The many forms of Benjamin

Benjamin (the name of the only great-grandpap I have memories of) has never charted any lower than #155 in the U.S. (in 1960), and is one of those names which has sharply gone from popular to unpopular and back again. Ever since 1966, when it charted at #133, it’s been steadily rising in popularity (or at least staying stable) each year. In 2016, it jumped to #6, from #10 the previous year.

The name is also popular in Canada (#4), Chile (#2), Australia (#17), England and Wales (#30), Austria (#25), Bosnia (#23), Denmark (#26), Hungary (#60), New Zealand (#5), Norway (#21), Scotland (#51), The Netherlands (#21), Ireland (#58), Finland (#35), France (#67), Sweden (#25), Switzerland (#23), Slovenia (#52), Northern Ireland (#58), and Croatia (#82).

The spelling Benjamin is used in English, French, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. Variations are Benjámin (Hungarian) and Benjamín (Slovak, Spanish, Icelandic, and Czech). As most people know, J takes an H sound in Spanish, and a Y sound in almost all of the European languages.

Other forms include:

1. Binyamin is the original Hebrew form, as well as Arabic. It means “son of the right hand” and “son of the south.” In the Torah, Binyamin is the second of the two sons of Jakob and Rachel. His name was originally Ben-Oni (son of sorrow), because his mother died from childbirth, but his father later changed it.

2. Beniamino is Italian.

3. Benjamim is Portuguese.

4. Beniamin is Romanian.

5. Benjaminas is Lithuanian, with the nickname Benas.

6. Veniamin is Russian and Greek. This is one of those cases when the accurate Russian transliteration really calls for IA, instead of YA or IYA. Nicknames include Vinya, Minya, Venya, Vena, Venyulya, Venyusha, and Venusha.

7. Venijamin is Macedonian.

8. Peni is Hawaiian.

9. Bünyamin is Turkish.

10. Benchamín is Aragonese.

11. Bendžaminas is an alternate Lithuanian form.

12. Benjáme is Sami, a language spoken in northwestern Russian and northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

13. Be’njam is an alternater Sami form.

14. Benjamini is Greenlandic.

15. Benjeminas is another Lithuanian form.

16. Binjamin is Picard, a Romance language spoken in far northern France.

17. Penjami is Finnish. The nicknames are Penna, Penni, and Pena.

18. Pîniamît is another Greenlandic form.

19. Veniamina is a Greek feminine form.

20. Benjamina is an English feminine form.

The many forms of Isaac

Isaac, like many other male Biblical names, has been rather popular in the U.S. in recent years. It entered the Top 100 in 1995, at #98, and has been in the Top 50 since 2001. Its most popular ranking to date came in 2013, when it was #29. Isaac has held steadily at #31 ever since.

The name is also very popular in Canada (#24), Australia (#14), England and Wales (#20), Mexico (#42), New Zealand (#30), Portugal (#40), Northern Ireland (a.k.a. Ireland by any other name) (#42), Scotland (#54), and Catalonia (#56). It’s additionally in the Top 100 in Spain (#82), France (#70), Chile (#70), and Ireland (#77).

Though my favourite of the Biblical Patriarchs is Jakob, I have a soft spot for Isaac. He’s kind of The Quiet One of the three Patriarchs, since he’s always passively acted on instead of acting in his own right, or copying things that already happened to his father (e.g., passing his wife off as his sister in Egypt, uncovering wells his father had dug).

Isaac means “to laugh,” from the Hebrew root tzachak. It was mostly a Jewish name in the English-speaking world until the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers just about everyone has heard of were Sir Isaac Newton and the awesome writer Isaac Asimov.

This spelling is used in English, French, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish. Other forms of the name include:

1. Yitzchak is the original Hebrew form. Alternate transliterations are Yitzhak, Yitshak, Yitschak, Itzhak, Itshak, Itschak, and Itzchak. I love the cute nicknames Yitzi and Itzi. In the modern era, a very famous bearer was the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

2. Isak is Scandinavian, Belarusian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Lao. The variation Ísak is Icelandic.

3. Isaak is German, Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Albanian, Esperanto, Greek, Mongolian,  and Ukrainian.

4. Izaäk is Dutch. Nicknames include Sjaak and Sjakie. The variation Izaak is Polish.

5. Izsák is Hungarian.

6. Iisakki is Finnish. Nicknames include Iikka and Iiro.

7. Izak is Slovenian and Croatian. The variation Izák is Czech and Slovak.

8. Izaokas is Lithuanian.

9. Ixaka is Basque.

10. Isxak (pronounced like Iskhak) is Tatar.

11. Ishoq is Uzbek.

12. Isaque is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Isaq is Ossetian and Uyghur.

14. Ishak is Arabic, Bosnian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Bengali. The variation İshak (with a dot over the I) is Turkish.

15. Isaki is Ndebele, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. This spelling is also used in Swahili. The variation Ísáki is Yoruba.

16. Ihaka is Maori.

17. Isac is Romanian and Portuguese.

18. Isacco is Italian.

19. Sahak, or Sahag (depending upon your form of the language), is modern Armenian.

20. Isahak is archaic Armenian, and considered a more scholarly form than Sahak.

21. Bonisac means “good Isaac” in Judeo–Provençal, a, Occitan dialect which sadly lost its last native speaker in 1977.

22. Higgin is a Medieval English diminutive. Another Medieval diminutive is Higg.

23. Itty is Malayalam, a language spoken in India. This may also be a form of Steven.

24. Jaziquet is Judeo–Provençal.

25. Saconet is also Judeo–Provençal.

26. Yeshak is Coptic.

27. Eisik is Yiddish. Another transliteration is Aizik.

28. Iisak is Estonian.

29. Ísakur is Faroese.

28. İshaq (with a dot on top of the I) is Azeri.

29. Isaakios is Greek.

30. Izarak is Haitian Creole.

31. Ixaj is Hmong.

32. Íosác is Irish.

33. Iskak is Javanese.

34. Aisak is Khmer.

35. Iskhaq is Kyrgyz.

36. Ysqaaq is also Kyrgyz.

37. Izaks is Latvian.

38. Aizeks is also Latvian.

39. Ițac is Romanian.

40. Iosag is Scottish.

41. Isxaaq is Somali.

42. Isaka is Swahili and Zulu.

43. Xịsæk is Thai.

Steely, metallic names

I recently discovered the History Channel’s series Forged in Fire, a reality show wherein four smiths compete to make the best weapon. Smithery and metallurgy are stereotypically male pursuits, but I’ve always been really proud of being very tomboyish.

It therefore wasn’t too much of a surprise that almost all of the names I found with meanings relating to steel, metal, iron, copper, and bronze are male names. Many of these names are also Mongolian or from Turkic languages.

Female:

Aenea means “bronze” or “copper” in Latin. This was possibly also created as a feminine form of Aeneas, which means “praise.”

Aramita is a Spanish name possibly derived from the Latin aramen, and ultimately aeramen, which means “copper, bronze.”

Kaneru means “bronze” in Japanese.

Male:

Batbold means “bold steel” in Mongolian.

Berbolat is a Chechen name derived from the Turkish military title bek (or beg), which means “master, chieftain,” and the Turkic element bolat (or bulat), which means “steel,” and ultimately derives from the Persian pulad.

Bolat means “steel” in Kazakh.

Çelik means “steel” in Turkish.

Chuluunbold means “stone steel” in Mongolian.

Demir means “iron” in Turkish.

Elidur is an archaic Welsh name, the first element of unknown etymology, and the second probably derived from dur (steel). In the 19th century, the name was resurrected as Elidor.

Ferruccio means “little iron” in Italian.

Ganbaatar means “steel hero” in Mongolian.

Ganbold means “steel steel” in Mongolian.

Gansükh means “steel axe” in Mongolian.

Gantulga means “steel hearth” in Mongolian.

Ganzorig means “steel courage” in Mongolian.

Gobán possibly means “little smith” in Irish.

Goibniu means “smith” in Irish. He was a smith god, and provided weapons for the Tuatha De Danann.

Hephaestus is the Latinized form of the Greek Hephaistos, the god of fire, forging, and metallurgy. He was also a fellow limper.

Ilmarinen is a Finnish name which partly derives from ilma (air). He’s an immortal smith in Finnish mythology, and the creator of the sky and the magic mill Sampo.

Kaneki can mean “metal tree” in Japanese.

Kañ-ool means “steel boy” and “steel son” in Tuvan, a Turkic language spoken in south-central Siberia.

Khurşӑ means “steel” in Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

Nurbolat is a Kazakh name composed of the elements nur (light) and bolat (steel).

Pola means “steel” in Kurdish.

Rentarou can mean “son of thick smelt metals” in Japanese.

Shoiynbai means “made of steel” in Kazakh.

Solon possibly means “lump of iron” in Greek.

Ståle means “steel” in Norwegian. The original Old Norse version was Stáli.

Talos was a bronze-winged automaton in Greek mythology, given to Europa for protection against invaders and pirates.

Temujin means “of iron” in Mongolian.

Timur is derived from the Turkic name Temür (iron), and is used in Uzbek, Kazakh, Tatar, Chechen, and Russian.

Tömörbaatar means “iron hero” in Mongolian.

Trahaearn means “very much like iron” in Welsh.

Tunç means “bronze” in Turkish.

Tuncay means “bronze Moon” in Turkish.

Yerbolat roughly means “steel male” or “male of steel” in Kazakh.

Zhelyazko means “iron” in Bulgarian.

The many forms of Hercules

Though many people would consider Hercules to be too pompous, pretentious, and over the top for real-life usage, there are quite a few different forms of the name. Perhaps they might work well on a fictional character or pet, or one of the foreign versions might sound a bit less strange in the Anglophone world. It’s also just neat to see how names morph into other forms in different languages.

1. Hercules, the most familiar form in the Anglophone world, is actually the Latinized form of the Greek original. Though I normally prefer the authentic Greek spellings, this is one I’m too used to seeing in its historically Latinized form. The variation Hércules is Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Herakles is the Greek original, and means “glory of Hera.” The meaning is kind of ironic, given how much Hera hated him!

3. Herakleios is an elaborated Greek form.

4. Heraclius is the Latinized form of Herakleios. Two early saints and a 7th century Byzantine emperor bore this name.

5. Erekle is the historic Georgian form. Two kings from the Bagrationi Dynasty had this name.

6. Irakli is the modern Georgian form.

7. Irakliy is Russian.

8. Heraclio is Spanish. The variation Heráclio is Brazilian–Portuguese.

9. Iraklis is the modern Greek form.

10. Ercole is Italian.

11. Ercwlff is Welsh.

12. Hercule is French, and well-known as the name of detective Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery series.

13. Erco is Romansh, a Romance language spoken in southeastern Switzerland.

14. Gerakl is an alternate Russian form.

15. Herakliu is Albanian.

16. Herkules is Polish.

17. Iorcall is Scottish, in use since the Renaissance.

18. Heraklo is Croatian.

19. Herkül is Turkish.

20. Herculina is a feminine Latin form.

21. Eraclio is an alternate Italian form.

22. Heraklije is an alternate Croatian form.

Freedom names

To mark the 28th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests I thought I’d put together a list of names whose meaning relates to the words “freedom” and “free.” That image of the lone man facing down a line of tanks (not just the one most commonly shown) has stayed with me and given me goosebumps since it made the news when I was nine years old.

Unisex:

Azadeh means “freedom” in Persian.

Hürriyet means “liberty, freedom” in Turkish.

Kainoa means “sea of freedom” in Hawaiian.

Kanoa means “the free one” in Hawaiian.

Liri, or Lirian, means “freedom” in Albanian.

Liron means “our freedom” in Albanian. This isn’t to be confused with the Hebrew name Liron, which means “joy for me” or “song for me.”

Ominira means “freedom, independence” in Yoruba.

Serey means “freedom” in Khmer, as well as “peace,” power, authority,” and “charm, beauty.”

Wanangwa means “freedom” in Tumbuka, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Female:

Aditi means “freedom, security” or “entire, boundless” in Sanskrit. She’s the mother of all the Hindu deities, and goddess of fertility and the sky.

Cherut, or Herut, means “freedom” in Hebrew.

Eleuthera is a rare English name derived from the Ancient Greek Eleutheris, meaning “freedom, liberty.”

Elira means “to be free” in Albanian.

Isaree means “freedom” in Thai.

Libertad means “freedom, liberty” in Spanish.

Libertas means “freedom, liberty” in Latin. She was the goddess of liberty.

Lirija means “freedom” in Albanian.

Malaya means “free, independent” in Tagalog.

Nonkululeko means “freedom” in Zulu.

Qhispi means “free, freedom” in Quechan, a native South American language.

Saoirse (SEER-sha) means “freedom” in Irish.

Slobodanka means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. A rarer form is Sloboda.

Male:

Dror means “freedom” in Hebrew. This name also means “sparrow.”

Ilir is an Albanian name derived from the Illyrian tribe from whom the present-day Albanian people are descended. It’s believed to mean “freedom” or “the free.”

Irek means “free” in Tatar and Bashkir.

Laisvydas is a rare Lithuanian name meaning “to see freedom.”

Liridon means “desire for freedom” in Albanian.

Merdeka means “free, independent” in Malay.

Neberd means “free” in Kurdish.

Nebez also means “free” in Kurdish.

Serbest means “freedom” in Kurdish.

Slobodan means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The nickname is Boban.

Volya is a rare Russian name meaning “freedom, will.”