A name fit for a Divine goddess

American singer Diana Ross, born 26 March 1944

Diana is a name like Sarah—it’s found in a plethora of languages, but there aren’t a vast variety of forms like other names. The letters and sounds which make up the name are the same across numerous languages, so there’s not much need for divergent spellings. However, there are still some variations.

Diana is a derivative of diva or dia (goddess), and as such means “Divine, goddesslike.” Its ultimate root is the Indo–European *dyew- (“shine” or “sky”), which is also where the name Zeus comes from. Diana is used in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian and Slavic languages, Georgian, Armenian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Albanian, Welsh, Gascon, Sicilian, Corsican, and Galician.

Variant forms are Diána (Hungarian), Díana (Icelandic), and Diāna (Latvian). Outside of English, the name is typically pronounced Dee-ah-nah.

British writer, book reviewer, and fascist Diana Mitford, later Lady Mosley (1910–2003)

Diana was the Roman name for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Moon and hunting, and Apollo’s twin. (Artemis has a completely different etymology!) Diana came into use as a personal name during the Renaissance, and became very popular in the Anglophone world thanks to Walter Scott’s 1817 novel Rob Roy.

The name has been on the U.S. Top 1000 since records began in 1880 (apart from 1888, when it failed to chart), and slowly but steadily rose into the Top 100, which it entered in 1941 (at exactly #100). In 1942, it was already #68, and by 1945, it was #43.

Diana Churchill, daughter of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with her son Julian (1909–63)

Diana remained on the Top 100 through the 1970s, and after a few years with slightly lower ranks, it returned to the Top 100 in 1981 (for reasons probably everyone can guess!). It dropped out of the Top 100 again in 1991, then returned in 1993, dropped out again in 1995, returned in 1997, left in 1999, and briefly returned at #90 and #100 in 2004 and 2005. In 2021, it was #225.

The name also enjoys popularity in Portugal (#19 in 2018), Italy (#50 in 2020), Poland (#61), Switzerland (#63), Hungary (#75), the Czech Republic (#78 in 2016), and Spain (#81).

French noblewoman Diane de Poitiers, 1500–1566

Other forms of the name include:

1. Diane is French and English. It was on the U.S. Top 100 from 1937–1971, and in the Top 20 from 1946–59. Its highest rank was #14 in 1955. In France, the name was #90 in 2021.

2. Dijana is Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

3. Dajana is Serbian and Croatian, reflecting the English pronunciation.

4. Daiena is an archaic Romani form.

5. Deana is modern Romani.

6. Deanna, or Deana, is either a possible English variation of Diana or a feminine form of Dean. If the latter, it would have a completely different etymology.

7. Dianedda is a Corsican diminutive.

8. Diviana is an ancient Italian form.

9. Diyana is Uzbek and Bulgarian.

10. Dziyana is Belarusian.

11. Kiana is Hawaiian.

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Curly names

To mark the 69th Jahrzeit (death anniversary) of the great comedian Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz) (right), here are some names meaning “curly.” There’s a long tradition of opposite nicknames, like a fat guy called Slim or a bald guy called Curly.

Male:

Caiside means “curly-haired” in Ancient Irish, from root cas. The modern unisex name Cassidy derives from the surname O’Caiside (descendant of Caiside).

Cincinnatus means “curly-haired” in Latin.

Crispus also means “curly-haired” in Latin.

Kåre means “curly, curved” in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, from Old Norse name Kári.

Kårfinn is a rare Norwegian name made of elements kárr (curly/wavy hair) and Finnr (Finn, Lapp).

Karleiv is also Norwegian, combining kárr and leif (inheritance, legacy).

Kárr means “curly-haired” and “reluctant, obstinate” in Old Norse.

Kár-Tóki means “curly-haired Thor” in Old Norse.

Óðinkárr means “curly haired inspiration/rage/frenzy” in Ancient Scandinavian.

Visa means “curly birch” in Finnish.

Female:

Buklore means “curly-haired” in Albanian.

Dada means “curly hair” in Yoruba. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this in an Anglophone country.

Fatila means “curly” in Uzbek.

Holy means “curly” in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar.

Kára means “curly, curved” in Old Norse, from root kárr. A Valkyrie had this name.

Kárhildr means “curly-haired fight” or “obstinate/reluctant fight” in Old Norse.

Khoibi means “curly-haired daughter” in Manipuri (also called Meitei), a Sino–Tibetan language spoken in northeastern India.

Olitiana is Malagasy, a combination of oly (curly, curly hair) and tiana (to be loved, to be liked).

Mirror names

Since mirrors are often used in horror movies, here’s a list of names whose meanings relate to the word “mirror.”

Aaina (F) is Urdu and Hindi.

Aina (F) is Kazakh, from Persian ayneh.

Ainash (F) is Kazakh.

Amira (F) can mean “love mirror” in Japanese. This is a completely different name from the Arabic Amira, which means “princess.”

Aýna (F) is Turkmeni.

Aynagözel (F) means “beautiful mirror” in Turkmeni.

Gulyona (F) means “rose mirror, flower mirror” in Uzbek.

Gyuzgyush (F) is Lezgian, a Northeast Caucasian language primarily spoken in Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan.

Kyouhei (M) can mean “peace mirror,” “36 square foot mirror,” “mirror army,” “mirror soldier,” “mirror design,” and “mirror pattern” in Japanese.

Oyna (F) is Uzbek.

Oynaband (F) means “decorated with mirrors” in Uzbek.

Oynagul (F) means “flower mirror, rose mirror” in Uzbek.

Oynajamol (F) means “mirror beauty” in Uzbek.

Oynaxol (F) means “mirror beauty mark” in Uzbek. X is pronounced like the guttural CH in loch and Chanukah.

Tezcatlipoca (M) means “smoking mirror” in Nahuatl. This was the name of a major Aztec god, who ruled winds, the night sky, the north, and war. He was also one of the creator gods.

Ugluspegill (M) means “owl mirror” in Icelandic. This is a rare, modern name.

Yayauhqui (U) means “black smoking mirror” in Nahuatl.

Fairy names

Since fairies seem to be fairly popular Halloween costumes, particularly for little girls, here’s a list of names with fairy-related meanings. Probably unsurprisingly, most of these names are female.

Ada (F) means “fairy” in Tagalog and Filipino. It derives from the Spanish word hada, which has the same meaning. This is completely unrelated to the European name Ada.

Älva (F) means “fairy” in Swedish. This is a modern name.

Aoibhann, Aoibheann, Aoibhín, or Aoibhinn (EE-van, EE-veen, EE-vin) (F) means “fairy queen” in Irish. The Anglicised form is Eavan.

Badiaperi (F) is Uzbek, formed from roots badia (artistic creation) and peri (fairy).

Ehuang (F) means “fairy radiance” in Chinese. This name comes from Far Eastern mythology and Chinese folk religion.

Fáta (F) means “fairy” in Hungarian.

Fay/Faye (F) is an English name, derived from Middle English faie (fairy), via Old French, and ultimately Latin Fata (the Fates). This has been used as a name since the 19th century.

Gulpari (F) means “rose fairy” and “flower fairy” in Uzbek.

Hada (F) means “fairy” in Spanish, from Latin fata.

Houria (F) means “fairy, nymph” in Moroccan and Algerian Arabic, derived from huriyya.

Hurpari (F) is Uzbek, formed by roots houri (“virgin of paradise” or “alluring girl”) and pari (fairy).

Jononpari (F) is Uzbek, formed from roots jonon (beautiful woman, darling, wonderful; also a type of musical melody) and pari.

Keijo (M) derives from Finnish keiju (fairy, elf).

Khanperi (F) means “Khan’s fairy, prince’s fairy” in Armenian. This is a rare name.

Mahpari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Persian.

Maminti (F) means “little green fairy” in Hungarian. This name was coined by 20th century writer Ervin Lázár.

Misen (F) can mean “beautiful fairy” in Japanese.

Mohipari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Uzbek.

Norika (F) can mean “flower fairy,” “excellent fairy,” “beautiful fairy,” “skilled fairy,” “good fairy,” “pleasing fairy,” “summer fairy,” reward fairy,” “fragrance fairy,” and “favourable fairy” in Japanese.

Nozpari (F) is Uzbek, derived from roots noz (whim, tenderness, flirtatiousness, fondness) and pari.

Oypari (F) means “Moon fairy” in Uzbek.

Pari (F) means “fairy” in Persian.

Paribanou (F) means “fairy lady” in Persian.

Parichehra (F) means “fairy face” in Uzbek.

Parigul (F) means “flower fairy” and “rose fairy” in Uzbek.

Parijahon (F) means “fairy of the world” in Uzbek.

Parineeti (F) means “fairy” in Hindi.

Parinoz (F) is the reverse of Nozpari.

Pariqush (F) means “fairy bird” in Uzbek.

Pariruh (F) means “fairy soul” in Uzbek.

Parisa (F) means “like a fairy” in Persian.

Parisima (F) means “fairy face” in Persian.

Parivash (F) means “fairy-like” in Uzbek.

Parizad (F) means “child of a fairy” in Persian.

Perihan (F) is a Turkish name derived from Persian, meaning “queen of the fairies.”

Sânziana (F) means “holy fairy” in Romanian. She was a fairy in Romanian mythology.

Seijuro (M) is a rare Japanese name which can mean “fairy pile of boxes son” and “fairy ten son” in Japanese.

Sen’ichi (M) can mean “one fairy” and “fairy town” in Japanese.

Senka (U) can mean “fairy fragrance,” “fairy reward,” “fairy joy,” and “fairy song” in Japanese.

Senki (F) can mean “fairy princess” in Japanese.

Senna (F) can mean “fairy apple tree” and “fairy vegetables” in Japanese.

Sennin (M) means “immortal mountain fairy” in Japanese.

Shaperai (F) means “fairy” in Pashto.

Shixian (F) can mean “stone fairy” in Chinese.

Sítheach (M) is a rare Irish name meaning “fairy-like, mysterious” or “peaceful.”

Soni (F) can mean “fairy princess” in Japanese.

Tiên (F) means “fairy, immortal, transcendent, celestial being” in Vietnamese.

Tünde (F) means “fairy” in Hungarian. Poet Mihály Vörösmarty coined this name in the 19th century.

Tündér (F) also means “fairy” in Hungarian.

Uriye (F) is Crimean Tatar, from Arabic huriyya (fairy).

Vila (F) means “fairy” in Serbian. This is a rare name.

Vilina (F) is a rare Russian, Bulgarian, and Croatian name derived from Slavic root vila (fairy).

Xian (F) can mean “fairy” in Chinese.

Zana (F) means “fairy” in Albanian.

Wildcard Y names

Since there are no Estonian names starting with Y, either native or borrowed, today is another wildcard day.

Female:

Yansylu means “beautiful soul” in Persian. This is a Tatar name.

Yejide means “image of the mother” in Yoruba.

Yemanyá is a Yoruba fertility goddess, also popular in Brazil.

Yewudbar means “beautiful beyond limits” in Amharic.

Yolisa means “exciting” in Xhosa, a South African language.

Yulduz means “star” in Uzbek.

Male:

Yadgar means “souvenir” in Kurdish.

Yanamayu means “black river” in Quechuan.

Yazdan means “angel” and “God” in Persian and Urdu.

Yekan means “unique” in Kurdish.

Yomelela means “be strong” in Xhosa.

Yupanqui means “he who honours his ancestors” in Quechuan.