Female names of literary origin, N-Z

U.S. actor Norma Shearer, 1902–1983

Nélida was created by French writer Marie d’Agoult for her semi-autobiographical 1846 novel of the same name, which she wrote under the pseudonym Daniel Stern. It’s probably an anagram of the pen name Daniel.

Nestan-Darejan was created by great Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for the famous 12th century national epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin (lit. One with the Skin of a Tiger). He coined it from Persian phrase nist andar jahan, “unlike any other in the world.” Nestan-Darejan is a princess.

Norma is the protagonist of Italian writer Felice Romani’s 1831 opera of the same name, possibly based on Latin norma (rule). It may also have been intended as a feminine form of Ancient Germanic name Norman (northman; i.e., Viking).

Nydia is a blind flower seller in British writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii, which was later made into an Italian silent film. It may be based on Latin nidus (nest).

Ophelia as depicted inThe girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines in a series of tales, 1881

Ophelia was probably created by 15th century Italian poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem Arcadia, then later used by Shakespeare in 1600’s Hamlet. It derives from Greek ophelos (help).

Ornella was created by Italian writer Gabriele d’Annunzio for the 1904 novel La Figlia di Jorio (The Daughter of Jorio), derived from Tuscan ornello (flowering ash tree).

Pamela was created by English poet Sir Philip Sydney for the 16th century long pastoral romance poem The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, possibly intended to mean “all sweetness,” from Greek pan (all) and meli (honey). This name exploded in popularity during the 1940s and stayed on the U.S. Top 100 till 1976.

Perdita was created by Shakespeare for his 1610 play A Winter’s Tale, from Latin perditus (lost).

Pippi was created by Karin Lindgren, daughter of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, for the title character of the Pippi Longstocking series. The first book was published in 1945. Her full name is Pippilotta.

Ronja was created by Astrid Lindgren for Ronja the Robber’s Daughter (1981), derived from Juronjaure, a Swedish lake.

Sandra was introduced to the Anglophone world by English writer George Meredith, who used it on the protagonist of his 1864 novel Emilia in England, reissued in 1887 as Sandra Belloni.

Scarlett, from a surname originally bestowed upon sellers or makers of scarlet cloth, possibly derives from Persian saghrilat. Just about everyone knows Scarlett came to attention as a forename thanks to the protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s historical saga Gone with the Wind (1936).

Stella means “star” in Latin. This name was created by Sir Philip Sidney for the protagonist of his 1580s sonnet collection Astrophel and Stella.

Tímea was created by Hungarian writer Mór Jókai for his 1873 novel The Golden Man, probably derived from Greek euthymia (good spirits, cheerfulness).

Tinatin was created by aforementioned Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, possibly derived from Georgian word sinatle (light). Tinatin is the Queen of Arabia, and inherits the throne as the sole child of King Rostevan.

Titania was possibly created by Shakespeare for his 1595 play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Titania is Queen of the Fairies. It may derive from Latin name Titanius (of the Titans).

Tünde was created by Hungarian writer Mihály Vörösmarty for his 1830 play Csongor és Tünde, derived from tündér (fairy).

Undine was created by Medieval writer Paracelsus, derived from Latin unda (wave). He used it to refer to female water spirits.

Detail of The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, Joseph Noel Patton, 1849

Valmai means “like May” in Welsh. It was created by Welsh writer Allen Raine for her 1899 romance novel By Berwen Banks. Allen Raine was the understandable pseudonym of Anne Adalisa Beynon Puddicombe.

Vanessa was created by British writer Jonathan Swift for his 1726 poem Cadenus and Vanessa, derived from rearranging the first syllables of the name of his friend Esther Vanhomrigh.

Veslemøy means “little girl” in Norwegian. It was created by writer Arne Garborg for the title character of his 1895 poem Haugtussa.

Viviette was created by British writer William John Locke for the title character of his 1910 novel. It’s a diminutive of Vivienne (alive).

Wendy was created by Scottish writer J.M. Barrie for his famous 1904 play Peter Pan, derived from his nickname Fwendy (i.e., Friend). Prior to Peter Pan, it was rarely used as a possible nickname for Welsh names starting with Gwen (blessed, fair, white).

Zerbinette was created by French writer Molière for his 1671 play Les Fourberies de Scapin (The Deceits of Scapin).

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The Vs of Slavic names

Male:

Vatren means “passionate, fiery” in Serbian and Croatian. This is a rare name.

Vedran means “cheerful, clear” in Serbian and Croatian. The feminine form is Vedrana.

Velibor means “great battle” in Serbian and Croatian. I have a Russian–American character by this name, a surprise triplet who was pulled out completely detached from his placenta and umbilical cord, unconscious, only one pound, seven ounces. His planned name was Volimir, but his father changed it to Velibor for the powerful, symbolic meaning.

Velichko means “great” in Bulgarian. The feminine form is Velichka.

Velizar is a Bulgarian and rare Serbian form of the Greek name Belisarios, which is of unknown etymology. The feminine forms are Velizarka and Velizara.

Vsevolod is a Russian and Ukrainian name meaning “to rule all.” Velibor’s father has this name. It’s one of my favourite Russian male names, so beautiful, ancient, and quintessentially Slavic. An 11th century grand prince of Kyivan Rus had this name.

Female:

Vasilisa is a Russian feminine form of the Greek name Basil (king). This name has always been quite rare, and is almost always given after a character in several famous fairytales. I have a character by this name.

Velina means “great” in Bulgarian. The male form is Velin.

Venera is the Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Georgian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Azeri, and Albanian form of the Latin name Venus (love, sexual desire).

Veneta means “wreath” in Bulgarian.

Vesela means “cheerful” in Bulgarian. The male Serbian and Croatian form is Veselko, and the male Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Serbian form is Veselin.

Vesna means “spring” in many Slavic languages, and “messenger.” She was a Slavic spirit associated with springtime. I have two characters by this name, a Serbian and a Russian–American.

The Vs of Medieval names

Male:

Vauquelin (French): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Walchelin, from root walha (foreign).

Vecheslav (Slavic): “More glory,” from roots veche and slava. The familiar modern form is the Czech and Slovak Václav. Other forms are Wenceslas (Latinized), Vyacheslav (Russian and Ukrainian), Wacław and Więcesław (Polish), Ventseslav (Bulgarian), Venseslao (Italian), Venseslás (Spanish), Vencel (Hungarian), Wenzel (German), and Veaceslav (Romanian).

Velam (Swedish): Form of William, derived from Ancient Germanic name Willahelm. Its roots are wil (desire, will) and helm (protection, helmet).

Velasco (Spanish): Possibly “crow,” from a Basque word. The modern form is Vasco, a Spanish adjective meaning “Basque.”

Velimir (Slavic): “Great peace” and “great world,” from roots veli and miru. This name is still used in modern Serbian and Croatian.

Venerio (Italian): Derived from Venus (sexual desire, love).

Vesike (Baltic, Livonian): “Water,” from Livonian root •vesi.

Vigmund (Swedish): Derived from Old Norse name Vígmundr, from roots víg (battle, fight) and mund (protection).

Vimund (Swedish): Derived from Ancient Scandinavian name Vímundr, with roots  (home, sanctuary, temple) and mund (protection, hand).

Vitomir (Slavic): “Master of peace” and “master of the world,” from roots vit (lord, master) and miru. This name is still used in modern Slovenina, Serbian, and Croatian.

Volknand (German): “Brave people,” from Ancient Germanic roots folk (people) and nand (brave, daring).

Vratislav (Slavic): “To return glory,” from roots vratiti and slava. This name is still used in modern Czech and Slovak.

Female:

Valata (Baltic, Livonian): Of widely-disputed, uncertain etymology.

València (Catalan)

Värun (Swedish): Derived from Ancient Scandinavian name Vírún, from roots  (temple, home, sanctuary) and rún (secret).

Vasara (Baltic, Livonian): Possibly derived from the Latvian word for “summer,” or the Finnish word for “hammer.”

Verdiana (Italian): Feminine form of Latin name Viridianus, derived from root viridis (green).

Verildis (Dutch): Derived from Ancient Germanic name Farahild, from Langobardic root fara (family, kind, line) or Gothic faran (to travel), and Old Norse hildr (battle).

Vermilia (Italian)

Viana (Catalan)

Viçenta (Portuguese), Vicenta (Catalan): “To conquer,” from Latin root vincere.

Vivendòta (Catalan)

Violet names

Violet Jessop (1887–1971), survivor of the sinking of the Titanic and Brittanic, and a collision of the Olympic, the oldest of the three sister ships

Violet is one of many formerly unfashionable names which has seen a stunning vault up the charts in recent years. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1901, at #91, and attained its highest rank of #74 in 1919. It slowly descended the chart, and fell out in 1972. In 1973, it returned at #926, but fell out again in 1975. Violet came back in 1981–82, and didn’t enter again till 1998.

In 2016, it had jumped quite a bit to become #47. The name seems to still be rising. It’s even more popular in Canada (#32), New Zealand (#44), and Australia (#43). It’s also popular in England and Wales (#65) and Scotland (#94).

Other forms of the name, and names whose meanings relate to the word “violet,” include:

1. Violette is French.

2. Violetta is Russian, Italian, and Hungarian. The alternate form Víóletta is Icelandic.

3. Violeta is Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Macedonian.

4. Wioletta is Polish.

5. Wioleta is an alternate Polish form.

6. Ibolya (EE-bo-yah) is Hungarian.

7. Vjollca is Albanian.

8. Violetë is also Albanian.

9. Viola is English, Italian, German, Czech, Hungarian, and Scandinavian. The alternate form Víóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

10. Wiola is Polish.

U.S. artist Violet Oakley (1874–1961)

11. Iole is Greek.

12. Violante is Italian.

13. Yolande is French, and may be derived from Violante.

14. Yolanda is Spanish and English.

15. Jolanda is Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Croatian.

16. Jolana is Czech and Slovak.

17. Iolanda is Romanian, Italian, and Portuguese.

18. Jolanta is Polish and Lithuanian. One of the Polish nicknames is Jola.

19. Ljubica can mean “little violet” in Serbian and Croatian, in addition to “little love.”

20. Ione means “violet flower” in Greek.

French ballerina and choreographer Violette Verdy, née Nelly Armande-Guillerm (1933–2016)

21. Sigalit means “violet flower” in Hebrew.

22. Sigal means “violet, purple” in Hebrew.

23. Iolanthe is Greek and English, and means “violet flower.” Given the spelling and sound, its creation was doubtless influenced by Yolanda.

24. Ianthe means “violet flower” in Greek.

25. Calfuray is Mapuche, an indigenous language spoken in Argentina and Chile.

26. Banafsha, or Benafsha. is Persian.

27. Banovsha is Azeri.

28. Fioled is Welsh.

29. Fjóla is Icelandic and Faroese.

30. Ia is Greek and Georgian.

U.S. silent actor Viola Dana (1897–1987)

31. Kalili is a type of Hawaiian violet.

32. Manishag is Armenian.

33. Manoushag is also Armenian.

34. Manushaqe is Albanian.

35. Menekşe is Turkish.

36. Shouka can mean “violet sun fragrance” in Japanese.

37. Sumika can mean “violet summer,” “violet poetry,” “violet song,” “violet mist,” “violet river,” “violet air,” and “violet sky” in Japanese.

All about the name Valentino

In honour of Rudy Valentino’s 91st Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I present a post celebrating his adopted surname and all its various forms. Though most Anglophones think of Valentino as a surname, and don’t typically encounter forenames like Valentine or Valentin, this is very much a common, established name in many other languages. It also comes in both male and female forms.

The originating form is the Latin cognomen (surname) Valentinus, which in turn derived from Valens (strong, healthy, vigourous). A related cognomen was Valentinianus. It later morphed into Valentine, the name of several Roman Catholic saints, most notably the third century martyr after whom Valentine’s Day is named.

Because the most famous St. Valentine’s feast day fell out on 14 February, coinciding with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, an association between St. Valentine and love was forged.

Valentine began to be used as an English name in the 12th century, almost always for boys. The name was in the male U.S. Top 1000 from 1880–1944, again from 1947–53, and finally in 1955. It hasn’t charted since. On the girls’ side, Valentine has only charted in 1885 and 1917.

In France, Valentine is an exclusively female name. It was in the Top 100 from 1900–14, and stayed in the Top 500 until 1972, after which it dropped off the charts. In 1975, it returned, and slowly began moving up the charts. To date, its highest position has been #44, in 1997, In 2016, it was #64.

In Belgium, where the name is also feminine-only, it was in the Top 100 from at least 2000–06, and again in 2008.

Other forms of the name include:

Male:

1. Valentin is Russian, Romanian, Czech, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, French, Macedonian, German, and Croatian. The variant form Valentín is Slovak and Spanish. Nicknames include Tine and Tinek (Slovenian), Valya, Valyusha, Valyushka, Valyechka, and Valentulya (Russian), Vali (Romanian), and Valent and Tin (Croatian).

2. Valentino is Italian.

3. Valentijn is Dutch.

4. Walenty is Polish.

5. Walentyn is also Polish.

6. Bálint is Hungarian.

7. Folant is Welsh.

8. Ualan is Scottish.

9. Valentyn is Ukrainian.

10. Balendin is Basque.

11. Valantín is Aragonese.

12. Valentinas is Lithuanian.

13. Valentīns is Latvian.

14. Valyantsin is Belarusian.

15. Valentí is Catalan.

16. Valentim is Portuguese.

17. Valentinià is Catalan.

18. Valentinian is Russian, Bulgarian, German, and English.

19. Valentynian is Ukrainian.

20. Valentiniano is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

21. Valentinianos is the modern Greek form of Oualentinianos.

22. Valentinien is French.

23. Valentinos is modern Greek.

24. Valentinijan is Croatian.

25. Valentínus is Icelandic.

26. Valentýn is Czech.

27. Valintinianu is Sicilian.

28. Walentynian is Polish.

29. Valente is Italian and Portuguese.

Female:

1. Valentina is Russian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Italian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Czech, and Croatian. The variant Valentína is Slovak and Icelandic, and Valentīna is Latvian.

2. Valentyna is Ukrainian.

3. Walentyna is Polish.

4. Valentine is French and English.

5. Balentina is Basque and Latin American–Spanish.

6. Valantina is Aragonese.

7. Valantine is Picard.

8. Valentini is an alternate Greek form.

9. Walenekina is Hawaiian.