How Heimirich became Harry became Henry, and how Harrison ties in

In loving memory of George Harrison on his 16th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to do a post about the etymology of his surname. Like many other English names, it has Old Germanic origins, and has undergone a drastic evolution of form.

Harrison, which is also commonly used as a forename, means “son of Harry.” It’s been on the Top 1000 in the U.S. since 1880. It doesn’t take any in-depth research to figure out why it jumped from #129 in 1887 to #52 in 1888, and was a respectable #68 in 1889 and #107 in 1890. Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888.

The name has fluctuated up and down the Top 1000 ever since, rising respectably some years and falling the next year, or holding relatively steady in other years. In 2009, it began an uninterrupted climb, going from #241 to its current rank of #107.

The name is also currently popular in Australia (#16), England and Wales (#32), Scotland (also #32), New Zealand (#40), Northern Ireland (#84), and Canada (#94).

The first Harrison Ford, 16 March 1884–2 December 1957, a huge star of the silent era

Harry, in turn, is the Medieval English form of Henry. In the modern era, it’s used as a name in its own right, and as a nickname for both Henry and Harold. Harry was quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and only fell out of the Top 20 in 1920. Its highest rank was #8 in 1889.

Its final year in the Top 100 was 1957. The name sharply fell down the charts after that. In 2016, it was #679, up from #781 in 2015. Harry is more popular in England and Wales (#2), Scotland (#7), Northern Ireland (#8), Ireland (#14), Australia (#27), Sweden (#23), and New Zealand (#45).

President Harry S. Truman, 8 May 1884–26 December 1972

Henry is the modern English form of the Old Germanic Heimirich, which means “home ruler.” It’s derived from the elements heim (home) and ric (ruler, power). The spelling later morphed into Heinrich, influenced by similar Germanic names such as Haganrich.

Henry stood at #9 in 1880, and remained Top 10 for most of the ensuing years until 1911. When it was out of the Top 10, it was only #11. The name stayed in the Top 20 until 1927, and in the Top 50 until 1952. Its final year in the Top 100 was 1969.

Henry never dropped out of the Top 200, and was still the respectable rank of #146 at its lowest position in 1994. The name became popular again in the late Nineties, and has steadily been climbing the charts ever since. In 2016, it was #22.

The name also enjoys great popularity in England and Wales (#15), Australia (#18), New Zealand (#26), Canada (#32), Sweden (#52), Northern Ireland (#64), Ireland (#83), and Scotland (#92).

King Henry VIII of England, 28 June 1491–28 January 1547

Other forms of this name include:

1. Henri is French and Finnish. I also love this as a nickname for the female name Henrietta, though it obviously would be pronounced like the Finnish male name instead of the French form.

2. Henrique is Portuguese.

3. Heinrich is German. Nicknames include Heinz, Heiner, and Henning.

4. Henrik is Scandinavian, German, Hungarian, Slovenian, Armenian, and Croatian.

5. Henryk is Polish.

6. Henrich is Slovak.

7. Hinrik is Icelandic.

8. Henrikas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Herkus.

9. Hendrik is Dutch and Estonian. Dutch nicknames include Heike, Heiko, Henk, Hein, Henny, Hennie, and Rik.

10. Heinere is Tahitian.

11. Hēnare is Maori.

12. Henric is Gascon.

13. Henrijs is Latvian.

14. Henrikh is Georgian and Armenian.

15. Henriko is Esperanto.

16. Indrek is Estonian.

17. Enrique is Spanish.

18. Jindřich is Czech. One of the nicknames is Hynek.

19. Anri is Georgian.

20. Eanraig is Scottish.

21. Hendry is also Scottish.

22. Anraí is Irish.

23. Einrí is also Irish.

24. Endika is Basque.

25. Henrikki is Finnish. One of the nicknames is Heikki.

26. Harri is Welsh and Finnish.

27. Enrico is Italian.

28. Arrigo is also Italian. Diminutive forms include Arrighetto, Arriguccio, and Arrighino.

29. Errikos is Greek.

30. Enricu is a rare Romanian form.

31. Hallet is a Medieval English nickname.

32. Halkin is also a Medieval English nickname.

33. Hawkin too is a Medieval English diminutive.

Feminine forms:

1. Henrika is Swedish. One of the nicknames is Rika.

2. Henrike is German and Scandinavian. One of the German nicknames is Rike, and one of the Scandinavian nicknames is Rika.

3. Hendrika is Dutch, with nicknames including Drika, Heike, Ina, Rika, and Heintje. One of my secondary characters is called Drika.

4. Hendrikje is also Dutch.

5. Hendrina is Dutch too.

6. Henryka is Polish. Nicknames include Henia and Henusia.

7. Henriikka is Finnish. Nicknames include Riika, Henna, and Riikka.

8. Henrietta is English, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, and Swedish. Traditional English nicknames are Hettie, Etta, Ettie, Hattie, Hatty, and Hallie, though I’ve always been quite partial to the boyish-sounding Henri. Dutch nicknames include Jet, Jetje, Jette, and Jetta. The J is pronounced like an English Y.

9. Henriette is French, Dutch, Danish, German, and Norwegian. A Dutch alternate form is Henriëtte.

10. Harriet is English.

11. Enrica is Italian.

12. Henrieta is Slovak.

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Pearly names (including the many forms of Margaret)

Pearl used to be quite a popular name in the U.S. In 1880, it was #47, and it remained in the Top 100 until 1926. Its highest rank was #24, in 1889, 1890, and 1900. It sank lower and lower, until it fell off the charts in 1977, In 1979, it returned, but fell off again in 1987. It returned briefly in 2007, and then returned yet again in 2009. In 2016, it was #567, and has been pulling up quite a bit in rank each year.

Margaret means “pearl,” from the Greek margarites, which in turn is probably ultimately derived from the Sanskrit manyari. Historically, the name has been enormously popular. From 1880–1930 alone, it was in the Top 5, and it was Top 10 from 1931–39. It was Top 20 from 1940–51, and then gradually began sinking. In 1976, it left the Top 100, though it returned from 1982–89. In 2016, it was #139.

Here, then, are both the many forms of Margaret and names whose meanings relate to the word “pearl.”

Unisex:

Alnilam means “string of pearls” in Arabic. This is the name of one of the stars in Orion.

Dar means “mother-of-pearl” in Hawaiian.

Durdana is Arabic and Urdu.

Hae-Ju can mean “ocean pearl” in Korean.

Hyeon-Ju, or Ju-Hyeon, can mean “virtuous/worthy/able pearl” in Korean.

Poema means “pearl of the deep seas” in Tahitian.

Yao can mean “mother-of-pearl” in Chinese.

Yong-Ju can mean “dragon pearl” in Korean.

Female:

Bermet is Kyrgyz.

Bisera is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Bitxilore is Basque.

Châu is Vietnamese.

Darya means “pearl of God” in Hebrew. This isn’t to be confused with the Persian or Russian name. All three have different etymologies.

Dordana is Urdu.

Durar means “pearls” in Arabic.

Durdona is Uzbek.

Durrah is a rare Arabic name meaning “large pearl.”

Enku is Amharic.

Gohar is Persian.

Gyöngyi is Hungarian. The letter GY is sort of pronounced like a soft, quick D followed by a Y, the way people in certain parts of the English-speaking world pronounce the first syllable of “due” and “during.”

Gyöngyvér means “sister of pearl” in Hungarian.

Gyöngyvirág means “pearl flower” in Hungarian, and refers to the lily-of-the-valley.

Helmi is Finnish.

Hessa is Arabic.

Inci is Turkish.

Inju is Kazakh.

Inthurat is Thai.

Jinju is Korean.

Jua can mean “second pearl,” “apricot pearl,” or “Asia pearl” in Japanese.

Jumana is Arabic.

Krõõt is Estonian.

Leimoni means “pearl lei” or “pearl child” in Hawaiian.

Lulu is Arabic, and not to be confused with the (mostly) English and German nickname.

Maarit is Finnish.

Maighread is Scottish. The nickname is Maisie.

Mairéad is Irish. Without an accent mark, this is also a Scottish variation.

Makaleka is Hawaiian.

Mākere is Maori.

Makereta is Fijian.

Malghalara is Pashto.

Małgorzata is Polish, with the nicknames Marzena, Gosia, and Małgosia.

Marc’harid is Breton.

Maret is Estonian.

Margaid is Manx.

Margalit, or Margalita, is Hebrew.

Margareeta is Finnish.

Margareta is German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Slovenian, Dutch, Finnish, and Croatian. The variation Margaréta is Slovak and Hungarian. German nicknames include Greta, Grete, Gretchen, Gretel, and Meta; Swedish nicknames are Meta, Märta, and Greta; Norwegian nicknames are Mette, Meta, Grete, and Grethe; Danish nicknames are Merete, Mette, Meta, Grethe, and Grete; Dutch nicknames are Griet, Greet, Grietje, and Greetje; and Finnish nicknames include Reeta and Reetta.

Margarete is German.

Margaretha is Dutch and German.

Margarethe is German and Danish.

Margareto is Esperanto.

Margaretta is an English variation.

Margarida is Catalan, Portuguese, Occitan, and Galician.

Margarit, Markarid, or Margarid, is Armenian.

Margarita is Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Scandinavian, Greek, and Lithuanian.

Marged is Welsh, with the nickname Mared.

Margherita is Italian.

Margit is Hungarian, German, Estonian, and Scandinavian.

Margita is Slovak.

Margreet is Limburgish and Dutch.

Margrét is Icelandic. The nickname is Gréta.

Margrethe is Norwegian and Danish.

Margriet is Dutch.

Margrieta is Latvian and Dutch.

Margrit is German.

Marguerite is French. Nicknames include Margaux and Margot.

Marharyta is Ukrainian.

Marhata is Sorbian.

Marit, or Marita, is Norwegian and Swedish.

Marjan is Kazakh.

Marjeta is Slovenian.

MarjorieMargery, or Marjory, is Medieval English.

Markéta is Czech and Slovak.

Marketta is Finnish.

Mèrdgitte is Jèrriais.

Mererid is Welsh.

Merit is Swedish.

Momi is Hawaiian.

Momilani means “heavenly pearl,” “royal pearl,” “noble pearl,” and “spiritual pearl” in Hawaiian.

Morî is Kurdish.

Morvarid is Persian.

Mukda is Thai.

Penina is Hebrew.

Perla is Italian and Spanish.

Perle is French and Yiddish.

Perlezenn is Breton.

Poerani means “divine pearl” or “heavenly pearl” in Tahitian.

Poerava means “black pearl” in Tahitian.

Retha is Afrikaans.

Sadaf means “mother-of-pearl, seashell” in Arabic.

Sadap means “mother-of-pearl” in Turkmeni.

Shinju is Japanese.

Male:

Akinci means “white pearl” in Turkish.

Akincibay means “white pearl lord” in Turkish.

Xhevahir means “pearl, jewel, diamond, gem, precious stone” in Albanian. XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.