A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

Maximum names

German theoretical physicist Max Planck, 1858–1947 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R0116-504 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Max, as both a nickname and full given name, has been very trendy for awhile. It’s been in the Top 100 in England and Wales since at least 1998. In 2018, it was #31, and has charted as high as #18 in 2012. The name has also been in New Zealand’s Top 30 since at least 2004 (many of those years in the Top 20), and was #21 in 2019.

Sweden is another country where Max enjoys great popularity. It’s been Top 50 since at least 1998, when it was #44, and had a high of #13 in 2006. In 2019, it was #67.

Max is also popular in Switzerland (#53 in 2018), Northern Ireland (#33 in 2018), Scotland (#12), Norway (#77 in 2018), Ireland (#34), Germany (#20 in 2018), The Netherlands (#17), Catalonia (#20 in 2018), and Austria (#54 in 2018).

Surprisingly, it’s not as popular as I assumed in the U.S. Max was only #136 in 2018, and its highest position was #96 in 2011.

Russian writer Maksim Gorkiy (née Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov), 1868–1936

The name’s origin is Roman family name Maximus, which means “greatest” in Latin. In turn, it gave rise to Maximilianus, and became quite popular among the Romans. Lesser-used Roman forms are Maximinus and Maximianus.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Maximilian is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and English, though by far the most common in German. It was borne by two Holy Roman Emperors, two kings of Bavaria, and a Habsburg emperor of Mexico. The alternate form Maximilián is Slovak.

2. Maximillian is English.

3. Maxmilián is Czech.

4. Maximiliano is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Maximiliaan is Dutch.

6. Maximilien is French.

7. Maksymilian is Polish and Sorbian.

8. Maksimilian is Russian.

9. Maksimilyan is also Russian.

10. Macsen is Welsh.

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519)

11. Maxim is Czech. The alternate form Màxim is Catalan.

12. Maksim is Russian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, and Macedonian.

13. Maksym is Ukrainian and Polish.

14. Maxen is Anglicised Welsh.

15. Máximo is Spanish.

16. Maxime is French.

17. Massimo is Italian.

18. Maksimiljan is Slovenian.

19. Masimilian is Breton.

20. Massimilianu is Corsican.

Infamous French revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre, 1758–94

21. Maksimilijonas is Lithuanian.

22. Maksymilión is Kashubian.

23. Massimiljanu is Maltese.

24. Maksimilijan is Croatian.

25. Maximilià is Catalan.

26. Maximos is Greek.

27. Maximino is Portuguese and Spanish.

28. Maximiano is Spanish and Portuguese.

29. Maximian is German, English, and Dutch. The alternate form Maximián is Aragonese.

30. Maksime is Georgian.

Maximos the Greek (ca. 1475–1556), a monk, translator, writer, and scholar who served in Russia

31. Maime is Occitan.

32. Maimin is also Occitan.

33. Maksimian is Bulgarian, Russian, and Ukrainian.

34. Maksimijan is Serbian and Croatian.

35. Maksimin is Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

36. Maksymian is Polish.

37. Maksymin is also Polish.

38. Màsim is Emilian–Romagnol, a Gallo–Italic language spoken in Northern Italy and San Marino.

39. Massimiano is Italian.

40. Massimianu is Sicilian.

French military commander Maxime Weygand, 1867–1965

41. Massimilianu is Corsican.

42. Massiminiano is Italian.

43. Massimino is also Italian.

44. Maximien is French.

45. Maximinian is English.

46. Maximiniano is Spanish and Portuguese.

47. Maxwell means “Mack’s stream,” from Medieval English Mack (a diminutive of Scandinavian Magnus [great]) and Old English root wella (stream).

U.S. singer Maxene Andrews (top left), 1916–95, with her sisters LaVerne (top right) and Patty

Female forms:

1. Maxine is English.

2. Maxene is an English variation. I’m not fond of this spelling, since it looks like it should be pronounced Maks-EN.

3. Maximiliana is Latin.

4. Maximilienne is French.

5. Maximiliane is German.

6. Maximilia is a rare German form, mostly used by noble families in bygone centuries.

7. Maksima is Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Croatian.

8. Maksyma is Polish.

9. Massimilla is Italian.

10. Maximiana is a rare Spanish and Portuguese form.

Princess Maximiliane of Bavaria (embracing the lamb), 1810–21

11. Maximina is Galician, Spanish, and Portuguese.

12. Maximine is French.

13. Maximiniana is Spanish and Portuguese.

14. Massimiliana is Italian.

15. Maxime is Swedish and Norwegian.

Strength in battle

Polish–Russian prima ballerina Matilda Kschessinskaya (née Matylda Krzesińska), 1872–1971

Matilda, a name used in English, Romanian, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Estonian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Basque, and Croatian, traces its etymology back to Ancient Germanic. Its genesis, Mahthildis, derives from roots maht (strength, might) and hild (battle).

During the Middle Ages, Matilda was a quite popular name among European royalty, particularly in England. It arrived there via the Normans, one of whom was William the Conqueror’s wife.

Matilda remained popular till the 15th century, often in the form Maud. In the 19th century, both Maud and Matilda returned to widespread usage.

The variation Matildá is Sami.

Queen Matilda of England, née Princess of Boulogne (ca. 1105–1152)

Other forms of the name include:

1. Matilde is Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Scandinavian, Latvian, German, Dutch, Latvian, Estonian, Portuguese, and Italian.

2. Mathilde is German, Dutch, French, and Scandinavian. The E is silent in the French form.

3. Mechtilde is German.

4. Mechthild is also German.

5. Mathilda is German, Dutch, and Scandinavian.

6. Matylda is Polish and Ukrainian.

7. Matsilda is Belarusian.

8. Mafalda is Italian, Galician, Catalan, and Portuguese. I’m not fond of names where an F replaces a T or TH!

9. Matild is Hungarian.

10. Mallt is Welsh.

Italian opera singer Mafalda Salvatini, 1886–1971

11. Métilde is Acadian–French.

12. Matelda is Medieval Italian.

13. Maitilde is archaic Irish.

14. Mathide is Norman.

15. Mathild is Medieval Flemish and English.

16. Matthildur is Icelandic.

17. Mathila is Medieval English.

18. Emetilda is Creole.

An Egyptian lotus and a Hebrew rose

U.S. suffragist and political activist Susan B. Anthony, 1820–1906

Susan, a name most popular from the 1940s–1960s, traces its etymology back to a rather unexpected source—Ancient Egypt. This is one Indo–European name that didn’t originate among the Vikings, Anglo–Saxons, Normans, Goths, Romans, or Greeks.

Sšn means “lotus” in Egyptian, and later morphed into the Ancient Hebrew word shoshan, “lily.” In Modern Hebrew, shoshan means “rose.” It gave rise to the name Shoshanah, and then was adopted by the Greeks as Sousanna.

Over time, it appeared in many European languages in various forms. In the Medieval Anglophone world, Susannah was sometimes used in honour of a woman falsely accused of adultery in the Book of Daniel, and another Biblical woman who ministers to Jesus. Only after the Protestant Reformation did it become more common, in the form of Susan.

French painter Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) with her son Maurice

Susan was #80 when the U.S. began keeping name records in 1880, and left the Top 100 in 1885. It briefly returned in 1887, then dropped out again and gradually sank in popularity. During the 1930s, it slowly made its way back up the chart, and re-entered the Top 100 in 1937 at #97.

In 1945, it was #10, and entered the Top 5 in 1948. Apart from 1951 and 1966, when it was #6, Susan was in the Top 5 until 1968. Its all-time highest rank was #2, from 1957–60. In 1972, it fell off the Top 20, and left the Top 100 in 1985.

Susan’s last year on the Top 1000 was 2017, when it was #957.

Austrian-born painter Soshana Afroyim (née Susanne Schüller),

Other forms of the name include:

1. Suzanne is French, Dutch, and English.

2. Susanna is English, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Catalan, Swedish, Estonian, and Finnish. The alternate form Súsanna is Icelandic, Faroese, and Irish; Susánna and Susánná are Sami.

3. Susannah is English.

4. Susana is Spanish and Portuguese.

5. Suzana is Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Brazilian–Portuguese, Romanian, and Croatian.

6. Susanne is German and Scandinavian.

7. Syuzanna is old-fashioned Russian.

8. Suzanna is English.

9. Shoshana, or Shoshanah, is Hebrew.

10. Sawsan is Arabic.

Hungarian Princess Zsuzsanna Lorántffy (1602–1660), who founded and sponsored several schools, including schools offering girls a modern, equal education

11. Savsan is Tajik.

12. Sosamma is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

13. Zsuzsanna is Hungarian.

14. Zuzanna is Polish and Latvian.

15. Zuzana is Czech and Slovak.

16. Huhana is Maori.

17. Zusana is Sorbian.

18. Syzana is Albanian.

19. Siùsan is Scottish.

20. Sósanna is a rare Irish form.

Polish poet Zuzanna Ginczanka, 1917–1945

21. Susaina is a Catalan variant, usually used on Mallorca.

22. Suzannah is English.

23. Suzonne is Norman.

24. Jujen is Marshallese.

25. Siwsan is Welsh.

26. Susane is English.

27. Suusan is Inuit.

28. Suzette is a French diminutive, also used in English as a full name.

29. Suzzanna is a rare English form.

30. Shushan is Armenian.

31. Susano is a male Filipino form.

All about Constantine and Constance

Detail of Roman Emperor Constantine I (274–337) in Piero della Francesca’s Vision of Constantine, 1458

Though the name Constantine has never been particularly common in the Anglophone world, it’s long enjoyed great popularity in various other forms in Orthodox Christian countries. It derives from the Latin name Constantinus, which in turn derives from Constans (steadfast, constant).

The name became popular in the Orthodox world because of the above-pictured Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus), who ruled from 306–337. He was the first emperor to stop the persecution of Christians, following his religious conversion.

Some historians, however, believe he privately continued worshipping the Roman deities and only converted to Christianity because it was politically expedient.

King Konstantinos I of Greece, 1868–1923

Other forms of this name include:

1. Konstantin is Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, German, Finnish, and Hungarian. Nicknames include Kostya (Russian), Konsta (Finnish), and Kosta (Bulgarian and Macedonian). The variation Konštantín is Slovak.

2. Kostadin is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

3. Kostyantyn is Ukrainian.

4. Konstantine is Georgian.

5. Kostandin is Albanian and Vlach.

6. Konstantinos is Greek. Nicknames include Kostas and Kostis.

7. Kanstantsin is Belarusian.

8. Konstantyn is Polish.

9. Konstanty is also Polish.

10. Konstantinas is Lithuanian. The nickname is Kostas.

Konstantin Päts (1874–1956), first president of Estonia

11. Konstantīns is Latvian.

12. Constantin is Romanian and French. Romanian nicknames include Dinu, Costin, Costel, and Costicǎ. The variation Constantín is Aragonese.

13. Cystennin is Welsh.

14. Costache is a Romanian variation.

15. Costantino is Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

16. Constantijn is Dutch. Nicknames include Stijn, Tijn, and Stan.

17. Considine is Irish.

18. Còiseam is Scottish.

19. Causantín is Pictish.

20. Constantí is Catalan.

Georgian writer Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, 1893–1975

21. Constaintín is Irish.

22. Costantìnu is Sicilian. Without an accent mark, this spelling is also Sardinian.

23. Custantinu is also Sicilian.

24. Kĕştentině is Chuvash.

25. Kuonstantėns is Samogitian, a language spoken in Lithuania.

26. Kostoku is Evenki, a Tungusic language spoken in Russia and China.

27. Kystynchi is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

28. Kushchta is Khanty and Mansi, which are also Uralic languages in Russia.

29. Konstandinos is a variant Greek form.

30. Kojadin is a rare Serbian form.

Irish politician and activist Countess Constance Markievicz, 1868–1927

The female name Constance is much more common in the Anglophone world. It’s the Medieval form of the Latin Constantia, and was introduced to England by the Norman occupiers. An early bearer was a daughter of William the Conqueror.

In the U.S., the name was in the Top 100 from 1946–53, with its highest rank to date, #83, in 1949. Its final year in the Top 1000 was 1999, when it was at the very bottom of the chart. Constance is currently much more popular in France, where it was #94 in 2018. In England and Wales in the same year, it was #275.

Other forms of Constance include:

1. Konstancia is Hungarian and Swedish.

2. Konstantina is Georgian.

3. Konstancja is Polish. The variation Kónstancja is Kashubian.

4. Konstanze is German.

5. Konstantze is Basque.

6. Konstancie is Czech. The last two letters are pronounced separately, not as one.

7. Konstanca is Sorbian.

8. Kûnstânse is Greenlandic.

9. Kostanze is Basque.

10. Konstance is Latvian.

Austrian musician Constanze Mozart (née Maria Constanze Cäcilia Josepha Johanna Aloysia Weber), 1762–1842

11. Konstanse is Norwegian and Swedish.

12. Constantine is French.

13. Constanze is German.

14. Constanza is Spanish, Galician, and Italian.

15. Costanza is Italian.

16. Constanţa is Romanian.

17. Constança is Portuguese.

18. Constância is also Portuguese.

19. Konstancija is Serbian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

20. Konstantsiya is Russian.

21. Konstantia is Swedish.