BETHANY f English
From the name of a biblical town, Βηθανία (Bethania)
in Greek, which is probably of Aramaic or Hebrew origin, possibly meaning "house of affliction" or "house of figs". In the New Testament the town of Bethany is the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. It has been in use as a rare given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century, used primarily by Catholics in honour of Mary of Bethany. In America it became moderately common after the 1950s.
BETHEL f English
From an Old Testament place name meaning "house of God"
in Hebrew. This was a town north of Jerusalem, where Jacob
saw his vision of the stairway. It is occasionally used as a given name.
BETHUEL m Biblical
Possibly means "God destroys"
in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of the father of Rebecca
BEVAN m Welsh
From a Welsh surname that was derived from ap Evan
meaning "son of EVAN"
BEVERLY f & m English
From a surname that was originally derived from the name of an English city, itself meaning "beaver stream"
in Old English. It came into use as a masculine given name in the 19th century, and it became common as an American feminine name after the publication of George Barr McCutcheon's 1904 novel Beverly of Graustark
BEVIS m English (Rare)
From an English surname that is possibly derived from the name of the French town Beauvais
BEYLKE f Yiddish (Rare)
Diminutive of BEYLE
. This is the name of a daughter of Tevye in late 19th-century Yiddish stories by Sholem Aleichem, on which the musical Fiddler on the Roof
BHARATA m Hinduism
Means "being maintained"
in Sanskrit. This is one of the names of Agni
, the Hindu god of fire, and is also the name of the brother of Rama
in the Hindu epic the Ramayana
. It was also borne by a legendary king, the son of Dushyanta
. The official name of the country of India, Bharat, derives from him.
BHASKARA m Hinduism
, derived from a combination of Sanskrit भास (bhasa)
meaning "light" and कर (kara)
meaning "maker". This is another name of the sun and the Hindu god Shiva
. It was additionally borne by a 12th-century Indian astronomer, also known as Bhaskaracharya.
BHIMA m Hinduism
Means "terrible, formidable"
in Sanskrit. In the Hindu epic the Mahabharata
this is the name of the second son of Pandu, and thus one of the five Pandavas. He was known for his terrific strength and skill as a warrior.
BHUMI f Hinduism
Means "earth, soil"
in Sanskrit. This is the name of a Hindu earth goddess. She is the wife of Varaha, an avatar of Vishnu.
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in Taming of the Shrew
(1593) and Othello
BIDZINA m Georgian
Possibly from Georgian ბიძა (bidza)
. This was the name of a 17th-century Georgian saint and martyr.
BIFF m English (Rare)
From a nickname that was based on the English word biff
, which means "punch, hit, strike"
BILAL m Arabic, Urdu
Means "wetting, moistening"
in Arabic. This was the name of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad
BILBO m Literature
This was the name of the hero of The Hobbit
(1937) by J. R. R. Tolkien. His real hobbit name was Bilba
, which is of unknown meaning, but this was altered by Tolkien in order to use the more masculine o
ending. In the novel Bilbo Baggins was recruited by the wizard Gandalf
to join the quest to retake Mount Erebor from the dragon Smaug.
BILE m Irish Mythology
Possibly an Irish form of BELENUS
, though it may derive from an Irish word meaning "hero". In Irish mythology this was the name of one of the Milesians who was drowned while invading Ireland.
BILL m English
Short form of WILLIAM
. This spelling was first used in the 19th century. The change in the initial consonant may have been influenced by an earlier Irish pronunciation of the name. Famous bearers include basketball player Bill Russell (1934-), comedian Bill Cosby (1937-), American president Bill Clinton (1946-), and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1955-).
BILLY m English
Diminutive of BILL
. A notable bearer was the American outlaw Billy the Kid (1859-1881), whose real name was William H. Bonney.
BIRDIE f English
Diminutive of BERTHA
or other names with a similar sound, or sometimes simply from the English word bird
BIRGITTA f Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Finnish
Most likely a Scandinavian form of BRIDGET
via the Latinized form Brigitta
. Alternatively it could be a feminine derivative of BIRGER
. This is the name of the patron saint of Europe, Birgitta of Sweden, the 14th-century founder of the Bridgettine nuns. Her father's name was Birger.
BIRKIR m Icelandic
From Icelandic birki
, specifically the downy birch (species Betula pubescens).
BIRUTĖ f Lithuanian
Possibly from Lithuanian birti
meaning "to scatter, to pour out"
combined with a diminutive suffix. This name was borne by the mother of the 15th-century Grand Duke Vytautas
BISHOP m English
Either from the English occupational surname, or else directly from the English word. It is ultimately derived from Greek ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos)
BITHIAH f Biblical
Means "daughter of YAHWEH"
in Hebrew, from the roots בַּת (bat)
meaning "daughter" and יָה (yah)
referring to the Hebrew God. In the Old Testament this is the name of a daughter of Pharaoh. She is traditionally equated with the pharaoh's daughter who drew Moses
from the Nile.
BLAINE m English
From a Scottish surname that was derived from the given name Bláán
, which meant "yellow"
in Gaelic. Saint Bláán was a 6th-century missionary to the Picts.
BLAIR m & f Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname that is derived from Gaelic blár
meaning "plain, field, battlefield"
BLAISE m French
From the Roman name Blasius
, which was derived from Latin blaesus
. A famous bearer was the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).
BLAKE m English
From a surname that was derived from Old English blæc "black"
or blac "pale"
. A famous bearer of the surname was the poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827).
BLAKELY f English (Modern)
From a surname that was derived from Old English blæc
"black" and leah
BLANCHE f French, English
From a medieval French nickname meaning "white, fair"
. This name and its cognates in other languages are ultimately derived from the Germanic word blanc
. An early bearer was the 12th-century Blanca of Navarre, the wife of Sancho III of Castile. Her granddaughter of the same name married Louis VIII of France, with the result that the name became more common in France.
BLANDINE f French
French form of the Roman name Blandina
, which was the feminine form of Blandinus
, which was itself a derivative of the cognomen BLANDUS
. Saint Blandina was a 2nd-century slave from Lyons who was martyred by being thrown to wild beasts.
BLÁTHNAT f Irish, Irish Mythology
Means "little flower"
from the Irish word blath
"flower" combined with a diminutive suffix. In Irish legend she was a maiden abducted and married by Cú Roí. She was rescued by Cúchulainn
, who killed her husband, but she was in turn murdered by one of Cú Roí's loyal servants.
BLEDA m History
Possibly from a Turkic root meaning "wise"
. According to other theories the name was of Gothic origin, or was a Gothicized form of a Hunnic name. This was the name of the brother of Attila
BLEDDYN m Welsh
From Welsh blaidd "wolf"
combined with a diminutive suffix. This was the name of an 11th-century king of Gwynedd and Powys.
BLODEUWEDD f Welsh, Welsh Mythology
Means "face of flowers"
in Welsh. In a story in the Mabinogion, she is created out of flowers by Gwydion
to be the wife of his nephew Lleu
Llaw Gyffes. She is eventually changed into an owl for her infidelity.
BLODWEN f Welsh
Means "white flowers"
from Welsh blodau
"flowers" combined with gwen
"white, fair, blessed".
BLONDIE f English (Rare)
From a nickname for a person with blond hair. This is the name of the title character in a comic strip by Chic Young.
BLOSSOM f English
From the English word blossom
, ultimately from Old English blóstm
. It came into use as a rare given name in the 19th century.
BO (1) m Swedish, Danish
From the Old Norse byname Búi
, which was derived from Old Norse bua
meaning "to live"
BO (2) m & f Chinese
From Chinese 波 (bō)
meaning "wave", as well as other characters with a similar pronunciation.
BOAZ m Biblical, Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew
in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of the man who marries Ruth
. This was also the name of one of the two pillars that stood outside Solomon's Temple (with Jachin
BOB m English, Dutch
Short form of ROBERT
. It arose later than Dob
, which were medieval rhyming nicknames of Robert. It was borne by the character Bob Cratchit in Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol
(1843). Other famous bearers include American folk musician Bob Dylan (1941-) and Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley (1945-1981).
BOBBY m English
Diminutive of BOB
. Hockey greats Bobby Hull (1939-) and Bobby Orr (1948-) have borne this name.
BOGLÁRKA f Hungarian
in Hungarian, derived from the archaic word boglár
BOGUSŁAW m Polish
Means "glory of God"
from the Slavic elements bogu
"god" and slava
"glory". This name was borne by several dukes of Pomerania, beginning in the 12th century.
BOLAT m Kazakh
From a Turkic word meaning "steel"
, ultimately from Persian.
BOLESŁAW m Polish
Derived from the Slavic elements bolye
"more, greater" and slava
"glory". This was the name of kings of Poland, starting in the 11th century with the first Polish king Bolesław the Brave.
BOLÍVAR m Spanish (Latin American)
From a surname that was taken from the Basque place name Bolibar
, which was derived from bolu
"mill" and ibar
"riverside". A famous bearer of the surname was Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), a South American revolutionary leader, after whom the country of Bolivia is named.
BONAVENTURA m Italian
Means "good fortune"
in Italian. Saint Bonaventura was a 13th-century Franciscan monk who is considered a Doctor of the Church.
BONIFACE m French, English (Rare)
From the Late Latin name Bonifatius
, which meant "good fate"
"good" and fatum
"fate". This was the name of nine popes and also several saints, including an 8th-century Anglo-Saxon missionary to Germany (originally named Winfrid) who is now regarded as the patron saint of that country. It came into use in England during the Middle Ages, but became rare after the Protestant Reformation.
BONITA f English
in Spanish, ultimately from Latin bonus
"good". It has been used as a name in the English-speaking world since the beginning of the 20th century.
BONITUS m Late Roman
Derived from a diminutive of Latin bonus
. This was the name of a 7th-century century saint, a bishop of Auvergne.
BONNIE f English
from the Scottish word bonnie
, which was itself derived from Middle French bon
"good". It has been in use as an American given name since the 19th century, and it became especially popular after the movie Gone with the Wind
(1939), in which it was the nickname of Scarlett's daughter.
BOOKER m English
From an English occupational surname meaning "maker of books"
. A famous bearer was Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), an African-American leader.
BOONE m English
From an English surname that was either derived from Old French bon
or from the name of the town of Bohon, France.
BOPHA f Khmer
in Khmer, ultimately from Pali.
BOR m Slovene
Short form of names containing bor
, such as BORISLAV
. It is also a South Slavic word meaning "pine tree".
BORA (1) m Turkish
Means "storm, squall"
in Turkish, ultimately related to Greek Βορέας (Boreas)
, the name of the god of the north wind.
BORIS m Bulgarian, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, Slovak, Georgian, German
From the Turkic name Bogoris
, perhaps meaning "short"
or "snow leopard"
. It was borne by the 9th-century King Boris I of Bulgaria who converted his country to Christianity, as well as two later Bulgarian emperors. The name was popularized in the Slavic world due to the 11th-century Saint Boris, who was a Russian prince martyred with his brother Gleb. His mother may have been Bulgarian. Another famous bearer was the 16th-century Russian emperor Boris Godunov, later the subject of a play of that name by Aleksandr Pushkin.
BOŘIVOJ m Czech
Derived from the Slavic elements borti
"battle" and voji
"soldier". This name was borne by a 9th-century duke of Bohemia.
BORJA m Spanish
From a Spanish surname, used as a given name in honour of the Jesuit priest Saint Francis Borja (1510-1572). The surname, also spelled Borgia, is derived from the name of a Spanish town, ultimately from Arabic بُرْج (burj)
BOUDICCA f Ancient Celtic (Latinized)
Derived from Brythonic boud
. This was the name of a 1st-century queen of the Iceni who led the Britons in revolt against the Romans. Eventually her forces were defeated and she committed suicide. Her name is first recorded in Roman histories, as Boudicca
by Tacitus and Βουδουῖκα (Boudouika)
by Cassius Dio.