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.

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Glorious names

While many people are familiar with the name Gloria (reportedly first used in 1891 in E. D. E. N. Southworth’s novel of the same name), there are a number of other names whose meanings relate to the words “glory” and “glorious.” To condense this post’s wordcount somewhat, I’m leaving out all the Slavic names with the element (-)slav(a). I do intend to have future posts showcasing all the Slavic names with the roots Mir(a), Mil(a), and Slav(a)!

Unisex:

Chidiebube means “God is glorious” in Igbo.

Hadar means “splendour, glory” in Hebrew.

Jaswinder means “glory of Indra” or “Indra’s glory” in Sanskrit.

Jeong-Hui can mean “proper and glorious” and “gentle and glorious” in Korean.

Ji-Yeong can mean “wisdom and glory,” “intellect and glory,” and “to know glory” in Korean.

Rong can mean “glory” in Chinese. I obviously wouldn’t recommend this in an Anglophone country!

Vinh means “glory” in Vietnamese.

Female:

Aegle is the Latinized form of the Greek Aigle, which means “glory, light, radiance.”

Aintza means “glory” in Basque.

Cleopatra is the Latinized form of the Greek Kleopatra, which means “glory of the father.” This spelling is used in English, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish, and Kleopatra is used in German, Greek, and the Slavic languages. Other forms include Kleópatra (Icelandic), Cléopâtre (French), Cliupatra (Sicilian), Clèopatra (Catalan), Cléopatra (Portuguese), and Kleopátra (Hungarian).

Gloria means “glory” in Latin. The name is used in English, Italian, Spanish, and German. It was in the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1922–63. Alternate forms are Glória (Portuguese), Gloría (Icelandic), and Glòria (Catalan).

Gloriana is an elaborated form of Gloria. I’ve always loved this name.

Glorinda means “worthy of glory” in Esperanto.

Glory is a rare English name.

Kleio means “glory” in Greek. She’s the Muse of history and heroic poetry, and introduced the alphabet to the Greek people. The Latinized and Italian form is Clio.

Nani means “glory, beauty” in Hawaiian.

Siriporn is a Thai name derived from the elements sir (glory, splendour) and phon (blessing). For obvious reasons, I’d steer far clear of this one in an Anglophone country! The “porn” element is pronounced POHN, but the spelling is still what it is.

Theokleia means “glory of God” in Ancient Greek. Other forms include Thekla (modern Greek, German), Tekla (Russian, Polish, Georgian, Scandinavian, Hungarian), Thècle (French), Tegla (Welsh), Tecla (Spanish, Italian), Thecla (Dutch), Tîgdlak or Tîgdlat (Greenlandic), Dekla (Latvian), Fee’la (Sami), Tekle (Georgian variation), and Teklė (Lithuanian).

Yocheved means “God is glory” in Hebrew. This was the name of the mother of Moses (Moshe), Aaron (Aharon), and Miriam.

Male:

Amjad means “more glorious” in Arabic.

Androcles is the Latinized form of the Greek Androkles, which means “glory of a man.”

Aristocles is the Latinized form of the Greek Aristokles, which means “best glory.”

Baha means “glory, splendour” in Arabic and Turkish.

Byeong-Ho can mean “glorious and vast” and “glorious summer” in Korean.

Damocles is the Latinized form of the Greek Damokles, which means “glory of the people.”

Diokles means “glory of Zeus” in Greek.

Euclid is the Anglicized form of the Greek Eukleides, which means “good glory.”

Hercules is the Latinized form of the Greek Herakles, which means “glory of Hera.” I discussed this name in depth here.

Ichabod means “no glory” in Hebrew.

Izzet means “glory, might” in Turkish.

Kleisthenes means “glory and strength” in Greek.

Kleon means “glory” in Greek.

Majid means “glorious” in Arabic.

Patroklos means “glory of the father” in Greek. This was the name of the great hero Achilles’s best friend, who may or may not have been his lover.

Perikles means “exceedingly glory” in Greek.

Pratap means “glory, splendour, heat” in Sanskrit.

Themistokles means “glory of the law” in Greek.

Thucydides is the Latinized form of the Greek Thoukydides, which means “son of God’s glory.”

Yash means “glory, fame, praise” in Sanskrit.

Yeong-Gi can mean “to begin glory” in Korean.

Names to avoid in an Anglophone country

Over the years, I’ve come across names which, let’s be honest, just wouldn’t work in a modern Anglophone country. These names might sound beautiful in their native languages, not even pronounced like they’d be in English, but the spellings or connotations still are what they are. Bullies will find a way to make fun of any name they don’t like, but these names stand out all by themselves.

No offense is intended to people who do have these names! There are plenty of English names which must look or sound funny in other cultures.

1. Semen, the most common Ukrainian form of Simon. I shouldn’t even have to explain why this name is a no-go!

2. Urinboy. I found this while researching my post on Kyrgyz names on my main blog, and at first thought it had to be a joke or vandalism. It really is a legit name.

3. Bích, a female Vietnamese name meaning “bluish-green.” It’s pronounced BEEK, but we all know how everyone will assume it’s pronounced.

4. Dong, a male Chinese name whose meanings include “beam, pillar” and “east.” It’s pronounced DOONG. However, I don’t think the Scottish name Dongal should be avoided. I honestly didn’t realize what the first four letters spell in English until it was pointed out some years after discovering the name.

5. Dũng, a male Vietnamese name meaning “brave.” It’s pronounced like the English word “yum.” If you like the meaning that much, you could use the Chinese and Korean form, Yong, or one of the Japanese forms, Yuu or Isamu.

6. Foka, the Russian form of Phocas/Phokas, which means “a seal” (the animal). I’m not sure where the stress falls, but if it’s on the A, the name would be pronounced Fah-KAH, not FOH-kah.

7. Gaylord. This poor boy would be so bullied.

8. Gay(e). This poor girl would likewise be bullied, though once upon a time, this was a lovely name. We can’t predict how the language will evolve.

9. Osama. I’ve heard this name has been outlawed in some countries, and we can all understand why.

10. Adolf/Adolph. This name is likewise outlawed in many countries with naming laws. If you want to honor a special older relative or friend who was born before the name took on its modern association, what about the original form Adalwolf?

11. Titty. There’s a reason this is no longer a nickname for Letitia!

12. Tit. Pronounced TEET (still awful in English!), this is the Russian form of Titus.

13. Arseman. This was the name of a female character on the early Nineties Nickelodeon show Fifteen, as well as the real-life name of the young lady who played her. Given what “arse” means in the U.K., Ireland, and Australia, this is a no-go!

14. Arsen, a male Armenian name derived from the Greek Arsenios. It sounds like “arson,” and it’s also only two letters shy of “arsenic.” I personally wouldn’t use this name or any of the other forms of it, particularly if I lived in a place where “arse” is the spelling for one’s rear end.

15. Hardman, the Old Germanic form of Hartmann (brave man).

16. Jerker, a Swedish form of Erik. The J is pronounced like a Y, but the spelling in English is what it is. Another form of this name is Jerk.

17. Harm, a Dutch and Frisian nickname for Herman.

18. Violâte, a Jèrriais name which seems to be a form of the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish Violante, which may in turn be derived from Yolanda. Both Violâte and Violante are too close to the word “violent,” and it’s obvious what Violâte spells in English. The similar-looking Violet, however, has never conveyed that connotation for me.

Are there any other names you’d add to this list?

These names are going to the birds!

We’re probably all familiar with bird names like Robin and Lark, but what about some of the lesser-used bird names?

Unisex:

Agpa means “thick-billed Murre” (a type of bird) in Greenlandic.

Alaryn means “bird” in Welsh. This was more commonly used than Aderyn in the mid-20th century, during heavy immigration in the U.K.

Chim means “bird” in Vietnamese.

Jiguur means “bird” in Mongolian.

Manu means “bird” in Maori and Hawaiian.

Palila is the name of a bird in Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Polynesian.

Tairo means “little bird” in Arabic.

Tori means “bird” in Japanese.

Tui is a type of Maori bird.

Tziquin means “bird” in Tzeltal and Quiche-Kaqchikel.

Vireo is a type of U.S. bird.

Yonah means “dove” in Hebrew.

Female:

Aderyn means “bird” in Welsh. This is contemporary, not traditional.

Aëdon may mean “nightingale” in Greek.

Aerope may derive from an Ancient Greek word for the bee-eater bird.

Aghavni means “dove” in Armenian. I love this name.

Ainara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Alondra means “lark” in Spanish.

Andlib, or Andleeb, means “nightingale” in Persian.

Asuka is a Japanese name which is composed of the elements asu (“to fly” or “tomorrow”) and ka (bird). Many other meanings are also possible.

Aquila means “eagle” in Latin. The Russian form is Akilina.

Balbala means “nightingale” in Pashto.

Chipeta means “white singing bird” in Ute.

Cholena means “bird” in Lenape.

Columba means “dove” in Latin.

Deryn possibly comes from Aderyn, with the same meaning.

Durna means “crane (bird)” in Azeri.

Elaia means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Enara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Faigel means “bird” in Yiddish. Other forms include Faiga and Faigie. Beyond my frequent dislike of many Yiddish names, I’m not fond of this one because it looks too much like a certain homophobic slur. As a matter of fact, the diminutive form Faigeleh is indeed slang for a gay man!

Homa is a phoenix-like bird in Persian mythology. An alternate form is Huma.

Inyoni means “bird” in Zulu.

‘Iwalani means “heavenly frigate bird” or “heavenly man-of-war bird” in Hawaiian.

Karawek means “bird” in Thai.

Karlygash means “swallow (bird)” in Kazakh.

Kasika means “bird” in Thai.

Kayäkki means “bird” in Chuvash, a native Siberian language.

Kiya means “cooing of a bird” in Sanskrit.

Kría is a type of Icelandic bird.

Lóa means “golden plover” in Icelandic and Faroese.

Lushanya may mean “songbird” in Chickasaw.

Oanh means “oriole” in Vietnamese.

Paloma means “dove, pigeon” in Spanish.

Parastou means “swallow (bird)” in Persian.

Pëllumb means “dove” in Albanian.

Prinia is the Javanese word for a type of bird.

Sacagawea may mean “bird woman” in Hidatsa.

Sarika means “myna bird” in Sanskrit.

Seelasat means “oriole” in Vainakhish, an extinct language of North Transcaucasia.

Shakuntala means “bird” in Sanskrit.

Simurg means “eagle bird” in Pahlavi. This was a monstrous bird in Persian mythology.

Svala means “swallow (bird)” in the Scandinavian languages.

Toiba means “dove” in Yiddish.

Tsubame can mean “swallow (bird)” in Japanese.

Tzipporah means “bird” in Hebrew. Other spellings include Zipporah, Tziporah, Tzipora, Tsippora, Tsipora, Cipora, and Cippóra.

Tzufit means “hummingbird” in Hebrew.

Ulara means “snowcock” in Kyrgyz.

Usoa means “dove” in Basque. The name Uxue is etymologically related.

Yemima means “dove” in Hebrew. The popular Anglicization is Jemima.

Zarka means “crane (bird)” in Pashto.

Zitkala means “bird” in Sioux.

Male:

Andor means “Thor’s eagle” in Norwegian.

Anzu was a Mesopotamian demon depicted in the form of a lion-headed eagle or a huge bird breathing water and fire.

Arnkætill means “bird helmet” in Old Norse.

Colum means “dove” in Old Irish.

Dalbar means “chick (baby bird)” in Yakut, a native Siberian language.

Dalbaray means “white bird” in Yakut.

Énna possibly means “bird-like” in Irish.

Jonah is the English form of Yonah, and a male-only name. Other forms include Jonas (Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, and the name of the heroic Dr. Jonas Salk), Giona (Italian), Yunus (Arabic and Turkish), Jonáš (Czech and Slovak), Iona (Russian and Georgian), Jónas (Icelandic), Joona and Joonas (Finnish), Jona (Serbian and Croatian), Jónás (Hungarian), Jonás (Spanish), Jonass (Latvian), and Jonasz (Polish).

Kaur means “loon (bird)” in Estonian.

Mochni means “talking bird” in Hopi.

Nenaa’angebi means “beautifying bird” in Ojibwe.

Örn means “eagle” in Icelandic, Swedish, and Old Norse.

Orneus may mean “bird, chicken” in Greek.

Ornytos may be etymologically related to the Greek word ornis (bird, chicken).

Pungat means “bird” in Nivkh, an indigenous language in Russia and Japan.

Quetzun is a Guatemalan name referring to a type of bird.

Sibaguchu means “birdman” in Mongolian.

Stari means “starling (bird)” in Old Norse.

Tayfur may mean “bird” in Bashkir.

Þrǫstr means “thrush (bird)” in Old Norse.

Snowy names

Since the season of snow is unfortunately upon us in my part of Planet Earth, I thought I’d do a list of snow-related names.

Unisex:

Aput means “snow” in Greenlandic.

Fuyuki can mean “winter snow” in Japanese.

Setsuna means “calm snow” in Japanese.

Xue can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Xun can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Yuki can mean “snow” in Japanese. Sadly, I can imagine a lot of teasing in the Anglophone world, with people assuming this name is pronounced “yucky.”

Male:

Aputsiaq means “snowflake” in Greenlandic.

Berfan means “snow” in Kurdish.

Berfhat means “snow is here” in Kurdish.

Edur means “snow” in Basque.

Eirwyn means “white snow” in Welsh.

Fannar is an Icelandic name possibly derived from the female Old Norse name Fönn, “snow drift.”

Haruyuki can mean “spring snow” in Japanese.

Hideyuki can mean “excellent snow” in Japanese.

Himadri means “mountaintop of snow” in Sanskrit, in reference to the Himalayas. The name Himalaya itself means “house of snow.”

Masauna means “wet snow” in Greenlandic.

Persoĸ means “snow flurry” in Greenlandic.

Snær means “snow” in Icelandic and Old Norse. Icelandic has a lot more names of older vintage than its sister languages Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, due to its geographical isolation. For this reason, the Icelandic language is also closer to Old Norse than the other three languages.

Snæþór means “snow thunder” in Icelandic.

Takayuki can mean “valuable snow” in Japanese.

Yukio can mean “blue snow” or “green snow” in Japanese.

Female:

Bora means “snow” in Albanian.

Chione means “snow” in Greece. She was the daughter of Callirrhoe (a Naiad) and Neilus (god of the Nile). Zeus made Hermes turn her into a snow cloud. In another version of her story, she was a snow nymph or a minor snow goddess.

Dëborake means “snow” in Albanian.

Dianeu means “day of snow” in Catalan.

Drífa means “fall of snow; snowdrift” in Icelandic and Old Norse.

Edurra means “snow” in Basque.

Eira means “snow” in Welsh. Another form of this name is Eiry.

Eirwen means “white snow” in Welsh.

Fanndís means “snow goddess” in Icelandic.

Gwyneira also means “white snow” in Welsh.

Hatsuyuki can mean “new snow” or “first snow” in Japanese.

Haukea means “white snow” in Hawaiian. It seems kind of odd to me how there would be any Hawaiian names relating to snow!

Haunani means “beautiful snow” in Hawaiian.

Helve means “snowflake” in Estonian.

Ilgara means “first snow” in Azeri.

Kaniehtiio means “beautiful snow” in Mohawk.

Kohakuyuki can mean “amber snow” in Japanese.

Koyuki can mean “little snow” in Japanese.

Kukiko can mean “snow child” in Japanese.

Lian can mean “snow” in Chinese.

Lumi means “snow” in Estonian and Finnish. Lumia is an alternate form. Another form is Lumikki, which is Snow White’s name in Finnish.

Miyuki can mean “beautiful snow” in Japanese.

Mjalldís means “fresh/powdery snow goddess” in Icelandic.

Mjǫll means “fresh/powdery snow” in Old Norse. She was the daughter of King Snær (Snow).

Setsuka can mean “snow flower” in Japanese.

Snezhana means “snowy” in Russian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian. The Serbian form is Snežana, the Ukrainian form is Snizhana, and the Croatian form is Snježana. One of my animal characters is a snow-white Pomeranian named Snezhinka, which means “snowflake” in Russian. Snegurochka is the name of the Snow Maiden who helps Dyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost) with distributing Christmas presents.

Sniega means “snow” in Lithuanian.

Tuyết means “snow” in Vietnamese.

Yukiko can mean “snow child” in Japanese.