means “night” in Greek, after the goddess of night.