Feline names

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In the spirit of the month of Halloween, and because black cats are one of the animals associated with Halloween, here’s a list of names with meanings relating to the word “cat.” To simplify things, I’m only including names that actually mean “cat” itself, or are directly related to cats, not different kinds of cats like lions, jaguars, panthers, and tigers.

Unisex:

Popoki means “cat” in Hawaiian.

Female:

Aradia is a Neo-Pagan goddess (with claimed origins in Etruscan mythology), who can take the form of a cat. Her mother, the goddess Diana (Artemis), was in the form of a cat when Aradia was conceived.

Bast was the Egyptian goddess of cats, the Sun, and fertility. She’s usually depicted with the head of a cat or lioness. Her name became Bastet (a diminutive form) after Sekhmet became a more popular goddess.

Felina means “cat-like” in Latin.

Feline (Feh-LEE-nah) is Dutch. I’d obviously caution against this name in an Anglophone country!

Katida means “kittenish” in Esperanto.

Ketzeleh, or Ketzele, means “little kitten” in Yiddish. The more formal form of the name is Ketzel, which just means “kitten.”

Koneko can mean “child cat” (i.e., kitten) in Japanese.

Li Shou is a Chinese cat goddess who was selected by the creator deities to rule the world. Her cat nature kept getting the better of her, and she admitted she wasn’t up to the task. Li Shou named humans as the ones who should take over her job. Though humans gained the ability to speak in the cats’ place, they couldn’t understand the deities. The cats, who did understand the deities, were left in charge of keeping time. According to Chinese tradition, cats’ pupils control the height of the Sun above the horizon.

Mafdet was an Egyptian goddess depicted as a woman with a cat’s head, or a cat with a woman’s head. She protected against snakes and scorpions, and ripped out evildoers’ hearts, presenting them to Pharaoh like a cat presents dead mice to its owner.

Mee means “cat” or “noodle” in Hmong, depending upon how the vowels are pronounced.

Mineko can mean “beautiful cat” in Japanese.

Muezza was said to be Prophet Mohammad’s favourite cat. One story goes that he cut off a sleeve on his prayer robe rather than wake Muezza, who was sleeping on the sleeve.

Neko is a rare Japanese name which can mean “cat.”

Male:

Felinus is the male form of Felina.

Humans owe a huge debt of gratitude to the cat. If they hadn’t provided free pest control when we started living in towns and farming, civilisation would’ve proceeded much more slowly. They also helped to bring an end to the deadly first wave of the Black Plague in 1348, by killing all the diseased rats.

Sadly, due to Medieval superstitions and the obsession with rooting out “witchcraft” and evil, many European cats were murdered and made illegal as pets. It took a long time for the masses to make the connection between cats eating rats and the Plague diminishing.

Cats have long been considered good luck in Russia, Japan, and the Islamic world.

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Pearly names (including the many forms of Margaret)

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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.

The many forms of Sarah

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Though Sarah tends not to have as wide of a variation across languages as, say, Elizabeth or Katherine, there are still a number of interesting variations. There are also a number of alternative spellings in English, which I don’t mind as much as I normally do. I strongly prefer the two most common spellings, but I’m not categorically against another spelling as long as it’s not something crazy like Seighraigh, Sy’Rah, or Seyrhaheigh.

Sarah, which means “princess” in Hebrew, has been in the Top 100 in the U.S. since at least 1880, with the exception of 1954–61, when its rank ranged from #103 to #119. Frequently, it’s been near the top of the charts, and was Top 10 from 1978–2002. In 2016, it was #57.

The spelling Sara hasn’t been quite as popular, though it spent 1973–2008 in the Top 50. In 2016, it was #152. Both spellings are currently popular in Switzerland, Bosnia, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Portugal, Norway, Poland, The Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Catalonia, Chile, Belgium, England and Wales, Canada, Austria, France, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Sarah is English, Hebrew, German, French, and Arabic, while Sara, in addition to also being used in the abovementioned languages, is found in Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Persian, the Slavic languages, Finnish, Catalan, and Greek.

The variation Sára is Hungarian, but pronounced SHAH-rah. Likewise, the nickname Sári is pronounced SHAHR-ee. Sometimes Hungarian women who immigrate to Anglophone countries have changed their names to Shari or Shara, so people won’t get confused by pronunciation. Sára is also used in Czech and Slovak, though pronounced the more familiar way.

Other forms include:

1. Sarra is Old Church Slavonic, Biblical Latin, and Biblical Greek.

2. Sarrah is an English variation.

3. Sera is an English variation, as well as a nickname for the English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and German name Serafina (also spelt Seraphina). In Russian and Macedonian, this is one of the nicknames for Serafima.

4. Serra is an English variation.

5. Cera is another English variation.

6. Sarita is a Spanish nickname.

7. Saara is Estonian and Finnish. Nicknames include Saija and Salli.

8. Sarit is a Hebrew nickname.

9. Sari is Finnish.

10. Sarina is an English nickname.

11. Sassa is a Swedish nickname.

12. Sora is Yiddish.

13. Sura is another Yiddish variation. It depends upon one’s regional dialect.

14. Tzeitl, or Tzeitel, is a Yiddish nickname, made famous by Fiddler on the Roof (one of the rare films which stayed fairly close to the original source material).

15. Sadie is an English nickname, which has been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2013. These days, it’s more often used as a full name in its own right instead of a nickname for Sarah.

16. Sally, or Sallie, is another traditional English nickname which has long since fallen completely off the Top 1000.

17. Suri is a Yiddish nickname.

18. Sare is Turkish. The variation Sarê is Kurdish.

19. Sarette is an English and Afrikaans nickname.

20. Tzeril is a Yiddish nickname.

21. Zarita is a Latin American–Spanish nickname.

22. Surkki is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

The many Rose names

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Rose is currently more popular as a middle name than a forename in the U.S., though it is starting to edge closer to the Top 100. It’s much more popular in France (#20), Australia (#55), Belgium (#64), New Zealand (#56), Scotland (#70), Ireland (#75), and Northern Ireland (Ireland by any other name) (#62).

I’m far from the only name nerd who’s rather surprised this name hasn’t become much more popular as the generation of girls who saw Titanic over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again reached adulthood and started having kids.

Madison for a girl rose to prominence some years after that insipid movie Splash, and Jennifer remained popular well after the era of Love Story. If Rose were going to get popular because of Titanic, it would’ve happened by now.

Other forms of Rose, and names with the “rose” element, include:

1. Roza is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Georgian, Armenian. The variation Roža is Serbian and Croatian, and Róża is Polish.

2. Rosa is Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, German, and English.

3. Ruža is Serbian, Slovakian, and Croatian. The base nickname is Ružica.

4. Rózsa is Hungarian. The base nickname is Rózsi.

5. Rožė is Lithuanian.

6. Růžena is Czech. The variation Ružena is Slovak.

7. Rosalia is Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. A variant Spanish and Galician form is Rosalía.

8. Rozalia is Polish. The variation Rozália is Slovak and Hungarian.

9. Rosalie is French, English, German, and Dutch.

10. Rozálie is Czech, with the final two letters pronounced separately instead of as one.

11. Rozalija is Slovenian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, and Croatian. A Slovenian nickname is Zala. The variation Rozālija is Latvian.

12. Róis is Irish. The nickname is Róisín, Anglicized as Rosheen.

13. Roos is Dutch, with the nickname Roosje.

14. RaisaRaiza, Reyza, Reysa, Raysa, or Rayza, is Yiddish. The base nickname is alternately transliterated as Rayzel, Rayzl, Raysl, Raisel, Raizel, Raisl, Raizl, Raysel, Reyzel, Reysl, and Reyzl.

15. Rosita is a Spanish diminutive.

16. Rosine is a French diminutive.

17. Roselle is another French nickname.

18. Rosette is also French.

19. Rosabel is an English name created in the 18th century.

20. Rosabella is an elaborated form of Rosabel.

21. Rosella is an Italian diminutive.

22. Rosetta is also Italian.

23. Rosina is another Italian nickname.

24. Rhosyn is a rare Welsh name.

25. Rosalba means “white rose” in Italian. I’ve always loved this name.

26. Rosalind originated as the Old Germanic name Roslindis, meaning “tender horse,” though its modern spelling was influenced by the Latin phrase rosa linda, “beautiful rose.”

27. Rosalinda is Italian.

28. Rosalina is Spanish.

29. Rosaline is Medieval English.

30. Rozenn is Breton.

31. Rosamund originated as the Old Germanic name Rosmunda, meaning “horse protection,” though it later became associated with the Latin phrase rosa munda, “pure rose.” A variation is Rosamond.

32. Rosemonde is French.

33. Rhoswen means “pure rose” in Welsh.

34. Roosi is Estonian.

35. Rós is Icelandic.

36. Rosal is Filipino, and a unisex name.

37. Rosanella is French.

38. Rosanie is French.

39. Rósar means “rose army” in Icelandic.

40. Rosaura is an Italian and Spanish name derived from the Latin rosa aurea, “golden rose.” I love this name!

41. Roseda is a Spanish name derived from the Latin rosetum, “rose garden.”

42. Rosena is Bulgarian and English.

43. Rosenwyn is a rare, modern Cornish name meaning “white rose.”

44. Rósey means “rose island” in Icelandic.

45. Rosiliria means “rose lily” in Spanish.

46. Rozuko means “child of a rose” in Japanese.

47. Ruusu is Finnish.

48. Særós means “sea rose” in Icelandic.

49. Vered is Hebrew.

50. Vardan is Armenian. This is a male name.

51. Vardo is Georgian.

52. Sirvard means “love rose” in Armenian.

53. Sarnai is Mongolian.

54. Varduhi means “rose lady” in Armenian.

55. Ruvsá is Sami, a language spoken in northwestern Russia and northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

56. Snærós means “snow rose” in Icelandic. This is a modern, invented name.

57. Vardiella means “rose of God” in Hebrew.

58. Varteni means “rose tree” in Armenian.

59. Warda, Wardah, or Wardi is Arabic.

60. Gol is Persian. The Turkish form is Gül, and the Urdu and Pashto form is Gul. This element appears in many, many names.

61. Kolab is Khmer.

62. Mawar is Indonesian and Malaysian.

63. Kulap is Thai. This name is unisex.

64. Nasrin means “wild rose” in Persian.

The many forms of Isaac

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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.